South Africa is known for many magical things – world-class wine farms, enchanting coastal towns, sensational safaris, and a kaleidoscope of culture and cuisine. It’s a tourist’s dream, but for all its beauty and natural wonder, it is also still a country finding its feet after a checkered and unequal past. For this reason, the majority of South Africans still live below the breadline, with many living hand-to-mouth. Those in the service industry are often on minimum wage, and thus tipping forms the backbone of their monthly earnings.
In this article, we’ll explore several people that you’ll tip when visiting South Africa. These include:
• Restaurant servers
• Bar staff
• Hotel personnel
• Petrol attendants
• Taxi drivers
• ‘Car guards’ (an informal yet popular phenomenon in SA
Where You Should tip
Some of the places you’ll tip are the usuals, you know, at restaurants and hotels. Other areas might be a little new to you. Luckily, this guide can help.
Restaurants: It’s standard practice to tip at restaurants, with 10 % being the minimum and around 15 % being the norm for a great experience. Some restaurants might include a tip, especially if you are a party over six. Always check your bill to see if service has been included.
Bar staff: Like servers, bar staff rely on tips as they usually earn minimum wage. Tip around 10 – 15 % of your bill, and a bit extra if they’ve made an extravagant cocktail or mega round of drinks.
Hotel personnel: It’s always an appreciated gesture to tip hotel staff, especially when they make your stay all the more comfortable. Porters can be tipped immediately (a 10- or 20-Rand note will usually suffice), and housekeepers can be tipped at the end of your stay. Work on around R50 a day or more if you’ve loved the service and leave the money in an envelope for them at reception.
Petrol attendants: Unlike in the UK, USA, and many other destinations, petrol attendants pump the gas in SA. This means that you can relax in your vehicle while they do the work. Tip them in cash if possible, or add a tip to the card transaction. R5 – R20 is the norm.
Taxi drivers/ Uber drivers: As a general rule, tip your driver 10 – 15 % of the journey fee. If they have been super helpful – like doing a few extra stops or helping with luggage – tip a little more.
Car Guards: While some establishments hire formal personnel to monitor parked cars and direct traffic out the parking lot, others take it upon themselves to watch your vehicle. They might also help you unpack groceries or take your trolley back to the mall. With high unemployment rates, this is a way for people to carve out a living. As a general rule, tip R5 – R10. Some car guards have Snap scan making it all the easier.
Top Tips (Literally!)
• If you can do so, tip in cash. While a card tip will always be appreciated, servers will only get these in a week or two. Cash tips mean that they can get the money immediately.
• Don’t blame waitpeople if you’re not happy with a meal. Judge servers on their service and professionalism and the way in which they handle complaints. Take more significant concerns to management.
• If you tip kindly at the bar when you order your first drink, you’ll probably be helped sooner the next time!
• When a petrol attendant goes that extra mile – cleaning your windows, pumping your tires, and checking the oil and water – tip them a little extra for the effort if you can.
• Some parking lots offer paid ticket parking and have security booms and systems in place. Here you won’t have to tip extra to a formal or informal car guard. However, if you’re parking is unpaid, consider tipping the car guard for that extra pair of eyes and security.
Tipping is the thing to do in South Africa, and a little can go a long way to make someone’s day a little brighter and show you appreciate their service. If you’re planning a trip to South Africa, check out these guides for Cape Town and Johannesburg.