Visiting the US soon - do I really have to tip? to – 228 points –

Hey Folks!

I've been living abroad for over half my life in a country where tipping is not the norm. At most you would round up. 19€ bill? Here's a 20, keep this change.

Going to the US soon to visit family and the whole idea of tipping makes me nervous. It seems there's a lot of discussion about getting rid of tipping, but I don't know how much has changed in this regard.

The system seems ridiculously unfair, and that extra expense in a country where everything is already so expensive really makes a difference.

So will AITA if I don't tip? Is it really my personal responsibility to make sure my server is paid enough?


Yes. You really have to tip. 20%. Sorry. And tax isn’t included in the prices of things. That’s the way things work here and you can choose to spend the whole time being annoyed by it or not. But please don’t make a personal protest that only hurts some of the lowest paid and hardest working people.

To be as clear as possible - the minimum wage for tipped staff is $2.13/hr. That's why you have to tip.

This is deceiving though. In The US tipping is literally everywhere now.

If you are waited on, I. E. Sat at a table or served at a bar, tipping is expected. If you go to a counter and place an order and someone hands you something while you're standing there, those workers aren't making 2.13/hr.

I don't tip if there's no service being provided. Bringing my food to my table after I ordered it from a kiosk and filled up my own drink at the soda fountain doesn't qualify.

And this isn't universal either. For example, Culver's will bring your food out to you but you don't tip. So I would add that if you're waited on and pay for the meal AFTER eating and being waited on, then you tip.

Not true, restuarants have to make up the difference in their wage if they dont make enough in tips.

Yes, up to minimum wage, which is still often not enought to live on.

It's definitely not enough to live on, but that's beside the point, isn't it? I don't tip any other people because they earn minimum wage-- do you? The point is that the person isn't actually making only $2/hr-- they're making at least minimum wage, with the opportunity to make more via tips.

Tipping needs to end, and the laws changed to reflect it.

Being a waiter is a skilled job that deserves more than minimum wage.

I don't disagree, but that is irrelevant to the discussion, is it not?

That's just my response to the argument that you can choose to not tip because waiters will make minimum wage regardless. Minimum wage is not an appropriate salary for that line of work.

However, yes, I agree that laws should be changed to remove tipping or at least to require restaurant owners to pay an appropriate wage for the work with optional tips on top for exceptional service.

Is it a customer's responsibility to ensure an employee gets paid enough?

Do you tip the Walmart Greeter? Why or why not?

This does depend on which state you’re in (some states don’t have a “tipped wage”), but the vast majority of service workers are not raking in the big bucks, so be generous if you can!

Oregon has kind of a hybrid tipped wage. There's a minimum tipped wage, but if tips don't add up to at least the regular minimum wage then the establishment needs to make up the tips for the shift.

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A higher federal minimum wage would solve this problem. Employers are required by law to make up the difference between the base wage and the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hr) if nobody tips.

But obviously $7.25 isn't a living wage either, so any tipped employee that actually makes the federal minimum is living almost entirely on tips.

That's assuming that employers follow the law, which for restaurants is rarely the case.

Fair point. And this is why unions are beneficial to the working class, and also why shitty companies like Starbucks try to bust unions.

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If the service is bad I would go for 10%

Only if it's really bad though, and on purpose.

If it was something the employee couldn't control or just a generally bad experience that was nobody's fault, still 20%. Place is swamped and the waiter never gave me a drink refill because they're the only one on the floor, still 20%.

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Just FYI, we have recently had a huge influx of electronic systems asking for tips in places that tips didn't exist before. I only tip when I sit down to eat at a restaurant and they serve me. If you walk up to the counter to order, you don't tip. If you are ordering takeout (even at a sit-down restaurant), you don't tip.

It's a really fucking stupid system that most of us hate, but if you don't participate, you are the asshole according to our culture (even though we know it's really the businesses not paying their employees enough that are really the assholes)

Edit: oh, and then "suggested tip" went up around the same time that these electronic systems popped up. My whole life, a 10% tip was bad, a 15% tip was average. A 20% tip was good. Now it seems the "suggested tip" says you should tip 20% minimum. I think this is bullshit, and I ignore it. The people who are suggesting the tip are the ones that benefit from it going higher. They are always going to try to increase it as long as they can get away with it. I stick to the 10/15/20% rule.

There's been a small movement towards going tipless that hasn't yet caught on because tip culture is primarily backed by greed. Restaurant owners want customers to pay their employees directly instead of providing them with a decent wage.

I know I'm likely misrepresenting, but that's the gist as I see it, and until greed goes away everything said holds true.

Restaurant owners want customers to pay their employees directly instead of providing them with a decent wage.

A lot of employees want this as well. Those who do well in well traveled restaurants or bars then to make WELL over the minimum wage. This is why the employees get mad at the patron/client rather than their employer when they don't get a tip. It works... it's what many of them want.

The sad part is that prices for things have already been going up considerably... So what was a $5 tip @ 10% years ago is now closer to $20 tip @ 20% today for the same meals/amount of food. It isn't a 2x increase at all... Since it's % based on subtotal and those costs have been going up... it's significantly more if you follow their "minimum" percent tips.

I follow something similar to Dandroid and refuse to change. I only tip for sit-down restaurants where an actual servers brings me my food. If I get shit service, you're not getting a tip. If it's basic service, you'll get 10%... 15% for "good"... 20% for outstanding. Although looking at the laws in my state, I'm debating on cutting it back considerably. Minimum wage in my state is not the $3.and change per hour for those positions. It's just about $11 and the normal minimum wage is $13 and change. So if I'm the only table in their whole section, and I tip 2$ per hour, they're making minimum wage. And people here still complain about the tipping... The only explanation is greed... and I can't stand that at all.

As I recall, restaurants can get by with giving workers well below minimum wage because of tips.

EDIT: I just re-read your post

This is a great resource when these discussions come up. Many states do NOT adhere to the $2.13 tipped wage.

In my state (AZ) it's $10.85. People here still complain about tips. The minimum wage here is $13.85. The $3 difference is nearly guaranteed as long as long as you have 1 table an hour. Forget that the normal where I live is probably closer to 3-4 every hour. [I recognize that other areas may not have such traffic. But I can only comment on what I observe]

If the average table is leaving ~$5 in tips... you could easily make $30 an hour in wages.

This is why I say what I say... It's absurd when I hear local news or something complaining. $30/hr is stupid "livable".

My state is listed in the "required to pay full minimum wage" category. Good to know.

"I could do profit sharing and have all my employees benefit from busting their ass, or I could pay them next to nothing and force the customers to supplement their income out of respect or pity."

It shouldn't shock anyone that the practice of tipping has a racist history.

Please continue to tip service workers.

My view is: I don't like this cultural element, and I am glad that I live in a country without it. But if I am a visitor from abroad I would not resist the local culture and try to impose my own values. If I am aware of this cultural element and I dislike it, my options would be to either avoid restaurants and other tipping situations as much as I can, or simply account for the tip when making my financial decisions, and pay it.

If I live in the country then it is different, because then I am more entitled to be a driver of change. Personally, my approach would be to support businesses with explicit no-tipping policy, and to refuse receiving tips myself.

No one can force to tip and as Americans we hate the tipping culture too.

Some people love it, namely the ones that have most to gain.

So business owners, and extremely attractive waitstaff

Sort of --- there are definitely restaurants which include gratuity, either for all parties or for parties greater than X people (e.g., 5 or more).

One of the best answers so far, thanks! I'm not a foreigner, but I've been gone for over half my life, so it certainly feels like it. Coming back it always a culture shock.

