Tipping for Service

It’s been years since we travelled outside Canada/US due to COVID. I’m in Australia and reminded of the custom of tipping that’s an expectation in North America and the expectation of % of that tip is increasing these days from minimum 15% to 20% post-COVID. Moreover, the % once used to be based on the pre-tax amount but recently is post-tax due at least in part to the credit card machines that automatically calculates % on the final tally.

So here in Australia, I’m reminded there’s zero tipping expected. When they bring the credit card machine, we just tap the card and that’s it. No need to press a whole bunch of buttons to add tip unless, unless you want to - in which case the waiter thanks you profusely if you add even 5% for superior service. Tipping for service level, what a novel idea!

Another tipping anecdote from this trip but outside restaurants - we were at a hotel in Sydney and the bellman (the person who takes your luggage) there was super helpful going above and beyond and at the end of our stay, we tried to tip him to thank him. I say “try” because he politely declined saying I’m just doing my job. That’s a first for me!

To be clear, I’m not against tipping and fully aware that wages being offered by restaurants in NA may be insufficient to cover cost of living. Just a commentary from of a rare experience abroad down under. :slight_smile:


In unfamiliar restaurants I tip when first meeting the server and again at the end of the meal.

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Hi Stevey,

Was similar fore me in Seoul, Korea. If I tried to give them cash, they gave the money back and said, “Korean Pride.”

I gave them the cash back, and walked away, turned around, and said, “American Pride.”

In California, there is a place to indicate “no tip,” paying with a card, then leaving a cash tip on the table. Did that a few days ago—and left a very generous tip. I never do %–just my subjective judgement of server hospitality.



It doesn’t matter to me I always tip cash. Even if I have to hand it to them . Especially cab drivers . So many times they will drive you in circles. Even though you know where you going . I just started paying the fare with a generous tip upon entering the cab . I would say ." This is all yours." They were taking one way streets , speeding. Thank you upon arrival in record time . San Francisco


In some countries and cultures, tipping is an affront.

There’s no tipping culture around my parts. Service and taxes are included in the price. People who work in hospitality do go on annual holidays (to distant lands) like everyone else. As do market stallholders I know of.


When I travel, I try to understand the tipping culture of wherever I’m visiting and conform to whatever that is.

To stick to the norms of my own country seems to me to be silly and, of course, may be entirely inappropriate (or wildly extravagent).

The trickiest place I’ve visited is Belgium. When I first started to visit, maybe 25 years back, tipping culture divided on language. In the Dutch speaking parts, places followed practice in the Netherlands, so a tip was sort of expected. In the French speaking parts, they followed the “no tip” culture of France. Particularly tricky for me, as the area I was visiting was close to the “border” between different provinces. Even on a short drive, I would cross between French and Dutch speaking areas several times and you didnt really know which you were in at a particular time. Over the years, I sense that things have generally moved in one direction and Belgium is now pretty much a “service included” place (at least in the areas I visit).

Cultures change. My brother in law used to drive a cab here in the UK. When he started, maybe 15 years back, it was fairly common to tip at around 10% of the fare. Not a cultural requirement, but many people did tip. Over the years, tipping declined and by the time he got another job a couple of years back, it was a rarity that he would get a tip during a shift, not even of the “keep the change” variety.

Same brother in law is Spanish and the family lived there for years. When we visited, they would always say that I was being overly generous leaving 5% tips in restaurants.


More like American insecurity. A lack of familiarity with other cultures and languages makes us want to impose our standards on them.

These days with all the increases in minimum wages and the Square tablets with built in tips its feeling like tipping is getting out of control. I’m waiting for the next step where when I go to the grocery store and use the self checkout and bag my stuff in the bags I brought, there will be a line to add a 15% tip for the store.


We’ve tipped at least 20% here in the US for at least 15 years so it’s not a new thing. We usually pay the full bill with cash and always leave the tip in cash. If we’re in a group setting and splitting the bill amongst ourselves I never let one person say “I’ll take the cash and put it on my credit card with the tip.” Never.

