How Much Should You Tip When Visiting The USA?

Tipping in the United States is generally a requirement in most cities, states and places where a service is given. Some charges are included in the total bill, others advise for the charge to be added in addition to the bill.
Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: Varun Yadav | Unsplash

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Before visiting the USA it’s good to know how much you should tip when you should, and what the expectations are.

Manhattan Uptown Ariel View. Photo: Jan Folwarczny | Unsplash

Tipping culture in the USA

Tipping in the USA is standard in the culture and is often an automatic extra payment on top of the final bill. Unlike in other countries where tipping is mostly down to personal discretion, in the US it’s seen as rude if you don’t tip or ask for a service charge to be removed.

Due to the expectation of a tip, most places will include a service/gratitude charge within the bill price. Where the bill leaves a blank space for you to write a tip in, this is when it’s down to you to decide how much you’d like to tip – this is most commonly 10% or more.

Times Square, New York City. Photo: Patrick Robert Doyle | Unsplash

How much should I tip a taxi driver?

Typically 10% of the fare, never less than $2. If your taxi ride comes to $35 then a 10% tip would be $3.50, but if you’re using cash and without coins then rounding up to the nearest whole number to pay with banknotes is more than enough.

Taxi apps such as Lyft and Uber offer in-app methods for tipping. Uber introduced their own ‘advisory’ rate of tipping, recommending to tip 15-20% for great service, 10-15% for good service, and 10% for mediocre/ok service. 

Santa Barbara, USA. Photo: James Coleman | Unsplash

How much should I tip a valet?

A standard tip for a valet retrieving your car is $2, but this can also be expected when dropping the car off as well as picking the car up at the end of the night. If the valet is having to travel far to retrieve the car, and in a timely fashion, increasing the tip to $5 is seen as a nice gesture. 

How much should I tip a bellhop/concierge?

A bellhop/concierge will expect a tip of $1 per bag, or $2 if you only have one bag. If you help the concierge with the bags, there will still be an expectation for you to tip them $1 for every bag. Where luggage is heavier or bulkier, a tip of $2 per heavy luggage is recommended. This will include both on arrival or departing from a hotel. 

Mr D’z Route 66 Diner. Photo: Heidi Kaden |

How much should I tip in a cafe, restaurant, or bar?

In bars, the tipping rate is $1 per drink even if there are offers/discounts on the drink. If you’re spending the night in a bar and the bartender is making cocktails for you all evening, the etiquette is to pay a larger tip on the tab at the end of the night. The average is a 15% tip to be paid when the tab is closed.

In cafes and restaurants, the tipping rate varies on the service provided.

If you received a good service tip, then 18%, excellent service 20%, and an average service 15%. If you’re not sure, the majority of cafes and restaurants will have a recommended tipping amount at the bottom of the receipt.

If you’re a group of eight or more, gratitudes will be automatically applied to the bill. 

Tipping in a cafe or restaurant in the USA is almost mandatory, the only time when it’s acceptable to not tip is if your experience has been truly awful. All other times, you will be expected to leave a tip of some sort. In takeaways, you’re not obligated to leave a tip, nor for baristas but dropping some change in a tip jar is a nice gesture.

Los Angeles Skyline. Photo: Andy Feliciotti |

How much should I tip hotel staff? 

The tipping rate in a hotel depends on the staff member and the service they provide you. For housekeeping staff, the expected tip is $2-$5 per night stayed, depending on the condition of your room, and leave the tip out daily.

For room service staff, tip a minimum of $5 but check first that this hasn’t already been included on your bill. 

Las Vegas. Photo: Julian Paefgen |

Who else do I need to tip in the US?

When visiting the USA, you will be expected to tip all of the above, but the tipping culture extends beyond this. In a casino, whether you win or lose, you’ll be expected to tip your dealer a minimum of $5 per hour you’re playing, or 10% of your buy-in. Tip with chips only, not cash. Also tip the cocktail waitress $1 for each free drink, either in cash or chips.

Hairdressers and spa services should be tipped 15-20%. Coat checkers/cloakroom staff should get $1 per item of clothing, and pizza delivery drivers should be tipped 10%.

Brooklyn, New York. Photo: Carl Solder |

USA tipping tips

Ensure you have enough cash, including lower dollar bill amounts ($5 and $1) to use for tipping when not paying electronically – e.g. valets, housekeepers, casino staff, etc. If you’re in a bar, cafe, or restaurant that has a two-for-one deal or using a discount coupon, there will still be an expectation to tip on top of your bill, the tip should be the equivalent amount to the cost of the bill if it was full price.

It’s important to remember to tip service industry staff, as its seen as a serious indiscretion, rude, and a personal affront if you don’t tip when it’s expected. When offering a tip, especially if directed to a specific person, be discreet about it. If you’ve had a bad experience and don’t want to leave a tip, speak to a general manager about the situation, don’t tip at all as this could escalate the situation. 

Always ensure you read your bills to check that tips haven’t been automatically applied to your bill. There’s an expectation to leave a tip in the USA, but you don’t need to double tip.


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