It seems there's a lot of discussion about getting rid of tipping, but I don't know how much has changed in this regard.

Nothing has changed, and it never will, as it concerns poor and "therefore" "deserving" people. Americans' talk is cheap.

The system seems ridiculously unfair, and that extra expense in a country where everything is already so expensive really makes a difference.

Agreed. So when you go to a restaurant and you have a maximum amount you can spend, divide the amount of money you have by (100% + local sales tax), then divide by (100% + the menu price), and subtract any surcharges added by the restaurant (assume $5.00 if you cannot look it up), often masquerading as a tip. I know it's a lot of math, but you have a computer in your pocket. You'll manage.

In my view, the US is a fractal scam. At every level, everything is an attempt to extract money from ill-informed "suckers", from the running of the government, to the prices of supermarket groceries, to the tipping culture at restaurants, to even finding a place to put your car [1]. Every single thing is someone's grift. In order to function in America, you need to be willing to be suckered to some extent. There's no way around it. Unfairness is baked into every transaction, and increasingly more social interactions.

Everything in America is ridiculously unfair. We wear this on our sleeves, and for many Americans this fact defines their personality. Unfortunately, you will have to deal with it in the short term at least.

Now if you would like to be the one to lead the charge against the tipping culture and the foisting of responsibility for servers' compensation onto the customer, then be my guest. Refuse to tip and make a big scene about it. Make plans for how to take the inertia of your big struggle and turn it into a mass movement. I would thrilled to join you. However, I somehow doubt that you're ready to go that far; none of the customers who stiffed me ever went on to start anti-tipping movements.

So will AITA if I don't tip?

Yes. You are expected by all members of the public here to tip. That is our culture, something we're proud of for some reason, and our expectation. For some servers, tips are the primary source of income at work.

Is it really my personal responsibility to make sure my server is paid enough?

No, it is the responsibility of the employer. However, when no employer takes their responsibility and you sit yourself down at a restaurant, the logical conclusion is that either you pay that part of the server's wages, or they get stiffed. You know that this is the conclusion. (Or if not, now you do.)

If you want to participate in our unique restaurant scam, you gotta accept that you're going to get suckered into paying the server's wages. Otherwise, don't go to restaurants. When you go to a restaurant, you waste the employees' finite time on this planet doing tedious, physically and mentally demanding bullshit that no sane person would choose to engage with, if not faced with the threats of homelessness and starvation. [2] At least make it worth their while.

Sorry if I come off as having a chip on my shoulder, but that's only because I totally do. So many customers used to concern-troll me as a pizza delivery person and give me shit like "sorry, couldn't afford to tip, they should really pay you more." Yeah, they should, but you absolutely could have tipped; all you had to do was order one less topping. I'd love to see some actual solidarity with food service employees, but that would require challenging deep-rooted assumptions about our culture and we're too shit-for-brains to do that. Americans are so compassionate and empathetic until the moment they actually have to lift a finger.

So when someone brings up "unfairness" or "it's X's responsibility to pay the workers" in response to tipping, I just kinda die a little inside from all the times those sentiments have been used against me and my colleagues.

[1] And don't even get me started on the process of buying a car, or how the public was scammed into accepting a car-centric infrastructure.

[2] This is really a special case of the logic behind the antiwork movement: nobody actually wants to go to work. We only go to work under the threats of starvation and homelessness imposed by capitalism.

Solid rant. No, really, I enjoyed it til the end. Spot on!

the US is a fractal scam. At every level, everything is an attempt to extract money from ill-informed “suckers”, from the running of the government, to the prices of supermarket groceries, to the tipping culture at restaurants, to even finding a place to put your car [1]. Every single thing is someone’s grift. In order to function in America, you need to be willing to be suckered to some extent. There’s no way around it. Unfairness is baked into every transaction, and increasingly more social interactions.

What a quote. I will add that “we” also like to believe we have the most fair system. And in many ways, the “gotchas” are much more hidden and systemic than other countries. For example, you might be scammed haggling with someone in Southeast Asia, but we get scammed everyday by credit card companies making bank on every single transactions.

Here, unfortunately, YTA if you don't tip. I forgot once and had the server run after me to make sure something wasn't wrong. Some service folks take it personally if you don't tip, which makes sense given that their employers don't pay them shit. So yeah, you the customer foot the bill for ensuring these people can make ends meet... as if giving the restaurant your custom wasn't support enough.

The problem is that, like most other industries here in the US, the system is rigged against the working class. While not all restaurant owners intend to fuck over their staff (especially smaller, local places), it's how it works. Now, some places will automatically add gratuity to your bill under certain conditions, so check your breakdown to ensure it's not already included. This is becoming more common, which irritates me since I scale my tip based on the quality of the service rendered.

Also, we know it's expensive here. Don't bother coming here to complain about it, we do it enough ourselves. Tipping is here to stay for now and I don't imagine it changing for quite some time.

Just to add onto this good answer, you are really only expected to tip for sit-down restaurants with service and bars.

For takeout, cafes, fast food, etc., you don't need to tip. A lot of places these have payment machines that just ask if you want to tip by default. You can safely hit "No tip" on these if you don't want to.

Ostensibly it's just to replace the tip jar for those who don't use cash, but the prompt appearing every time you pay by card has convinced a lot of people that tipping is what you're supposed to do in those situations, when in reality you have no obligation to.

There are already a lot of good answers here, but I thought you might appreciate a fictionalized version of my personal experience.

Back in the kitchen, the hostess comes in.

“I’ve got a 2-top at table 23, who’s next in the rotation?”

“Uh… I think it’s Bob, but he’s busy doing bumps in the walk in. I’ll take it. They nice?”

“Uhh, I think they’re German.”

Unfortunately for them, the knowledge that Europeans tend to tip poorly or not at all proceeds them. The server who took the two top will still serve them, but either consciously or subconsciously the service will suffer. Maybe your food was done five minutes ago sitting on the hot line, but your server decided to go chat up the elderly couple or the regular customer instead. Maybe the server is more rude or cold to you than other guests. Or maybe you’re lucky and your server isn’t yet jaded. Your mileage may vary depending on if you’re eating in a small town diner or a tourist hotspot, but even if the service seems fine, there’s almost certainly chatter going on behind your back from the moment you sit down.

There’s a very small chance that your server will chase after you if you leave no tip, but that is virtually unheard of and will get the server fired if it’s a nicer establishment. The more likely chain of events is that you leave, the server checks the checkbook, then goes into the back-of-house to scream/cry/drink/smoke/fuck someone/something. It’s completely ruined several of my shifts.


The above is all wrong. It felt gross to type, and feels grosser to know that I once felt that. These feelings may have been ‘valid’ considering the tipped system that I was a part of, but I have a hard time thinking of them as ‘reasonable’. As an empathetic human, I wish to treat everyone well. Also, I love travel, and would love to spend 30 minutes talking about the Cologne cathedral or the Bielefeld conspiracy or whateverthefuck. But I can’t, because then I’d be actively losing money. The profit motive of tip system makes servers, managers, and even clients all jaded. The anger that I felt when I was stiffed was unjustly redirected from the tipping system to the individual, because the system is designed to perpetuate itself. I make less money now, but I’m very glad I left that industry.

BONUS: If you want to see a hilarious yet barely over exaggerated vignette of what American servers do and how they think when you can’t see them, give Waiting… (2005) a watch.

