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To Tip or Not To Tip?! Check out the FREE Interactive Tip Guide and Share Your Thoughts

3:20 PM MST
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

Although I am an avid couponer and am always looking for ways to cut back on spending, I am NOT cheap when it comes to tipping. As a former waitress, I know how important tips are in the lives of those who work in service-based industries. Although I almost always tip at least 20% when dining out, I am sometimes a little more perplexed as to what to tip in the following situations: Purchasing food to-go, Hair Cut for yourself and/or your kiddos, Assistance with baggage when staying at a hotel, Purchasing espresso from Drive-Thru Coffee Shop, etc.

Needless to say, I was excited to recently discover the Interactive Tip Guide created by a design team over at Hospitality Management Schools. Just head on over here, scroll down to the orange Tip Guide button at the bottom of the page, and then select a category (choose from travel, cosmetics, restaurants and more). This guide tells you how much to tip, when to present the tip, and even has some basic tipping rules:

* Do tip pre-tax.
* Do tip at buffets.
* Do tip when using a discount or voucher like Groupon.
* Don’t tip the owner.
* Don’t tip extra when gratuity is already added on the bill.
* Don’t leave a bad tip if you plan on visiting the establishment again.

So take some time to check out the guide and then come back and share your thoughts. Think about the following questions: What services do you believe require a tip, how much do you tip, do you tip even if the service is horrible etc?

(Thanks to reader, Nichole, for sharing this guide with me!)

Join the Discussion

Post Your Comment
  • Mrspurple says:

    The whole restaurant tipping thing has always bothered me, not because I don’t want to tip (we usually do 20% and if that is like 4.70, we might round up to $5 or even more if they were very good, but if the server was bad we round down $4.50 or even 4). That being said, why does the restaurant industry put the burden on me to pay for their employees salaries? Their prices are already in the menu, that should be what I am required to pay when purchasing something at their establishment. How am I supposed to know how many people’s livelihood depend on my tip? I would think it should be something spontaneous because they were very good, not something required because if not they will not have money to feed their families…

    • jJennifer says:

      If owners had to pay serves what they deserved no one could afford to eat out because the cost of food would be way too high. The cost of running a restaraunt is extremly high. Tipping is part of the system and people should include it the cost of going out. I hav

  • Michelle says:

    I am a hairstylist and I do not EXPECT my clients to tip me. The biggest thing to me is that they return to me. I would rather have a client that comes to see me 6 times a year and does not tip at all versus someone who comes once and tips. I understand that everyone has a different budget & sometimes a haircut is all they can afford, and I’m glad that they came to me for it! That being said a lot of hairstylists DO expect a tip. I understand that servers are usually not working for the love of the work. Those in my industry are (or if they are not they shouldn’t being in the beauty industry). I love what I do and am so happy I get paid to do it! I love my clients, tip or no tip.

    • Emily says:

      I always tip my hairstylists well because they have a skill I do not. I can write down an order and deliver food though so for me to tip a waitress they had better do it with class and kindness.

      • MSD says:

        I am a server in a high volume, fast paced, famous, sit down restaurant and it takes a lot more than taking an order and delivering the food. I treat everyone as I want to be treated if I am eating out and I get treated like a slave! Everyone in this world should have to serve at least for 6 months to appreciate what we have to deal with. Please don’t think we are just order takers! We work very hard!!!

  • Natalie says:

    Recently, I read that fast casual chains such as Piada, Panera, Chipotle and Five Guys Burgers are the fastest growing segment of the restaurant business across the US. The restaurants are pretty nice and the food is reasonably priced and as good , if not better than in most sit-down chains. The restaurants are making great profits, the staff is paid a living wage, there’s no tipping and I’ve never had a bad experience with service in one of them. We eat at these kinds of places more and more often for these reasons.

  • kathy says:

    Another tipping story so very dear to my heart….Cruising! If you have never taken a cruise before, you should know that you are expected to tip! I have taken many cruises and on the last night in the dining room…you are supposed to present your servers with the suggested or above suggested gratuities. Your room server as well gets an envelope with the suggested amount. All in all for two people at the suggested level only…it will run you $140 per couple for a 7 night cruise. I have talked to these people providing the utmost excellence in service they could possible give you and they make next to nothing for their time. The hours that they put in for you is sad. They get 4-5 hours of sleep each night and they work 7 days a week. In the dining room, you will see the tables are full each and every night! BUT….on that last night, when you are supposed to show them how much you appreciated them for their service, tables are empty all over the 3 level dining room. Stiffed! Their attitudes change, they look sad and hurt. I asked our server how much does the cruise ship pay them to work those 6-9 months straight and he told me $100 a month with free room and board and meals. They have to pay for their own laundry soap and all incidentals. Very sad. They rely on tips to send home to their families. I also asked him how many of the guests never pay their gratuities to them and he said..about half. The cruise ships have made it easier to pay that on your credit card and present them with a voucher, but I always hand them cash and thank them personally. When you order drinks whether it be cola or alcohol, they automaticly charge you 15% and leave it open if you want to tip more. Those servers get their gratuities because you do not have a choice. The suggested amount for each of your servers is this…
    Head waiter $3.50 per day per person
    Asst. waiter $2.50 per day per person
    Room attendent $3.50 per day per person
    Maitrade .50 per day per person
    This includes your children too! Most people bring their children and the guy told me that they don’t give them tips for them waiting on their children. It really saddened me to know some of these things. I always thought that they got paid really well to work those cruises because it costs a lot to take one. The cruise ship is making the money, but the workers are depending on you for their money. That’s why they are so nice and friendly and bend over backwards for you to have a wonderful vacation. I used to tip the recommend amount, but now I go above and beyond that. I think they should just add it into the cost and then nobody loses, but then the service might not be so good. How knows!

