Tipping can be a controversial subject. Should you tip? How much? To whom? Do I need to break out the calculator to figure this out? Rest easy – we have a few handy tips to help you determine when you should tip, how much, and how to quickly determine how much to tip.
The standard tip for most services in the US is 15%. Love it or hate it, tipping is how many people earn their living, and it is here to stay. Most people I know have no problem with leaving tips. But I have noticed a lot of people have trouble determining how much they should leave.
Some people pull out a pen and paper and work it out to the penny, and others always leave the same amount, regardless of the bill. I also know a guy who carries around a tip cheat sheet in his wallet, but as you can tell from the contents of my wallet, I don’t like to carry around unnecessary items.
How Much Should You Tip?
Instead of figuring out the tip to the penny, try these simple tricks to quickly and painlessly calculate your tips:
Divide by 6.
My favorite tip trick to determine how much to leave is to divide the final bill by 6, which comes out to 16.67%. Sure, it’s a little higher than the standard 15%, but it’s also much easier to figure out. Dividing by 7 (14.3%) and rounding up accomplishes the same thing.
If the service is great I will usually tip 20%, which is easily determined by dividing the final bill by 5. If the service is adequate, but not great, I might divide 8, which is 12.5%, or 10, which is 10%. Even then, I usually round up to the nearest dollar because I don’t like carrying around change.
Divide by 10 and add half again.
Another quick way to get exactly 15% is to divide a number by 10, then add half that number.
Example: Let’s try this out on an odd number… How much would you tip on a $27 bill? If you want to pay exactly 15% of $27, you will pay $4.05. Check out how close you get by using the tips above:
- Divide by 5 (20%): $27 ÷ 5 = $5.40
- Divide by 6 (16.7%): $27 ÷ 6 = $4.50
- Divide by 7 (14.3%): $27 ÷ 7 = $3.86
- Divide by 8 (12.25%): $27 ÷ 8 = $3.38
- Divide by 10 (10%): $27 ÷ 10 = $2.70 (add half again and you have $4.05)
As you can see, all of these are easy to remember, easy to perform, and get you pretty close to the target number of 15%, or higher or lower depending on how good or bad the service was.
Here Are Some Other Tipping Ideas:
Tipping rules of thumb. I generally tip at least $1 regardless of the bill, even if it is only a $0.99 cup of coffee. I might tip more if I sit at the table for a long time because by occupying the table I am taking away other potential tips.
Another guideline is to tip a waiter or waitress 15 percent for good service, 20 percent for exceptional service and no less than 10 percent for poor service. Even though you might want to skip out on the tip for poor service, you may be hurting others because in many restaurants waitstaff share tips with busboys, bartenders, and hostesses.
Double the tax, then round up. Tax in many locations is roughly 6-7%. Doubling the tip and rounding up to the nearest dollar often gets you very close to 15%. (This works better on smaller bills).
Tipping at a bar. I often tip $1 per drink. If you want prompt service, make your first tip of the evening a good one, then follow that up with regular tips per drink after that. If you open a tab, it’s a good idea to make your first tip with cash to get the bartender’s attention, ensuring prompt service for the rest of the evening.
Casinos. Casino dealers don’t earn much per hour from the casino, but often earn quite a bit from tips. It is considered good form to give them a small tip when you win a big hand or whenever there is a dealer change. Many dealers also don’t mind if you tip them by placing a bet for them (often on the sucker bets).
Tipping on a cruise. Last year, my wife and I went on a cruise for our honeymoon. We had a great time, and thankfully were prepared for the tips. Expect to pay around $6-10 per person, per day, with optional tips as you go.
No tip. I don’t recommend stiffing your waiter because, as mentioned earlier, tips are often shared. But if you feel inclined to skip the tip anyway, do it the right way. If you are paying with a credit card, don’t write $0.00. It’s too easy for the waiter (or someone else) to change the numbers to give himself a nice tip. Instead, write NO TIP on the line. There is no way to easily change that. Also consider speaking with the restaurant manager. If the service is that poor, the manager will want to know.
Save big at restaurant.com! Right now you can get huge savings on restaurant gift certificates with Restaurant.com coupon codes. Savings are usually in the 50%-80% range!
