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The Ultimate Guide to Tipping People

The Ultimate Guide to Tipping People

As a former server in many different types of restaurants, I remember the days when my only source of income was tips. OK, I did get a little paycheck, but at $2 an hour for a server, it didn’t amount to much. Tipping isn’t about bestowing generosity on a person, it’s about being grateful for their service. Whether they cleaned your hotel room — including those nasty hairs in the shower (yeah, I’ve done that job too) — or brought you your meal four times because it was never done just how you like it, it’s important to show your gratitude for it.

Now, because I’ve worked service jobs before and was very, very good at it, I also tend to be very discriminating about the servers I get at restaurants. If you’re going to ignore me or forget stuff, I’ll likely let you know with my scanty tip, but I’ll tell you why. However, if you work hard or are obviously the go-to person for everyone else, you’ll get a very nice tip from me.

As a general rule, don’t ever go lower than the average recommended tip amount. Even if the service is bad, but not nonexistent, you should never tip below that amount. Even the worst newspaper reporters get a basic wage to live on and so should servers. If you received your food, even if the guy who brought it was snotty to you, you should still tip him the bare minimum.

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Not sure if you should tip? Always err on the side of tipping. If you’re wrong, at least you made the effort to show your appreciation.

Bartenders

Bartending is not as easy as it looks, especially when you have a lot of thirsty people wanting strange and innovative new drinks! Generally speaking, bartenders should get 15 to 20 percent of the tab, or 50 cents per soft drink and at least $1 per alcoholic drink. This is true even at your sister’s open bar wedding reception.

Waitstaff

Waitstaff are likely the most underrated, hardest working people in the service industry. And I don’t say that just because I used to wait tables. In addition to only making the bare server minimum, servers are expected to clean restaurant bathrooms, make the salads, clean most of the appliances in the server station, mop restaurant floors, wipe down the tables and do many other chores. And that’s at the minimum server rate, which in most states is about $3 an hour. No tips for that work. Is your restaurant nice and clean? Thank a server. Is your silverware polished and the glassware without spots? Thank a server. Servers should get at least 15 percent of the bill. And if you bring a lot of kids who make a big mess (which I usually do) leave more (which I also usually do).

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Restaurant Host

You are not obligated to tip the maitre d’ or host at a restaurant unless they’ve gone above and beyond for you in getting you a table. If you’ve come in without a reservation or didn’t want the table by the bathroom and they found you another, you can tip them $10 or $20.

Delivery Drivers

For basic service, tip about 10 to 15 percent of the bill. If the delivery was heavy or complicated, it’s nice to tip the extra service accordingly.

Tipping Jars

It’s sits there, looking at you at your local coffee shop or take out place. The tip jar. In an old Seinfeld episode, one of the main characters is wracked over the tip jar, hoping that the person from whom he orders food will see that he’s placed a good tip in the jar — and then, of course, is caught with his hand in the jar when he tries to retrieve the bill so he can be seen placing it in there again. Don’t let a tip jar throw you for a loop. If you just ordered a small cup of coffee and you can spare it, put some of your change in the jar. But you are under no obligation to do so. If you feel like the service is exemplary, tip at your own comfort level.

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Valets, Doorpersons and Bellhops

Generally, valets receive $2 to $5 when the car is brought back to you. Doorpersons get a few dollars for extra — or consistent — service, like hailing a cab, helping you to the car, that sort of thing. Bellhops get a dollar or two per bag, as do Skycaps at the airport.

Taxi Drivers

Assume 15 percent for most taxi drivers and an extra $1 or $2 per bag if they help you. This also goes for limo drivers and bus or shuttle drivers if they help you with your bags.

Salon Workers

Whether they fix your hair, nails or give you a massage, tip those in the salon about 15 to 20 percent of the total bill.

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Hotel Concierge and Room Cleaners

The concierge, if he or she has been very helpful to you, should receive around $20 when you leave. If you stay longer than a few days, this can increase accordingly. Room cleaners should get a few dollars a day as well, depending on just how messy you are. Remember, if you have kids — or teenagers — you may want to leave more in appreciation for not making you clean up after them.

Remember, when in doubt, offer a tip and if you’re not sure how much, always err on the side of a little too much, especially if service was good. Nothing hurts a waiter or other service worker more than knowing they went above and beyond and weren’t appreciated for the effort. However, if you can’t spend more — leave a little note and tell them. This way they won’t feel hostile and will likely understand.

More by this author

Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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