    • Alaine says:

      We just booked our first cruise on Norwegian, and they automatically charge each person on the ship for gratuities at the end of the week. I wondered if that would result in people tipping less than they might otherwise, but it sounds like a lot of people skip out on this, so maybe it is a good thing!

      • kathy says:

        I am so happy to hear this Alaine!!! You just don’t know how sad that is for anyone to take those harding working people’s paychecks away! I hope all crusie lines take notice and follow through with the same. Have fun on your cruise! It really is awesome to be at sea! I have done 8 cruises now and there is no better vacation in my books!

  • I'm Just Sayin... says:

    Here’s a TIP – People need to realize NOTHING in life is free. (Unless you are a couponer – but even then it still takes some work on our end)

    Tipping has been around for years and years – because it works. Restaurants can choose to pay staff min wage and raise the food costs. But then waitresses would not be happy because they have the chance to make more when they can get tips.

    Customers would stop coming to restaurants higher prices and that have poor waitresses. The waitresses would not care since they are getting paid anyway. (What many of them feel anyway)

    Instead they do the wise thing and allow you to work for tips. I know sometimes people stiff people. It stinks I know but its part of the job. We all have a choice in the jobs we take if you feel like the Walmart clerk with the bad attitude getting paid anyway and you don’t – maybe you should consider a job change. It’s not like you went to school and put your self in dept to for this career. It’s as simple as finding somewhere else to work.

    If I hire a contractor to install a deck. If he only does 1/2 the job he will not get paid. I’m sure his kids depend on his paycheck to eat. So do your job and you will not have that problem!

    I’m so sick of “generation me” wanting handouts and life to go their way. When it doesn’t they wine and throw temper tantrums, spitting in food, ect.

    Not everyone is cut out to be a waitress. I’m not. I would not want that job. Some people are really good at it though, its just not for me!

    If you are on here complaining about lack of tips – perhaps you should take a step back and look at the problem. (Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s the place you work at attracting older folks that don’t know the tipping standards now, or the area you live in)

    I work for my money and if you want my money then you will work for it too. A tip is NOT part of my bill. I go out expecting to pay a nice tip but I will not freely handout my money for a job half done.

  • lee says:

    okay i just want to make a point. tips should not always be a %. example you stay in a hotel that has a guy that takes your bags to your room, do you tip him? how much? 20% of the cost of you staying at the hotel? that could run into $100′s. my point is you usually give him $5 or $10 bucks. that is what you should do when you order pizzas. $5 is a good amount to tip even if you order lots of pizzas. the driver has done nothing different in bringing you 1 pizza or 5. he still drives to your house, spends the same amount in gas, walks the same distance to your door step but you give him more because he brought 5 pizzas. being a waitress is different she is constantly coming to your table helping you and when you have lots of people she has to do more work so she should get a % of the tab for her tip. when i delivered pizzas only about 70% of people tipped and half of them were only about $2 to $3. this is why i had to quit. the time i was there a saw at least 100 drivers get hired then quit because of this. i am not trying to be mean i just what people to know tipping should not always be a %. tipping $2 on a $10 pizza the driver loses money after he pays for his gas and maintance on his car. drivers only get paid $4 an hour to deliver pizzas. sometimes they have to drive 12 miles one way to your house. that 24 miles round trip, (over $3 in gas alone). so think about this when you only give that driver the coin change left over from you order.

    • sam says:

      when i was delivering pizzas a lot of times the driver would skip the order that was $10 and 30 minutes old and take the one that was $50 but only 15 minutes old. this is because they thought they would get a better tip. i know this was against the rules but if no one was looking this is what happened. the driver didnt care if you called and complained that your $10 pizza was cold he had already got his tip from the big order. the company would just make a new one and send it out to you not knowing what had happened when you skipped that run.

    • Not2mention... says:

      The general rule for tipping the baggage whether it be checking in at the airport or delivering to your room in the hotelor having the person take them on the cruise ship is $1 per bag. Now, if I only have 1 bag and have to check it, I might give him $2 just because.
      Most pizza places…due to the gas prices….are now charging for delivery. So now you are paying for the gas and to bring it to your door. Our favorite pizza place has a drive thru, so we just go pick it up ourselves!

