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Tip Top Tips for Tipping Your Servers

Tipping etiquette has been known to start arguments, divide families and even cause brother to turn against brother. It can be a heated subject which some individuals have vehement opinions on. In the United States, tipping isn’t mandatory, but it is highly encouraged.

But sometimes it’s confusing when nobody explains the rules to you. Who should you tip, and how much? This can be subjective, but there are some generally accepted practices for tipping. If you need help figuring it all out, check out these tip top tips for tipping your servers.

Why does tipping exist?
While tipping practices vary throughout the world, tipping in the United States is very much encouraged. Tipping even differs in parts of the U.S., but one thing is for sure: tipping exists because servers need to survive. Potential tips are calculated into a server’s salary, so they have a lower hourly pay than the regular minimum wage in most places.

While minimum wages vary throughout the U.S., the federal server wage is just $2.13 per hour. Some servers are even required to pool their tips at the end of the night with those who are less likely to be tipped, such as hosts or bartenders. Without tips, servers have very little money to rely on, and so tips exist to supplement that need.

Who should I tip?
Who you should tip can change depending on location and service, so when in doubt always err on the side of generosity. Servers at sit-down restaurants should definitely be tipped for their work. Many casual restaurants may not ask for tips, but they are always greatly appreciated. Carry out and delivery restaurant employees should also be tipped for their extra effort of delivering the food straight to your doorstep.

Other service workers such as bartenders, valets, coatroom attendants, beauty care professionals and cab drivers should also be tipped for their exceptional work. If you’re ever unsure, try looking up tipping practices for that area or asking someone close to you.

How much should I tip?
At sit-down restaurants, the average tip rate is 15-20%. It is also customary to tip in proportion to the service you received, although many persons still recommend tipping at least 10% even for poor service. A 15% tip says the service was average; 20% the service was good; 25% service was great; 30% service was exceptional. Some propose tipping $2 per person in the party if that amount would be higher than the calculated tip percentage.

When out with a large party (usually 6-8 persons), check to see if the tip was already included in gratuity. Gratuity is usually 15-18%, and ensures service workers still make money for their efforts with a large group. If gratuity is included, another tip is not necessary, though again, is always appreciated.

How do I calculate a tip?
You can calculate a tip for servers by using mental math, a calculator on your phone or even a tipping app. Tip generating apps can be downloaded for your phone, and let you insert the cost of the bill to see potential tipping options. Some restaurants even do the math ahead of time on the receipt, listing tip calculations beneath the cost of the bill. If this is the case, you can definitely take advantage and just include it right there.

While tipping will most likely still be an argument in many places, it’s important to remember that tipping is for both yours and the server’s benefit. Your servers work hard to ensure they make good tips, and you can value their efforts by tipping. And while tipping practices across the United States vary, one thing certainly does not: generosity.