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I always adjust my tipping according to the respective customs of the place I’m visiting. I think tipping in the US is ludicrous, but I do it anyway and would never stiff a server.

In Germany, you usually round up a bit and maybe add a euro or two, but service staff is paid better here than in the US for the most part.


“No need to press a whole bunch of buttons to add tip …”

Is it really that bothersome? You act lie you’re being asked to program an algorithm.

I’m curious about this. Is it because you suspect that person may reduce (or even forego) the tip?

To OP, in Switzerland and Germany I’ll generally round to the nearest Swissy or Euro as a form of small tip. I’ve never had a server act surprised (or indignant) about that. Mostly I don’t want to deal with accumulating change myself. I haven’t been lucky enough to see how that would work in Oz.

In US, I generally tip 20% unless service is really not up to expectations. I’ve never had service bad enough so as to not want to tip (I have had food almost that bad, but that’s not the server’s fault). I tip a higher percentage for cheaper food, e.g. for a full-service $7 taco lunch with good service I’ll usually tip $5. I guess my brain is just wired at $5 being a floor of sorts.


I always tip with cash… so I can be certain every dime of it goes into the server’s pocket.

For establishments that don’t allow tipping (like the local Safeway grocery pickup/delivery), I’ll put a bill in the back of my truck or delivery door, and if they don’t pick it up I’ll say something like “that’s not mine, did you drop that?”… which usually gets them to accept it.

Haven’t travelled since CoVid, so dunno what to suggest for places where tipping is not the status quo… but leaving it on the table just before you leave, or handing to the server saying “I just found this on the floor” may work.

100% about not trusting that the tip will be given in full. It’s an old trick people will try to pull on an escorted tour. “Oh, let’s pool our tips into one envelope “. Guarantee you that person hands over the envelope without adding a penny.

Hi BKeats,

I didn’t add in the “friendly smile” we shared . . .

When I was making 75 cents an hour bagging groceries, my boss handed a $5 tip a customer gave me back, saying, “Our employees are adequately paid in this store.”

I never forgot that.


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Ah, so it’s people you may not know so well. I generally only eat out with family or old work buddies I know wouldn’t try to pull a stunt like that.

Well, maybe one of them would - I recall another of the same friend group watching him do the check and physically pointing at the tip line saying, “Make sure you give her 25%!”

I used to hate meals with colleagues. I was always for dividing the bill equally between the number of people who were present. But there would always be those who objected - coz they didnt have a dessert or had only been drinking Coke while everyone elese was on beer/wine. But when whatever had been agreed, there was then always the discussion about how much to tip (unfortunately, we never went to places that simply added a service charge). And when whatever had been agreed and folk had given up their alleged due payment, it never amounted to the total of the bill. Which left the event “organiser” having to cough up mthe difference, usually with the assistance of which managers were there. Of course, you never quite work out who has come up short. But I always reckon it was the Coke drinkers who would toss their money on to the pile and quickly leave, claiming they had a bus to catch.


You’re right. When we’re out with close friends or family I’m certain they are excellent tippers.

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Hi John,

In SOCAL, tipping customs are in flux. A friend and I just went to a place with a simple bill. My friend demanded to pay (in cash), so I left a generous 20% tip.

Other places, I don’t tip at all–and receive a 10% senior discount.

I don’t even try to understand it or explain it any more. . .


Oh, I do wish we did that. You occasionally see “seniors meals” (usually in fish & chips places) but it just means it’s a small portion for old people. By the by, one of our bottom mend supermarket chains has just announced 10% discounts for the over-65s. And, not, not even that will tempt me to shop there.

As for forcing a tip on someone: The senior living facility where my mother-in-law lives has a “No Tipping” rule. At one point, someone had the dining manager arrange a private party (a normal request). She was so pleased she gave the manager (or maybe the chef) a hundred-dollar tip. Word got back to upper management, and whoever it was who accepted the tip was fired.
So when someone says “No”, accept it.