      • sam says:

        they are not charging a delivery fee because of gas prices. that delivery fee goes towards their insurance incase one of the drivers has a fatal accident killing him and other people and the drivers insurance has lapsed .the company checks your insurance and driver record every 6 months so this does happen. the delivery fee does not go to the driver. papa johns and dominoes does this. have worked for both and that is what we were told

      • sam says:

        the driver gets paid the same amount no matter if there is a delivery charge or not or even the price of the delivery charge. the pizza places would rather you pick up the pizza yourself, this keeps their labor down and they dont have to hire so many drivers.

  • milly says:

    I suggest that when leaving tips, you should write it down on the check. My husband has this habit of writing zero or a bar on the check for tips, then leaving cash. If I am taxed up to the last centavo of what I earn, I think that servers should also be taxed this way.

    • FormerWaiter44 says:

      I think you may want to ask your husband WHY he does that, because it likely isn’t to help the wait staff skip out on paying taxes. When you pay with a debit/credit card, the company charges a 2-3% processing fee. At some less scrupulous restaurants, that fee (for the entire amount of the check) is taken directly out of the wait staff’s tip. Tips must still be reported at the end of the night, and tipping in cash helps protect wait staff from shady business owners.

    • Sarah says:

      Servers are required by law to claim their tips. Larger companies enforce this. The management will change the amounts claimed because they are required to meet minimum wage. So say a server works an 8 hour shift and claims nothing, the management will go into the system and claim enough to equal the local minimum or else they will have to pay that server a higher hourly wage. I always claimed what I made in tips. Others that didnt thinking they could get away with it found out that they couldnt. Mom and Pop shops may get away with it, but if its a larger chain, they are paying the taxes on it. Most paydays I wouldnt even have a paycheck because I made so much in tips that the government took my entire check to tax my tips.

  • milly says:

    I once went to a Korean BBQ restaurant. There were about 9 of us in the group. It was a shabu-shabu, but you ask for the server to bring you the meat & it’s all you can eat. I was done eating when my friend saw some maggots on his rice paper. When we checked, another one of us had maggots on her rice papers as well. I called the manager’s attention, she simply said “sorry” and replaced our rice paper like it was no big deal. Of course all of us stopped eating after seeing this. I was the one who paid for this dinner and I purposely did not leave any tips. When we were at the parking garage, the manager as well as the waiter shouted at us. Apparently, they were mad that I did not leave a tip. They went to my car door and demanded for the tip. I said, you served us food with maggots. You’re lucky I’m just not leaving a tip, not tipping you off to the food & drug authority. Would you still leave a tip if you were served with dirty food?

    • Dylan says:

      No offense, but I think you handled that wrong. You should have spoken to the manager before paying the bill and asked (or demanded, in this case) to have the maggot-ridden food removed from the bill. I would not have paid for food with bugs in it. However, you punished the waiter for something the owner was responsible for. They way you did it, the owner still got paid the full amount while you completely short-changed the waiter, who did his job properly.

    • Not2mention... says:

      Ewwww! I would not have paid that bill at all! I have had two experiences and both were chinese restaurants. One had a piece of the scouring pad that they used to clean the pan in my food. I bit into it and gagged. I took it straight to the front manager and she quickly comp’d my meal! I couldn’t finish the meal either…No check and no tip! The second incident was at another chinese restaurant in a different city and I bit down on a bolt! A rusted broken off bolt! I almost broke a tooth! I took it to the manager and she denied that it could have came from her kitchen. I told her that I surely didn’t bring it with me and put it in my food. She looked at it for a minute and then said, okay….you don’t have to pay for your meal, but you do have to pay for your drink and your mom’s meal. I just looked at her and thought….Stupid! Then she was telling someone else about it and came over to my table and said that she would not charge me for the entire ticket. Good call! I never went back there either! That is unreal that they would chase you to your car when you had the upper hand on that situation! I would have reported them. These are all very good examples of WHEN YOU DO NOT TIP! Ever!

      • milly says:

        Lol. I see Dylan’s point, but I agree with you more. LOL. I was wrong. I should not have just NOT tipped. I shouldn’t have paid at all!

        Asian restaurants (esp Chinese) not being racist here, I have Chinese blood! lol – they’d rather have a kung fu fight with a customer than to give a discount for serving dirty food. You’re lucky they didn’t make you pay. That’s one in a million. My friend once got served halo(congee) with a small bit of broken glass. We complained, but we were still charged the full price.

  • Dawn says:

    I just want to add one more perspective here. My husband has recently been employed after being unemployed for 7 months (he quit his other job due to shady problems he didn’t want to be a part of, so no unemployment benefits for us). Now that he has a decent-paying (not wonderful) job that he is happy in, we went out to “celebrate”, but we didn’t go to some high end restaurant, rather Tuchanos( spelling?). When we left a tip, it was based on the actual speed and quality service (which was ok–ie. water re-filled, servers, checking on us, handing us the check without us waiting forever) and was around the 20-ish percent. We don’t have a lot of money, but since we hadn’t eaten out for the last 7 months, we wanted to enjoy the food that we love and didn’t partake of when times were too lean. Sometimes, it’s about the FOOD and not just the service, and THAT’s what we were really paying for.

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