Even if you don’t agree with tipping, you have no excuse to abstain from it. Here’s a quick primer with rules about tipping for different industries!

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Ever feel confused by how much to tip someone for their service?

You’re not the only one.

I remember moving back to the U.S. after spending more than a year overseas in Taiwan—where tipping is not expected, and even laughed at. Gratuity as a social norm seemed foreign and baffling (not all businesses pay their employees a fair wage?), and sometimes made me feel frantic. 

Was I tipping enough? Too little? Or even too much? 

It was even worse when I still had my student debt to consider; I hated feeling like I was paying “extra” but also couldn’t bear the idea of being a cheapskate and hurting someone’s livelihood.

Unfortunately, even if you believe that tipping is exploitative (as research suggests), you have no excuse to abstain from it. 

Below, I’ve gathered gratuity recommendations across different service industries so that others with a similar apprehension will be better prepared for future tipping scenarios.

(Please note—these suggestions were specifically written for an American audience and do not reflect tipping etiquette in other parts of the world.)


  • Sit-down Restaurant: 
    • According to Eater, you should tip 20% at minimum. However, other sources like Wide Open Eats consider 18% the baseline.  
    • Even if service isn’t to your liking, you should still tip 10% to 15% as a gesture of respect to your server.
  • Fast Food and Fast Casual: Don’t feel obligated to tip at these kinds of restaurants. Many places of this nature tend to have a tip jar; use this as a reward for good service.
  • Food Trucks: $1-2, says Eater.
  • Valet: $2-5
    • For more expensive or prized vehicles, it is considerate to tip a larger amount as thanks for care of your car.
  • Take Out / Pick-up Orders:
    • According to a CNBC poll, only 13% of people viewed tipping as a necessity when grabbing orders to go. Many reason that tipping isn’t needed because no table service is involved in a take-out order; however, some advise tipping a few dollars ($1-3) as a courtesy for the prep.
  • Delivery: 
    • Glamour recommends tipping 15-20% for large food orders.
    • However, for smaller orders like fast food, $2 to $4 is fine.


  • Uber / Lyft / Taxi:
    • As a general rule of thumb, tip 10-20%. According to MarketWatch, the average tip is $3.30.
    • For shorter rides, tip $1-2; for longer rides, tip more. You should also tip a larger amount for exceptional service, e.g., the driver helps with luggage or offers any amenities like water.
  • Airport / Hotel Shuttle: According to USA Today, tip $1 to $5. Opt for a larger tip if the driver helps with your baggage. 
  • Hotel Housekeeping: Opinions vary widely on this.
    • According to CNN, it’s fine to tip $1 or $2 per person per night.
    • For more upscale lodging, tip $3 to $5 per person per night. 
    • Be sure to tip per night rather than a lump amount at the end of a multi-night stay, as housekeeping staff may change. Also leave a note or label an envelope with your tip to make it clear that your gratuity is for them.

Grooming & Self-Care

  • Barber / Hairstylist: Byrdie advises tipping 15% to 20% of the total bill. Prepare to tip more during holidays.
  • Masseuse: For spa treatment, Today recommends tipping a flat 20% of the total service fee.
  • Nail Salonist: According to Glamour, you should tip nail technicians and artists 15% to 20% by default. However, as with many other services, tip more if you are especially pleased. 

Missing any categories you’d like to see here? Leave your suggestions in a comment!

2 Replies to “Tipping Etiquette: The Complete Guide to Gratuity”

  • Love this post! I was recently given another gift certificate for a massage. Since I’m not well-versed in self-care, I was totally wondering about the tip! Now I know. Thanks for putting this together!