How Much Do You Tip?

Well, well, well. Mary Stacy was quite sharp. She noticed that we normally tip in the region of 10% when we eat out. Now that it was brought up, I think it’s a very interesting topic.

We had always thought (and still believe) that Canadians generally tip in the region of 10% to 15%. That is to say that we generally tip 10% and only 15% or more if the service is good. Well, that had always been what we normally do.

We do observe and practice tipping more when we are in the US. I believe the norm is to tip at least 15% and up to 20% and more if the service is good. So, when Mary Stacy mentioned that 10% was low and that I think she’s from Chicago, I am kind of not surprised she mentioned it.

I could be wrong.


So, here is the question for you all … I mean you ALL readers … I mean not just readers from Canada and the US … can you share with me (1) where you are from and (2) how much do you typically tip? Just take a few seconds and respond with a comment.

I will collect all responses and summarize them. It will be very interesting to know, I bet.

Update 18Jul: FYI, here is what I found on wikipedia about tipping in Canada:

Tipping in Canada is similar to that in the United States due to the close cultural nature of the two countries. For example, while tipping for waiters in the United States is 15-20% for good service, waiters in Canada also receive 10-20% for good service.

Whew! It’s good to know we were not so cheap after all. LOL!

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  1. Linda

    I am in NY, I tip 15-20%, but most of the time it is 15%.

    There were 2 occasions where I tipped 12-14%, the reason being,not enough change. The waiters came back to me and told me that the tips wasn’t enough, heee, quite embarassing.

  2. c

    Normally 15%, was great when the PST and GST added to 15%, we’ll just leave the equiv. amount to the tax as a tip. If the service is so-so, that is what I do nowadays, else, it’s the normal 15%. In self serve buffets, I drop it to 10%, depending on how attentive they are in removing used crockeries.

  3. Shruthi Reddy

    I am from NJ area, I usually tip about 15%, 10% if Service is poor and 20% if Service is good. I have also seen some place automatically add 15% Gratuity for large parties.

  4. KimHo

    From right here in Metro Vancouver. I think the 15% minimum is something more US based, as most of the people I know here tip something between 10% and 15%. Said that, I do something similar to “c”, i.e., if there is PST and GST, take that, add it to the total and round it up to the next dollar (to make a round number for me). If not, calculate 10% to 15% (before tax) and, then, the same rounding procedure. Of course, if service is excellent, I will tip a bit more.

    Linda: Can you expand or elaborate the tipping requirement in the US? I mean, is tipping mandatory? If it is, shouldn’t it be then included in the bill? If it is optional, the fact you did not tip “accordingly”, they should get the hint…

  5. Jamie

    Goodness, I must be tipping way too much cause I always tip 20% or more here in California. If it’s mediocre service then 15%, but according to everyone else’s comments 15% is still considered good.

  6. Sandy

    In Southern California, we usually tip 12 to 15% at restaurants (less if service was poor, more if service was really good). At buffets and dim sum, it’s usually 10%.

    Many places automatically charge 15 to 18% for large parties, and include it in the bill.

    We had a waiter come looking for us on the street once because “You didn’t leave enough for the tip.” No, it was because the service was lousy.

  7. col

    I live in Vancouver and I tip around 15%, sometimes more if the service is excellent but that’s not too often.

    Most of my friends tip around 15% too, with some of my friends who make more money tipping around 20%. That might also be a factor (income) and sometimes I find the type of restaurant makes a difference. ie. my brother never tips 15% at a chinese restaurant/dim sum, I don’t usually tip that much either.

  8. Frank

    hey there…yes, we tip in the 10 % to 15 % range…more for exceptionally good service…

    We do spend time in California and we don’t tip more there…we still follow the 10 % to 15 % rule…

    …and yes I believe it is also a matter of income…and the frequency of dining out…

    As a family we typically go out once or twice a month…based on budget


  9. Ester

    Im from the Vancouver area and when I go out to eat, I usually tip 10%. With 10%, we usually tip up to the next dollar( say 10% is 2.80, we tip 3 instead)

  10. Janice

    Hello Hello ~

    I’m from Richmond and I usually tip 10% because I normally eat at small Chinese restaurants where, to be honest, good service is not expected. You’re just there for the food.. and so, the 10% is for the chef.

