Tipping in USA

Discussion in 'Your Questions' started by Chucksta, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. Chucksta

    Chucksta Active Member

    Mar 19, 2006
    Not sure how much or who to tip in the USA. So far I have have collected the following from websites:

    Nice Restaurant: 15-20%
    Cafe: 10%
    Porter for luggage: $1 per bag
    Barman: $1 per drink
    Taxi: ~10% ??
    Maid: ??
    Concierge: ??
    Casino dealer: ??
    Executive lounge waiters: ??

    Any ideas about the (??) blanks?

    Did I miss out anyone?


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  2. Reggie

    Reggie Established Member

    Mar 20, 2006
    On the maid one, I was told if you stay more than a couplr of nights it's appropriate to leave a couple of dollars on the pillow. So on long stay I generally leave 2 or 3 dollars every 2nd or 3rd morning.
  3. NM


    Aug 27, 2004
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    My thoughts (and I am a scrouge when it comes to tipping)
    About right, I tend to stick closer to the 15% unless its exceptional service.
    I would stick to 15% for table service. Nothing for counter service.
    I really avoid porters. I will give $1/bag to a hotel shuttle bus driver.
    Yes, and include places like AAdmirals Club lounges where drinks are free
    If the driver is pleasant and courteous and gets me to my destination efficiently, I will normally tip 15-20%.
    I don't tip maids. I am already paying enough for the room, which I assume includes the use of the TV, Air Conditioning, Shampoo, Toilet Paper and the cleaning of the room. However, when attending some conferences, there is sometimes a set surcharge added to the bill automatically for maid services. In such cases the surcharge is negotiated by the conference organiser and is not optional. Last time I saw this it was about 5% of the room rate.
    I would only tip a concierge if they have provided me directly with a useful service, such as booking a restaurant or similar. And since I very rarely use such services, I don't believe I have ever tipped a concierge.
    I don't gamble at casinos so have never been in a position to tip a dealer. However, I would perceive it as a conflict of interest to tip such a person and do not believe it to be appropriate.
    I would be happy to leave say $5 on the table when I left the lounge.

    The only other one that comes to mind is the waitstaff at a hotel where breakfast is free or included in the rate. In that case I look at the value of the breakfast if paying and leave about 15% rounded up to the nearest dollar. Unless its a buffet and the staff are just clearing tables then I don't leave anything except the free breakfast voucher.
  4. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
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    #4 Mal, Apr 10, 2008
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2008
    For me:
    Maids - $1/$2 per night left on the pillow or the bedside table with a "thanks" type note. Note that different maids make up rooms daily, so leaving a larger amount one night may not make up for leaving nothing the night before. If I don't have anything small available, I'll skip tipping the maid.
    Porters(Hotel) - hate them, but will tip $2 (1 bag)
    Shuttle drivers - $1/$2 if a hotel shuttle.
    Cabs - 10% or 15% or so. Something that makes sense rounded up into a note.
    Cafe (Counter) - Nil, or loose change into jar.
    Cafe/Restaurant (seated) - 15-20%.
    Bar staff/Admirals lounge - $1 per drink paid in cash regardless if I've expensed the bill to my room or are using an AA voucher. Sometimes skipped if I've had quite a few drinks and I've run out of $1's.

    I think that covers most of the tipping I've done.

    I hate the tipping culture, even more so when you visit Asia and other non-tipping countries and people have their hand out because they think you might be American and are about to tip.

    Remember to take to the US quite a few $1's. They are needed just about as soon as you hop off the plane!
  5. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    Nice Restaurant: 15-20% is right
    Cafe: 15% counter service 10%
    Porter for luggage: I do about $2 per bag and let them know to look after me.
    Barman: $1 per drink is okay
    Taxi: 10% is okay
    Maid: $1-2 dollars per night at end of stay.
    Concierge: nil
    Casino dealer: only if you win!
    Executive lounge waiters: $1-2 dollars left on the table.
    Any other low paid worker in a service industry, like dive instructor, surfing teacher, tour guide etc, a few dollars is standard up to about 10% of the price of something like a private lesson.

  6. moa999

    moa999 Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2003
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    and yet no-one tips the checkout chick at wal-mart, the supermarket, the register person at miccy d's
    yet all are typically on that same minimum wage of something like US$7.50/hr

    That part has always confused me -- why do people take these non-tipping jobs in the US when there are other low skilled roles where they at least have some chance of supplementing their income
  7. mainly tailfirst

    Oct 10, 2006
    I agree with NM on all of this - it matches my experience.

    W.r.t Casinos, I only play Poker so I don't know what the people who play "house always wins" games do. I suspect it's similar.