Definitely tip. If you think the whole system sucks that's fine, but don't take out that frustration on the likely vastly underpaid employees

You enter a social compact when you enter an establishment that does tipping. When you don't tip, you're not making it better, your making sure someone goes hungry

a. a person "has" to rely on other people to tip them
b. said person goes "hungry" if a single person/table doesn't tip them

you.. uh... have other issues to think about

Like that our entire economic system is broken in such a way that this is a thing that happens? Yes. At the restaurant is not the time to get on your soapbox, and the exploited service provider you're refusing the tip is not the person to be taking it out on

and are these exploited people doing anything to change this? the consumer is the last between the three (employer, worker, consumer) that should have anger directed towards them

as it's their issue its their soapbox not mine, this annoying custom made it to country where they are paid enough as well

Have you worked in the industry? This happens!

Yes in the service industry where you will be served you very much likely would be expected to tip. So places may make this more obvious then others with a tip bracket on the receipt or signs somewhere.

Its also important to note most places in the US expect a 15% tip of what you spent but in some higher dense areas where the CoL is out of control it’s 20%

Do waiters actually get paid? Like an hourly wage? Or do they rely fully on the tips?

The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13/hr. Basically nothing. It wouldn't cover your gas cost to go to work in most cases.

Wtf. US at it's peak. At my first job, when I was 14 y/o, I made more than that (€2.72) doing restocking at a supermarket.

As far as I understand it, US servers prefer the current system as they make more money from tips. Personally, if you prefer this system I think you don't have any right to complain or get upset if someone doesn't tip.

Wtf. US at it’s peak. At my first job, when I was 14 y/o, I made more than that (€2.72) doing restocking at a supermarket.

Supermarket stockers are not tipped so a higher minimum wage applies, which is $7.25 right now. However, laborers are also in high demand so most places pay more than the minimum.

If their tips don't pass the actual minimum wage, the employer is required to pay the difference up to the minimum.

Servers are paid a sub-minimum wage, as tips are supposed to round out their wages. When I wanted tables my paycheck barely covered the taxes on my cash and credit card tips.

In most HCOL areas there is a higher minimum wage even for tipped workers, so keep that in mind. In DC for example minimum wage for tipped workers is going up annually over the next 4 years to meet regular minimum wage, up to about $17/hr. I anticipate tipping percentages should go down as this phases in as there will no longer be a differentiation.

They typically get paid below the state’s minimum wage. :(

Yep, 100% the asshole if you're eating out at restaurants here and you don't tip. Other things can be a little more debatable, but the 15-20% standard for eating at a restaurant is set in stone. If you don't tip or give a low tip, the server will assume you hated their service or that you're just an ass. It's a dumb rule, but it is what it is here right now.

Yes, it does make you the asshole, especially because you know that's what we do here and why we do it. Until living wage laws are passed, it's not going to change.

In all honesty, I will probably just tip the minimum amount and try not to let it get to me. Its not like I'll be out eating by myself anyway, there will be plenty of social pressure to help me along :)

But imagine if all jobs worked this way. Oh, you wanted a good outcome for your surgery? Maybe you should have tipped your surgeon! Oh, you wanted your taxes done correctly? Should have tipped! Sorry boss, I would have gotten you that report on time, but you forgot to leave me a tip!

I also think its silly that tips are based on the price of your meal, as if that has anything to do with the service whatsoever. So the person who ordered a steak pays more in a tip than the person who ordered a salad? Why? It would make way more sense to tip based on time spent in the establishment. I would understand a standard 5$ tip per half-hour or something way more.

Here’s the thing. There are now tips added to all sorts of checkouts. And it’s muddier than ever.

As an American I don’t tip shit unless it’s a full service restaurant. Aka they are refilling my drinks for me.

If I’m getting a sandwich at a sandwich line where you stand in line and call out what ingrediants you want and take it to go, I don’t tip. If I’m just getting a coffee black, I’m not tipping. Etc etc.

The checkouts now though ask for tips on all sorts of stuff. I increasingly refuse to tip for things like self service places, takeout, etc.

This is it. There is a kind of understood, cultural part that some of the other commenters are missing.

There are situations where (traditionally) tipping is expected, and that is at a sit down style restaurant or at a bar. If the restaurant requires you to fill your own drink, bus your own table (clear the dishes), or carry your own food typically Americans do not tip (this would apply to most fast food places, or places as you've described where you walk up to a counter). Do most of these places still put out a tip jar? Yes. Do most customers tip? Probably not (check the jar, it might have some token coins or a few dollar bills in it, but it will not be full).

Are you an asshole for not tipping? That depends on what the situation is. Did you just sit down for a 2 hour meal with 10 people and leave $5? Yes you are an asshole. Did you drive through Starbucks or a burger place and not put a couple bucks in jar? You are probably not an asshole.

I hate tipping culture but I'm not going to take it out on workers. My personal rule of thumb is if someone is bringing me something or performing a service for me then I tip.

For example, I will tip at a restaurant where they bring things out, for a haircut, for cutting my grass, or for delivery services (food or grocery). I will not tip for counter service (except for the taco truck down the street, but they're dirt cheap, and I may round up my bill at other food trucks), bakeries, stores (a few small ones without their own POS are using systems that have tip lines enabled by default), or gift shops.

Yeah like the other guy said, I only tip if it's a sit down restaurant with an actual server who attended to you. If you are checking out somewhere and the kiosk thing prompts for a tip, I almost never do.

Always tip the cab driver a few bucks.

If you are at a hotel you should tip the valet for parking. Honestly though at hotels, tipping pays for itself. Hotel staff are demigods that can bestow good fortune if they smile upon you, so you definitely want to appease them. It's amazing what slipping a $20 to the person checking you in can do for you.

When in doubt, you can just ask candidly what the etiquette is. Everyone knows its weird and different everywhere.

Well, I get your general point though tipping at a restaurant doesn't quite work like that. You don't get crappy service as a result of not tipping; you tip at the end of the service.

I tip 20% no matter how dismal the service, which is not the norm here. People have bad days and I don't want to financially penalize them on top of it. It just feels shitty.

Until people stop tipping for bullshit we don't need to tip for, like all the card readers the last couple years that have added tip buttons for just paying for literally anything, those laws will not get passed. Why would they when customers just will pay employees wages?

Nobody can force you to. People will probably consider you to be rude, but you do yours. I also live in a place where not tipping is customary (and in fact tipping considered to be rude) and refuse to embrace this system. I'm already annoyed by list prices excluding VAT. That's like a borderline scam.

We don't have a VAT in the US, only sales tax. It's not just a name difference, they're different in how they're applied

Ok whatever it is, the price on display is not the final price, and I feel scammed.

They're not different to the consumer. Either way they're a surcharge to the store price of the item, and most places in the world include it on the sticker.

I am aware. I was just correcting the one thing not disagreeing as a whole

Yeah I guess I'll have to see how comfortable I am in the situation. I feel like the stupid system will never change unless people just stop tipping.

I don't see how the system would change unless people stop tipping, but as a foreigner I don't see it as my responsibility to change their system.

If you are clearly not American you will be either forgiven and assumed you don't know or have it preached at you like you're a child.

The simple rule of thumb is: if you are in a full service sit down restaurant (waiter takes order and then brings you your food, tipping is expected, and not doing so is seen as a major dick move, because it directly stiffs the waitstaff. The only time you should not tip in this situation is if the service is absolutely horrible.

Any other situation, like ordering at a counter and then going to get your food, or any fast food, tipping may be offered as an ask on the kiosk, but it’s never expected (not in my opinion deserved.).

But simply: if you are waited on, too 20% and be done with it.

