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Bargaineering’s General Tipping Guide

Part of our society involves tipping others for services rendered. From eating out, to travel, to having your hair and nails done, tipping those who do work on your behalf, tipping is often expected. And it’s not just holiday tipping [3]; tipping is a major part of our society.

While there is some debate over whether tipping should be done at all, if you are going to do it, it helps to do it right. What’s tricky is that it can be very difficult to know how much you should be tipping. Not all tipping conventions are as cut and dry as a restaurant bill, where you give 15% for good service and 18%+ for exceptional service, but then again, not all tipping conventions are as controversial!

Here are some general tipping guidelines from the Emily Post Institute [4], which is widely recognized as an authority on etiquette:

At the Salon/Spa

When you go to the salon or spa, you are generally expected to tip those who help work on you. The general rule is tipping 15% to 20%. There used to be a practice of not tipping the salon owner. However, if the salon owner does work on you, he or she would be happy to accept a tip. And don’t forget shampooists with a tip of $1 to $3.

When more than one works on you, you can ask to divide the tips between those who provided service. Manicurists, waxers, and masseuses also warrant tips of 15% to 20%.


What you tip at a restaurant depends on where you are, and who is providing the service. Some of those that warrant tips include:

Restroom attendants, when you go to a restaurant or a club, or elsewhere, it is appropriate to tip between $0.50 and $3, depending on the level of service accomplished.

You should also tip those that bring you food to your home. 10% to 15% is usually appropriate, but take in mind the size of the order and the difficulty. There is no obligation to tip when you have take out, but you should tip 10% for curb delivery or for a complex order.

I found it interesting that the Emily Post Institute doesn’t deem it necessary to put money in the tip jars on counters as a matter of course. However, if you are a regular, or if you have received good service, it makes sense to add something to the jar.

When You Travel

Often you are provided with plenty of service as you travel. In general, you should tip a skycap or bellhop $2 for the first bag and $1 for each additional bag. The doorman should be tipped for carrying luggage ($1 – $4), hailing a cab ($1 – $2, plus extra if it rains), and providing extra service ($1 – $4).

Taxi drivers should be tipped 15% to 20% of the fare. Also, consider taxi drivers and shuttle drivers that handle your bags. As with skycaps and bellhops, it is appropriate to tip $2 for the first bag and $1 for each additional bag.

If you get help from the concierge, remember to tip. While you don’t need to tip the concierge for answering your questions, you should tip $5 – $10 for restaurant reservations and tickets. If you are getting the benefit of hard to get reservations or tickets, tip $15 for reservations, or 10% – 20% of the price for tickets.

How do you tip in different situations?