leaving a tip

Services for Real Estate Pros Insurance NPN # 13379201

Here's a tip: 20% is the new 15%

But it's not just my imagination that 20% isn't considered all that generous anymore. It's become standard.

It's easier to figure out 20% of a bill on the fly than it is 15%. You simply round up, move the decimal point one place and double the result.

If your pre-tax bill is $34.85, for example, you round up to $35, move the decimal place one notch left to get $3.50 and double that to get the tip: $7. If you get great service, you leave a little more.

While the calculations may have gotten simpler, the culture of tipping has not. I've worked in restaurants, and now I travel a fair amount, so I've seen a big shift over the years:

  • Guidelines used to be simple; now, gray areas abound.
  • Tips are handled much more sensibly in other countries, but the prospects for reform here at home are pretty dim.
  • The ground rules seem to change frequently, so you never seem to feel as if you've tipped the right person or the right amount.

Some guidelines

StaffAppropriate tip


15% to 20% of pre-tax bill


$1 to $2 per round or 15% to 20% of tab

Wine steward

15% of bottle's cost (less as price rises), clearly earmarked on bill

Room service

15% to 20% of pre-tax bill (if not already included)

Valet parking

$2 to $3 when car is returned

Taxi driver

15% plus $1 to $2 per bag

Hotel doorman

$1 to $2 to hail cab; $1 to $2 per bag for help with luggage

Hotel bellhop

$1 to $2 per bag

Hotel maid

$2 per night, paid daily, clearly marked 'Housekeeping'


$1 to $2 per bag, $2 minimum, in addition to any fee


15% to 20%


15% to 20%

Spa services

15% to 20%

Food delivery

10% to 15% with $2 minimum

Golf caddy

$20 or 50% of the caddy fee, whichever is greater


But what if you get lousy service? then talks to the manager or maitre d' about the problem. "Not tipping doesn't correct bad service,"

Stiffing is also a bad idea because:

  • The poor service you got may have been beyond the wait staff's control, such as problems in the kitchen or management's failure to have enough workers on the floor.


  • The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour, so wait staff depend on tips to earn a living wage.


  • Wait staff often must divide their tips with other workers, such as bussers, bartenders and head waiters, so stiffing a bad waitress can end up hurting innocent parties.





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Comments (4)

Danielle V. Lewis
DDR Realty - Newburgh, NY
DDR Realty
As inflation rises so does the tiping scale...It was inevitable; this is good to remember for when taking clients out. Thanks.
Aug 22, 2007 01:18 AM
Insurance Solutions
Insurance Solutions Unlimited, LLC - West Palm Beach, FL

Great post & good information! Thanks for sharing this.

Apr 27, 2012 07:41 PM
David Cole
David Cole CPA - Orlando, FL
David Cole CPA

Frank- Great information, thank you for sharing. make it a great day!

Apr 27, 2012 07:46 PM
Amy Stockman
Lakeridge Land Suveying & Mapping, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Lakeridge Surveying

Frank,  this is good to remember for when taking clients out. thanks for sharing this 

Feb 20, 2013 10:22 AM