Tipping Tips for Your Vacation!
One of the hidden costs of taking a vacation is tips, especially if you are taking a cruise. Cruises can be very expensive, and one of the things many people fail to consider is how much they will spend for tipping the crew, wait staff, bartenders, and everyone else who makes your trip as enjoyable as they can.
Tipping is different on each cruise line, so the best thing to do is check with your cruise line and determine how tips are handled, or if there are suggested rates for tips.
Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding tipping on cruise lines:
Tips may be automatically added to onboard accounts: Some cruise lines automatically add a predetermined amount to your onboard account. The rates are usually determined on a per-person, per-day basis and are later split among the staff by the cruise line. Some cruise lines have different rates for adults and children, and some charge the same rate for everyone.
Many cruise lines also give passengers the option of increasing or decreasing the amount they tip to either the entire staff or to individual crew members if the passengers believe they deserve more or less than the predetermined standard. If the tips are automatically calculated and you wish to adjust them, you should go to the Purser’s Office to make the changes.
Recommended Tips: Instead of automatically adding tips to onboard accounts, some cruise lines give recommendations for tips. Celebrity Cruises has a long standing tradition of having their passengers pass out envelopes to crew members on the last night of the cruise. They provide their passengers with a list of “suggested” gratuities, but of course, guests can tip at the level they feel is appropriate.
Additional Charges: Most cruise lines automatically add 15% gratuity to all bar bills. Expect to give a similar tip for a visit to the health spa, masseuse, stylist, fitness classes, or other services. However, tips for the other services may not be automatic.
How much should you expect to spend on gratuities?: Automatic or recommended rates usually add up to around $6-10 per person, per day on the cruise. While this does seem expensive, the service on cruise lines is usually top notch and should be rewarded.
While it may seem like an easy way to save a few bucks on your vacation, shortchanging your tips to save money is probably not the right thing to do unless the service you received was substandard. After all, this is the crew members’ livelihood.
My wife and I recently returned from our first cruise. I must say, our trip was expensive, but well worth it! I haven’t sat down to compute the final bill for our vacation, but I know it is high. In fact, for just under 2 weeks, we spent well over $250 on tips alone!
Yes, $250 is a lot of money, but you have to realize that cruise line employees make most of their money in the form of tips. The best thing you can do is recognize the associated cost and budget for it! Here is more information about tipping cruise line workers.
My wife and I traveled on Celebrity Cruise Line, so I included an example of their recommended tipping schedule, which we followed.
Celebrity Cruise line recommended tips (These tips are per person, per day):
- Waiter – $3.50
- Assistant Waiter – $2.00
- Assistant Maitre D’ – $0.75
- Stateroom Attendant – $3.50
- Assistant Chief Housekeeper – $.050
- Total – $10.25 (per person, per day)
For a 10 day cruise, that equals $205 for 2 people. The total my wife and I paid for tips on our cruise was at least $230. (We tipped extra for a special dinner, and a 15% gratuity is automatically added to all drinks and services, including alcohol, sodas, spa treatments, etc.). Including the cruise, taxis, excursion drivers & tour guides, and other restaurants, I think we spent around $275-300 on tips for our 2 week vacation.
Well-earned money. While I thought the cruise company did everything in their power to extract as much money as possible from their customers (more on that in a later article), every crew member on the ship did everything they could to make our vacation memorable. The service was everything we expected. Because the crew members were such hard workers and pleasant people, I had no problem giving them the money they earned.
Can you save money by tipping less? You can, but I would also recommend against cutting back on tips as a way to save money. Tips represent a large portion of these workers pay, and by scaling back, you are taking money away from individual people, not some faceless corporation.
Travel Hint: When budgeting for your next vacation (especially if you will take a cruise), don’t forget to budget for tips you may incur during your travels – such as tipping bag porters, taxi drivers, waiters, hotel staff, cruise line workers, and tour guides. These tips add up quickly!
Do you have any tip tricks or advice to share?
Note about tipping in the US and Canada: Many of the comments left on this article discuss tipping practices in the US and in Canada. There is a big difference because waitstaff in Canada receive a minimum wage for their service, plus tips. Most waitstaff in the US receive a reduced minimum wage (typically half) and their tips are supposed to make up the difference.