The latest figures reveal over 76 million international travellers visit the U.S. each year. If you're visiting America, it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of the customs.
One of those customs is tipping. Tipping is sometimes confusing even to Americans!
Are you travelling to the USA? Here's some practical advice on tipping in America for travellers.
A Short Explanation About Tipping in America
In the U.S., there's a federal minimum wage for adults. It's $7.25 an hour, though many states have a higher minimum wage.
For workers in industries where tipping is the norm, employers can pay a minimum wage as low as $2.13 per hour. Please remember that low number if you're tempted not to tip because you think the institution of tipping is bad.
You don't have to tip, but it's rude not to. If the service is terrible, it's okay to tip low. With that in mind, here's a handy guide...
You renewed your ESTA before you left, made it through customs, and you're in the United States!
If a porter takes your bags inside for you, pay $1-2 dollars for the first bag and $1 dollar for each additional bag. This also applies if you're checking your bags outside at the curb.
If a shuttle driver picks you up and takes you to the hotel or to the airport, $1 per bag is customary. If they don't help you with the bags, it's not necessary, though it's appreciated.
Hotel Bellhops, Concierge, and Housekeeping
The standard tip for bellhops when they help you with your bags is $1 dollar per bag. Don't tip them for opening the front door, but tip if they carry your bags.
If the concierge helps you out by booking a restaurant, tour, car, or other services, tip them $5 dollars.
Present them the money with a handshake. If you're using the concierge a lot while at the hotel, wait until the end of your stay and give $10-20 depending on the value of the service.
Housekeepers touch your nasty stuff: dirty towels, garbage, and bathroom messes. In the morning, put $2-5 dollars on the bed pillow with a little thank you note. It's fine to write it on the hotel stationery.
Do this on a daily basis since shifts rotate.
If you order room service and there's no gratuity included on the bill, give the server 15-20% when they bring your order.
There's no need to tip in fast-food restaurants. However, if you eat in a sit-down restaurant or cafe with a server, tip 15-20% of the pre-tax total.
If the server is awful and has a bad attitude, it's okay to tip a little less. But if they make an honest mistake, don't hold it against them.
If you're sitting at the bar drinking, tip the bartender $1 dollar per drink. Unless it's a fancy, expensive cocktail, then $2-3 dollars is good.
Tipping in America is Standard
Tipping in America is standard and expected. When you arrive in the States, get yourself lots of $1-dollar bills. This makes it easier. You can leave a tip on a credit card slip, but cash is preferred if you have it. Enjoy a wonderful stay, have fun, and don't forget to tip!
Ready for a quicker, cheaper alternative to a visa application? Apply for an ESTA here.