USA’s tipping culture explained as tourists complain it’s a ‘nightmare

While tipping for a meal is customary in the UK, a standard rate is 10 to 12.5 percent. In the USA, the service charge can be as high as 20 percent. An American server recently went viral when she complained that a table of Europeans only left a 10 percent tip on a $700 (£566) bill.

In the USA many restaurant or bar workers rely on tips to pay their wages, rather than seeing it as an extra bonus.

A tourist ‘Jose Gaston’ wrote on Twitter: “Just charge a fee for service and do not lean on customers’ mood. Tipping in the USA is a nightmare.”

Another person ‘ry’ said: “Tipping culture is out of hand in the USA! Pay your workers a decent wage so they don’t need to rely on tips.” spoke to Tom Thoms, a travel expert and founder of Mallorca.Info to find out how much British tourists should tip on a holiday in the USA.

Tom said: “In the United States, tipping is a part of everyday life. Tipping for most services, including restaurants, bars, hotels and taxis is customary.

“However, for British tourists who are not used to tipping, knowing how much to tip can be a bit confusing.”


He said: “In restaurants it is customary to tip between 15 and 20 percent of the total bill. This amount is based on the quality of the service you receive.

“If the service was exceptional, you might want to tip more than 20 percent. It’s important to note that in the United States, servers rely heavily on tips to make a living wage, so if the service is good, you must show your appreciation with a tip.”

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Tom told “At bars, it is customary to tip between $1-2 (81p-£1.62) per drink. If you order a complicated drink, such as a martini, it is polite to tip a bit more.”

British tourists might be surprised to find they need to tip a bartender but this is standard practice in the USA.


“In hotels, it is customary to tip the housekeeping staff $2-$5 (£1.62- £4.05) per day. It’s also customary to tip the bellhop $1-$2 (81p-£1.62) per bag they carry. If you have a doorman or a valet, it’s customary to tip them $1-$2 (81p-£1.62) as well”, said Tom.

It’s important to tip cleaners, porters and doormen at hotels in the USA so tourists should try to carry some small bills.


Tom told “In taxis, it is customary to tip between 15 and 20 percent of the total fare. If the driver provides exceptional service, you may want to tip more.”

If tourists use apps such as Uber to order taxis in the USA, there’s an option to tip the driver at the end of the ride.

Tom added: “While tipping may seem unnecessary, it is important to remember that in the United States, many service industry employees rely on tips to make a living wage.

“By tipping appropriately, you are not only showing your appreciation for good service, but you are also helping to support the livelihoods of these individuals.

“In addition to the benefits of tipping for service industry workers, there are also personal benefits for travellers.

“Tipping can enhance your travel experience by helping you build rapport with the people you interact with.

“ A friendly smile and a generous tip can make a lasting impression and even result in better service or insider tips for your next destination.”

The service charge will sometimes be added to the overall bill but sometimes travellers will need to do the maths themselves.

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