    At a nicer restaurant, where the staff are well trained, some decor exists and the waiter makes a reasonable attempt to be attentive, I usually tip in the 15-20% range.

    On the same note, I happen to think it’s exceptionally rude for ANYONE (waiters, friends or whoever) to tell someone else how much to tip…

  11. anna

    Hi Ben and everyone!

    I’m from Calgary, Alberta and I tip at least 10% to 15% depending on the service. Now I have a question for everyone… What justifies tipping? I generally thought of tipping as a bonus for the server given that I had good service from them. Now , what if you had really bad service? Would you tip just because it’s socially accepted regardless of the quality of service? I would like hear everyones opinion on this topic as well.
    Oh and by the way… I agree with Janice, it is kinda rude to tell someone how to tip.

  12. Here in The Netherlands, tipping is appreciated.
    Normally we use a 10% standard.. but if the bill is 85 euro’s, and you round it up to 90.. no one will give you an evil eye.. The waiters here receive a good salary (minimum wage here is pretty high). Waiters here are alway happy to have customers from USA, as they are generous tippers compared to the Dutchies.

    When visiting in NYC, being oblivious as we were, we also used 10% tipping.. We got called back by the waitress.. I guess the waiters earn from their tips in US?

  13. cissy

    Hi Ben & Suanne,

    Since you’re on the subject of tipping, can I ask if anyone leave any tip in their hotel rooms and if so,how much?Everyday or just the last day?

    As for rsetaurant tipping, we usually tip 15% and round off to the nearest $.

  14. LotusRapper

    Wow this is cool. I’m on an automotive forum for Saabs and I just started a new thread on this very topic, and it seems it’s a *very* popular subject.

    In general, for food and drinks in restaurants ? We live in a city and province without government mandated gratuity built into the tab (although I hear some restaurants are starting to do that now for large groups), so it’s more or less up to the consumer.

    This issue can be quite complex due to the size of the group of your party, amount of taxes added on to the food and bevvies, quality (or lack of) of service, wait staff attitude, ambience, number of staff, and whether (if I know in advance) they all share the total nightly tips or get their individual shares. Also whether I’m a regular or first-timer to a new place.

    But I generally don’t tip more than 10% of the pre-tax food + drinks total, and would only exceed it for rounding-up purposes. I tip solely on the quality of the service, as far as I’m concerned I’m not tipping the chef or kitchen staff for their efforts (that comes from going back if I enjoy the food).

    There are also geographic and cultural differences and expectations when it comes to tipping and gratuities. When in Europe, I hardly tipped, simply because they usually don’t expect it (except maybe UK). In Asia, same thing. You get the level of service based on the “class” of establishment you go to, and that’s that. More tips at a low or moderate restaurant isn’t going to motivate them to provide better service in the future. There are some pretty deeply-ingrained cultural expectations of service from the customers viewpoint and from the servers’ viewpoint that makes tipping almost a moot point.

    There are many Asian (esp. Chinese) restaurants I’ve been to where the servers would come by to clean up with a dolly cart to take away the dirty dishes and stuff. On the cart handle is a small locked metal box with a slot (like a kleenex box-shaped piggy bank) and they would simply take your tip and throw it in, to be divvied up by all staff at the end of the night. I see these boxes and I laugh cuz that means I could throw a buck on the table and they wouldn’t care less.

  15. LotusRapper

    Sorry I forgot to add I’m here in Vancouver, BC.

    I should note I don’t tip at self-serve places (ie: cafeterias, delis, buffets) where you don’t order at the table but up at the bar, and you bring your own food and/or drinks to the table.

  16. LotusRapper

    Hey Ben, why are the comments time-stamps 5 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time ?

  17. Jessica

    In Canada 10-15% and when I visit Vegas I tip 20% because waiters only make like $3/hr there. Buffets tip $1/person. I have no problem NOT leaving a tip if the waiter is rude/mean/incompetent. There’s no need to tip counter service like at Starbucks….I mean we don’t get tips for what we do right?

    You are not cheap Ben!

  18. Jessica

    Like Cissy I’m also wondering if you should tip in hotels?

    When I worked at Canadian Tire in highschool old ladies would try to tip me for helping them with their bags to their cars. I always refused (they’re old, can’t afford it plus I just liked getting outside) but one old lady insisted I got a $5 tip for being nice.

