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Tipping tips: Who to pay and how much

Some businesses have payment touch screens that allow for tipping options. Stock image

FARGO — When it comes to tipping, most people likely think of the service industry, specifically restaurants and bars. But those aren't the only professions that accept — and expect — tips.

Dan Hendrickson, communications coordinator for the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota, believes interaction plays a part in deciding who and when to tip.

"Certainly we don't think of tipping truck drivers who work very hard every day. But in some cases it's that direct interaction with your customer that makes it, perhaps, more likely that tipping would be accepted," he says.

But how did tipping get its start?

"At first, (tipping) may have simply been recognizing good service when and where you received it. But, like everything, tipping has evolved," Hendrickson says. "Now, in some industries, it may supplement lower wages or has simply become 'part of the package.' Tipping is now fairly routine (and even somewhat expected) in the personal transportation industry — cabbies, Uber and Lyft drivers — and with restaurant delivery drivers, too."

For some industries, tipping provides extra compensation. "With professions like massage therapy, it's a way to recognize the therapist individually and likely supplement their earnings beyond the portion of the hourly massage fees they receive," Hendrickson says.

In other cases, customers may tip out of pure appreciation. For physical work such as carrying luggage, tipping shows customers recognize the effort.

"It becomes a way of saluting that extra effort and sharing in your good fortune as someone embarking or returning from a trip," Hendrickson says.

Ultimately, tipping is subjective, but if you're still unsure of acceptable dollar amounts, here's a quick reference guide.

Food service


The standard for dining out is 20 percent, but no less than 15 percent if your service was poor. For any food issues, a manager should be consulted. Tip the full 20 percent if your server was smiling, kind and attentive.


For bartenders, $1 per drink is a safe bet. If buying a round or picking up a tab, 15 percent of the total bill is recommended.


Hendrickson believes barista tips are one of the signs of an improved economy. "For a while there it wasn't uncommon to see tip jars fairly empty — and now, at the coffee shops I visit it's not uncommon to see the tip jars kind of full," he says.


According to Trip Advisor, U.S. tipping and etiquette says that while most Americans don't tip at a buffet, it is courteous to tip $1, or 5 to 10 percent of the total bill, to the servers that clear dirty plates.

Delivery service

One of the most common misunderstandings is that a delivery charge is the tip. False. That charge goes straight to the company for expenses incurred for travel. A verbal tip or leftover change is not considered acceptable; the minimum recommended tip is $2 or 15 to 20 percent.


No tip is required for take out. However, if the restaurant throws in some freebies, feel free to toss the staff a couple dollars for good karma.

Hotel staff


If you have your bags transported to your room, the recommended tip is $1 per bag and $2 minimum. (Higher-end hotels might recommend $2 per bag and $5 minimum.)


For a valet, a $2 to $5 tip is suggested when you pick up your car.


For a hotel cleaner, a small tip ($2 to $5 per night) shows the staff they're appreciated.



Taxi tipping varies considerably from city to city, but 10 percent is the norm, with a $2 to $5 minimum. Consider tipping a little extra if the driver helps load or unload bags.

Ride-sharing services

For Uber and Lyft, tips are not included in the cost of service, nor required. While Uber doesn't provide tipping options in-app, riders can tip in cash. With Lyft, riders are able to add a tip to their payment at the time of the ride and up to 72 hours after.

Personal service

Hair, nails and massage

For personal services, 15 percent tip is recommended. Freebies and excellent service may call for a 20 percent tip but, above all, never forego the tip.

Tattoo artist

The recommended tip for tattoo artists is 10 to 20 percent. For a more experienced artist with substantial talent, 20 percent is suggested.

Pet grooming

Tipping 15 to 20 percent for grooming is recommended, and could lead to an extra service free of charge. Twenty percent is suggested for an unruly pet.

Tips for tipping

Keep these things in mind to improve your tipping etiquette:

• When using a coupon or gift certificate, tip based on value of the total bill before discount — even if it's free.

• Tipping above the recommended amount is often encouraged for exceptional service, if you are a regular customer or if you take more than the normal amount of time at the table (thereby reducing income from other guests).

• On holidays, tipping service people such as a housekeeper, babysitter or nanny, mail carrier, garbage collector, etc. isn't uncommon but can build goodwill.

• Always tip discreetly and, if in doubt, tip.

Alexandra Floersch

Alexandra Floersch has worked for Forum Communications since February 2015. She is a content producer and photographer who enjoys writing about finance, fashion and home.

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