I never know for sure when tipping is appropriate and when it is not. So I tend to tip and even over tip so as not to look cheap. I think I am not alone, so I have done a bunch of research and following is a guideline of accepted tipping practices. Some think that the expression tips is an acronym for to insure proper service.
This is an easy one. I think most people know that a tip for your waiter is 15% to 20% of the pre-tax total. Tip 15% for ok service. Tip 20% for top notch service. If you you go to a buffet, the standard tip is 10%. There is no need to tip the maître d’. Bartenders expect $1 to $2 per drink.
For take out there is no need to tip if you pick up the order although 10% is appropriate for curb service. Pizza delivery is customarily between $2 and $5 per delivery. And when you get your car back from the valet at a restaurant, give him $2 to $5.
Leave your housekeeper $2 to $3 per day. You can pay this either day by day or leave a total at the end of your visit. Your concierge does not need a tip if you just use him for information and directions, but tip 5% to 10% if he gets you tickets to a show or scores you a table at a busy restaurant. The bellman who helps you with your bags should get $2 for the first bag and $1 for additional bags. Your room service waiter will expect a tip of 15% to 20% but be sure to check the bill as a gratuity is often already added to your total.
Generally any service performed at a spa or salon is tipped at 15% to 20%. This includes things like color, haircuts, mani/pedi, massage, facial etc. It used to be true that you did not need to tip the proprietor but that is no longer the case. He or she will expect a tip.
At the airport, tip the baggage handler $2 for the first bag and $1 for each additional bag. If you need wheelchair service, tip $3 to $5. The electric cart driver should be tipped $2 to $3. The taxi or Uber that takes you to the airport or hotel requires a 10% to 18% tip.
The people who clean your home on a regular basis do not normally expect a tip each visit. Rather, a generous tip at holiday time would be appreciated. This should be equal to the price of one visit for each cleaner.
You see tip jars at all manner of establishments. General rule of thumb is you don’t need to tip for counter service and this includes your barista. I frequent the same Starbucks on a regular basis so I drop a $20 in the tip jar at the holidays.
Editor’s Note: We originally published this article in August 2013. We have edited it for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.