  19. Ben

    Hi LotusRapper: Thanks for pointing out the error in timezone. We’ve just fix it. However, you should know that the sorting of comments will be somewhat out for the next few hours.

  20. missyhelly

    I’m quite surprised how many only tip 10% in Vancouver. Anyone I know tip at least 15%. I think 10% is too low. Wait staff barely makes anything, and serving is not the easiest job. It sucks to be nice all the time to strangers, especially many of them are not that polite or considerate. This is first time I heard about tipping difference between Canada and US. Who mad that up?

  21. milkyway_sushi

    In Australia we almost never tip. We will only tip if the service is exceptional, and usually happens in expensive restaurants.

    So.. I cant even remember the last time I actually tipped?

  22. Linda

    Kim Ho,

    I won’t say that tipping is mandatory but it is a custom in US and at least 15% is expected in restaurants.

    Restaurants only include 15-17% gratuity service in the bill if there are party of 4 or more.

    Here is tipping guideline in US and some other countries

  23. Linda

    For hotel room, tip daily because it may not be the same maid that cleans your room everyday. $1-2 is fine in an average hotel and $3-5 in a luxury hotel.

    May I ask how much do you tip your hairstylist?

  24. Jessica

    I tip my hairstylist $20-30 for a $70 cut. This is because I get color for free. I also make sure she gets a great Christmas present because of that.

  25. Jennifer

    Hi Ben, I’m sorry I have not been around. This is a good topic because typically it’s something I tend to put a lot of thought into whenever I am out somewhere. Typically, I try to tip at 20% (at least restaurant wise). I have a “cheat card” from Costco that I got a long time ago that helps me figure out what I should tip at 10% or 20% and I’m constantly on the sly with that one at restaurants.

    Now last night we went to the Boston’s place by the Bellis Fair mall in Bellingham and we were not impressed with the waiter. I ended up leaving him 10% because I think that maybe he will realize that he should up the ante on his customer service skills. Being in customer service myself, you can’t expect good feedback if you don’t put any effort into assisting your customers.

    Outside of restaurants I typically tip higher on coffee stands and hair cuts or other beauty services. For example, even if I buy a cup of coffee at a coffee stand, I’ll still tip at least a dollar if the service was okay. If the service was spectacular I tip up to $2, even if it’s for a $4 cup of coffee. That’s a 50% tip right there, but the barista who served it earned their tip. As for stylists I’m a bit more generous as well and that’s because I worked for Supercuts in the past as a receptionist and I have seen bad and good tipping. I don’t have a specific stylist but every so often I go to see a lady at the Great Clips and I usually tip her $5 for a cut. If it’s my daughter, I give at least $2, which I feel is suitable for a $10 hair cut for a child- that comes out to 20% anyhow…but you know.

    Sorry this got long!

  26. Blur Mommy

    Hi Ben, I am in Seattle & I usually tip abt 15% and maybe 20% in the upscale restaurants. Out of curiousity, I wonder if most people calculate base on pretax or aftertax? 🙂

  27. cissy

    My husband poited out to me one time that we should calculate base on pretax.
    yikes, i don’t tip my hairdresser(she works from her home), but my daughter does:P

  28. KimHo

    Blur Momy, I calculate tips based on the amount pre-tax. Tax is government’s “share”.

  29. ed.chan

    10% in Vancouver is usually fine.
    I noticed that Ben and Suanne dine at a lot of Chinese places, usually in Richmond. 10% is THE norm for these restaurants. Many people don’t even tip that much.

    For western restaurants, I tip around the 15%-20% range.

    Of course, there are always exceptions. When I had crapper service at Guu a few weeks ago, I tipped exactly 0%. And for exceptional service (or a cute waitress, haha), I’ll tip much more.

  30. JellyBelly

    15% is more the norm in “western” restaurants..except for bad service. Great service is more like 20% and maybe more in some circumstances. I think calculating the tip pre-tax is done quite a bit..but a lot of people just round the money off..not worrying about tipping to the exact percentage point. I worked in the industry for awhile (Vancouver) and 10% was considered cheap by the servers. Can’t comment on Chinese restos or buffets. Counter service really depends on the person helping me and usually they just get a looney or tooney not a calculated tip. I briefly worked at this type of place and the change payed for my skytrain to work and back.This really helped as I was making not much more than min.wage back then.