And that'll only hurt the poor employee's efforts to pay rent this month. The employer could care less, and sure you may make them mad enough that you're the last straw and they quit, but I'd be hard pressed to think you're magnanimous for it.

Couldn't care less.

As long as you know your supposed "goal" of "helping" isn't accomplished and that server now hates you, and the owner you're opposing got his share and doesn't even know you exist, do what you wish I suppose.

I'd say yes. The situation is complex.

It's clear that tipping culture is out of control. There are many places asking for 20% tips even when ordering from a counter where the interaction takes about 10 seconds.

Unfortunately there has also been a systematic underpayment of wages which has occurred largely on the back of tips. In some states it is even legal to pay less than minimum wage and supplement that with tips. For that reason, it's not really an option to simply not tip without being the bad guy.

Certainly the system needs to change, but as of this moment in the US, just assume everything actually costs 20% more and tip.

it's not really an option to simply not tip without being the bad guy

My man you have got to shake this from your psyche, that's exactly how the employers that aren't paying their employees want you to feel. You're offloading their greed and systematic exploitation of working class people onto yourself under the misplaced guise of personal guilt. There may not a way to immediately fix the problem, but I can guarantee it will never get fixed if we dont change anything.

In some cases we're talking about people making $2.13 an hour in a country where you're easily paying $1,000 a month or even more for a studio apartment. I'd say if you don't tip you're the bad guy.

This type of change isn't going to come from people just deciding that waitstaff should starve and refusing to tip. If anything it will come from unionization of waitstaff or from legislation.

I mean, in a lot of ways it already is. More and more people aren't taking theses jobs that pay shit, and yours constantly seeing places fold or be understaffed. It's also a little disingenuous to use the extreme as an example. The vast majority of tourist destinations (relevant because OP) are not paying below minimum+ tips. It would be helpful if OP Said where they were going but assuming it's a popular destination, they don't need to be heavy handed. It's also misleading to paint it as black and white "assume tipping 20%" everywhere is bad advice. There is no expectation to tip for over the counter service, take out, etc. That is a fairly recent evolution and one that is already backfiring. If OP isn't sitting down in a restaurant where they have a server waiting on them for 30-60 minutes, they are probably absolutely fine not tipping. 15% is also still acceptable, 20% is excessive unless the service was absolutely excellent.

What are you suggesting is changed though?

He's suggesting "fuck the worker, it isn't my problem if they can't pay rent, they should learn to code." And somehow that will make the business owner pay them a fair wage and not replace them with a machine or a 16yo kid.

just assume everything actually costs 20% more and tip.

And by "everything", you mean "not actually everything, but you'd need a 400 page manual to describe what gets tipped and what doesn't".

In most states it's legal to pay less than minimum wage (literally around $2 per hour) for workers who get tips.

One issue is that workers generally make more money off tips than if they just got minimum wage. So it's not just employers that are unwilling to change.

It's only legal if their tips exceed the minimum wage. Whether or not the employee would ask for the difference over fear of retaliation is another story

I have come across a couple restaurants that specify that they are "no tip." I try to keep an eye out for those and try to give business to them. Or I avoid places with that expectation. But I usually tip around 20% in those common circumstances mentioned in this thread. I hate the system though. It's parasitic and manipulative.

To sum up, if you work in a business that relies on tips, you will defend the crap out of tipping and will be biased towards tipping uncontrollably.

If you are a business that wants to squeeze every penny, you will encourage and propaganda tipping as much as you can.

If you are anyone else you will wish for something different.

I recommend that you tip when the app says to tip, just simplify your life and if a screen says add a tip choose the minimum for now and don't worry about it yet.

Tipping used to be a way to implement a truly granular free market (or however you want to justify it, that's besides the point). Point being is, it's how service workers largely get paid. So regardless of how we got here, to not tip them is to not pay them fairly for their work. The problem now is that commerces turn tipping on by default at point of sale devices indiscriminately. So tipping when you see the screen is poor advise as it just gives into greed and manipulation. Follow the original rule: you tip when there is personalised service rendered, for example restaurant waiter, or driver, or barber or hair dresser. If it is neither personalised, nor a service rendered by an individual, you never tip.

Only time tipping should be observed is when you're at a restaurant that seats you at a table and takes your order. And when you order delivery. Anything else is just people gaming the system to get whatever they can from people.

Edit: I missed bartenders (sorry!). Tip your bartender! They will take care of you if you tip well.

Delivery as well. If you don't top the pizza delivery person I would assume they will very much not like you.

I only tip for sit-down restaurants where an actual servers brings me my food

everywhere else I preemptively give the stank face as I mash the 'no tip' button on their payment system

I usually just round up to the next $5 amount to make the numbers clean, don't really care what the % is

so a $16.83 bill gets a $3.17 tip

this makes it easier to plan a meal budget, like "ok I'm spending $20 on a burger and fries today"

But you should tip extra for delivery drivers too

oh yeah, I actually do for local food/grocery deliveries

$5 or $10 depending on how much crap I order, not sure what the expectations are though for this type of service??

20% minimum, more if they're exceptional (eg if they came by bicycle in the rain)

They get paid by their employer. I don't pay their wages, their employer does, and if they don't, they should find a better employer

So you actively support businesses that pay their employees less than living wages? And you won't provide that wage directly to the worker?

Wow, you're an oblivious privileged asshole that actively contributes to other people's suffering.

It depends.
If you go to a restaurant where your food is brought to you are probably going to be expected to tip.
But, if it's a Fast Food restaurant like McDonald's or someplace you stand in line and get your plate like Chipotle or a buffet you're not going to be expected to tip.

This is a very good rule of thumb.

Important to note that the credit card machines pretty much everywhere will still ask you if you want to tip now, to the point where I’ve seen jokes about lifeguards and ambulance drivers pulling out an iPad with tipping options, I think the processors are hoping psychology will make them a little bit more cash. Either way, it is not an asshole move if you don’t tip at Subway. IMO it makes it more likely at some point that an employer tries to lower their hourly wages to the hourly + tips you see elsewhere.

American here. Here's the three common contexts for tipping. Everything else is something someone's trying to make a thing rather than actually a thing:

  1. Restaurants: If someone is bringing food from the Kitchen to your table

  2. Delivery: If someone's delivering food. Or they're personally delivering groceries.

  3. Transportation: If someone's driving you personally. Like a Taxi.

Some say you should tip bathroom attendants. I've never even seen a bathroom attendant, but that seems like such a bizarre job to tip for, even by American standards.

Bartenders are a case that you've missed. A standard cash rate is $1 per drink. Bartenders have a lot of leeway when it comes to how quickly you're served, and how strong your drinks will be, so tipping well may be in your interest.

And barbers/hairstylists. Unlikely to come up during a short visit though.

I'm from Australia, where we don't tip; and yes; you have to in America. It's likely that the person serving you needs tips to survive, so think of it as money for them directly. (even tho in most cases I don't think they get 100%?) I make a point of not tipping at home because people should get paid a living wage without having to rely on tips. I say you'd be the asshole because customer service employees in USA need that extra money to make ends meet.

But isn't the the employer who is the asshole for not paying a living wage?

Yes, but that’s just the unfortunate reality

You will want to tip 15-25%wheb you are dining at a sit down restaurant. If you are at a counter service buisness or café, you should only tip of they went out of their way to make your experience amazing. If you will be staying at hotels, you should tip bellmen $3-$5 per bag, concierge 5-10% of what they have procured for you. Cab's, Ubers, or any car service 10-20% (I usually do a minimum of $5 here.) if you get asked for a tip on any self-service screen, just deny it, that's a cash grab for the business owner. You can offer a tip to any employee you want if they go out of their way for you, however outside the service industry, employers will direct the staff to politely refuse.

