There are few countries as diverse and dazzling to explore as the United States – there’s just no doubt about it. The one potential pitfall? Tipping. It’s one of those sticky etiquette issues all travelers have to face. After all, the U.S. is so big on it, and it can be intimidating if you don’t know the ins and outs.
So, forget about reaching for your wallet with nervous, sweaty hands. Our guide to tipping in the U.S. will help you navigate eating out, traveling, staying in hotels, and everything else you might want to know.
Eating out in the U.S.
Trying new food and restaurants is one of the most pleasurable parts of traveling and one of the most common tipping scenarios. If you are sitting down to a meal at restaurant with wait staff, tipping will be expected. smart tours The customary tip is 15 to 20 percent of the total bill, but there is nothing stopping you from giving more or less. Americans rarely dispense with restaurant tipping entirely, but they do take into account the quality of service when determining gratuity. Feel free leave a smaller or bigger tip based on how you felt about the service.
If your mental math isn’t up to much, many restaurants will include a suggested tip amount on the bill. In other words, larger dining parties won’t even need to sweat the tip amount. Whatever the case, you can feel free to leave your tip on the table.
Tipping is so customary in the U.S. because restaurant servers, and other people with jobs that accept tips, often depend on gratuity as the most substantial source of income. In some cases, employers are allowed to pay their employees based on “tip credit.” This means servers could earn as little as $2 per hour, plus whatever they receive in tips. Under the tip credit system, employees’ pay plus tips must reach the minimum wage threshold of $7.25 per hour.
While tipping is a given in sit-down restaurants, you enter murkier waters in different types of eateries. The 15 to 20 percent rule is no longer the standard at “fast casual” spots. Some of these restaurants will have a tip jar on the counter, while others might not. Tipping is up to the diner’s discretion (i.e. it’ll be appreciated by staff, but you won’t be judged for not leaving anything extra).
Going to a bar for drinks is different than sitting down for an entire meal, but tipping bartenders is pretty common practice. If you get a single drink, you can give just a few dollars in tip. Generally, the tip amount will correlate with how long it takes for the bartender to whip up your libation. If you get a fancy cocktail your tip will be bigger than what you’d leave for a simple beer. If you rack up a big bar tab – hey, you are on vacation after all – you can give a few dollars with each order, or you can fall back on the 15 to 20 percent of the total bill rule.
Getting around in the U.S.
If you decide to hail a cab, your driver will be expecting a tip after getting you to your destination. The standard tip for a taxi driver is 10 percent of the total fare, but this, like most tipping rules, is not set in stone. You, as the customer, can decide to give more or less based on the quality of service.