How Much to Tip for Different Services?

by Sean Bryant on May 23, 2012

Whenever I order take out from a restaurant I frequently spend more time trying to figure out how much I should be tipping the delivery driver than actually choosing what I am going to order. Just like anything else that requires service, it is customary to tip. The question is, how much to tip?

When I am going out to dinner I usually find myself leaving anywhere from 15 to 20 percent. Some people feel that 10 percent is adequate. I think you should leave what you feel is appropriate for the service that you received. You should never go below 10 percent unless the service was really bad and you know it was the wait staff’s fault.

Up until recently I never tipped when I carried out food from a restaurant. There is no one taking care of me so I didn’t think it was necessary. When I shared my thoughts on this with someone they couldn’t believe it. They said they always tip 10 percent on carryout orders. Once again I think its entirely up to to the person and the service you’ve received.

Another big tipping opportunity is after getting your hair done. I go to Great Clips for my haircuts and they charge $12 dollars for a haircut so I leave $3 dollars. It is fairly customary to leave 10 percent, but I feel weird leaving only $1 dollar.

When I was doing some research I found a tipping etiquette guide for how much to tip. They had a pretty comprehensive list of different services.

  • Gardener: $20 – $50
  • USPS Mail Carrier: Non-cash gifts up to $20
  • Apartment Building Superintendent: $50 – $200 until you tip throughout the year for services
  • Massage Therapist: $15
  • Newspaper Carrier: $25 – $50 if daily or $10 for weekend delivery
  • Teacher: $10 – $100
  • Full-Time Nanny: One weeks pay
  • Taxi Driver: 15 percent on total fare or 20 percent if they help with bags
  • Hotel Valet: $1-$3
  • Hotel Bellman: $1 – $2 per bag
  • Hotel Room Service: 15 to 20 percent, if gratuity is not included
  • Hotel Maid Service: $3 – $5 per day
  • Tour Guides: Up to $3- $5 per person for full day trips. If it a private tour this will be more.
  • Restaurant Server: 15 to 20 percent
  • Bartender: 15 to 20 percent or $1 per drink
  • Restaurant Coat Check: $1
  • Movers: $10 – $20 for a normal move and more for something more difficult
  • Food Delivery: 15 percent, but not less than $2
  • Car Wash: $2 – $3 or 15 percent for a car detailing

These amounts are simply a guide to follow. As with anything else, the amounts can vary depending on if you live in a big city or a small town. Tip with what you feel is appropriate for the service that you received.

What kind of tip do you usually leave when you go out to eat or get your hair cut?

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.
  • I just had this debate in my head. I got carry out and didn’t leave a tip. When I eat in, it’s usually 20%.

    Does the wait staff tip out to the cooks? If not then you are basically tipping someone for doing nothing since it was probably the expo or the kitchen staff themselves who got your order together.

    For haircuts I tip the same as you. I found a lady who cuts AWESOME hair for only $5, but I gave her a $5 tip. At Great Clips it at least $3-5.

  • I had no idea that people tipped on carry out! I assume that if I’m going up to the restaurant and picking it up myself, that no tip is warranted.

  • Oo i didn’t know about an actual guide to tipping. I wonder if these guidelines are universal or just for North America. In restaurants I generally tip however much my friends tip 🙂 I don’t go to barber shops since I cut my own hair.

  • haha I’m super cheap with tipping. I’m just not in favor of the whole custom of paying someone extra just because their employer isn’t willing to pay them proper wages. For picking up take out food, I would never tip. To me that is like tipping at a fast food restaurant. Why should I be paying the same kind of tip when nobody is delivering it, serving me at a table or cleaning up my mess? I also don’t agree with tipping someone like a building superintendent. The other one I just don’t get is tipping $1 for a drink. What is so complicated about serving me a drink that I need to pay the person an extra $1 to do so, especially when all they’re doing for me is taking the cap off a bottle of beer?

  • Mike Dolen

    Tipping for apartment building superintendent… I’ve never heard of that one. My building definitely does NOT deserve a tip – the hot water pipes in the garage have leaked onto my car like 10x during the past 4 years I’ve lived here. The water was steaming hot so it caused the paint to flake off where it landed. I think they owe me a tip!

  • I’m sorry, this is just to much. It feels like I should just be walking around with cash-lined pockets to give money to every person I pass! I know some salaries are not adequate and so tipping is how they make their money, but… superintendants? Movers? Car wash? My wife and I get carry-out sometimes for the sole purpose of making the meal cheaper by not having to tip! And now you’re telling me that I have to tip them too for not even serving me?? I actually tip pretty heavy for waitresses, but sometimes I think the tipping expectation is just too much for so many different job types!

    • I agree mostly. I never tips an apartment super, but I would tip a car wash worked a couple bucks and I have tips movers

  • I’ve never heard of people tipping for carry out either. For restaurants, I always tip 20% and for the hairdresser I usually tip 10%.

  • Justin @ The Family Finances

    When eating out I tip 15 to 20%, depending on the level of service. I never tip for carryout. This list was pretty extensive, and I think maybe a bit too much. Should I tip my mortgage company for managing my escrow account? Should I tip the meter reader for accurately reading my electric meter?

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