Tipping is a confusing in the United States. For visitors it can be hard to understand why the “typical 15%” isn’t always the right amount not to mention industries from hotels, hairdressers, tattoo artists, to nail salons all have their own tipping etiquette. You could argue employees should be paid a living wage where salaries don’t have to be subsidized by customer tips (and you’d be right) but until that’s the case, here’s how much to tip in the United States for common services.
Bars & Restaurants
Unless it’s clearly stated otherwise, a minimum 15% tip is expected at all restaurants and bars. You may leave 20% for exceptional service or up to 25% on smaller purchases, like a cup of coffee. At bars, leave at least a dollar per drink is there is no table service. At cafes without table service there is often a tip jar. The 15-20% rule does not generally apply in these circumstances, leaving small change or a few dollars (based on the cost of your overall order) is acceptable.
The standard rule of thumb applies to barbers and hairdressers which is to say expect to tip 15-20%. Tips at barbershops and hairdressers are typically given in cash (so be prepared) but some will accept tips by credit card when you’re done. In cases where tips are collected by credit card it’s important to ask how the tips will be distributed to make sure any assistants who may have helped you are also being tipped.
Salon assistants (for example, those washing your hair) may not be getting a share of the tips being collected. It’s best to check with the receptionist to be sure but if they’re not, then a standard $5-10 is appropriate for each assistant who’s personally attended to you. For hairstylists who are spending more than 3 hours with you (working on cut, color, or other services) then you may want to consider tipping more, around 22-25%.
For quick touchups (like bang trims) that are shorter than 10-15 minutes, a tip of $5-10 is still considered a common courtesy.
Moving into a new place? For movers transporting your things over long distances (anything further than across town) 15-20% of the total cost of the move is expected. For shorter, across town moves, 5-10% is more common. For difficult moves or particularly good service, a tip of 10-20% of the total cost will be appreciated. Alternatively, flat fee tips are generally acceptable. In those cases, $20-30 per crew member (for shorter moves) and closer to $40 for longer moves (between cities or cross country).
In case a piano is part of the move, $20-40 per mover. For furniture deliveries typically $5-10 a person is expected but consider $10-20 if there’s assembly involved or otherwise more difficult circumstances (e.g. spiral stairs).
Getting some ink? A 15-20% (generally closer to 20%) tip is expected. Tips should be given once the work is complete.
A 20% tip of the total cost is expected. Some spas will have the tip included in the rate (so be sure to check with reception) or will not allow tipping at all. Double check to make sure you know the rules.
Tips of 15-20% are expected. For shorter services like manicures or new nail sets tip closer to 20-25%. You should check with your technician if tips are left at the front desk or given directly to them. Keep in mind most places will prefer cash, so arrive prepared.
A 15-20% tip is expected. For fast food deliveries under $10 a $2-4 is expected.
Tipping is a global phenomena everywhere except where it’s not. Be sure to keep up with how much to tip for everything around the world before your next trip and download TipFox which puts specific tipping advice automatically on your phone (available for iOS and Android).