Tipping is practically a sacred unspoken rule between guests and servers. Whether at a restaurant, hotel or salon, or being serviced by a chauffeur, stylist or concierge, you know you have to shell out some extra on top of the bill. How much? That’s where data comes in.
Below, we have collated the essential tipping statistics in America that will help light your path to understanding what is expected of you when tipping. But the numbers go beyond the rate. We also unearthed insights around tipping behavior, based on a variety of parameters including race, income level, political affiliation and more.
If you’re a business owner, these tipping numbers will help you manage your and your staff’s expectations as well.
Tipping Statistics Table of Contents
Restaurant Tipping Statistics
Nothing is perhaps more synonymous to tipping than restaurant tipping, so that’s where we’ll start. Tips are based on meal cost so let’s take a look at the numbers on how much Americans are spending on a meal.
- The lowest meal cost averages $23.17 from 0-10 minutes of table time.
- Meal cost plateaus at $94.13 to $94.06 at around 50 to 70 minutes of table time.
- Beyond the tipping point, meal cost jumps to $123.45 at 80 minutes.
- Meal cost peaks at $186.60 at 110 minutes.
- The biggest jump in meal cost happens between 90 and 100 minutes with a $68 difference.
Having a picture of the average American restaurant spending, we can see that the tipping rate follows the cost pattern.
- The plateau for tipping increase rate is at 40-to-50-minute range of table time. At 110 minutes, the tip increase rate is around 6.5% less versus at the 50-mark.
- The lowest tipping rate is 7.7% at 100 minutes of table time.
- The average tipping rate is 15% across the 10-to-110-minute range of table time.
- The highest jump in tipping rate is 5.2% between 0 and 10 minutes of table time.
- The highest decrease, on the other hand, is 5.5% between 90 and 100 minutes of table time.
While people who stay beyond the 100-mark table time are shelling out bigger tips, waiters can earn more from tips serving more diners who remain within the 40-70 minute mark, where the tip per minute of stay is at the highest.
Tipping rates are not universal across the country though. Breaking down the numbers by region, we can see significant disparities.
- While the Northeast spends the most in meals at $68.80, the South has the highest average tip in relation to meal cost, at 16.27% versus the former’s 16.24%.
- The Midwest has the lowest tipping average at 15.01%, followed by the West at 15.51%.
- However, when it comes to actual cost, the Northeast spends the highest on tips at $11.17 per meal. That’s $2.8 more than the South’s $8.37, the lowest among regions.
- The Northeast is followed by the Midwest at $9.19 while the West spends $8.41 per meal.
Other Hospitality Tipping Numbers
The following are standard rates in the hospitality industry, including hotels, resorts, spas, and transport service.
- Tips for porters vary on the number of bags they handle, typically up to $2 per bag if they do extra work like prepping up the room or showing you around the essentials, the tip increases to $5-$10, inclusive of bringing up your stuff.
- For concierges, the tip scales from $2-$5 to $10-$20 if they go beyond arranging appointments, for example, reserving a table in a hard-to-book restaurant for you.
- Doormen are usually tipped when they do extra work like hailing a cab for you. The tip can be $1 to $2, the same amount that valet attendants receive after retrieving the car on the average.
- Family-run hotels typically don’t expect tips unless you are being serviced by a non-family member staff, who would expect the same hotel/resort tipping rate.
- It is generally agreed that taxi or limousine drivers are tipped around 15% to 20% off the fare.
- Housekeeping is tipped between $1-$5 per night or more if your room is messier than usual. Requests like extra pillows or blankets add roughly $1 to $2 to the tip.
- Repairmen sent to your room to fix or replace something broken would not expect a tip.
- Tip for manicurists is roughly 10% to 15% off the bill, nearly the same with massage therapists and hair stylists.
- Guides are typically tipped at $5 to $10 at the conclusion of the tour.
Tipping Behavior Statistics
Tipping has underlying psychological factors at play as we can see in the numbers below. The most striking, albeit unsurprising, is the superiority complex inherent in the one giving the tip among diners, who is used to a structured hierarchy, whether out of charity or flaunting of wealth. But it is not the usual case, as we note other behavioral influences that impact tipping.
