How Much to Tip a Valet

Tipping is a way to show gratitude for valet services, and 15% to 20% tends to be the industry standard.
Elizabeth Ayoola
By Elizabeth Ayoola 
Edited by Courtney Neidel

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If you drive to a hotel, show or restaurant, you sometimes have to choose between self-parking or using a valet service. How much should you tip the valet if that’s the option you go with? The amount varies depending on the services rendered and your budget.

Whether you're using a valet because there aren’t parking options nearby or out of convenience, here’s some guidance on how much to tip.

Why should you tip a valet?

People who offer valet services move and park your car, which isn’t always an easy job. At times, they have to work in hectic environments, or through severe weather conditions like rain or snow to get the job done. You’re also leaving an expensive asset in their possession, hoping they’ll care for your car and keep it safe.

If you receive prompt and courteous service from valet workers, that’s more reason to tip, says Matthew Galicz, owner of Knights Valet in Tampa, Florida.

How much should you tip a valet?

Valet is a service-based business, so tipping is usually expected. How much you tip, however, is up to you. That said, there is a baseline you can follow.

“I think a good range for valet service is between $2 and $10 with $5 being a pretty standard recommendation of an average tip,” says Daniel Post Senning, author and spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute, an organization that specializes in etiquette.

You may also choose to go with the service industry’s standard tipping percentage, which ranges from 15% to 20%. That means if you pay $20 for a valet service, you would tip the person who handled your car at least 15%, or $3.

Galicz shares similar sentiments about how much people should tip for valet services. However, he adds that the tip often hinges on the quality of service the valet worker provides. That’s usually the way it works across the service industry.

“At a lot of our locations, you see our guys averaging probably a little bit over $5 per tip," Galicz says.

Do you have to tip a valet?

You never have to tip, but it is customary to do so. It can also help to keep in mind that many workers look forward to tips to supplement their base pay.

“This is a very traditional tipping expectation and participating well in the system of tipping for valet service isn't something someone needs to angst over or feel like is a new imposition,” Senning says. “It's something that you want to account for as part of using that service.”

» Learn strategies for navigating today's tipping culture

What happens if you can’t afford to tip a valet?

While tipping is often expected, it isn’t always something your budget can accommodate, and that’s OK. We don’t recommend spending your last dollar or money you don’t have because you feel obliged to tip. If you can’t afford to tip valet workers, remember there are other ways to show gratitude.

One way to do this is by saying a simple thank-you or other kind words, Senning says.

“Let your words communicate that gratitude that the gratuity is meant to express as well,” he says.

Another way to show appreciation beyond a tip is giving feedback, Galicz says.

“The establishment that they are at would always love to hear positive feedback about the experience, whether or not [the customer] could tip,” he says.

Some avenues you can use to give feedback include leaving Google or Trustpilot reviews, sending an email or calling management to praise someone who gave you exceptional service.

Whether you can afford a tip or not, remember the goal is to make the person who offered a service to you feel appreciated, Senning says.

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