Tipping in USA

I'm visiting USA soon (really really soon) and need advise on tipping.

Hate tipping in general.

My understanding is 15% for any service (sit down meals, tour guides etc).

If I do a $600 helicopter ride am I expected tip another 15%?

What other tricky tipping situations should I expect to arise?

What tricks can I use to avoid tipping :D

Comments

    • +1 vote

      This is really good advice and almost exactly what I do. I've never figured out the hairdressers thing - who and when to tip!

      Room service I've never tipped because there's always been a service charge on the bill that you sign.

      Maid I usually tip $2

      • +1 vote

        Agreed. I don’t tip room service either as there’s always an included service fee on the receipt.

    •  

      thanks list is crazy. Maybe 10% of bill excluding tax in a proper restaurant, not a burge joint, but everything else you've got to be kidding. Watch Americans. They don't tip in lots of places.

      Think about it. If everyone stopped tipping, wages in restaurants would have to go up. Already happening in NYC.

      Why would you say to tip a taxi but not a Uber ?

      •  

        Because when we were there I tried typing Uber drivers and they all refused, but now it is an option in the app so a bit more expected.

    • +2 votes

      Doormen $1-2 if you ask for more than directions

      So if I ask a hotel clerk for a recommendation for dinner/restaurant, directions, etc… You'd need to tip? I would find that exchange awkward…

      •  

        Yep. Just have stacks of one's in your pocket, flick a couple out with a "thanks for your help" and walk off.

  • +16 votes

    Apart from the fact that tipping exposes the US's failed industrial relations system, it also makes no sense. Why do I tip a barman and not the counter person at McDonald's?

    • +2 votes

      I'm sure that you can tip the McDonald's person.

      •  

        But if I tip the IRS taxman, I'd get arrested for bribery

      •  

        What if we tipped the cops?

    •  

      exactly. I've had some people in retail stores spend a lot of time with me, helping me find clothes that fit etc. Far more time than anyone in a restaurant. Many retail stores in USA don't pay much as basic wage. Why wouldn't you tip them ?

      I mean where does it end ?

      • +10 votes

        I mean where does it end ?

        It ends when everyone there gets paid $0 an hour and they all work for tips. Capitalism at its peak.

        • +1 vote

          Well, at least I won't be paying income tax, lmao!

    •  

      And from all the comments above - Why am i meant to tip someone that gave me bad service?

  • +1 vote

    Since you can't avoid visiting entirely, which would be the smart choice as a country dumb enough to have a tipping system (let alone everything else wrong over there) can't possibly be worth supporting financially with your tourism dollars, just don't be afraid to ask, you don't have to pretend to know what you're doing.

  •  

    It's the worst for tourists who aren't used to it, sometimes they just expect it and add it to your bill, so it's make a scene or pay even if it's been bad service bad food!

    I'm happy tp pay when the service has been good and lets face it you can't go hungry n the. U.S.

    2 main meals can feed a family

    Don't forget your ID if you plan on having a drink I had to buy a 50 year old colleague drinks because of the no id no alcohol rule.

    Don't allow them to charge it to your card always have a stash for the tip pay for the meal and then leave what you think is fair sometimes the hard truth it is they don't deserve anything.

    You're not expected to tip everyone minimum wage was and is it's intended target it just to out of hand, would you tip an architect for designing a project after agreeing to a price?

    use common sense and stay away from 3 card monty

    •  

      use common sense and stay away from 3 card monty

      But how much should you tip the dealer?

      •  

        This annoyed me that dealers expected to be tipped… or have bet put on their half.

    • -1 vote

      If you cant afford to tip then you cant afford a sit-down restaurant.
      Fortunately, there are plenty of non-tipping options in the USA.

      Street food; eg. hotdogs
      7-11 food; sandwiches and zapped up meals
      Take-away joints; in/out burger, maccas, KFC etc
      Delis; for real subs
      Supermarkets; sandwiches, even hot cooked pizza.
      Shopping Centre; food courts.

