It seems like everywhere you turn these days, you’re faced with the tipping dilemma. From coffee shops to restaurants and even delivery services, the tipping expectation in America has become almost unavoidable. It’s taking a toll on Americans, with two-thirds of people now holding a negative view of the entire tipping practice, according to a recent Bankrate survey.

The Rise of Tipping Technology And The Gig Economy

Why does it feel like we’re being asked for tips more often than ever before? There are two main reasons: technology and the gig economy.

Digital cash register tablets and other innovative technologies have made it easier for customers to give tips in our increasingly cashless society. Additionally, the rise of the gig economy has created countless opportunities for tipping, from dog grooming services to personal shoppers.

woman checking customer out at register
Photo credit: Patrick Tomasso

When And How Much To Tip

Despite the growing frustration, there are still situations where tipping is expected. A few scenarios may include:

Tipping at Restaurants: It’s almost universally expected to tip at restaurants in the U.S. The general rule of thumb is to tip between 15% and 20% of your bill for sit-down meals.

Food Delivery: Even when having food delivered, it’s still customary to tip. Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman suggests a minimum of $5 for a typical order. For larger orders or when the delivery driver goes the extra mile, a tip of 15% of the bill is appropriate.

Sitting at the Bar: When enjoying a drink at the bar, a tip of $1 to $2 per beer or cocktail is acceptable. If you’re ordering snacks or food, it’s still recommended to tip between 15% and 20% of your total tab.

Dealing with Bad Service: Even if the service is subpar, it’s still kind to leave a tip. However, you can listen to your gut and adjust the amount accordingly.

Tipping on Vacation: When traveling, tipping becomes a customary practice for valets, bellhops, housekeepers, and shuttle drivers. The suggested tips range from a dollar or two per bag for shuttle drivers to $3 to $5 a day for housekeeping services.

It’s Not Always Necessary To Tip

While opportunities to tip are seemingly endless, etiquette expert Diane Gottsman emphasizes that tipping is not always required. In fast-food restaurants, coffee shops, and other quick-service establishments, tipping is optional. Use your common sense and gauge the quality of service to determine whether a tip is warranted.

Carry Cash For Flexibility

If you feel pressured by tablet screens or receipt prompts, Gottsman suggests carrying cash in small bills. This allows you to leave a tip within your comfort zone and have the option to decline without feeling rude.

Remember, tipping is a personal choice, and it’s important to consider both your economic situation and the quality of service you received. Whether you decide to leave a generous tip or none at all, the key is to navigate the tipping landscape with respect and understanding.