I'm fine with tipping in general, and usually leave a tip at restaurants, and sometimes at cafes if the waiter was especially good. But I find it absolutely crazy that there are places with an expectation of a tip up towards 20 %. Like, I'm used to seeing a slightly surprised smile on a waiters face if I leave 15 %.

I've seen comments that 20% is the new standard and you should tip 25% for exceptional service. These days between price creep and the tipping I just stay home; I can't afford to go out anymore.

Yes, you do have to tip. Maybe not if it's Chipotle or a place like that. But if someone is waiting your table you have to tip. Yes tipping culture is stupid. No, nothing has changed in the US. They do not have a living without tips, so refusing to tip cuts into their living expenses after they have courteously served you your food. It's rude

trouble is that by tipping you are enforcing tipping culture, giving the employers an excuse to underpay. You can't win...

Tipping culture comes from minimum wage laws. Laws need to change before culture could change.

Yeah, but you can change that by going to the rare places that have a no tipping policy. Don't just refuse to tip servers knowing that that's the only way they get paid.

On a related note, if the bill already has a “gratuity” entry on it, am I still expected to tip on top of that?


That's not how that works. If you increase minimum wage you increase living costs

While I agree with the premise that minimum wage increases raise living costs... If the tips are already increases wages, I fail to see how tipped low wages are not effectively the same as untipped higher wages.

Tips don't go though the corporate finances usually

What does that have to do with anything? Minimum wage increases tends to lead to people having more disposable income... which leads to companies and the like charging more for services because the market can now bare it.

What does corporate finances have to do with a person making their low wages + tips vs just an up front higher wage to get to a higher minimum wage?

Yes you need to tip if you are at a sit-down restaurant with a server taking your order at the table.

Whether or not you or anyone else agrees with that, it is the cultural norm and you would absolutely be rude not to.

If you are uncomfortable with this, choose to eat somewhere where you won't be expected to tip. Don't knowingly go to a restaurant where tipping is expected and then refuse to do so out of principle.

Also tipping at bars is generally expected.

I had one friend whose personal rule of thumb was:

  • did they come to my table to take my order?
  • did they bring my food to my table?
  • did they bus my table for me after?

If they did 2/3, then they got a tip.

If you're eating fast food, you don't have to tip, though they've been asking much more than usual lately.

If you're at a sit-down restaurant or having something delivered, tipping is standard.

15-20% is normal.

And it's more offensive to tip low than to not tip at all. A low tip means they did a bad job, no tip might just be a protest against tipping.

Yeah, tipping culture sucks. I prefer eating at places that deliberately tell you not to tip, but they are few and far between.

My rule of thumb is whether I'm getting a service or a product. If I eat at a restaurant and I have a waiter, I'll tip. If I eat at a restaurant and there is no waiter I generally don't tip.

For example. I don't tip at ice cream or froyo places. I just served myself. Why would I tip?

Not at all: Not if you avoid purchasing anything involving tipped-services! People who pay their workers so little that they need to be tipped tend not to get my business.

Sadly, in the US, this largely precludes eating at decent restaurants (there are exceptions of course).

Doordash driver: The federal government values mileage at $0.63/mile for tax purposes. They would value the vehicle expenses of a 6-mile delivery at $3.78.

Minimum wage in my state is $10.10 per hour. A 6-mile delivery takes 20 minutes, or $3.03. Anything less than $6.81 for this delivery, and the driver is earning less than minimum wage.

DD typically pays the driver $2.

A tip less than $4.81 means you expect the driver to earn less than minimum wage.

There's another problem: Doordash's primary rating system for it's drivers is "acceptance rate". The higher your acceptance rate, the higher you are prioritized for offers. The lowest tier of drivers has to wait for everyone in the area above him to be unavailable or to reject an order before he gets to work.

When a customer makes a low-tip or no-tip order, they expect a driver to pay for the privilege of delivering the order, and they are willing to ding the acceptance rating of every single driver in the area who refuses to work at a loss.

A tip less than $4.81 means you expect the driver to earn less than minimum wage.

I disagree - it means you expect them to earn a wage regardless of how much you tip. Bosses should pay their workers a living wage, period. DD drivers shouldn't have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

I disagree - it means you expect them to earn a wage regardless of how much you tip. Bosses should pay their workers a living wage, period. DD drivers shouldn’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

I agree, but if you pay for a service knowing that worker is underpaid by the boss, you are exploiting the worker just as much as the boss is.

The system is broken, it's unethical to exploit the broken for your own advantage as well.

You don't exploit by paying the price that was agreed on. The driver let's himself be exploited, but that is not the fault of the customer. If I agree to give away 100 $ bills I don't get exploited by people taking them.

The price that was agreed upon includes the assumption of tips as it's currently apart of the social contract in these countries, like it or not. You're allowed to hate the system, shit I'm sure drivers and servers hate the system and would much prefer to make a risk-free living wage, but if you refuse to participate and by doing so fuck over the lowest paid workers in those countries you are 100% an asshole. You aren't fighting some big evil social injustice, you're just an asshole.

You don't exploit by paying the price that was agreed on.

How is this relevant?

An agreement with the owner that is exploiting the laborer is absolutely exploiting the laborer.

The people who bought slaves for the agreed upon price from the master are also guilty of slavery.

It's a very painful and difficult truth than participating in the broken system is enabling the broken system.

The driver let's himself be exploited

You mean that being exploited is marginally better than being homeless.

Some people genuinely don't realize the delivery person doesn't get paid much. I didn't even know for the longest time that the "delivery fee" apparently does not go to the driver. That's an issue with DoorDash and similar apps' messaging to the users. My tips have gone up since I learned that the delivery fee is apparently not for the delivery person. It's not always malice on the customer's part though. Sometimes it's genuine misunderstanding.

Note that this is worse even than restaurant tipping.

Restaurant workers have to make at least minimum wage. If the tips don’t get there, the employer must fill the difference.

I think DoorDash gets away with this because technically they are not the employer, the worker is “self-employed”.

We door dash for extra money. If not for tips, it wouldn't be worth it. They do offer an hourly rate if you choose to take it vs being paid per order but I'm not sure how that all works, we always take the per order pay.

In America, if you don't tip for things like restaurant table service or delivery, rides (like taxis or Uber), car valet, room service, or someone helping you with your bags, yes, you are the asshole. Yes, tipping is usually just subsidizing employers' payrolls, which is bad, but it is also the cultural norm here. You are likely to be publicly dressed down if you fail to tip, even accidentally. Sorry, but that's just the way it is until we get some real worker organization and empowerment going.

So will AITA if I don’t tip?


Is it really my personal responsibility to make sure my server is paid enough?

Because of the circumstances, taxes, and customs, yes -- in this case -- the responsibility has been pushed onto you.

You're right that it is ridiculous and unfair, but it is also currently the way it is. By not following the custom, the one being most hurt is the one least able to do anything about it. You also have to walk around afterward thinking that you maybe did not do the best thing.

It seems there’s a lot of discussion about getting rid of tipping, but I don’t know how much has changed in this regard.

Some experiments have been tried, and in some places a 'service charge' appears in lieu of tipping (you need not tip in these places).

Also, recently, counter service has put out tip jars and credit-card screen prompts for before-service tipping. You need not do it at all there. However, if a server has served you beyond the counter, tipping after the service is customary.

