While there aren’t any official guidelines for tipping in the USA, there are some common beliefs among many Americans. Tipping is not mandatory anywhere in the United States but some restaurants automatically include your tip in the bill (it should be clearly displayed and listed as “Service Charge”), usually for parties of eight or more. In the USA, there is no legal requirement to tip unless it is stated in writing, so don’t feel like you’re under any pressure to tip if you have received really bad service (always inform the manager of bad experiences).
Remember that many waitstaff and bartenders are paid below minimum wage because employees are expected to make up the difference in tips. Servers are even expected to pay income tax on your tip so your tip really is part of their normal wage. Always leave tips in cash and hand it directly to the person you are tipping to ensure it goes to its rightful new owner.
One of the most highly debatable questions is “how much should I leave?” Tip 15% of the bill in a restaurant with table service, less if you receive bad service or 15% to 25% if you receive really good service. Always ignore sales tax when calculating your tip. Tip $1 to $2 on drinks you receive at a restaurant bar or from a bartender (or 15% to 20% of the bill).
One should tip 10% to 15% at a buffet restaurant with limited service. Keep your minimum tip at $1 per person, or more, unless you have received really bad service.
If you don’t want to leave a tip then visit a counter service/fast food restaurant which often have a tip jar out but don’t necessarily require you to leave a tip.
*Always check your bill to see if gratuity has automatically been included!”
The following tipping situations are completely optional:
People usually tip $2 to $3 a night on hotel housekeeping/mad service (usually up to $5). People like to leave the yip on a pillow or another obvious place along with a simple thank you note. Tipping a concierge isn’t expected but it’s a nice thing to do when you have received good service. Look to see if the tip for a In-suite dining waiter is included in your bill, if not then tip the server 15-20%. Tip a Bellman/Porter $1-2 per bag. Tip a taxi driver 10-15% of fare. You can tip a valet parking attendant $2-5 at the time of picking up your car. Tip a hairdresser/manicurist 10-20%. Last but not least, your guides should be tipped 10-15%.
Hate doing the math in your head? I do to! I have seen some people carry a calculator or an intemized tipping card with them, but I personally like using the calculator or the itip app I have downloaded on my iPhone.
Hope that helped!