      •  

        It's not about the affordability. I'm sure anyone who can afford to go overseas can also afford to tip. I understand that people don't tip out of principle because it's a screwed up system ie. employees relying on tips so that the employers can pay them less. By tipping them, it enables the ideology.

        •  

          That’s the point I was making?
          If you don’t want to tip… there are plenty of options in the USA to avoid tipping. (I listed them).

          You are seriously advocating not tipping in a restaurant in the USA?
          I would rather follow the laws and customs of foreign countries when I visit them and I would suggest others do likewise.

  • +4 votes

    Tipping State-side:.

    1. Where appropriate, do tip. "I'm Australian, we don't tip" isn't appropriate and is a poor excuse. Many workers in the US literally rely on tips as their base pay includes the expectation that tips will be paid.

    2. Definitely tip:

    Restaurant service staff @ 15% OK, 20% Good, 10% Bad. Only don't tip if things were so bad that you literally walked out.

    Bartenders and Coffee Shop @ $1 a drink.

    Tour guides, bus drivers and hotel service staff @ an appropriate rate. Take prompts from others. Tour guides should suggest an appropriate rate, which isn't considered rude.

    Room cleaning is a bit more hit-and-miss. It's becoming more common. If you're only serviced once in a multi-day stay don't bother. If your room is always spotless $20 at the end of a stay is appropriate. If you ask for an extra clean, definitely tip. On my last stay I had 4 days and got cleaned once, so no tip. Had I been cleaned every day then I'd have left $20. Suspect the maid didn't bother because she heard the accent and assumed I wouldn't tip.

    Fast food - No tip except for drive-in.

    1. Repeat, it is not appropriate not to tip. In the US, you don't tip because you're an (profanity), not because you're Australian.

    2. This specific question, I wouldn't expect to tip a helicopter pilot, they're a well paid profession in general. But, have $50 available just in case it becomes obvious that a tip is expected or others offer one.

    The accent can be a problem. I have had people in the US hear the accent, assume I won't tip well and had levels of service to match. To be honest, tipping is a matter-of-fact thing in the US now and just isn't associated with a 'nice extra' at all, so don't be afraid to be up front. I've had crummy service in good restaurants with client when other tables have been fine. I've just taken the server aside, explained that I'm not happy with the service and that's general been enough, they understand the implication.

    •  

      Always tip the house maids. Hard working women who are pushed by management to turn rooms in unreasonable time frames. The porters get $1-$2 per bag, so say $4 ( for our family $10) for 5 minutes work. The poor house maids get frequently nothing for 20 minutes working their arse off for minimum wage. I always feel sorry for them and leave a minimum of $5 per day. You usually end up with multiple extra towels/ toiletries, extra bottles of water etc, so it's worth it.

    •  

      that's a very good and valid point.

      Now i will say up front from this point in the conversation onwards is #sarcasm

      Now the once treasurer of this country said "get a job that pays good money"

      i travel regularly through Asia and always go out of my way to tip in 3rd world developing countries. geez i even would tip the lady in the mini market near my room in hoi An as she would always bring my ciggies and alcohol to me daily in the hotel next door.

    •  

      I prefer to tip daily for house keeping, because different cleaners can work different rooms and different days.

    •  

      there is absolutely no reason to tip ever in USA. You make it sound compulsory & it's not.

      We've been to restaurants where waiters were stoned & we walked out, no tip & we didn't pay for anything at all.

      All this rubbish about how much you have to tip is just garbage.

      It's totally up to you.

      We had a pizza delivery guy try it on, when we heard our accent. We told his to take a hike. If he hadn't tried it on, we might have said keep the change.

      Plenty of Americans don't tip. Watch them next time.

      •  

        I've been to places where you get grief when you don't tip and you, certainly, don't want to go back to a place where you don't tip - they have oh so many ways they can put you in your place. Funnily enough I've been there quite a few times and most Americans do tip because they know their system is really broken for the people on minimum wage. What a number of places are doing now is adding a service charge onto the bill; because of people who don't tip. It is something to watch out for because you might put in a tip as well as the service charge if you aren't watching. My personal opinion is give them a decent wage and add it into the prices of the meals, but they like to keep up the illusion of the service being better with tips.

