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Tips for Tipping: Who Does it Well, Who Doesn't and What Should You Do?

We’re sharing tips on tipping, everything from how much to tip for takeout to how much to tip housekeeping services.

November 10, 2021

In the U.S., tipping is a part of daily life. We’re accustomed to adding on a little something extra to our bill when we visit restaurants, hire dog walkers, get a haircut or pay for countless other products and services.

However, there are no objective rules for when or how much to tip, and people often have different opinions on what’s socially acceptable. Find out below who tends to tip more or less and the expected to tip in certain situations.

Who tips well, and who doesn’t?

Discussing how much you tip is something of a taboo. People don't usually comment on anyone else’s tips, at least not to their face. As a result, there are often significant differences in tipping habits.

Interestingly, there are distinct generational trends for who leaves tips and how much. First, let’s take a look at who is more likely to tip. Here’s an overview of what percentage of each generation reports leaving tips in the following situations.

As you can see, tipping tends to correlate directly with age. The older you are, the more likely you are to leave a tip.

However, there is a counterintuitive trend when it comes to the size of these tips. In most cases, when they do tip, younger people tend to have a slightly higher average tip percentage.

For example, in sit-down restaurants, millennials leave an average tip of 21%, while Boomers and members of Generation X leave 20%. Similarly, when millennials tip for takeout, they average 18%, while Generation Z averages 16%, and Generation X and Boomers average 13%.

Much less surprisingly, tipping is strongly linked to having a higher income. 82% of households with an income of $80,000 or more say they always tip at sit-down restaurants. Only 58% of households with a $40,000 income say the same.

How did COVID-19 affect tipping?

COVID-19 brought an increased element of risk for many essential business providers, including restaurant staff, rideshare drivers and delivery people. There was a significant cultural push to reward these workers, which manifested in higher tipping rates.

Before the pandemic, a little less than 40% of all online orders included a tip. That number went up to roughly 60% by mid-April, and around the same time, the average tip percentage grew from 16.5% to 18.5%.

However, it has also seemingly contributed to the rise of so-called “guilt tipping,” especially as in-person stores began to open back up. If you’ve never heard the term, it refers to the awkward moment when you go to pay and your clerk spins around their monitor to let you select a tip.

You’ll see options for 15%, 18% or 20% writ large at the top of the screen and a much smaller skip button below. These situations can create significant social pressure for people to leave a tip, even if they wouldn’t have done so otherwise.

It’s unclear whether these new tipping trends are a net benefit and to whom, but it’s something to consider as you shop. If your budget is tight, you can ask the employee serving you whether they’re getting the tips you leave in these scenarios, as is legally required, or if the business is pocketing the extra payments.

Either answer may help alleviate your guilt and inform your decision to tip or not to tip there.

What is proper tipping etiquette?

Tipping etiquette can vary significantly in different situations. For example, there’s a strong expectation for tips in a restaurant setting, but tipping hotel housekeepers happens less frequently. Here’s a quick overview of proper tipping guidelines in some familiar situations.

How much to tip a hairdresser

Hairdressers report that customers tip somewhere around 18% to 20%. You should generally reward good service with at least 20%, but it may be a good idea to give them closer to 25% if the work they did was unusually intensive.

It’s a common notion that you don’t tip your stylist if they’re also the owner of the salon. However, the Emily Post Institute of etiquette experts suggests that’s an outdated tradition. Stick to 15% to 20% for them, too.

How much to tip a barber

Barbers are very similar to hairdressers, and the expectation is that you’ll follow the same tipping etiquette guidelines and stick to the traditional 15% to 20% range. If you don’t feel like tipping well for your hair care, it’s probably time to look for a new service provider.

How much to tip for pizza delivery

Pizza deliverers don’t usually make much on an hourly basis, and they don’t get to keep the delivery fees you pay, either. It’s good form to tip the standard 15% to 20% for most food delivery, including pizza delivery.

How much to tip for grocery delivery 

Much like pizza delivery people, grocery deliverers rely primarily on their tips to make money. Unless they deliver your food egregiously late or in terrible condition, stick to 15% to 20%.

How much to tip for takeout

Takeout is one situation where tipping isn’t generally required. There’s often little to no service received, so no one is going to look at you funny for not leaving a tip. If you can afford to leave a few dollars, go ahead, but if not, don’t feel too bad.

How much should you tip a tattoo artist?

Tattoo artistry is a highly involved and personal service. You shouldn’t settle for anything less than a stellar tattoo artist, which means tipping them at least 20%. If you have a particularly technical or extensive piece, you may want to tip even more.

Are you supposed to tip movers?

You don’t have to tip the movers who haul your heavy stuff from place to place, but it happens often and is always appreciated. Instead of tipping a percentage, it’s typical to give a flat tip to each mover around $5 per hour, though you may want to give more if the job required more significant work than average.

Do you tip carpet installers?

Carpet installers are a lot like movers in that you don’t have to tip them. But, rewarding them for a job well done can go a long way. Again, you’ll probably want to tip between $10 and $50 to each worker.

How much to tip for housekeeping?

Tipping your housekeeper is always a good idea. A good rule of thumb is to leave a tip up to $5 per day, especially now that cleaning demands are more significant due to COVID-19.

Include tips in your budget

In general, a socially acceptable tip in America tends to be around 15% to 20% of the final bill. There are some exceptions and scenarios where no tipping is necessary, but you’ll rarely upset anyone if you tip in that range.

Of course, adding another 15% to 20% to your expenses isn’t cheap, so make sure to factor it into your budget. If you find that you can’t afford to tip for restaurant visits or food deliveries, you generally shouldn’t engage those services.

On the other hand, if you can afford to leave a tip, and you’re debating whether or not, it never hurts to leave a few dollars. Worst case scenario, the person may return the tip, citing it’s against company policy. 

If factoring in a tip is already cutting into your tight budget, here’s a tip: check out Tally†. Tally is a credit card debt repayment tool that can help you pay down debts quickly and efficiently. 

†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. Based on your credit history, the APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% - 29.99% per year. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.