# How Much to Tip Just About Everyone

From waitstaff to personal care to home services, find out whether a gratuity is common — and how much to offer.
Updated
Written by Laura McMullen
Assistant Assigning Editor
Edited by Courtney Neidel
Assigning Editor
Fact Checked

Many, or all, of the products featured on this page are from our advertising partners who compensate us when you take certain actions on our website or click to take an action on their website. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Deciding how much to tip depends on what kind of service provider you’re working with and how well they do their job. But if you’re looking for a general rule for services in the U.S., 15% to 20% of the bill is a common guide, according to most etiquette experts we interviewed.

## How to tip in general

A 20% tip is generous and requires straightforward math. To calculate a 20% tip, first identify 10%, then double that amount. So, if the total cost of your service was \$90.00, find 10% by moving the decimal one spot to the left, which leaves you with \$9. Then double that \$9 to find your 20% tip: \$18.

Or, skip the math and use a tip calculator.

Read on for the mechanics of how to tip, or jump to the list of how much to tip various professionals.

When tipping, try to give cash if you can. You could also be prompted to tip a certain amount with the credit or debit card you’re using to pay for your service. You may see a line for gratuity at the bottom of your bill, for example. Or you could see electronic prompts to tip, typically through the service provider’s app or at the point of payment.

## How much to tip various service providers

Before we get into how much you should tip, let’s start with why gratuity matters. Many states still allow employers to pay less than minimum wage to food and drink servers, so those workers rely on gratuity to make up for lower wages. Even for service-providers working at a higher wage, inflation may have eroded their ability to make ends meet.

“Do the right thing by tipping fairly and graciously,” says Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas.

### Food and drink servers

Servers. For servers in sit-down restaurants, aim for at least 15% to 20% pretax. If you’re able to tip more than 20%, do so for servers who went “above and beyond,” says Elaine Swann, founder of The Swann School of Protocol, based in Carlsbad, California.

For example, she says, tip more for servers who accommodated a very large party of diners, gave several wine and food recommendations, or accommodated the needs of small children.

Food preparers and baristas. If you’re simply picking up an order from a restaurant, leaving a few dollars up to 15% is standard, Gottsman says. She recommends thinking about the time and effort that went into fulfilling the order — the kitchen prepared the meal, a server packaged it and included helpful items like utensils and condiments, and an employee has either brought it to the front or delivered the meal curbside.

For over the counter service, tips are discretionary and range from \$2 to \$3 up to 20%, Gottsman says. Same goes for baristas.

Bartenders. Consider a dollar or two per drink, or 15% to 20% of the tab, recommends The Emily Post Institute, a fifth generation family business that gives etiquette guidance.

### Drivers

Food and grocery delivery drivers. Gottsman suggests leaving a tip of at least 15% for people bringing food orders, such as a pizza delivery or your week's groceries.

Rideshare drivers. When using rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft, aim for 15% to 20% gratuity, says Patricia Rossi, a business etiquette coach based in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area. Tip extra to drivers who give helpful advice, she says, such as local spots to explore or avoid. Sparkling clean cars with extra touches — think water bottles and phone chargers — warrant an extra dollar or two. Rossi also recommends giving your driver a high rating for a positive experience.

Valet. It can be good practice to tip between \$2 and \$5 for valet service, according to the Emily Institute, an organization that specializes in etiquette. Another option is to tip 15% to 20% of the cost of the valet service.

Earn up to \$350 in rewards each year
With a Nerdwallet+ membership, it's easy to rack up rewards for the smart financial decisions you're already making.

### Spa and salon professionals

Beauticians and cosmetologists. Plan to tip 15% to 20% for services related to your hair or skin, says Crystal L. Bailey, director of The Etiquette Institute of Washington, which is in D.C. Those services could include haircuts and styling, makeup application, eyelash extensions, waxes and manicures and pedicures. (Learn more about how much to tip a hairdresser.)

Massage therapists. Rossi says tipping 15% to 20% is usually appropriate. However, where you get your massage may determine how much gratuity (if any) is expected, according to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals website, a national association for massage therapists. Tipping is customary at businesses described as spas or resorts, but not at chiropractic clinics or physical therapy offices.

If you’re unsure of tipping etiquette, you can simply ask the massage therapist what’s appropriate. Or, explore our guide to how much to tip a massage therapist.

» MORE: How much to tip a dog groomer?

### Travel assistants

Skycaps, bellhops and door attendants. If you anticipate that someone will carry your luggage, get cash ahead of time — ideally in small bills. Give about \$2 per bag handled by a bellhop at a hotel, Bailey says. As for skycaps at an airport, The Emily Post Institute suggests \$2 for the first bag and \$1 per additional bag.

Give \$1 to \$4 to door attendants for carrying luggage, and \$1 to \$2 for hailing you a cab, The Emily Post Institute recommends.

