Do You Know How Much to Tip?

Your pen is hovering over the restaurant check…the bellman has just brought your bags to the hotel room…the delivery person is in your driveway. And, in each instance, you feel that awkward moment of hesitation about proper tipping etiquette. 

There’s good reason for your tentativeness about how much to tip, says etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, owner of Access to Culture. “Tipping can be one of the most confusing aspects of society, because the amount you tip is discretionary,” she explains. “But by no means is anyone required to follow a particular formula.”

To make things even muddier, general guidelines have been shifting over the years. What was considered generous a decade ago, for example, doesn’t always pass muster now. According to Diane Gottsman, founder of The Protocol School of Texas, “While 15 percent is standard for a restaurant tip, 18 percent is becoming the new norm, and 20 percent is easiest to calculate and most appreciated for great service.”

Add to that puzzle all the swirling thoughts in your head, Are they expecting a gratuity? Can I afford this? Did they earn the tip? Do I have to tip every person? And you’ve got an understandable conundrum on your hands. 

To clear things up, let’s test your tipping knowledge and set the record straight about everything from how much to tip your hairdresser and at the nail salon to how much to tip hotel housekeeping, with advice from pros in the know. After you test your tipping knowledge, check out our definitive guide to tipping around the world.