To tip 20%, take the subtotal (before the taxes), and move the decimal point one to the left. $28.00 becomes 2.800 (10%) then double that result, $5.60 (20%) is a good full-service tip on a $28.00 bill. More is welcome but never expected or required. Tipping down to 15% is fine, too, don't try to make it an exact science. Tipping outside of 15-20% -- after the service -- is usually done to send a message although studies have not shown that servers really care about those messages too much.

Because of this dastardly system, not tipping is particularly bad because tipping is most of their income. By not tipping, they are working essentially for nearly free in most U.S. states (a very low hourly rate, well below poverty wages).

And finally, if you don't know, honestly and politely ask them or a manager. "I'm not from the USA. Can you tell me how much I am expected to tip in this situation?" Servers may be a little generous with their answer, but most people are honest and happy to know that you will not stiff them for their tip.

If you're sitting down at a table having a meal with a waiter who is taking your order and bringing you your food then yes, 15-20% tip is strongly encouraged. If you're going into a place where you order your food at a counter and pick it up yourself to take to your table or back to your home then tipping is not necessary.

Culturally, 18% is the absolute minimum nowadays. An average tip is north of 20%.

I typically do 20% and round to the next dollar. So if the meal was $56.14, I would calculate $5.60 as approximately 10%, double it to $11.20 and then add 66 cents for a tip of $11.86 do the final total is $68.00.

The servers only enter the total line in the system, so this makes it easier for them.

"yes, it's wrong. but if you don't tip, you are making the waiter go hungry"

WTF? no, the bosses are. generally bosses are making their employees go hungry, but in the restaurant business they just managed to shift the blame unto the customers. it seems really twisted to me

where i live tipping is really optional, and most don't, unless they're rounding up the bill. i have several friends who do or did work as a waiter and i aways found it sad how they would talk with resentment about the customers they would pretend to like, not sparing a word for their bosses who were sucking them dry with low wages, unpaid extra hours and a fuckin' sick workplace culture

So will AITA if I don’t tip? Is it really my personal responsibility to make sure my server is paid enough?

ABSOLUTELY NOT Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. It is and should be employers job to pay their workers a living wage in a rich country not the buyers.

Culturally, there will be people who will look down on or say nasty things to you if they find out you do not/did not tip. This happened to me. Some of the nasty comments (these are not said by the employees) people say are "The employees will remember this and may spit in your food or tamper with it in some way next time you order, which has got to be illegal for health code reasons for employees to do and is guilt tripping on the person who says this comment. Not only that, but those who say such awful things are continuing the nasty treatment of employees by the ruling class by saying such nasty remarks.

If it should be the employers job to pay a living wage, why would you take it out on the employee? Most establishments in the US pay waitstaff way under minimum wage ($2-$3 per hour). If you don't tip your waiter at an establishment like this, you are basically denying that waiter their wage, and it has no effect on the employers bottom line. You should be prepared to tip, otherwise don't go at all.

And for the record, I agree with your first statement: the owners should be paying their employees a living wage. Tipping as a practice should be largely eliminated. However not tipping doesn't help that situation, it just hurts the employee. If you want it to change you should boycott restaurants that do this and be an advocate for fair wage laws.

Please reread my post. Where did i say don't tip?

It is strongly implied until the last paragraph, where you advocate tipping as little as possible if you don't like their attitude. Horrible, cruel take.

So i should tip someone who is very rude or treats my spouce/partner badly? I didn't say "no tip", did i?

Yes. Unless there's clearly bigotry of some kind behind the behavior, yes. You never know what someone might be dealing with. They could have been denied that day off to attend a funeral for a family member (which absolutely happens in that industry), or they could just be completely burned out and unable to perform the emotional labor and / or masking to appear kind and respectful any more. I've been there personally. I've also had situations where guests thought I was being rude, when there was just a culture difference and I was trying to communicate. I've almost lost my job because I wouldn't give a customer free product. My "no" was interpreted as rude because I was completely burned out from working 12+ hours straight that day, with no overtime pay, and just couldn't fake a smile anymore. As a result, unless someone is being openly homophobic, etc, I never tip less than 20%, because my feelings and read on the situation shouldn't impact someone's ability to feed themselves.

Nobody should be put through that. Employers should pay you and everyone a living wage. Work should, seriously not be needed for survival in my eyes, but something that is done, purely for passion or fun. Our society should set goals to push to eliminate capitalism as long term goal and in shorter term work to end systemic issues such as what you described how you were treated badly, how other workers are treated badly, how peoples lives are ruined when they lose their jobs. I'm on your side on improving this.

That's great! I assume, then, that this means you wouldn't deny a service worker needed resources because you thought they were a little grumpy?

Again i am talking to improve systemic issues

Ah. So to be clear, you would deny someone needed resources because of their attitude?

The fact that you truly believe this is a great example of how bad tipping culture, and work culture has gotten in the US. It's as if the word "tip" has been completely redefined to mean "compulsory tax on services". Based on your post, I wouldn't be surprised if a good portion of youth today legitimately believe that to be the definition.

What if I told you that all the distress you're directing toward low/non tippers should be directed at your employer who isn't paying you properly, is over working you, and doesn't have your back in the face of shitty customers demanding free stuff? Instead of getting upset about people who rightfully reject a bullshit tipping culture, go unionize. That's literally what they're for. Force your employer to treat you like a human being, don't let them pit you and the customers against each other while they laugh all the way to the bank.

You make some big assumptions about my politics here. Believe me, I've got plenty of 'distress' for employers. None of this changes the fact that if you know that service workers are grievously exploited and you choose to have them wait on you while not compensating them, then you are also committing an immoral act. You and the employer then have something in common: you both know that the worker ought to be compensated fairly for their work, and you're both refusing to do it.

Am I absolved of sin when buying clothing that I know is produced in a sweatshop because 'well, the employer really ought to improve working conditions, but that's not my problem'?

The employer first exploited the worker, then you went in, benefited from their labor for free, directly reducing their income, supporting the business that exploits them while not supporting the worker, and somehow, your hands are clean?

You could choose to simply not give businesses who don't fairly compensate their workers your money, but instead, you give them the cost of your dinner and reduce your server's hourly wage?

If people want to reject tipping culture, they need to reject businesses that practice it, not fund them.

Could you do me a favor real quick? Could you please tell me in no uncertain terms that you support collective bargaining (i.e. unionization) by workers to combat exploitation by employers. That will short circuit a lot of this I think. If you cannot do that, then I am forced to believe you are arguing in bad faith (as most of your arguments here are reductive, untenable, and deliberately antagonistic).

Culturally, there will be people who will look down on or say nasty things to you if they find out you do not/did not tip. This happened to me.

Emphasis mine. You said you don't tip, and you are stating that they wouldn't be in the wrong for not tipping. Just because you don't outright say they shouldn't tip, doesn't mean it isn't heavily implied by your wording.

We can agree that tipping should be eliminated, but if you knowingly go to a restaurant where your waiter requires tips to make a living wage, and you don't, you are most certainly AH. The solution is to not go to these restaurants.

So, you are engaging in ad hominem towards me. This is not an appropriate way to handle a situation like this. You said you agreed that things should change, let's focus on ways that we can change things for the better from a systemic manner, instead of supporting capitalist ruling classes who don't care for us average poor people and engaging in ad hominem personal attacks please.

you are most certainly AH

This is not ok, i am talking from a systemic place and encouraging change to the entire system, employees should work purely for passion and not out of need in my eyes, employees who work in our current system should be paid well by their employees. Tipping should not be a requirement for customers, please stop with name calling.

