Complete Guide to Tipping in America 2021

This is the ultimate guide to tipping across the U.S. with some specifics about New York City. It applies everywhere and it’s important, be a good tipper! While you may think that tipping in America is ridiculous, that doesn’t mean that you can ignore it, and it doesn’t mean you can just choose not to tip. Here’s everything you need to know about tipping!

Complete Guide to Tipping in America 2021

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Tipping in America is ridiculous!

I hear this a lot and coming from Australia myself I do understand the sentiment because it took me a long time to come around. I feel for those who are just arriving in the same manner and are having to learn the ropes. It’s difficult and confusing and it feels like you’re being swindled for extra money, but that’s simply not the case.

The system of tipping for everything might be ridiculous, and the origins of tipping in the United States, you may not know, are also heavily steeped in racism and, but they do exist.

So do I really HAVE to tip? Yes, you do.

All of this might be true but it doesn’t change the fact of the matter that many of the people you are tipping depend on that tip to survive themselves. A significant percentage of wages are made-up from tipping, so it’s important that you do it, and do it well.

If you can’t afford the cost + tax & tip, then you can’t afford the cost of it in the first place.

Always check the check before you tip

When the check comes out you’ll want to check a few things:

  1. First off, obviously, is it the right check and are these the things you ordered?
  2. Secondly, you want to ensure that you haven’t already been charged the tip automatically. There might be mention of an 18% “Gratuity”, so if you’ve already got that, you don’t have to tip more. If you’ve had a huge group and you think they deserve it, then, by all means, add some!
  3. Thirdly, when splitting a check, you want to ensure that if there is a “recommended tip” section (which tells you 15/18/20% tip amounts) that it is a percentage of your cut, not the whole check. Sometimes they won’t recalculate this and you will be tipping double what you’re meant to! Same goes for the rule of thumb below, if you’ve split a check in half, then just tip the tax once, not twice.

A rule of thumb for tipping

There’s a (really cool) free app for iOS named “Workflow” and with this, I have created a little app that will help you automatically work out your tip (like in this picture). Just click here to get the app and the Calculate Tip Workflow.

Tipping in New York City and Los Angeles

Double the tax and round up to the dollar.

Basically, in New York City and Los Angeles, tax comes to just shy of 9%, so if you double it, then round up, you should find yourself just north of 18% if not a little more. It’s a safe bet when you’re quickly trying to do the math.

Tipping your doorman properly and appropriately

In addition to being a great tenant and not putting holes in the walls, did you know that you’re supposed to tip the doorman of your building (and your super, and anyone else involved) every year?

Here’s my guide on how much to tip the people in your building! (which is what it means by “calculated” above in the chart).