12 People You Absolutely Should Tip Every Time

Just because tipping is optional doesn’t mean it’s not expected in some situations.
Updated May 13, 2024
Fact checked
woman paying using card at restaurant

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Many Americans believe tipping culture is getting out of control. In the post-pandemic world, more workers expect tips, which has left some people feeling like they're forced into leaving a little extra money.

With tipping expectations more widespread, it has become difficult to get ahead financially. However, it’s important to remember that many workers rely on tips for their income.

Regardless of how you feel about it, here are the people you should absolutely tip.

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Restaurant servers

Monkey Business/Adobe portrait of waiter serving food

Most folks expect to tip in sit-down restaurants. Restaurant servers are legally allowed to make below the minimum wage in many places, with the expectation that they will make cash tips that push their take-home pay higher.

The general rule of thumb is that you should tip between 15% and 20%. Many servers are students or those starting out in life, and it’s possible your tips will help them get out of debt or start to build some savings.


Graphicroyalty/Adobe  female worker at bartender desk

A good rule of thumb for tipping at the bar is $1 to $2 per simple drink and $3 to $5 per drink for mixed drinks. If you end up opening a tab for the evening, it’s customary to tip 15% of your final bill to your bartender.

Bartenders who go above and beyond by being especially attentive or honoring special requests likely have earned a larger tip.

Delivery drivers

puhhha/Adobe man delivering a pizza to a woman

With the rise of grocery and food delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, you probably order takeout more often than in the past. That likely also means you're tipping delivery drivers.

With inflation and rising food costs, delivery drivers report tips being down from previous years. However, the expectation remains that you will tip between 15% and 20% of your total bill.

If you order a large amount of food or the weather is bad, consider tipping more to reward the added effort.

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Hotel staff

hedgehog94/Adobe bringing clean towels and supplies

If you stay in hotels, bring along cash for tipping. At a minimum, you should be prepared to pay the bellhop $2 to $3 per bag and more for heavy bags.

Tip the housekeeper who cleans your room each day $1 to $3 per night of your stay. Because the cleaning staff rotates, you should tip the staff each day with an envelope on the desk labeled “housekeeping.”

Depending on your stay, you may encounter room service, towel delivery, concierge service, or a doorman. All of these folks deserve tips.

Airport staff

kelvn/Adobe airline attendant checking the bag

Curbside check-in is great for when you’re running late for your flight or just want to skip the long lines at the counter to check your bag. 

For this convenience, you should be prepared to pay $5 per bag or more if you have oversized luggage or heavy bags. Think about tipping your shuttle driver $3 to $5, especially if the driver helps you with your bags.

Beauty salon staff

AntonioDiaz/Adobe hairdresser cutting some hair tips

Tipping at salons is a longstanding tradition. It’s actually considered bad etiquette not to tip your stylist or barber for services.

Tipping between 15% and 20% is standard, but consider more for special services. This tipping standard also extends to other beauty professionals, such as estheticians, nail technicians, and massage therapists.


Snapic.PhotoProduct/Adobe female uber driver driving passenger

Uber, Lyft, and taxi services all fall under the transportation umbrella. You should plan to tip when using these services.

Tips for transportation services are typically 15-20% of your total. If you’re using an app, there is often a suggested tip listed for you already.

Also, add more than usual if the driver is picking you up during bad weather or rush hour.

Tattoo artists

belyjmishka/Adobe Artist giving a tattoo

Just like other talented service providers, it’s polite to tip your tattoo artist. Typically, you'll visit a specific tattoo artist because you appreciate their style and artistry. Tipping them is a sign of your gratitude.

A tip of 15% to 20% of the cost of your tattoo is a good place to start.

Mail carriers

Monkey Business/Adobe mailman delivering letters to woman

If you've lived at the same address for a while or are looking to spread some gratitude for the delivery of your mail, it’s OK to thank your mail carrier with a small token of appreciation.

However, be aware that government employees cannot accept gifts exceeding $20 per occasion and $50 for the calendar year. So, stay under that limit.

In addition, the U.S. Postal Service says carriers are prohibited from accepting “cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash.” So, give a gift instead.

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House cleaners

Andrey Popov/Adobe woman wearing gloves cleaning fridge

If the same person regularly cleans your home and does a good job, a 10% to 20% tip is customary. If you have a cleaning team, a flat rate of $5 to $15 per person is suggested.

Other people prefer to give a larger, one-time tip around the holidays. This might be equivalent to the rate you would pay for a single cleaning.


Andrey Popov/Adobe smiling valet and businessperson

There are some conflicting ideas about when you should tip a valet. Some tip at the beginning after you give them the keys, and others wait until they pick up the car.

Whatever you decide, you should tip your parking attendant $2 to $5 to park and/or retrieve your vehicle.


MP Studio/Adobe barista making cappuccino at cafe

While baristas are often paid more than waitstaff, they likely aren't making much more than minimum wage. Even though the etiquette guide says it’s optional, you may want to be generous about tipping your barista.

That is especially true if you are a regular or order complicated drinks. If you want to leave a tip, $1 per drink is well-received by baristas, but adding the extra change to your order is also fine.

Bottom line

Kzenon/Adobe hotel bell boy servicing guest

Tipping isn’t mandatory in most places, but generosity is almost always well-received. Many workers struggle to stop living paycheck to paycheck in today’s climate of inflation, and tips can make a big difference to their bottom line.

So, remember to factor in the cost of tipping when going out to eat, booking a trip, or scheduling a service. Try to be generous to those who are serving you.

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Author Details

Holly Humbert Holly is a writer who recognizes that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to personal finance. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in business, and financial literacy. With more than four years of experience, her work has been featured on MarketWatch and The Ways to Wealth.

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