Fallacy fallacy. No ad hominem here.

Stop. Name calling is personal attacks/ad hominems.

if you knowingly go to a restaurant where your waiter requires tips to make a living wage, and you don’t, you are most certainly AH

...was the full quote. Even if we accept that this is ad hominem, you would have to engage in the described behavior for it to be so, which certainly doesn't hurt their argument that you implied people shouldn't tip.

Again, as stated in other comments. People shouldn't be required to tip. employers should pay employees correctly. Tipping culture shouldn't be a thing and we should work to actually eliminate and not tolerate personal attacks on those who hold different viewpoints a clearly awful and abusive system to employees.

Agreed. They shouldn't have to, but surely we can agree that if you're going out to have a nice time, made possible by someone who you know to be greviously exploited, that it would be cruel and unfair to deny them their only real source of income? Under those conditions, surely going to a restaurant at all is immoral unless you exchange the worker's labor appropriately, whether or not this obligation should befall you in an ideal world? Surely we can agree that in that moment, you are the one who decides if that worker will receive the income they need for food, clothing, healthcare, and housing, and if you will not provide it in return for your evening of leisure, it would have been better if you had stayed home and allowed that table to be occupied by someone who would choose to fairly compensate that worker?

Most establishments in the US pay waitstaff way under minimum wage ($2-$3 per hour). If you don't tip your waiter at an establishment like this, you are basically denying that waiter their wage

I don't think you know how "minimum wage" works. It's not a suggestion, it's a legal requirement. If your tips don't make you at least minimum wage, your employer is required to make up the difference. If they're not doing that, talk to a lawyer, that's a slam dunk case. You'll get back pay.

That's all good in theory, but in practice? Look up statistics on wage theft in the restaurant industry (hell, look up wage theft as whole in the US), and you'll see that many, many workers go under paid.

And even if employers always met the minimum wage, the minimum wage is far less than a "living wage," in this country.

Again, I want to stress that the practice of tipping is absolutely outdated, and should be removed. My point is simply that not tipping your waiter does more harm to them than their employer.

We should be encouraging these places to unionize, and demand that their employers pay them fairly.

Considering that most of the country has a separate wage (under $3/hour) for employees that are expected to be tipped, YES, you absolutely are an asshole if you do not tip.

If you don't want to tip, don't go to an establishment where tipping is expected, otherwise you are just a self-centered prick

"These are not said by the employees, because of the power dynamic where if they say anything I could and would get them fired out of pure pettyness, so they just silently hope I die in a car crash on the way home."


With all that said, until things change, for sake of the underpaid employees, please tip just know you don't have too. If they treat you kindly and respectfully, tip, if not, smallest tip possible.

A'ight, that's cool at least as long as you tip in the current system but push for change, no prob there. But make no mistake the only reason the employee doesn't say anything is the power dynamic, they're thinkin' it!

Tips are a way for service industry workers to avoid taxes. I wonder if there's any reliable statistics on how many workers in the service industry report their tips accurately to the IRS

I would respectfully disagree. There is an entire system for tracking tips: and For another, the whole tipping process was discovered by wealthy Americans:

Wealthy Americans in the 1850s and 1860s discovered the tradition, which had originated in medieval times as a master-serf custom wherein a servant would receive extra money for having performed superbly well, on vacations in Europe. Wanting to seem aristocratic, these individuals began tipping in the United States upon their return.

In an ideal world, service industry workers would be paid a living wage, and there would be no tips required. That’s how it should be.

Ultimately, tips are a way for “owners" to avoid paying fair wages, using the customer base to subsidize the employee’s wages. I won’t even go into instances where the owners steal tips from their staff.

Do some people under-report tips? Probably. But will most service workers, who can barely afford to survive in this country, incur the risk of being audited by the IRS if they don’t report tips and get penalized thousands of dollars for their meager hundreds? I very much doubt it. And yes, the IRS does go after the little guy - a lot. It’s cheaper than going after rich people with lawyers.

Try to tip 10% at absolutely minimum, so a $19 bill would be around $21, but I would try to add $1 or $2.

If you pay with a credit card there will be a line where you can write down the tip, and sometimes they will have suggested tip amounts.

If the state you’re going to has 10% sales tax, you can just add however much the tax was, plus alpha.

Sometimes, at some establishments, if you forget the server will run after you and ask for a tip, assuming it was a mistake on your part. Not really that common though!

Hope this helped!

Yes. You are actually the asshole if you don’t tip.

Others have answered the question, but I did want to mention - many people mention that tips are important because employees can be paid below minimum wage, but this varies state by state, and in my experience tipping is standard regardless of this.

Here's a table of minimum wage by state:

The "Minimum Cash Wage" column is the "tipped" minimum wage - this is what employers can pay for jobs that get tips. The "Basic Combined Cash & Tip Minimum Wage Rate" is the minimum wage for non-tipped jobs, as well as the minimum a tipped employee must receive in wage plus tips - if they don't make enough tips, legally the employer must pay the difference.

So for example, in Washington state where I am, the minimum wage is $15.74 whether you're tipped or not, but it's still considered rude not to tip, and 20% is still the standard "good" tip.

Thanks for this! I'll be in CA, seems like they're getting minimum wage plus tips. At least a step in the right direction towards fair pay.

Only tip your server at restaurants and food delivery people, anywhere else is a scam. Servers and delivery people can be legally paid way less because they're expected to live on tips, its shit but its how it works. If you don't tip them they could have basically worked for you for as little as 4$ an hour. If you're worried about amounts, just go for 15%, its the expected amount. Skip if they suck at their job though.

Few exceptions are valet parking and Uber, both of those also rely on tips a lot

I tried not tipping on a US visit. You can get away with it, but people will be angry.

It's just a silly local custom you have to put up with when in America.

It's the way our tax system works. Employers have to pay taxes on payroll; they don't pay taxes on tips. By having customers pay servers directly, they reduce their tax burden.

Believe me, we don't like it either, but we are familiar with it, so there is little incentive to change.

Tipped employees are primarily paid directly by the people they serve. If you are not tipping a tipped server, you are declaring their work is worth less than minimum wage.

It is lawful to do that, but it is a real dick move.

It cannot be less than minimum wage, or the employer has to pay the difference. In some states there is no tip credit at all and the hourly wage must be at least minimum. Tipping still allows employers to keep wages low, but not that low.

By law, yes, but most restaurants simply do not care. Wage theft is extremely common.

Tipping culture used to be a courtesy, but now it’s been classified as part of salary so restaurants don’t have to pay minimum wage to their waitstaff. You’re not required by law to tip, but depending on the place, waitstaff will remember if you tip or not and how much.

Tipping has not gone away except in some places where they explicitly say it’s not necessary.

Typically I double the tax amount and leave that as the tip. I will also round up from there if it’s an uneven amount to reduce change. Finally, I’ll pay more if service is exceptional or I’m being served by someone I know personally or if they’re doing me a favor.

Some places include tips in the bill, so be careful. I also usually don’t tip if picking up food because there is usually no guarantee that my tip would actually go to the people who actually prepared my order.

I also tip other service jobs (Barbers, mechanics, plumbers, etc..)

You don't technically have too by law but if you decide not too... you should know the server will likely be irate to the point of secretly wishing you dead. I highly recommend leaving a tip or just don't eat out. Order the food for take out and just pick it up at the counter, but do not expect someone to be super happy that they just served you for basically nothing.