    E.g. for 4-8, When you win, tip the dealer $1 if it's a decent pot ($30), $2 if it's huge ($60 and up). Maybe a chip at the end of the shift if they were decent and/or funny.

    I'm curious as to why NM's thinks it's a conflict of interest. It's not like they can influence the outcome of the game.

    As for the waitresses (yes, they all seem to be women) that bring you drinks, tipping $1 a drink is standard. Since most house spirits ('well' drinks) are complimentary, a good tip up front (say $5-10) can get you great service for the next few rounds. That's becomes a quick way to get boozed quite cheaply if you're so inclined.
    Of course, the casino prefers it that way. Now THAT is a conflict of interest ;)

  8. parsonstrish

    parsonstrish Active Member

    Sep 23, 2005
    chucksta, i think from a previous post you mentioned staying on trip at waldorf-astoria, tipping heaven for staff. i tipped just abt. everyone, felt intimidated into it on first stay. 2nd trip last yr.@ same hotel, less tipping.

    i asked a waitress at chain restraunt in long isl. what her base rate was US$4.75. she shared the tips. she said her friend who moved to the sth. and worked at same chain, rece'd US$2.50 or something like that.

    personally, i feel more inclined to tip the housemaid than other hotel staff. i think they get overlooked.

    restraunt i ate at in nyc on both visits, i noticed this last visit they included tip in bill.

    i was very amused to watch food disappearing from a tray left outside room @ w-a on my first trip. mind you i wasn't in the tower section.
  9. Nice Restaurant: from 15-25%, depending on how impressed I am with the service. Waiters rely on tips to make a living, so if they are really great, they get a great tip.

    Cafe: 15% flat.

    Porter for luggage: $5 per bag from me. Hotel staff, etc, come running if they hear you are a good tipper.

    Barman: Depends how drunk I am.

    Taxi: 10%, and perhaps a little more if the driver is likable.

    Limo drivers: The gratuity is generally built into the fare, but if I like the driver, they will get a $10 note for being pleasant.

    Hotel staff are generally hard-working, honest people who are trying to get ahead. If I am doing well, I see no harm in spreading the goodness around...

    The Doorman: now here's a character who is in a prime position to pick up a lot of tips. I find $5 notes useful for door-persons.

    Maid: The room might be expensive, but the housekeeping staff get paid a pittance. I generally leave a $10 note in an envelope marked "Attention - Housekeeper" on my pillow every day.

    Concierge: Depends on the hotel. When checking into a pub where I might need to call on the concierge to do some real arm-twisting for me, I have found that introducing myself to him/her on arrival and discretely presenting one-hundred dollars/euros works a treat. Otherwise a 20-unit tip when they do a job for me is enough.

    Executive lounge waiters: they get paid a pittance too. The $10 I leave on the table isn't a lot to me, but it is to some people.

    Hairdresser/Barber: occasionally I have had to venture to a place in NYC for a trim, and I tip 15% there. Same for the masseur, and the girl who does the facial and the mani/pedicure.

    TSA staff: a smile and a thank-you if they are pleasant, and a good Tasering if they are arrogant (I can dream, can't I?).
  10. Do not tip for poor service. Be careful at restaurants about adding the tip to a CC payment. If the waitstaff has been v. good, give them the tip in cash. Have an interesting story about tips. My son's girlfriend works as a waitress at an exclusive restaurant and bar in LA. Many of the rich and famous patronise the joint and the waitstaff by tipping $US 700 a bottle for something like good wine or scotch or sambucca. They are usually elephant's trunk when this happens. Hope they don' t drive home!
  11. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    This is an interesting one. I was only suggesting what people should generally do. Some situations may be different. My mother in law is a regular at a couple of hotels, especially a well known groovy digs in NYC. She usually stays twice a year for 2 weeks and asks a lot of the concierge. She just shows up on the first day, introduces herself and spots them $100. That way she is well looked after the whole stay. $100 is nothing compared to her overall hotel bill but seems a big amount when she hands it over to them. Smart...my mother in law;)
  12. Happy Dude

    Happy Dude Active Member

    Oct 13, 2006
    You're not a Tarantino fan by any chance, Aubs?

    Rent the film "Reservoir Dogs" or Google "reservoir dogs tipping scene" (or something like that), to get a well balanced discussion on the virtues of tipping.

    As for the OP's questions, others here have far more US experience than me.
  13. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    BNE, SYD and CNX
    And I do not agree with tipping in general regardless of the saying "when in Rome do as the Romans". It is not my problem nor my concern that they are paid poorly. Yes I know the system is setup that they pay taxes on potential tips but it is not up to me to try and fix the system. I feel that I am paying through the nose for most goods & services anyway so I am certainly not going to add a tip on top of the bill.

