I tend to tip on the high end most of the time. Despite the other ways I might live frugally, this is an area where I don’t skimp. Perhaps because I spent time in the service industry so I know what it’s like to rely on tips. In any case, I always get confused when I travel about the tipping practice in the US vs. other countries. Even though I’ve traveled enough to know that I don’t need to tip so much in other countries, I have difficulty actually tipping less.
US Tipping Practices
Before we even get into how to tip in other places, we need to talk about tipping in America. Personally, I tip on anything where someone provides me a service. Examples of times I tip:
- Restaurants and bars and even tip jars at coffee shops
- Massages, salons, and similar body services
- Animal groomers
- Lyft rides and cab drivers
- The tour guide when I’ve taken a guided tour
- Delivery drivers
- Hotel staff such as bell hops and cleaners
How Much To Tip in US
Personally, I tip 20% on almost everything. When possible, I tip in cash even if I’m paying with a credit card. However, I’ll tip on the card if I don’t have cash. If I get terrible service, I might tip less. However, I honestly don’t tip significantly less. When I get great service, I’ll tip a little more.
This is all up for personal debate, though. Many people say a range of anywhere from 10% – 25% is an acceptable tip. Also, some people tip more for certain things than others. WanderinglustingK has a good guide about US tipping practices.
Regardless, most people in the US service industry expect tips. In fact, they rely on them. Very few cities in this country provide a living wage to people working in tipped jobs. That’s why we tip. That’s also why the tipping practice of US vs. other countries is so different.
Tipping Practice of US vs. Other Countries
Many places around the world don’t practice tipping the way that we do in the United States. In the best instances, it’s because they provide a living wage to people in all different working positions. Therefore, those folks aren’t relying on tips. However, this does vary a lot from country to country. And even within countries, there’s some variation between not tipping at all vs. only tipping for certain things.
For example, The Travel Channel has a great guide about common tipping practices around the world. It mentions that many restaurants will add a “service charge” to your meal. If so, then you don’t need to tip. If not, then you should tip. Their recommended tip amount is 10-15%. However, you wouldn’t tip at a pub or fast food place in the UK. So, as you can see, there’s variation between the US and UK, let alone all the other different countries in the world.
Do note that highly touristy areas in many countries have come to expect Americans to tip even if it’s not the general custom in the area where you’re visiting.
Travel Apps for Tipping Practices
If you aren’t sure about the tipping practice of US vs other countries when travel, turn to the Internet. You can easily do a search online to figure out if you’re supposed to tip. You might also download helpful apps designed to give you that information on the go. Grand European Travel recommends seven of them including Tipster and Gratuity.
How much do you typically tip on a restaurant meal?