Different Countries, Different Customs - When paying a bill at a restaurant or any other service, in the United States it is customary to leave a service tip of 15-20% of the total bill. For many people, the tipping culture in New York and the USA is confusing, so I have put together everything about “tips” and “gratuities”, as they say in America, for you below.
Here are some of the service providers you will most often encounter that you typically tip:
- Taxi : You will see three suggestions on the screen 15% - 20% - 25%. Personally, I usually give 20% in the city, if you are coming from the airport 20% will seem like a lot given the amount (+/- $60), in which case a 15% tip would be recommended.
- Starbucks and Cafe : Anything you get to take away usually doesn't require a tip, and tipping is rare there.
- Shop : You never tip here, no matter whether it's a high-end boutique or corner shop.
- Food truck : Tipping is optional here, but rather unusual.
- Mascots in Times Square : Be careful, they ask for a tip for a photo with you, but at first they give the impression of being lovely actors who just want to have fun with you.
- Restaurant : 20% of the total bill for good service is usual, more for exceptional service. As a former waiter, I know how dependent these people are on tips, who are so refreshingly friendly, even when they can have a bad day like we all do. Attention : Check the bill and see if the tip is already included, you will see “Tip included” on the bill. Often the case in restaurants where tourists make up the majority of visitors, in Miami, South Beach, over 90% of restaurants already include tips.
- Bar and Lounge : 20% is common for bartenders, it's much more common for us New Yorkers to leave $1 in cash on the bar per drink for cheaper drinks like beer and $2 for cocktails in cash.
- Room service : 15% of the total bill, but checked if it is not already included in the bill.
- Concierge : Depending on my mood, I personally give $1-$5 for useful information or help, but not every time, here a tip is more voluntary than expected.
- Bellhop or doorman : Typically $2 - $5 depending on the number of bags.
- Maid service : $2 to $4 per night, a week in NYC hotels, $10 - $15 tips are common.
- Tour Guide : Our tour guides receive appropriate pay. Since I worked as a tour guide for a long time and still do from time to time, I know how relieving it is to know that I don't have to depend on tips. Like all of us, our guides are happy about a little attention.
Always have $10 to $15 in small bills in your pocket for tips and other quick street transactions like a bottle of water that street vendors offer for $1 as you walk by. Sometimes street artists and beggars will break your heart and it's nice to give them a little token.
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Tipping in the USA is not only controversial among tourists ; politicians, the media and restaurant owners are now discussing a radical solution to the tipping plight.
In June, a court in New York ruled that "baristas" at the Starbucks coffee chain must share the tips they collect in a plastic cup during the day with their shift supervisor in the evening, but not with the store manager.
New York State passed a comprehensive tipping regulation two years ago. Tips from restaurant waitresses can be shared. Even managers are allowed to use what has been collected if they inform guests of this practice in writing. Restaurant owners must pay tipped employees less than the federal minimum wage of $9.70 an hour, depending on the waiter's hours.
It's not surprising that America is debating tipping and whether it still makes sense. Many people suggest paying waiters better and eliminating tips. Employees and restaurant visitors deserve better. A sushi restaurant in Manhattan is setting a good example, where the owner recently sharply increased wages and prices and then declared: "Our employees are paid entirely through their salary. Tips are therefore not accepted."