  • +2 votes

    All I remember is it was a huge PITA to keep a wad of $1 notes on your person at all times. $1 for the bar tender, $1 for the valet, $1 for the doorman… ugh…

    •  

      Bartender at least you can ask for change lol

  • +10 votes

    I'll never visit America just for this fact alone. What a total PIA. The very idea of forced tipping is utterly insane. Europe beacons once again!

    •  

      I'm already not going because apparently they can search up your ass at the airport.
      Also, no tablets allowed on planes.

      • +3 votes

        One of these statements is wrong.

      •  

        link, on tablets, please.

      •  

        https://www.estavisaus.org/news/traveling-usa-laptop

        This is what I could find around electronic devices on planes. I think you can have the devices.

        My understanding is they do reserve the right to check your social media sites on the way in and will ask for all your passwords, if they want to check. I have no social media apps and I post almost nothing under my own name. I also clean out my history etc before I travel.

        I think I've done enough travel to the USA for the time being as well.

  • +12 votes

    Tipping in the US in one word: insane.
    I was in Japan recently and my American friend left 1000 Yen ($14) in the room as a tip for the maid. It was returned in a hurry by the maid who was distressed that she may be in some sort of compromised situation. Both parties could not understand each other's perspective

    • +1 vote

      I've had a similar thing happen in Japan when I tipped about $8.50 in change, and for chased down the street with my change by a distressed Japanese woman. A quick Google search explained why so I learned not to do that again.

      • +1 vote

        Ditto. Read about the culture so didn't. But then FINALLY found a place that had Sensational coffee (rest of Japan was 5/10) so we left a dollar. Owner steadfastly refused despite our explanation. They then gave each of us a slice! Couldn't win :-)

  •  

    We didnt really tip at all. sit down restaurants yes generally the standard amount(10-15%) but many places have a few percentages calculated on the bill already.

    Gave $20 to hotel driver that massively helped us make a train/flight(cant remember which) and maybe a few dollars to the valet at the one hotel we stayed at that had valet parking. I hate uppity snooty bullshit and so generally didnt choose fancy but I wasnt going to make some at the bottom end pay for it.

    No bartenders because the whole idea of overpaying for a colourless, flavorless poison drink is odd. No doormen because I can work a door and won't stay in a better than thou hotel, no over the counter hospitality staff (ie fast food, coffee etc), no gambling (THIS, IS, OzB!), no room service, didnt tip cleaners or taxi drivers or amtrak or greyhound or FAs.

    The trip was super expensive and we didnt do as many of the common tourist traps mentioned here. US has so many obvious problems but is a neolib/consumer/entertainment media heaven.

    •  

      I agree with this…i went to USA 3 years ago did the same thing

    •  

      Big mistake not tipping the bartender, those in the service industry and especially bartenders have a scratch my back/scratch your back mentality. You get your tip back and then some in stronger drinks and free drinks.

      Of course it depends on the place and bartender.

      • +4 votes

        What a wonderful system. If you bribe the bartenders they will steal from their place of employment for you! God bless America. :)

        •  

          Nah they steal from the customer who didn't tip, so it all evens out for the bar owner ;)

      •  

        I dont alcohol so never happened. Was a stupid time at a hotel restaurant where we had to go back and get passports to eat dinner as they were licensed even though we stated we would not be ordering any.

  •  

    is this like debra harry in the USA?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT3-Ol3iaMU

  • +5 votes

    This is why I love visiting Japan. You would get a confused/embarrassed look if you try tip them for their service and they would vigorously refused if you still insist lol.

    Having said that, they really do they take pride in their customer services, even at small restaurants. I was surprised to always see how accommodating and nice they are especially in crowded places such as at Disneyland and Universal studios (then again, everyone is relatively respectful). I wish Australia was half as good.

