Tipping is part and parcel of everyday life in the USA. You are expected to tip when ordering a drink at a bar, when taking a taxi across town, etc. Not tipping will paint you in bad light and in some cases you may be confronted by the service provider!
Knowing when to tip as well as how much you are expected to tip can be a bit of challenge for people like you visiting the USA. Here is a handy guide to help you know what is considered generous for visitors to the US.
While at the hotel, give $1 as tip per bag if the bellhop helps you carry your bags. Tip the doorman that helps you get a taxi $1 to $2. The housekeeping staff that cleans your room should get between $2 and $5 each day. The amount you settle for is dependent on how satisfied you are with the service being rendered. If you are in a hotel that designates envelopes for tips, label the tip appropriately before dropping it off. Concierges in nice hotels should get $5 to $10 as tip for their services.
For short taxi rides (which may cost as little as $6 or $7) tipping $1 is perfectly fine. You can even get away with not tipping the taxi guy if you are in New York, as they include this in the fare.
A rule of the thumb for restaurants is to tip 15% to 20% of the pre-tax bill. 20% is common practice and going below 15% shows you weren’t happy with the service you received. One thing you must never do is to ignore the person serving you. Even when you are fuming about the service, remember that some things are beyond the control of the server and still leave something. 10% should be the lowest you go when you are angry at the service.
Bars & Clubs
If you are ordering anything at the bar, it is good practice to leave a minimum of $1 per drink. If you are drinking cocktails, you can leave between $2 and $3 as tip for the mixologist. Tip 15%-20% at the end of the night if you are running up a tab.
Hairdressers, Salons & Spas
Again, the 15%-20% rule applies here. Leave the 15%-20% to the person that cuts your hair. If someone else washed your hair, you can give $2 to $5. As is the case in hotels, some salons will have envelopes for the staff. Make sure to label appropriately.
For small group tours, tipping the tour guides 15% to 20% is a good idea. If you are taking a big tour bus, $5 per person is acceptable.
If the order costs less than $10, $2 to $3 should be the minimum. Above this, you can tip 15% to 20% of the bill within reasonable limits. You are expected to adjust your tip accordingly if the weather is especially bad. Imagine a situation where the delivery guy braved the snowstorm to get to you, anything less than 25% isn’t really fair for a pizza! Would you want to be out in that blizzard?
Cafes, Sandwich Shops & Food Trucks
As you order at the counter, you should never tip below $1. A good idea is to tip 10% to 15% on an order but most people will rather leave their spare change.
As you conclude your travel plans, don’t forget you need to get a US ESTA Visa. This document is important for people travelling to the US from the UK. It can be done online and you can complete the process in very little time.