The 2020 Guide to Gratuity 
Not About Food

The 2020 Guide to Gratuity 

Rebecca Wright
almost 2 years ago

Like most of us, you’re probably under the impression that the appropriate tip depends on the type of service you receive if you’re in a situation where gratuity is implied or expected. While it’s almost always better to talk to the manager than skip the tip, knowing how and when to tip can be confusing.

Even though social media and technological innovation have both helped us on a huge scale, the availability of calculators and tools that help calculate tips have added to the confusion surrounding gratuity. The mathematically challenged among us are, for sure, thankful for the help these tools offer, but almost no two tools (or people) will tell you the same amount for every situation. Additionally, they might not account for the different kinds of situations that require a tip.

Etiquette isn’t necessarily the same wherever you go which is another reason it can be confusing to navigate when, where, and how much to tip someone when you are in a situation where someone is providing you with a service.

These are the times to tip, the times to skimp, and just how much you should be tipping (according to experts).

Dining out and take-out

This is one of if not the most common place to give a tip. It’s commonplace to tip 15% or so of the pre-tax bill. There are some places in the country where service-workers are tipped better than others, but you should always tip your server.

The average gratuity tipped to restaurant workers is typically between 15-20% of the bill. An easy way to calculate this is to multiply your pre-tax bill by .15 or .2. Your tip will appear.

Be sure to include drinks in your tip, too. Contrary to what you might think about alcohol, it should also be tipped because many servers tip out the bartender at the end of the night or shift.

If you’re ordering take-out, it’s common to tip someone 10-15% of the bill. If your pizza costs $20.00 (around the average price of a large pizza), you can feel comfortable tipping $2-5.

Grabbing coffee at a cafe

Ordering your favorite drink at a little cafe? Tip the barista $1 per coffee. Etiquette experts suggest offering a little bit more in your gratuity if the coffee or drink requires some kind of artistic flair like a design. It’s fair to tip a bit extra if you have a complicated order, too.

A night out at the bar

Alcohol should be tipped much like foodservice, especially if you’re sitting at the bar while you grab drinks with friends during a night out. The same logic can be used for tips in this scenario as with the Barista. If you have a complicated drink order, tip $2. If your drink is a bottled cider, you don’t need to leave more than $1. A great rule here is $1-2 per drink.

The game-changer is if you’ve ordered a snack. Foodservice always begets 15-20%, so don’t hesitate to offer a bit more on that bill.

Hotel stays and housekeeping

While staying at a hotel, your luggage might be dropped off at your room. You might order extra blankets or pillows to be delivered to your room. Either way, it’s fair to tip daily. Rather than offering a lot at the end of your stay, tip the housekeeper in small bills daily. This matters because the people who are taking care of your room or your things might not be the same ones every day!

Packing and moving

According to Moving.com, it’s important to tip movers by the hour. If they’ve worked long days, consider tipping $4-8 per hour. It also matters what, exactly, they’re moving. So if you’re moving across the country -- your tip might look different than one offered to someone who moved your bedroom set across your neighborhood to your new home.

Getting your nails done, your hair done, or a wax

15% of your service fee is sort of the “going rate” for tips for beauty related services. If you have to tip multiple people in the salon such as the nail technician and the wax technician, be prepared to head to the salon with a handful of smaller bills (just like at a hotel).

Taking a taxi or using a rideshare app

Maybe you aren’t taking taxis all the time, but Uber or Lyft rides are all but routine at this point. Taxis are similar to delivery drivers -- they can be tipped as such. $1-2 per ride is a good fit. In terms of Uber or Lyft rides though, former drivers will tell you to tip $2-5 at the very least.

Dropping off your coat at a coat check

This one is a bit of a gray-area tip scenario, but say you’re at a holiday party for your office. The attire is cocktail-dress, and it’s somewhere around freezing outside. Naturally, you’ll wear a coat, but you won’t want to wear it all night. Carry several dollar bills, and offer $1-3 per coat. Let’s face it, like in every other scenario, this is likely to change based on whether you have a hat, umbrella, bag, or other accessories.

Have you ever worked a service job where you received great gratuity? What made a difference?

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