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A How-To Guide to Modern Tipping

I recently escaped to Lake Tahoe for some much needed rest and relaxation. After hours in the car with two kids, we finally arrived at our hotel, desperate to cool our heels in the pool.

And then it happened. The bellman brought our luggage to our room, and my husband and I exchanged horrified looks. He said, “Do you have cash for a tip?”

With so many of us leading cashless lives and relying on plastic these days, it’s hard to remember to tip, let alone what amount we should be tipping and ultimately budgeting for. Never fear! I caught up with Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. Gottsman shared some advice on when to tip, who to tip and what to tip.


Gottsman advises to never skip a tip. Tip restaurant servers 18 – 20 percent or more for exceptional service, and even if service is poor, speak to the manager and leave 10 percent. While tipping is standard for almost all U.S. restaurants, some big-city venues are introducing new no-tipping policies.

In-home food delivery services like EAT24 and GrubHub make meal planning a breeze, but don’t forget the driver. A delivery fee is not the same as a tip. Generally, for orders less than $20, a minimum of $3 (or more) is customary. For larger amounts, opt for 10 –15 percent of the cost of the food. Factor in inclement weather and high volume traffic during major events and holidays when calculating the tip.

When running a tab, bartenders should be tipped 15 to 20 percent of the bill or $1 per drink. And if that tip jar is staring you down at your favorite coffee shop, don’t feel obligated. If you have exceptional customer service, however, feel free to drop in .50 – $1.


Before you jump in a Lyft or Uber, check their tipping guidelines. Uber factors tips into fares, while Lyft allows gratuity and you can tip through their app. Meanwhile, traditional taxi services should be tipped around 15 percent – up to 20 percent for assistance with heavy luggage. And don’t skip that tip for curbside check-in at the airport: $5 minimum for one bag, $2-$3 per bag for multiple bags.


If Airbnb is your preferred style for lodging, the host does not require a tip. However, stellar feedback and reviews are always appreciated. A small gift basket or bottle of wine may be appropriate if your host went above and beyond to make your stay comfortable.

At hotels, valets should receive between $3 – $5. There’s no need to tip the hotel doorman for friendly “hello” unless they assist you with shopping bags or offer an umbrella from the front door to a taxi in inclement weather. A bellman should be tipped $1 – $2 per bag, and if you’re ordering room service, tip 15 – 20 percent of the bill. Be sure to check first to see if gratuity has been added.

Salon and Spa

Whether it’s a manicure, pedicure, massage or hair styling, tip 15– 20 percent. Always check the salon tipping policy. Some businesses don’t accept tips, some are cash only, while others may include the gratuity in your bill.

Gottsman adds, “The ceremony of tipping never goes out of style. It’s always appropriate to make sure the person who provides you with a service, whether it be in hospitality, travel, or beauty is appropriately tipped.”

Do you have a tipping quandary that Mint can help with? Ask us on Twitter at @mint, and you may see yourself on the blog!

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