A guide to tipping in the US
Each country has a different tipping policy. In some countries patrons don’t need to tip at all because the final price on the bill has it included. This practice ensures everyone gets an equal amount of money from the tips. In these countries, those working in the hospitality industry receive higher wages because the tips are included. A similar practice is the “tips jar” in some locations in the countries where tipping is practiced and even encouraged through low wages. If you travel to the US, you need to tip those helping you out, read below how to do it.
The main rule in America is that you tip everyone who provides a service to you: waiters, taxi drivers, hotel staff, as well as those working in the beauty industry. Tipping at a fast food restaurant is not common, however tip jars have been placed and those using them usually put coins or $1 bills.
When it comes to the amount, a general rule says that 10% of the bill means the service was poor, 15% represents a decent service, a 20% means very good, and 25% represents an excellent service. In some states, 20% is the norm, and it might be expected of you to tip 25% at upscale restaurants regardless of the quality of service. IT is highly recommended you inform the manager of the poor service but still leave a tip.
In some locations you’ll have to tip more based on the number of people accompanying you, on the number of staff attending your group, as well as the amount of ordered food. Basically the higher any of these numbers are, the more you should tip. Even if you don’t actually see other people helping serving your table, chances are your waiter will split the tip he gets with other members of the staff: bartender, hostess, food runners, and so on.
In recent years, some locations across the US have included the tips on the final bill under the names gratuity and service charge. You should always look at the check to ensure you pay for what you ate, and not what your table neighbor did – mistakes do happen. By doing so, you’ll also learn if the tip is included or not. As a foreigner, you might be forgiven if you don’t follow these practices, but you’ll be labeled as stingy. If you plan on eating twice at the same location and want good service, make sure to follow the etiquette.
Some people offering their service to you generally receive a set amount of money, that can be as low as $1 and can go as high as $20 or more. These people are usually the hotel’s limo driver, concierge, cleaning staff, bellman, people parking your car, serving drinks in a casino, bartenders.
Lastly, when you book your hotel, make sure to do a research beforehand to see the average amount of money other guests tip the staff. The same can be said about particular locations you’ll eat or drink at. You’ll generally find pretty good info on the matter and save you face.