- Restaurants have the highest tipping rate at 79%, followed by hair salons/barbershops at 62%. Hotels and coffee shops have 25% tipping rate apiece.
- Tipping is surprisingly less connected to the service experience than a sense of obligation among guests.
- Guests exposed to the color gold tend to tip more. The color of luxury seems to motivate people to feel richer and flaunt their wealth.
- Tipping is linked to power perception among guests comfortable with hierarchies. They see tipping as having superiority over the server.
- Servers who are more socially engaged while waiting for a table tend to earn more tips. No surprise there, as fostering social connection like looking at guests at eye level, introducing themselves and drawing a smiley on the check leaves a positive taste on the guest experience.
- Reinforcing the social connection during the dining experience can be as simple as repeating the order back to guests, which increases the tip size by as much as 70%. Another social reinforcer linked to an increase in tipping is placing a candy with the check, which results in a 3% tip hike.
- A study found that using heart symbols may drive up tips, such as serving the bill on a heart-shaped tray, which resulted in a 17% increase.
- A check tray with a reputable credit card brand logo on it also pushes tips by 25%.
- The “compromise effect” is evident in tipping behavior where guests would choose the middle number when presented with a tip range.
- Sunny weather may increase tipping by 24%.
- 65% of diners favor voluntary tipping, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Tipping and Demographics
Tipping behavior is also influenced by demographics across the spectrum of our society. Our political leaning, sex, ethnicity, educational attainment and generation influence how much we tip.
- The best tippers in restaurants are men, Republicans, Northeasterners and Baby Boomers, who leave around 20% when they dine out.
- The worst tippers in restaurants are women, Southerners and Democrats. The median tip for women is 16% while Southerners and Democrats give about 15% in tips.
- Still, in a restaurant setting, 59% of men would leave a tip over 15% against 47% of women who would do the same thing. This suggests what we know way back in junior high: guys try to impress someone more often than women.
- However, it is a different story at the salon, where 79% of women would leave a tip compared with 74% of men. The same story is seen at coffee shops: 46% of women leaving a tip versus 41% of men. Meanwhile, 47% of women would give a tip to hotel housekeepers as opposed to 33% of men. Call it gender stereotyping, but women seem to tip more than men in jobs that are usually done by women.
- Millennials tip the least, around 1 in 6 would select the lowest tip rate while 1 in 5 wouldn’t shell out gratuity at all.
- Not that millennials are cheap, but 27% of them prefer doing away with tips and charging them with a service charge included in food prices.
- The millennial tipping preference is shared by another demographic group but not by generational type: 26% of people who earn over $75,000 want to do away with tips.
- Likewise, 30% of college degree holders share the no-tip sentiment.
- Credit or debit card payers tip at 5% more than cash payers at 20% and 15%, respectively.
- Whites, in general, are the best tippers by race with 94% saying they tip waiters all the time. Only 82% of Hispanics and 78% of blacks say so.
- Whites are also twice likely to tip above 15% than other ethnic groups.
Why You Should Tip More When You Can
A tip is just like that, a bonus to dispense with, in your eye. But to the waiting staff, it could spell the difference between paying the bills on time or incurring a penalty or, worse, having their utilities cut off.
The reason is waiters in the US earn below the minimum wage. Even the best-paid waiting salary at $28,280 look measly compared to the average US wage of $31,099. What more for those earning the median and lowest waiter’s wage rate of $21,780 and $18,820, respectively?
So, if you leave a restaurant without leaving a tip, do not be surprised if you get chased by the waiter.
- Upserve Report
- Poll reveals who are the best, worst tippers
- It Turns Out We Love Tipping For All The Wrong Reasons
- The Psychology of Restaurant Tipping
- Why Do Americans Love Tipping?
- Tipping Points – Five Lessons in Persuasion From Food Servers
- Sunny Days and Tips for Waiters
- Millennials are the worst tippers in the US, a new survey finds