You need to tip places where you sit down to eat with waiters, yes. ~20% of the subtotal before tax. Don't be intimidated by those little tablets asking for a tip for places where there is no table service, there is usually a no tip button. Just relax and don't hit a button right away. They make it a little smaller.

You should take a look at and see what the minimum wage is in the state you are visiting. The minimum wage where I am is one of the highest in the nation so I don’t tip anymore.

Edit: I am aware many states have below federal minimum for tipped employees. My point was if they’re visiting one of the states with a high minimum wage, they should forgo tipping. Nobody below bothered to link it, but here's the minimum wage page for tipped employees: It's worth noting that even in the states that can pay tipped employee as little as $2.13/hr, the employees never actually make less than the federal minimum of $7.25/hr because the employer has to make up the difference if the employee doesn't make enough in tips, not that $7.25/hr is even remotely a livable wage in 2023...

Regardless, tipping is an inherently flawed system, and it's not the responsibility of the consumer to pay specifically the server a living wage while everyone in the kitchen suffers (I would know, I've been there). If you're not happy with the wage laws in your state, get involved in politics and exercise your right to vote to do something about it.

But a lot of states pay less for tipped labor. Which is why tipping culture started in the first place, and this list doesn't show how much tipped workers make.

Most states in the US have separate lower minimum wages for tipped workers, with a federal minimum of $2.13/hour.

This. There are a few states that make paying tipped workers less than minimum wage. So you'dnewed to cross-reference that list with the minimum wage list.

Don't be an asshole. Your server may be making $3/hr.

I actually just looked into this, and no state in America can legally pay an employee less than $7.25/hr. If you as the employee don't make enough in tips to make your wage at least $7.25/hr, the employer has to pay beyond the $2.13/hr to make sure you always make at least $7.25/hr, not that $7.25/hr is even remotely a livable wage in 2023…

Sorry, that's not the case. I guess you don't have any friends who work as wait staff..

It depends on the business. My advise would to look around you to see what everyone else is doing.

You have to tip 20% of the bill minimum. You can round-up only from there.

It's considered very rude to tip less than 20% because in the US, most service workers are legally allowed to be paid less than the minimum wage ($2 or $3 per hour is not uncommon).

You should give $1 to a bartender for every drink you order. If it's an expensive city, you should give $2 per drink.

Yep, 20% is minimum these days. And if you're at a nice cocktail bar, it's customary to do a min 20% tip on your bill rather than a per-drink tip. Also worth noting that the wage paid by employers to waitstaff and bartenders usually disappears into taxes, and wage theft and refusal to pay overtime is common. People often have to give a percentage of their total sales to bussers and barbacks; this is called a tip-out, and it isn't reduced if tips are low. If a server has a really bad day with low tips, they can literally wind up losing money.

To those who don't tip in protest, you're not helping. Employers do not care. If they even notice, they're likely to just assume the server is bad at their job and 'discipline' them, and / or move them to a worse shift where they will earn less. All you're doing is forcing someone to work for you, for free, in a hellscape working environment, so that you can have a nice time. By doing this, you are making someone's life tangibly worse.

I've spent years in the US service industry at all levels; if you've never spent significant time in the industry, however bad you think it is, it's worse. Every job I've held in the hospitality industry has easily been more physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing than any professional role I've had.

I only tip if someone had to do something to get me that food/experience. Picking up food to take home? No tip. The restaurant makes you get your own food from the counter and do your own refills? No tip. The checkout screen might have a tip, but I'm putting 0.

It's not really your personal responsibility, it's the restaurant owners responsibility. If people aren't getting enough tips in a restaurant where tips are the big draw, and that causes wait staff to quit, the restaurant owner should be paying his people to subsidize that.

15-20% also is not a hard rule. There's a lot of places where I live that try to pass off costlier food in shitty atmosphere (think 30 dollar entrees, but the server sees you twice and it's a "theme" restaurant). If I think someone did well and engaged with us as customers and were pretty good about making suggestions on the menu or being extra attentive to drink refills, then guaranteed they're getting within that 15-20%. Anything less than that, then I as the customer who only gets to make that judgement call off of the limited interaction we have, and you'll get 7-10% or 5 bucks, whichever is bigger.

no it's not required but I can afford to tip so I do and that makes me better than people who don't ;)

Yes, if you don’t tip they will call you a Canadian or worse.

Is this actually a thing? Tipping is expected in Canada, too.

When I lived in Texas, "Canadian" was used as a racist term to refer to Black guests, while implying that they weren't likely to tip. It was pretty horrible.

I already replied but I just wanted a top level comment regarding:

that extra expense in a country where everything is already so expensive really makes a difference

That tip expense would be paid either way. There's no difference between charging $9 for a sandwich and tipping $1 vs being charged $10 for the sandwich and no tip. All costs always get passed down to the consumer no matter what, that's just how it works. So it isn't an "extra" expense. It is, was, and always will be in there, one way or another. I agree tipping is weird, inefficient, and difficult to understand, but you're gonna pay no matter what.

No, you don't have to tip. Really unfortunate that some people rely on tips for their wage, but If you don't tip, you're NTA.

Yes you are. Punishing service workers is not how you fix tipping culture

I read somewhere that if you don't make minimum wage with tips the employer needs to make up for it. Is that wrong?

If you look like a tourist you will not have much of a problem. I also live in a country where tipping is never done and when I travel to the US I never tip as I don’t agree with that system and I’m not used to it. Nobody ever told me anything or complained

Of course no one said anything. That would be rude. But not tipping your server is very much an asshole move, foreign or not. Those service industry workers rely on the tips because their wages are basically nothing. I agree that they should be paid a fair wage but that's just not how it works here in the US.

Yep. Just because people don’t say something doesn’t mean they don’t feel some type of way about it.

Employers not properly paying the servers is the real asshole move here.

Yes, but you're not hurting the employer when you don't tip, you're hurting the server.

Yes, The USA need to change. So you should deny and hate "tipping culture" and actively help getting rid of it but you should still tip the people because tips are part of their income.

Actually, you are hurting the employer by hurting the server. Just not nearly as much.

Ouch, I think you are being oblivious to how your move is being received. I know it’s cultural and it can be complicated to understand when not used to a culture (I was born a European, and became a naturalized American), but in the US culture, that is a move only done by truly terrible people.

I’m not saying you’re a terrible person, clearly you’re not realizing how terrible this is in the culture. But I promise it really is. It would be similar in Europe to insulting the waiter, and then saying “but it’s fine in my country”. It might be true depending on where you’re from, but it doesn’t make it better because that’s not where you are.

Seriously ouch on this one…

Ever heard of the phrase “when in Rome do as the Romans do”?

I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if people came to your country and did things that were seen as incredibly rude but said “oh it’s ok, in my country it’s fine”

Honestly dude if you cant afford to tip. You have no business eating out in america. As a former tip worker, ya they us about 5$ an hour BECAUSE the workers make up for it in tips. and thats a big IF. theirs no obligation on the employer to make sure that they actually come up positive. and Ultimately if you dont tip because you dont agree with tipping? You just forced one of the poorest members of our country to serve you for literally 3$ which quite honestly? kinda makes you a piece of shit if you do that.

OP is probably American and trying to start a discussion. Just accept it as how things are done here and move on. It's really not that bad if you expect it

This is correct! I'm a citizen, but have been gone for so long I feel like a foreigner. Its been a number of years since I've been back.

You do not have to tip. Feel free to, but there is no law, no moral reason, and in a Capitalist Society it is enforcing the status quo. The tip is just a way to subsidize the owner of the restaurant and ensure workers are never paid more then minimum wage without tips.