    Anyway in saying that I do tip occassionally but not very often. Tipping, anywhere in the world, should be an individual choice not an expectation. If I remember correctly when going to a restaurant in the USA they add on a gratuity charge to the bill anyway so why would I leave a tip?

    I paid US$22 each way, fixed charge, for a <10 minute taxi trip from TPA airport to Embassy suites. Give the driver a tip? Why?

    I sat down at a bar in MIA airport and purchased 2 pints of beer. The lady serving clearly did not expect any tip but as she paid attention to me I left a couple of dollars plus some Australian coins as a souvenir.

    I did not tip at any Admirals Club for a free drink. I did not notice anyone tipping either, even discreetly. There was no look of surprise that I did not tip. Maybe they expect it from Australians or other foreigners. I find it strange that I would have to tip someone $1 to grab a bottle from the fridge, open it and place it on the counter. I would rather the setup in the Flagship Lounge where you grab your own drinks from the fridge.
  14. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    Well I think that this is just flat-out wrong. When you are a visitor in a country you do accept the customs of that country. It is part of visiting that place, whether they be religious, social or financial customs. No-one is fixing or not fixing the system by not tipping. If the staff were paid like they are here you would simply be paying more fore everything, so it evens out.

    Australians do have a reputation for being poor tippers in the USA.
  15. Dave Noble

    Dave Noble Senior Member

    Oct 10, 2005
    Exsqueeze me. Decent Dive Instructors are low paid?

  16. dajop

    dajop Senior Member

    Jul 1, 2002
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    Ah well we've got to do our best to keep that live up (down?) to the reputation ;)

    Conversely, I was at a well known Melbourne restaurant with some US visitors (who were paying) and a group of us from the office. On that night the service was particularly bad and full of attitude. When it came to paying, our visitors wanted to the leave a 10-15% tip, and after some discussion we managed to persuade them to round to the nearest $100, which gave a 3.5% tip instead. Which I thought was 3.5% too much!

    I usually follow customary tipping in US, but probably on the low side compared to the locals. And tend not to tip (and not notice other tipping) when paying with a voucher in the Admirals Club.

    Also interesting to do the math - say you serve eight tables over 4 hours, get a $15 tip from each table, that's a cool $30/hour. Do waiters actually pay to get employed at some places?

    One last thing I now avoid is porters for luggage (tip or no tip ) - I object to paying someone to do something I am perfectly capable of, which is why I have wheels on my luggage. I actually find it an inconvencience, as even with tipping - I've waited 10-15 mins for luggage to reach my room. Especially after a long trip, its nice to have it there straight away to change etc.
  17. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
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    So true. My carry-on/small checked bag is easily managed by me. Adding in a layer of complexity by having staff deliver it, or carry it while they accompany you to your room is just crazy. In the US, they'll normally also go overboard with showing you around the room (eg This is the remote control for the TV, this is the bathroom) just so they can earn themselves the tip.

    Mad really. Hence, why I try and resist any attempt to take my bag.
  18. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    Yeah well, maybe that was a bad example :oops:
  19. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    BNE, SYD and CNX
    I accept the customs of any country I visit but tipping is an individual choice and not compulsory except where it is added to the bill without choice.

    There is something I do not quite understand here. If a normal meal at an average restaurant in the USA costs around $50 and the staff are only on $7.50/hour then there is something seriously wrong expecting the customer to subsidise the wage of the staff. Who is going to subsidise my wage. Just because I have money to travel does not mean I am rich.

    I think we have it just about right. We tip occassionally and only when the service is exceptional. There is nothing exceptional about a waiter/waitress bringing a meal to your table and pouring a drink. It is part of their job.
  20. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    Sunshine Coast
    JohnK it is the American way.When in Rome......They could change their system but the restaurant meals would go up at least 20%.
    What really annoys me is when those from LOFTAP visit other countries without a tipping culture and proceed to ignore that culture making life harder for everyone else.
    The one thing to remember is to tip generously someone you really want something from.The doorman at your hotel if you want to leave your rental car outside for 30 minutes(in a big city that is)$5-10 will do the trick.
    At the DT Metropolitan once I tipped the concierge $25 because we really wanted to see Billy Crystal in 700 Sundays.It was supposedly booked out.He got us tickets at their advertised sellin price and right in the centre behind david Letterman and Henry Kissinger-I had literally bumped into him when going to the loo at a conference at the Hilton a couple of days before so when he looked around I said goodday and he responded leaving everyone else wondering who I was.
    I though do tip a dollar in the AC-sometimes you get your voucher back-though they give you extra if you ask anyway.
    Otherwise I am with NM.

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