  31. dan

    I usually give 10% of the post-tax amount out of habit, and more if I know exactly where the money is going and I want to support that (e.g. mom & pop places). Otherwise, I can’t help ponder the question that:
    1. Tipping in many Asian countries is 0%, yet the level of service is same or better. Why are service staff deserving of more when you change geography?
    2. I’ve worked in retail getting paid minimum wage where service and ‘being nice’ is as much part of your job as serving a table, yet there is no tipping involved. Is restaurant service really 15-20% better than retail?

    But all in all, I wish tipping was really about showing appreciation rather than insurance against someone chasing me down for money or as Chrystal from the Holland puts it “giving you the evil eye”

  32. LotusRapper

    Ed (Chan): what do you tip for cute waiters ? (ba-dum !)

  33. ed.chan

    Cute waiters get 0-3% from me.
    The less disposable income they have, the less $ they have to spend on their dates, the less girls they are able to attract/retain, the better my odds become. Totally jk 🙂

    Cute waiters, like cute waitresses, get more % if they provide exceptional service. To be honest though, I don’t normally eat expensive so an extra 5-10% is only going to translate to $1-$2.

  34. Mary Stacy

    Wow, I am glad to see that my brief comment has stirred a great round of chats. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We have two little girls -they do not eat much but require much work. As a result, we normally tip around 20% unless the service is not tentative. In addition, I was a waitress when going to graduate school and may appreciate more the long hours and hard work of the wait staff. Cheers..

  35. Karina C.

    Normally at lunch, I would tip 10-15%, then dinner is 15-20%. When there are parties of 5 or more, 15%-20% tip is automatically added into the bill. At some fancier restaurants, 20% tip is automatically factored in, with the choice of your party paying more if they wish to.

  36. lindaC

    I am back and forth from California to Richmond.

    Service is usually better. I tip 15% for average service meaning no mistakes no bad attitude. If service is awesome, I give 20%. A few times I gave 25%, because service was so damn good and I felt like “I love you man”.

    Tips can also be justified by the restaurant is high end or low end. If the restaurant is like small, beat up, worn out looking (usually mom and pop shops are like that, corporate stores always invest money on decor in the States), a lot of students eating there, 10% tips from students and customers thinking service is so so is not rare or strange. Because it’s not that comfortable sitting there. They won’t chase you for 5 more % because they know they are not exactly providing a decent environment to dine and they need all the customers they can get.

    It’s rare to get bad service is California, people tend to be more outspoken in Cali, if service is bad, customers do complain to the manager or owner. They usually apologize and ease things up because they do want to stay in business for years to come.

    In Vancouver, service is usually lacking. If they don’t make mistakes or give you bad attitude, you should Thank God already. I don’t even expect friendly attitude or smiles, I can live as long as they are not mean or give me cold stares or disappear forever or avoiding me the entire time.

    Since service is not so good here compare to the States, I give 10% for mediocre service (poker face, few cold stares, minor mistakes, hard to get your waiter’s attention). 15% for servers who bother to say thank you and don’t give me poker face and cold stares, and I can get their attention easily. 20% for servers who are competent and very kind & friendly, it’s a rare find.

    If I get a really mean horrible service, I think I will complain to the manager, I don’t know what I would do with tips, it depends how angry I am and how the manager deals with the situation. Thank God I have successfully avoided that kind of disaster because I usually don’t go to dine-in restaurants in Vancouver without reading reviews and hear word of mouth. I already got warning from my local friends that customer service is bad in Vancouver and one could easily walk in a situation that you pay money to buy abuse. Yup! They told me their horrible experience, I didn’t ask them how much they tipped for a disastrous dining.

