We all enjoy treating ourselves to a night out, a reward for the hard work we put forward.
Whether it’s a fancy new brewery, a dinner with clients or your team, or just a simple drink at your favorite bar, the night always ends with a bill to sign, and an empty line to fill in.
But how much to tip?
It’s a question that is hotly contested among friends, family, and even the people working for those tips!
Do you tip because it’s customary or because a screen prompts you to? Or is it because of the quality of your waiter’s service?
We understand that tipping is a highly personal topic and subject to individual discretion.
Taking this into account (and after interviewing several waiters and bartenders!), we’ve compiled a quick reference guide based on merit, stemming from the most commonly advised tipping brackets for you to consider when deciding just how much of a tip your service may be worth and how it may be interpreted by your server.
10% or Less: For those times when your experience is unpleasant or unsatisfactory, sometimes a tip really isn’t worthwhile.
Just because you are dining out doesn’t mean you have an obligation to give any extra money, or credit, when it isn’t due.
15%: When you have typical service or an average experience.
Tipping 15% is the standard average for a tipping percentage and represents “average” service wholeheartedly. Maybe the food was subpar, service was unremarkable, or you waited too long for something for the table; sometimes it happens, and parting with 15% extra is a way to acknowledge that while you’re still leaving something, you aren’t going out of your way to do so.
18%: When that cocktail you ordered off a recommendation hits the spot just right, or that food allergy was treated with extra care, maybe your server earned a little more.
An 18% tip may reflect to your servers that their service stood out and made your time enjoyable, not just average. 18% is slowly becoming a more popular rate as it gradually becomes the national average on credit and debit card payments, and also seems to be a way to save a bit more every year.
20%: Sometimes mistakenly called the new average, a 20% tip is really that little extra between good service, and great service.
For when we find ourselves never waiting for refills, when server interactions are never too much or too little, when the drinks and food keep coming and everyone is having a good time, a 20% tip may indicate that service was so good it’s hard not to give more than necessary and that the venue will likely see you again. This is the bracket most servers aim for and shows satisfaction for both parties.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
When the time comes to pay a tab, it’s important to remember when signing the bill that this final payment, at the end of the day, is a performance review. How well do you think your server really did?
But also remember that for most waiters in the US, this IS their living wage too.