    I don't think I would ever get use to the American tipping system.

    •  

      Where excellent service is the norm and expected, I guess it doesn't warrant any special reward but having said that I have tipped a taxi driver whilst in Japan but he went above and beyond to get me there in time.

  • -1 vote

    I just visited Hawaii, where some service was great, some so-so. Do pay the 15 percent for great service when you get it.

    If the service is absolutely horrendous then dont tip at all. Or tip them one cent - It shows you havent forgotten to tip, just thats how much you think their service was worth.

  •  

    12.5% for good service max it out at 15% if the service is impeccable and always tip the server not the business because some places dont past it all on to staff

    Dont waste your money on 20% tipping

    If the services isnt good TIP ZERO and if they say anything explain why they wont question it if the service was bad ie i had a dirty plate a apple-bees the tip was meant to be 7-8$ i explained i would be tipping a 1$ to the server and that it they totally understood

    You dont have to tip Uber drivers but some do 'expect' something so keep 1$ bills on you all the time you can lose a f*** tone of money if you stick to the 15% rule but in reality that has a load of grey area and unless it is a sit down restaurant you can generally get away with a lot less.

  • +11 votes

    For anyone reading this thread that is going to the USA for the first time please don't follow the advice some of the cheap asses in this thread that probably got a joy out of saving a few dollars on tips on a holiday that would have cost thousands of dollars.

    10% tip at a restaurant for decent service is not okay. Tip 15% minimum.
    If you get great service there is nothing wrong with tipping 20%.

    Tip your freaking bartender. It's not hard. $1 a drink. if you are paying with card when you don't have cash you can still easily give the tip.

    The system is no doubt stupid but you are a guest of another country. Respect and follow their rules. Don't perpetuate the stereotype that Aussies are terrible tippers.

    Also don't go to Applebee's. Can't say I'm shocked that someone who thinks 10% tips are okay also goes half way around the world to go to a terrible chain restaurant.

    •  

      Yeah, go with this guy ^

      People in the US deserve a living wage and it's no individual's fault that hospitality workers don't get that from their wages alone.

      Don't be a stingy bastard. You're on holiday, it's already a luxury. Be kind.

    • +2 votes

      Your on Ozbargin not - Oz pay money for no reason

      gotta keep that in mind

  •  

    So many confused Aussies as we don’t tip around lol.

  •  

    Hmm, I see a lot of resentment about paying tips at restaurants in the US - isn’t it expected here now as well? There are also tip jars at most coffee shops, hairdressing salons etc. I suppose I don’t quite feel the same pressure here as the US but it’s certainly becoming more prevalent.

    • +4 votes

      Tip jars are not an obligation - they're the result of the obvious-in-retrospect observation that most people hate carrying small change and will gladly give it back to you if you let them!

  •  
  •  

    So say the service is really good and the total bill is $100 incluiding taxes but not tipping, I tip $20 to the cute waitress, she gets the $20 tip, does she pay any tax on this $20 tip? Another thing is does she get to keep the entire $20 or does she has to share with someone else?

    •  

      In the US it is assumed she will be getting tips and will be taxed on that assumption hence why it even bad service you should be tipping about 10%, 0% they would have to have basically abused you or you walked out for some reason. Aussies get a bad reputation over their for thinking it is ok to tip 0% for bad or 10% for good service hence why if they know you are an aussie you may get far less attention than other patrons. As to sharing the tip it depends on the place and arrangements, some places pool the tips and then split it equally with all staff, others don't.

      Personally when there, for exceptional service I split the tip, I put a standard tip on the credit card bill and then some extra notes on top as the tip for them personally so that even if they are splitting they know they can pocket the cash portion of the tip themselves.

  • -1 vote

    Im sticking to my guns be as cheap as you can when you travel only spend money on things that will benefit you and your holiday the yanks do the same when they come here.

    Look after yourself in life protect your money because i guarantee no one will hand you money for 0 reason when you dont have it.

