Knowing who to tip, how to tip, when to tip, and how much to tip is all very complicated. I imagine one could probably become a tipping etiquette master after a lot of life experience; however, if you never left your small town before going to college you may want to do some research. You do not want to be that guy (or girl) who doesn’t tip when you should.

A lot of people are dependent on receiving tips and can earn close to half of their money based on your tipping. So, let us start with WHO you should tip. Usually you tip all people who serve you. If you do not know if you should tip, try to think about these three categories: food service, transportation (kind of), and personal service.

Food Service: The food service is probably the most common place where you tip or here about tipping. The kinds of people you should generally tip in these situations are the waitress or waiter, bartender, busboy and things of the sort. I have also heard of people tipping the chef at a restaurant if you want to be generous or if your food was just that good. Also, places that make your food in front of you like a deli or a Mongolian BBQ will usually have a tip jar. It is probably less frowned upon if you don’t put a tip in, but still nice if you think their service was adequate.

Driving/Car People: This category is really vague, but it may help you remember when to tip. It refers to people who drive you, and people who drive to you. First of all you should tip people who drive you. For example, a taxi driver or a chauffeur if you are for some reason that fancy. If you are again being fancy, and you use a valet service, you should generally tip them as well.

You should also always tip those who provide a delivery service. For example, those who deliver food, or if you ordered a couch to be delivered or something.

Personal Service: The last main category where tipping is usually expected is when someone is giving you a personal service to your body (how do you say that without sounding dirty?) People that fall into this category are hair stylists or barbers, manicurists or pedicurists, a masseuse and probably a tattoo artist. Some places, like some massage parlors do not allow tipping, so you might want to ask if it is okay.

There are a couple more professions that one should give tips to that do not fall into one of my made up categories. For example at fancy hotels it is polite to tip the bellhops, and the maids. Also, I learned this summer that it is expected of you to tip the dealer at a card table, usually after you have won a large pot.


Hopefully, you are getting a better sense of when/who you should tip. If you are in a situation where you do not know if you should tip or not, it will never hurt to ask (or, just Google it.)

Knowing the amount to tip can be even trickier than knowing who to tip, and it is something I will delve into further for a future post. However, you should generally tip based on how good the service was. If the server was extra polite, and did a fabulous job then yeah you should tip generously so they will hopefully keep it up. However, if you don’t tip them anything because you think their service was BAD, that may not get your point across. If you do not leave a tip, the server will just think that you do not know when, how or who to tip. Instead, if you want to send them a message for their bad service, you should tip a very low amount.