12 Rudest Tipping Habits You Might Not Even Realize You’re Guilty Of

Your tipping habits might be ruffling more feathers than you think.

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Updated June 6, 2024
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You may be going out to eat more or finding ways to travel more, but do you know the tipping habits for those places?

You may be surprised that your tipping habits are considered rude, or perhaps you already know you should change some of your tipping practices.

Before you go out and pay a tip, here are some tipping habits you might want to review that could be coming off more rudely than you expected.

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You tip on the discounted cost

seanlockephotography/Adobe male server collecting tip from table

If you’re trying to make your paycheck stretch further, you may be going out to eat with coupons or finding other discounts to help you save money.

These can be great ways to lower your bill, but you should still tip on the pre-discounted cost and not the final price.

The server didn’t serve you less because you had a coupon or discount, so try to tip on the full amount.

You tip with loose change

MargJohnsonVA/Adobe money on coffee table at cafe

You may have a few quarters or dimes that you think are an easy way to tip on top of your cash.

However, some experts in restaurants and services say it’s difficult for workers to deal with loose change in addition to paper cash. Coins weigh more and can be easier to lose.

It’s better to skip the coins and just leave some cash the next time you go out.

You think 15% is an average tip

Backcountry Media/Adobe man asking for tip using tablet

It’s difficult to know exactly how much you should tip, but 15% is considered the minimum and not the average.

Servers and other people who rely on tips usually have to do so because they get paid less than the minimum wage, which is why 20% has become the standard to tip and help workers earn cash.

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You tip with gifts

Prostock-studio/Adobe woman receiving packed gift from man

You may bring gifts for your favorite waiter at a local restaurant or baked goods to your favorite hairdresser when you get a haircut.

But cash is still king no matter how friendly you are with different workers. Plan to pay cash or put a tip on your charge card whenever you’re out instead of tipping with gifts.

You don’t tip if your food is late

mtrlin/Adobe female waitress unhappy about tips received

One of the biggest frustrations you might have is going to a restaurant and waiting for food that takes forever. However, the delay could be out of your server’s control. Servers are not responsible for the kitchen running behind or staffing issues.

Remember to still give them a tip and don’t use withholding a tip as a way to punish workers for things they don’t have the power to change. Servers typically rely on tips since they have lower wages.

You can’t afford the tip

JackF/Adobe african american waiter unhappy at restaurant

It can be frustrating to make dinner at home every night or drink beer with your friends in your backyard instead of going to a bar.

But make sure you’ve budgeted for tips before you go out, and consider staying in or finding ways to save more cash if going out means skipping a tip.

You only tip if you sit down to eat

piter2121/Adobe doordash logo on smartphone inside pocket

The pandemic made food delivery more popular, and you may be using sites like DoorDash and Grubhub more often now for convenience.

Your delivery drivers should be tipped for their services even if you aren’t sitting down at a restaurant to eat your food. Consider giving a tip to drivers who usually use their own cars that they need to pay for to deliver your food.

Drivers also need to save money on gas. Help them out with a tip in exchange for delivering food to you.

You don’t fill in the tip line

mtrlin/Adobe unhappy barista using tablet at cafe

Tipping has become more convenient with credit card slips, including a line just for a tip.

You may just write a number on the total line and skip doing the math, but it’s a good idea to clearly state the tip when signing the bill.

It can help the server with the total amount when reporting it, and it’s easier to know you’re tipping the right amount.

You tip the same when you travel

polack/Adobe waitress refusing customer tip at restaurant

The U.S. is actually unusual when it comes to tipping. If you plan to travel abroad, research tipping etiquette for where you’re going and be aware that not all countries have the same unwritten rules about tipping.

You should also review which countries may charge you a gratuity no matter what. Some places in Europe, for example, may add a gratuity to your bill. Don’t pay more than necessary.

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You like to overtip

Julia/Adobe server keeping tips in apron pocket

Sometimes, it’s nice to reward good service, or perhaps you have extra cash to tip 25% instead of the typical 20%.

But there is such a thing as overtipping, and that can cause your server issues. You may think tipping $40 on a $20 bill is a nice gesture, but it can be perceived as too extravagant, or your server may worry that you didn’t mean to tip that much. If you want to overtip, use cash.

You tip on a pre-tax cost

mtrlin/Adobe blonde waitress receiving tip from client

You may look at your bill and decide to leave a tip based on the cost of your meal or drinks before the tax was included.

But tax should be part of your calculations when deciding how much to tip. Factor in the final cost of the bill and not just the pre-tip cost when you’re figuring out how much you need to tip.

You only tip at restaurants

Kzenon/Adobe hotel server receiving tip from businessman

Tipping at restaurants is considered normal, but what about other locations?

It can be frustrating to carry cash when you’re used to paying and tipping with a credit card, but make sure you have extra cash to tip when traveling.

Consider leaving a tip for hotel workers like the cleaning service that tends to your room, and carry a few dollars for drivers at long-term parking lots who handle your suitcases and get you back to your car.

Bottom line

VadimGuzhva/Adobe barman receiving payment from woman

Tipping in the U.S. has its own unwritten rules, so ensure you follow them the next time you go out for a meal or trip.

If you plan to tip with your credit card, remember to use the best travel credit cards to earn perks and points for your next vacation, and use any money you save as tips throughout your trip.

Carry some cash with you when you can in case you need it to tip workers throughout your day.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.