Sure, tipping’s appreciated by those working in service-based industries, but most of us would probably leave this guy without a cent — and with good reason.

Why do we tip?

In the U.S., it’s customary to leave tips for certain services. For example, some employees who work in restaurants, bars, hotels, salons, spas, and other service-based businesses expect (and may even rely on) tipping.

But how did an aristocratic European tradition establish itself as part of modern America? Historians have suggested that tipping arrived in the U.S. after the Civil War. But by and large, Americans resisted the practice. Other studies suggest that tipping became tradition as a result of the temperance movement. Businesses lost profits when they stopped serving alcohol during prohibition, and tipping was heavily encouraged to help waitstaff make ends meet.

But however it arrived on our shores, tipping, it would seem, is here to stay. To help you tackle tipping in the modern world, here are some top tips (so to speak) on tipping.

Always check if a service charge has been included

For things like room service at a hotel or limo services, always check the small print before dishing out extra cash. Oftentimes, the tip’s automatically included on the bill. This also applies at some restaurants when you’re dining with a larger party (usually 6 people or more). But remember, you don’t have to stick to the included tip and can always add more if you received special treatment or outstanding service.

Carry plenty of small bills

This is pretty obvious, but it’s also a common issue when it comes to tipping. Especially when traveling. How many times have we all suddenly realized that a tip’s expected and either felt compelled to over-tip with a large bill or been left red-faced with excuses of running to an ATM? Keep a small stash of $1s and $5s on you at all times.

Smartphone calculators are your friend

For restaurant bills, 15 to 20 percent is the standard addition for good service. However, if your math skills are limited and you don’t want to be caught calculating your tip, try doubling the sales tax often printed on the bill. This should average out to about 12 to 19 percent of the total bill (depending on where you are). Then you can add more or subtract accordingly. For more details on whom and how much to tip, check out a brief guide to gratuity below.

Tipping can mean better service

If you tip someone who may be waiting on you more than once, the tip amount could directly affect the level of service you get in the future. A valet (for example) might remember you gave them a couple of extra dollars, and it could mean you get your wheels back a little faster the next time you park.

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Don’t forget the less-obvious service providers

After tipping the bellhop, valet, server, and those who served you directly, it’s easy to overlook staff who work behind the scenes. Common service providers who often get overlooked are maître d’s, concierges, hotel housekeepers, and even the building’s door attendant — especially if they help take luggage out of your car.

When in doubt, tip

However you look at it, tipping’s here to stay. Some workers depend on tips as a significant part of their income. Traditionally, tips are given to restaurant waitstaff, valet drivers, bellhops, bartenders, hairdressers, cab drivers, and others providing a direct service. If you’re not sure, it can’t hurt to leave a few dollars. You might just make someone’s day if they weren’t expecting a tip.

Still confused? Check out this brief guide to gratuity.

Travel

  • Taxi driver/car service: 15 to 20 percent of the bill, although some app-based driving services like Uber include the tip in the final bill
  • Shuttle driver, door attendant, skycap, bellhop: $1 to $2 per bag carried or general service provided
  • Concierge: Approximately $5 to $10 for special services, such as making a restaurant reservation
  • Hotel housekeeper: $2 to $5 per night, adding an extra buck or 2 for special requests like towels, rollaway bed, etc.
  • Valet: $2 to $5 when you park or retrieve your car

Restaurant, bar, or club

  • Coatroom/restroom attendant: $1 per item handled by coatroom attendant; 50¢ to $3 for to use any products displayed on the sink
  • Server: 15 to 20 percent of the bill
  • Host, maître d’: No official obligation for being greeted and shown to a table; $10 to $20 if they go above and beyond to find you a table during a busy period
  • Bartender: $1 to $2 per drink or 15 to 20 percent of the tab

Salon or spa

  • Hair stylist, manicurist: 15 to 20 percent of the bill
  • Aesthetician (providing facials or waxing), masseuse: 15 to 20 percent of the bill

Have any tip-worthy recipients been left out? Share some of your top “tips” below.

Related links

4 Tips for a Drama-Free Valet Experience

Valet Parking Confessions: What Happens After You Hand Over the Keys

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about Omar

A copywriter of truly British proportions, Omar spent his formative years developing brands in London before moving to sunny California. A huge fan of savory pastries, scriptwriting, and stand-up comedy, Omar spends most of his time avoiding beaches (they’re just piles of yellow dirt), being mistaken for an Australian (for no clear reason), and playing the guitar (badly).