How Much Should You Be Tipping at a Restaurant?

You’re enjoying a fun dinner with friends and it comes time for the check. You all go through the usual routine of putting a card or cash in and giving it to your waiter. The pause in conversation happens when your bill comes back and it’s time to sign and leave a tip. You might be one of those people who can do all of the mental math in your head, or you might bring out your phone calculator. You might even be someone who just eyes what everyone else is tipping (I’m guilty of this)! Regardless of how you go about tipping, we are all wondering the same thing each time the bill comes back: how much should I tip?

Here is how I understand tipping:

  1. 10% tip – You are disappointed with the service you received. Maybe your food was too cold or your waiter had a poor attitude.
  2. 15% tip – The service was standard and you are content with your experience at that restaurant.
  3. 20% tip – You are extremely happy with your visit and are pleased with your server. The food was great, it arrived on time and your waiter was attentive.

Various publications say the same thing. J.D. Roth from Business Insider states: “15% for adequate service, 20% for exceptional service. For poor service, leave 10% or less. It’s okay to leave nothing for exceptionally poor service, but only if you’re sure it’s the waiter’s fault.” Roth also advises how much you should tip in other food service areas, such as takeout, bartenders and baristas.[i]

On average, I tip 15%. That’s me, but what do other people usually tip when dining out? BBB asked people this question via Facebook and found that the majority of people (50%) tip 15% when dining out, 40% of people tip 20% and 10% of people tip 10%.

Chart for Tipping Poll

If you live in Western Washington, you know that Seattle is gradually raising minimum wage to $15. How does this affect the amount you should tip? Depending on the restaurant, you may not need to tip. A few restaurants are eliminating tipping and instead increasing their prices (gratuity is then included in the new price). [ii] Other than changes like that, I did not come across new tipping standards in my research.

As you can see, there is no set amount you are required to tip when dining out. It all depends on the service and your experience. Use your best judgment. If you are having a hard time making up your mind when it comes time to sign the bill, I would say a 15% tip is a safe bet.

How much do you tip? Let us know in the comments section! Do you agree with the general tipping standards mentioned above?




2 thoughts on “How Much Should You Be Tipping at a Restaurant?

  1. I’m glad that you suggest giving even poor waitresses a 10% tip. I mean they still work hard and maybe they are just having a bad day. Usually I go with 15% no matter what just because I know their job is hard. I’m impressed that people give 20% to waitresses at restaurants but I’m glad they do it! This kind of makes me want to try being a waitress somewhere because it sounds like they make a lot of money on tips. Thanks for informing me what is appropriate for tipping at a restaurant.

  2. I agree that when you leave tips at a restaurant you should be mindful of the service. I can see how an exceptional service would get more than a poor one. I would want to tip people for their hard work at helping me feel comfortable and that attend to what I need. If the service is really good it is easier to tip better since they earned it.

Comments are closed.