  37. Lidia

    Im not sure if my comment would be of any interest because i’m from Europe, but anyway…Here (Czech Republic) it depends on what type of restaurant it is and what you ordered. If you just had a lunch special and a drink you don’tip much, maximum 10% or just round up the sum of the bill, if you go to a better restaurant and have a big meal and drinks with it you tip 15% minimum. Some people don’t tip at all or very little. It is quiet different here since waiters are paid regular salaries and don’t depend on tips that much, here tips are devided between the whole personnel of the restaurant. Exessive tips usually come from drunk people or when the food was exceptionally good. Service itself is not considered that much. It is also not really usual to complain to managers in case of bad service etc., you just leave the place. However it is really rare to encounter bad service here.
    I am of russian background and for russians (as well as all nationalities from the former USSR) it is a matter of honour to give huuuuge tips. It is part of the culture. When having a big meal with friends at a restaurant it is not unusual to leave a tip that is 30-50% of the sum, sometimes even more in case of weddings, birthdays etc. It is also custom that only one person pays for all, it means something like “I pay now, you pay the next time”. Also it is regarded as disrespectful to let a woman pay at a restaurant. All these customs lead up to people trying to set records on tipping.

  38. KimHo

    The Globe and Mail posted this article today about tipping from a waiter’s perspective:

    Quote from the article:

    “Lame tippers are bad for business, and they’ve got to go. If you think I’m being callous, remember, a restaurant is a business — it’s not your dining room. I’m an independent contactor trying to make a living.”

    Tippers: Which are you?

    The Verbal Tipper: Heavy on praise but cheap with the cash. … Waiters don’t want hugs. Show us the money.

    The Accountant: Customers who tip on the amount of the check before tax.

    The Compensator: Usually cocaine-snorting, wealthy Neanderthal types who heap abuse on the wait staff. These patrons, almost exclusively men, tip lavishly as a way to apologize for their boorish behaviour.

    The Flat Tipper: You could spill hot soup on their baby or treat them like the Sultan of Brunei, they’ll always tip you 15 per cent.

    The Sugar Daddy: Out-of-shape, wealthy Lotharios who try securing sexual favours from waitresses by giving them embarrassingly large tips.

    The Foreigner: Customers who come from other countries and feign ignorance about local tipping customs so they can save a few bucks.

    The Nice Customer: These patrons respect you as a professional. They tip 25 per cent and up. Valued regular customers. Not enough of them.

    From this, it seems I am a mix between an accountant and a flat-tipper (though, he is using a 15% figure…).

  39. LotusRapper

    Somehow having read this article doesn’t make me feel anymore “sympathetic” for the wait staff who feel they are short-changed, esp. if I’m being categorized/stereotyped as a customer. The practice of tipping (and the amount) is subjective and discretionary, there are no “rights or wrongs” as far as I’m concerned. I believe the majority of restaurant patrons will tip within a reasonable and acceptable range as the norm, the danger is those who lie on the extremes of the scale who skew the wait staff’s perception of customers.

  40. Jessica

    Doesn’t make me “sympathetic” either. They chose their job, just like we chose ours. I don’t get tips for being screamed at by Americans on the phone at work. Guess I’m an “accountant” as well.

  41. pokemon

    You are in the right ball park figure of 10-15% in Canada. I usually tip 10% round up to the nearest dollar. My friend tips based on the BEFORE tax amount at 10%.
    In the US, if the place is very busy, and I know I will be back again, I would tip 20-25%. I once tipped 15%, and we were back again, they did not come serve us. I always thot it was their job to serve, irregardless of tip. But they remember the good tippers, and we obviously were not. So, from that experience, higher tip gets repeat service, and I am not talking about good service.

    I was once at Earls, and apparently the 10% tip was not good enough. The service is not great. I had to always ask for water. The server had put 15% on my credit card bill which I found out when I got my credit card bill. I obviously do not go there anymore.

    Personally, I hate the idea of tips. I wished it was like Asia, or Australia, no tips. I like to go to a restaurant or shop and know exactly how much I will have to pay, instead of having to add taxes, and tips on top of the price on the menu.

    Isn’t it a server’s job to serve? Being in customer service, I do not get tips from rude, demanding people who just want things for free.

  42. Joanna

    I’m from BC, Canada… generally I tip 15% if I enjoyed the food the service was great. 10% if the service was only so-so… and if I was really cheesed-off by some grumpy+rude waitress and given poor quality food (which has happened to me before) I would give maybe 8%.

  43. ddog

    I am a waiter in calgary and they actually take 12% per bill off of my pay for tips. So if a person leaves less than 12% I still have to give the 12 percent from my earnings to the tip pool.