    Micheal Jordan doesnt/barely tips blokes a Billionaire dont feel bad if you barely tip too

    If you are being charged 14USD for a drink they have take enough money from you!

    •  

      Do you travel to south east Asia or similar?

  • +4 votes

    Ignore everything. Tip 15% max for food and carry your own bags. Too much complicated nonsense advice here. Nobody ever yelled at me or said anything. Multiple US trips

    •  

      Scrolled down to say this. It's a undoubtedly dumb system, but it's also NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. Just pay the tip and have a good time. There is a lot of fun to be had in the States!

  • +6 votes

    Tipping culture is so stupid, glad we don't adopt that here.

    • -7 votes

      Yes/No i see the benefits of it - as someone who back in the uni days worked in hospitality it could be beneficial because the busier you are the harder you work the more money you make - it also encourages staff to be polite because lets be honest your more likely to put in good service if you might get a few more $$ out of it

      I have met Uni students who worked bar and made 500USD in tips on a friday/saturday night which is great money.

      Conversely it puts the emphasis on the consumer and good people like people on this forum that have good intentions essentially get ripped off by tipping 20% for someone being you a plate of food and taking your order….

      Also if a business is not busy employees can essentially be earning little money or min wage due to a lack of business

      I also think the high min wage we have in Australia has destroyed manufacturing and is killing the retail sector

      Though it is confusing for us - it is normal for them I dont want us to adopt a tipping culture here because wages are high going out for dinner is incredibility over priced as it is - places charge 5$ for coffee, 30$ for pasta and 60$ for a steak etc

      • +2 votes

        Eating out in Australia is actually relatively affordable, especially compared with Europe.

        • +1 vote

          Depends where in Europe UK yeah i agree

          Eastern Europe is cheap like asia

          • +2 votes

            @Trying2SaveABuck: True I was thinking UK and western Europe, but I also said relatively… I imagine Australian salaries are higher than Eastern Europe

        • +1 vote

          Eating out can be cheap in Aus and Europe. You just have to know how to do it the Ozb way. And I'm not talking abt fast food rubbish.

          •  

            @gimme: When you are travelling or a tourist from a foreign country i think expecting people do be able to do it the Ozbargin way might be a little bit of a stretch….

            Though i do agree with you groupon, Fork etc can save you a good amount of money overseas if you are willing to make the effort

            •  

              @Trying2SaveABuck: Ozb way is a lifestyle. It knows no boundaries lol. And yea the european fork app is loaded with great specials. It only takes a little effort and research. People here spend hours to save a few dollars. Shouldn't be too hard for them.
              PS I never use groupon for food. Much better and flexible options

  •  

    Leave the Ralph polo or Tommy Hilfiger shirt at home and dress like a shab….

  •  

    Dang! I saw the title at first as 'tripping in USA'

  • +1 vote

    Actually I was in the US last year and tipping has increased depending on the city and restaurant / company. A lot of the places i went to in NY were now basically insisting on 20-25% tips, it was crazy, so even the already expensive nice restaurants were asking for that much. Some places automatically include the tip as well so you dont even get a choice, including Cabbies. It was quite annoying for someone who isnt used to tipping unless the service warranted it.

    • +2 votes

      Just assume everywhere is 20%, and if you can’t afford that, don’t go to those restaurants

    • +1 vote

      Also confirming 20% is the norm. I caught up with a cousin living on the east coast whose practice was 20%. I've also heard locals on podcasts whose basis is 20%.

      It's a stupidly confusing system when viewed from an australian perspective

    • +2 votes

      that is a fairly low act. basically you are saying you could not afford to eat at the restaurant so you screwed over the staff.

  •  

    If you're going to a bar, tip at least $1 per drink (I was told $1 per drink, but that was a long time ago). Honestly, tip a bartender like an extra $5 or $10 at the start of the night and they'll probably serve you first and give you a lot more when they free pour. Will work out being better bang for buck for you.

    Tipping is part of the culture there, so I wouldn't try to avoid it. Tip for good service.

