Modern Tipping: Guide to New Norms and Practices

Varity Homes


soft focus receipt total amount on marble table at bar, pub counter. Customer payment for beverage


Ah, tipping—the social custom that's as old as time but as confusing as ever. Whether you're a seasoned tipper or someone who still fumbles with their wallet at the counter, you're not alone. The landscape of tipping is ever-changing, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the United States, tipping is a common practice, particularly at restaurants. It's crucial to remember that many service employees rely on tips as a significant part of their income and appreciate being acknowledged for their hard work. So, what are the new norms of tipping in 2023? Grab a cup of coffee, and let's unravel this together.



The Basics: Tipping in Restaurants, Bars, and Coffee Shops



The general rule of thumb is to tip 15-20% of the pre-tax bill. However, the post-pandemic era has seen a surge in generosity, with some patrons tipping up to 25% even when the service isn't perfect. Fast-food restaurants, on the other hand, usually don't expect tips.



Whether you're sipping on a craft beer or enjoying a fancy cocktail, tipping is straightforward here. A dollar per beer or wine and two dollars per cocktail is the norm. But if you've ordered something intricate that took the bartender time to create, consider tipping a bit more.


Coffee Shops

The aroma of freshly brewed coffee might be free, but the barista's effort isn't. A tip of around 10-15% or about a dollar on a drip coffee is standard. If you're a regular, consistent tipping can also get you into the barista's good books—extra foam, anyone?


Delivery and Transportation: How Much to Tip?

Food Delivery

A tip of 15-20% of the total order is generally advised. However, consider the distance traveled by the driver. If they've come from far, a higher tip would be appreciated.


Grocery Delivery

The same 15-20% rule applies here. But if the delivery includes heavy or bulky items, consider tipping a bit extra for the effort involved.


Ridesharing and Taxis

Whether you're hopping into an Uber or hailing a traditional taxi, a tip of 10-20% of the fare is suggested. If the driver helps with luggage or waits patiently during stops, a higher tip is warranted.


Special Services: Hotels, Weddings, and More


From porters to concierge services, tipping varies. Porters usually expect $2-$3 per bag, especially if they're heavy or cumbersome. Concierge services, who often go above and beyond, deserve a tip of $5-$10.



The big day involves a lot of people working behind the scenes. Tips for wait staff can range from $20-$50 per server, depending on the level of service. Bartenders usually expect about $20 per hour.


Salons and Spas

Whether it's a quick trim or a full spa day, a tip of around 20% is the industry standard. If multiple people attend to you, like a shampooer and a stylist, divide the tip accordingly.




The Tech Tipping Dilemma

The integration of technology in tipping practices is causing discomfort among consumers. According to a recent survey, 50% of customers felt manipulated into tipping at digital checkouts. This phenomenon, known as "Tech Tipping," is challenging traditional norms. Businesses are advised to reassess their Point of Sale (POS) systems and customize the shopping experience based on consumer feedback. The debate is ongoing, but the post-pandemic era has seen a shift towards a more generous tipping culture.



When is it Okay Not to Tip According to Experts


You don't need to tip anyone who earns a salary or performs a trade, such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, or cable technicians. Tipping in these scenarios would not only be unexpected but could also be considered awkward or even a bribe.


Counter Service

Tipping people who work behind counters like baristas or cashiers is not a requirement. However, if someone goes above and beyond, a tip is a nice gesture.


Open-Bar Events

If you're at an event with an open bar, the host has likely already included the tip in their payment for the venue or bartending service. While tipping is appreciated, it's not obligatory.



Be cautious of situations where you're prompted to tip twice for the same service. If you're unsure, it's appropriate to ask where the service charge is going.


Poor Service

You're not obligated to tip for poor service. If you experience bad service at a restaurant, consider the root cause and consult with management before deciding on the tip.


Wrapping Up

Tipping in 2023 is a complex landscape, influenced by social norms, technology, and the aftermath of a global pandemic. While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, being informed can make the process less stressful and more fair for everyone involved. After all, tipping isn't just a social custom; it's a significant part of many workers' income. So, let's tip wisely and generously.

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