  44. Chrystal

    The whole idea of mandatory tipping is idiotic.
    Just include the service charge and the tax price on the menu, instead leaving customers calculating how much tip they should leave. The restaurant manager should be the person to give his employee’s bonusses on how well they work. It does not make any sense to me.

    If a waiter provides bad service, it is the problem of the restaurant, and their business will drop. Therefor, it is their responsibility to hire good waiters.

    It is just not professional that a waiter would give you an amount of service as they stereotype the customer..

  45. Peter D

    Couldn’t agree more on the last comment of tips being idiotic. ie… an optional yet mandatory component of the bill. In my experience it’s just the USA that persists in this kind of madness… elsewhere in the world, if you have a good time, good service and feel so inclined… leave a tip… else just pay the price on the menu !!!

  46. sdf

    Well, now I know why I’m so well cherished at places I frequent. I pay 20% for good service, 15% for marginal and 10% if I want to make a point that I was dissatisfied. Guess the point never got made on the dissatisfied! I lived in Vancouver for 20 years and that’s where i picked up the tipping habit.

  47. sdf

    o yeah, and having said that, i find tipping really annoying. I don’t tip in my favourite shoe store no matter how happy i am with the shoes. Why do i tip in a restaurant – where they usually make better wages than in the shoe store?! In Australia, they don’t typically tip and the patrons expect the restaurant owners to pay decent enough wages to ensure proper service!

  48. Wife

    Personally I hate it when I’m told how much I’m suppose to tip. Tipping should be based on how the service went. Not about compensating the employer’s negligent in paying their staff poorly. Seriously, it’s not my responsibility to ensure you have enough income. It doesn’t make sense if I have to pay 15-25% (example) to a non existing service at a high end restaurant just because the decor is pretty. I’d rather tip a hard working diner staff because they’re running around all day and people seem to think it’s okay to give them less tip because it’s a casual family run restaurant.

    It’s plain rude when wait staff ask for more tip. It’s up to the discretion of the customer. Don’t even get me started on automatic service charge or gratuity.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have been a generous tipper numerous times, I just don’t want the “I’m entitled to it attitude” with my meal.

  49. Jenny

    Hi, I’m in Vancouver, I totally agree with you, wife. Tipping is a courtesy for a good service. And to appreciate how good the service is different to each individual.

  50. Kim

    I’m from Richmond, VA and I tend to tip around 20%. I usually eat out about 2-3 times per month. My friend who eats out almost daily tips in the 10-15%…mainly because it saves her money since she eats out so often.

  51. Lady Parts

    Hi. I’m a Finn temporarily living in Vancouver.


    FEIGN ignorance? Ha. Ha. A-ha-ha. If only I were that brazen.
    In numerous, numerous countries, you can go your whole life without leaving or receiving a tip once. Where I’m from everyone gets paid “grown-up wages”, so the concept of tipping hasn’t caught on. Wherever else I travel in the world, if tipping is the norm I use the 10% rule, because that’s the easiest percentage to calculate. At a self-service place or a McBucks I never tip. That might make me stingy (not to mention lazy about using math), but fortunately, you’re usually rid of my stingy ass soon, because I move around a lot. Move to Scandinavia, whiners 😉

    1. etranger

      Lady is right. None of my exchange students or their families (who have been from all over the world) tip very much. Apparently servers in their countries are paid a normal wage and have access to national health care.

      I spend some time with every new student to explain that restaurant servers in the US don’t get paid a real wage and must live on their tips. Our tax rate is around 9% so I tell them to look at the number for the tax and double it, perhaps taking a little away. Generally don’t go below a dollar though, even if you just had coffee and a donut.

      In mom and pop restaurants (Chinese and otherwise), I try to leave tips in cash. I am afraid that the owner won’t distribute the tips if I use the tipping space on my card bill.

      I train the students to keep a bit of cash on their person for tipping and other things. You can’t ALWAYS use a card!

  52. wolf

    Tipping is very important in north america, if the service is really bad leave at least 3 or 4 percent because the waitress or waiter will have to tip out the barmaid the doormen the kitchen so don t make her or him loses money at least. im a restaurant manager in montreal since a while and i always tip 15 to 20 percent because i know its a really hard job. so please people and espacially tourists be nice

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