In the United States, it is common practice in many situations to leave a tip for a service provider. A tip is a payment that a customer leaves in addition to the cost of the service to show appreciation for a job well done. While tipping is usually not mandatory in the United States, it is customary, especially at sit-down restaurants.
Tipping in Restaurants
Depending where you are in the United States, tipping practices can vary, but tipping the wait staff at a sit-down restaurant is a universally recognized practice. The average tip is 15-20% of the total cost of your meal. When determining a tip, customers factor in the quality of the service they received. If the wait staff gave you an exceptionally great experience, you might want to reciprocate with an exceptionally great tip.
Keep in mind that the wait staff typically makes the majority of their income by receiving tips.
Some restaurants practice mandatory gratuities when large groups (typically more than six guests) are being served. Restaurants located in tourist centers, where customers may not be familiar with local tipping practices, often also use mandatory gratuities. A mandatory gratuity, also known as a mandatory tip, means that customers are required to pay the tip amount which is reflected on the bill. This requirement should be disclosed on the menu, or elsewhere in the restaurant before you are served.
When a mandatory gratuity is added to your bill, you can choose to pay more than the required amount, but you are not required too. You do not have to add an additional 15%-20% to a bill if a mandatory tip has already been added.
When you go out to eat at a fast food restaurant, you are not required to tip since you order at a counter, and there is no table service bringing you your food and drinks. However, some fast food restaurants, along with bakeries and coffee shops, may have a tip jar at the cash register. The tip jar is there to reward a job well done when you feel the service was exceptional, but it is not required. Many people will put a $1, or the change from their purchase, in the tip jar.
Other Instances Where You Should Tip
Besides eating in a sit-down restaurant, there are other instances where it is common practice to leave a tip. Below is a list of people and services that commonly receive tips in the United States.
1. Bartenders – 15-20% of service
2. Hair Dressers – 15-20% of service
3. Taxi Drivers – 15-20% of service
4. Tour Guides – 15-20% of service
5. Food Delivery Workers – 15-20% of service
6. Bellhops, Doormen, Parking Valets – $1-2 per bag
7. Housekeeper – $2-5 per night
Remember, tipping is subjective. Your tip can reflect the service that you feel was provided to you.