  • +4 votes

    Reading this thread makes me understand why a lot hate Aussie tourists.

    When travelling, you abide by the customs of the other country.

    • -1 vote

      F*** dat who abids by our country we just had the PM of NZ tell us we shouldn't be sending criminals back to there country! after they commit serious crimes!

      •  

        Sigh… something tells me you just read the headlines of news stories and become an expert on them.

        The PM (and most NZ politicians & populous) are against the deportations of people who have basically been born in NZ but living here for a significant amount of time. Most raised here for the majority of their lives (eg. An example of a boy who moved from NZ from the age of six then whilst out celebrating his 21st gets into a serious fight gets deported to NZ)… Most Kiwis argue that he is not kiwi based on formative years etc… he is in-effect an Aussie.

        Due to having Kiwi parents (and the reciprocal agreement between Australian & NZ - both parties can be PRs of their host country without the need to applying for visa's), these kids don't need to take out Aussie passports and due to that can then be liable to be deported. Now, keep in mind that Dutton & his ilk are also deporting Aussie's who are dual-kiwi internationals.

        Anyway, long story short - we have every right to criticize a stupid rule especially as most of these people have no connection to where they were born and generally are ostracised from their supposed homes. These so-called Kiwi's are actually Aussies.

        One of the main points of difference between Australia & NZ seems to be that you have to be seen to have European heritage to get the privileges of being assumed to be an Aussie. NZ doesn't have this hang-up (thanks to the Maori).

        end rant

        •  

          All that ranting all ill say is this

          Pretty simply dont break the law!

  • +2 votes

    Take the Steve Bausicmi approach from Reservoir Dogs

  •  

    Uhh, if your helicopter pilot is getting paid a tipping wage, I wouldn't get on the ride!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipped_wage

  •  

    Tips is part of the price in the US, just learn to accept it. It's a different country with a different culture and being immersed on a different culture is part of the trip whether you like it or not.

    Tipping IS THE NORMAL in the US. It's rude not to tip unless you really had a terrible experience.

    When you choose not to tip in Australia, the person who provided you the service still makes enough money regardless. You skip on the tip in the US because you 'don't like to tip' and you screw someone who is trying to work for an honest dollar. It's a completely different scenario and it's incredibly entitled to expect another country to suit your own views of what is normal.

    Now, the coffee… that's messed up. Get your @#%% together US of A. Pronto!

    •  

      I dont drink coffee but my man agrees with you, however, he also thinks the same about many of the coffee places in Europe. (Sangria in Spain and Portugal is a different thing). Apparently Australia has been exporting Brunch places to Europe and America, so we are doing our bit to improve the sitution. We went past the Hardware Society Cafe in Paris and, alas, we had exported the Melbourne queue as well. It was hilarious listening to the waiter explain to this person, in French, they don't take bookings.

      •  

        Australia is spoiled for choice… hahaha but even here there are PLENTY of places that suck. And some of them even feature the friendly beardo barista and the chalk board menus that make it all feel safe and enticing… then BOOOOM! "Here's your mop juice in a cup!"

        •  

          Not around Fitzroy, they don’t last around here.

  •  

    I've seen some places IN AUSTRALIA trying to get you to tip. Their eftpos machine has an option that forces me enter a tip amount, which I always entered ZERO and got dirty looks from the server. The last time I remember was in Noosa. Hope it never catches on here.

    •  

      Read my comment below…. I will reimburse you :)

  •  

    Tipping under compulsion sucks… Do you have to tip at McDonalds, ffs?

    •  

      Haha, I asked by cousins this while I was in the US! They said no, not at McDonald's (or Mickey D's as they call it)!

  •  

    Is USA the only country has compulsory tipping?

  •  

    I looked after a US colleague of mine for a week recently, and he kept tipping people, even a guy who took his coat in a restaurant. I kept telling him he didn't have to here in Australia , but he said he felt very uncomfortable not tipping and kept doing it. I think it is ingrained in their psyche .