Whereas in some countries, tipping is thought of as a little bonus in order to reward great service. When you move to America, you will be moving to a country where tipping is not a bonus, it’s a necessary addition to your bill that helps people who are being paid less than what we would consider a minimum wage. These tips help supplement this small hourly rate so that they can earn a wage to live off.
The complication comes, though, when you have to work out who needs tips and how much you should tip them. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
Restaurants and Cafes
The general rule for dining out is to tip your server 15 to 20 percent of your total bill. Working out how much to tip can be tricky – particularly if maths isn’t one of your strengths – but one easy way to do it is to look for the sales tax on your receipt, which is charged in most states. This is around 8 per cent so, if you double that, you’ll have your tip.
Keep in mind, though, when dining at a fancier restaurant. These establishments will expect tips of at least 20 per cent, if not 25. Plus, you’ll probably have a space on your recipe to provide a tip for the maître d’, who showed you to your table. The toilets also have attendants, again, who will look for a couple of dollars for every visit.
If this scares you too much, you can avoid tips by going to fast food places. Food that is given over a counter isn’t expected to be tipped. Although there will probably be a tip jar, if you want to.
If you plan on getting your hair cut or some sort of beauty treatment, be prepared to tip several people. Take, for instance, you are getting your hair cut. It’s likely that someone will show you to your chair and offer you a drink, another will wash your hair and then the hairdresser will cut your hair.
Here you should tip $2-3 to the person who brought your drink, around $5 to the person who washed your hair and 20 percent of the total charge to the hairdresser. Most people will leave a little envelope for you to discreetly leave your tip, so you won’t need to go searching for the people in question on your way out.
You might think that a taxi fare should include that driver’s tip but this isn’t the case, drivers will still expect a tip of around 10 to 20 percent on top. What side of the scale you choose here will depend on your experience – if the driver takes a direct route and helps with your bags go for 20 per cent. If you feel they were rude or the car wasn’t overly clean, go for 10.
Even if you go to a bar, order your drinks and take them back to your table yourself, you will still be expected to leave a tip for the person who poured your drinks. The rule of thumb is $1 per drink, however, if you’re ordering a large round, you can decide to give $3-4 for the full order.
Some places will offer table service, this is the same as a restaurant, where you will tip around 15 percent of your total bill.
Remember, be prepared! Not having change or $1 bills on you is no excuse – people will still expect their tip! Try to keep a separate purse or pocket filled with $1 bills ready. If you do only have $20 bills then ask at the desk of your hotel, they will likely split these large bulls for you. The person you’re tipping may even have change.