Hotel housekeeper. Aim for about \$4 or \$5 per night, Rossi suggests. Learn more in our guide on how much to tip hotel housekeeping.

Concierge. Tip a concierge if they made you dinner reservations, booked you a tour or otherwise went out of their way to enhance your trip. Rossi recommends giving \$5 to \$30 “or more if they went way above and beyond.” For example, perhaps they somehow secured you sold-out concert tickets.

### Home service providers

House cleaner. If your house cleaner works for a company, check whether it clearly says tipping is either not allowed or simply not expected. If tips are allowed, keep in mind that only a portion of the fee you pay goes to the cleaning crew and you may wish to tip them. If you are satisfied with house cleaning services, it is not uncommon to tip 10% to 20%, according to The Maids, a residential cleaning company with franchises in more than 40 states. The Maids recommend tipping on the higher side for one-time or deep cleans, and consider gifting a holiday bonus — this could be an extra tip or a gift basket or gift certificate to show your appreciation.

If your cleaner is independent or a sole proprietor, who has set their own hourly wage or fee schedule, you have more latitude to tip one time a year around the holidays. A good starting point is to tip the equivalent of one service visit.

Carpet cleaner. Tipping a carpet cleaner is not mandatory. If you decide to tip, the amount is at your discretion, according to Angi, an organization that helps consumers find home service professionals. You can tip a flat fee of \$10 to \$20 per cleaner or opt for 10% to 20% of the total bill, recommends Angi.

Window washers. In comparison to other home service providers, window washers are not tipped as often, according to ASF Clean Team, a residential and commercial exterior cleaning company in California. However, if the window washer did an exceptional job, you always have the option to tip. ASF Clean Team recommends 5% to 10%, which would be between \$5 and \$20 for most average window cleanings.

Appliance installers. People that deliver and install appliances do not expect tips, according to HomeGuide, a company that connects homeowners with local service professionals. However, given that appliances can be heavy and may require being moved up or down stairs and in inclement weather, a tip of \$10 to \$20 to show your gratitude is appreciated, recommends HomeGuide. Note that some big-box retailers, such as Best Buy, don’t allow tipping; check the retailer’s website before offering a tip.

Carpet installers. There is no standard amount for tipping carpet installers, according to Angi’s home services website. Since the average carpet installation bill can be higher than \$1,700, tipping a standard 20% can get costly. Instead, Angi recommends sticking with a flat-rate tip of \$10 to \$20 per installer.

Window installers. Tipping a window installer is appreciated, but not required, according to Renewal by Anderson, a window and door replacement company. The company notes on its website that tipping up to 20% is acceptable, and other sites suggest 10% as a floor. Non-monetary forms of gratitude are also appreciated, like providing snacks and drinks while they are working in your home.

HVAC installers. Not all HVAC companies allow employees to accept tips so be sure to check the company’s policies before offering one, recommends the home service website Angi. Like other best tipping practices, 20% is standard, though \$20 to \$30 per worker is also acceptable.

Exterminators. Tipping is not expected but is appreciated, according to pest control company Bellas Exterminator. It suggests \$10 to \$20 for standard services.

Christmas light installers. If you are satisfied with the service and end result of holiday light installation, you can tip installers 10% to 20% of the bill, suggests Angi’s home service website.

Get more financial clarity with NerdWallet
Monitor your credit, track your spending and see all of your finances together in a single place.

## Questions about how much to tip

### What if you’re unsure whether you’re supposed to tip?

Say someone helps you, but you don’t know if tipping is appropriate. “Always err on the side of yes,” Gottsman says.

Still feel weird about it? “When in doubt, ask,” she adds. Pose something along the lines of: “I appreciate your help and would like to tip you — does your company allow you to accept tips?”

### What if you can’t afford to tip?

Experts’ opinions vary on what to do if your finances won't allow you to tip. Swann says that restaurant servers are the only professionals for whom tipping is a “staple” in the United States.

For other kinds of services, she says it’s OK to pay only the base price if you must.

But most experts urge you to plan for that tip. “Put yourself in a position where you can budget an extra 20%," says Pamela Capalad, a New York-based certified financial planner.

So, if you’re planning on getting an \$80 massage, make sure you feel comfortable stashing aside an additional \$16 for a 20% tip.

If the idea of shelling out \$96 total doesn’t work for you, consider rethinking your plans. “Be honest about what it costs,” says Delia Fernandez, a Los Alamitos, California-based CFP. “If you can’t afford it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it, or not doing it as often.”

### What if you’re unhappy with the service?

Say your experience was unpleasant. Consider discussing your dissatisfaction — calmly and privately — with the person you worked with or their manager.

If possible, “look for an opportunity to resolve it,” Swann says. For example, if your new hair color is far from what you expected, perhaps you could request that it be adjusted for free at another appointment.

As far as tipping, most experts say it’s OK to tip below 15%. But try to give at least some grace (and gratuity).