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Where and how to tip? Americans are confused as the practice expands

Tipping is expected in more and more places — but in many of them, Americans say they still don't know how much to give.
Posted at 5:02 PM, Nov 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-16 16:19:14-05

Americans are being asked to tip workers in more places — but a new survey shows there's persistent confusion over how and where tipping is expected.

Pew Research Center surveyed nearly 12,000 adults in the U.S. to draw conclusions about tipping practices and prevalence.

According to the data, 72% of respondents said an expectation of tipping had spread to more places over the last five years.

But only 34% of those polled were confident about whether they should tip, and only 33% were confident about how much to give.

Forty percent of people oppose businesses suggesting how much to tip their workers, while 72% oppose businesses automatically including a tip when calculating the final bill.

Instead, nearly half of Americans believe tipping ought to depend on the situation, and 77% of respondents said their tipping would depend on the quality of service they encountered.

Most say they would always or often tip for a haircut, food delivery or a meal at a sit-down restaurant. But most of those buying coffee or a meal at a fast-casual restaurant say they wouldn't leave a tip.

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The food delivery service rolled out a new pop-up disclaimer in its ordering app prompted by customers editing the suggested tip to zero.

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New questions around tipping practices — and a degree of tipping fatigue — set in after the coronavirus pandemic upended dining and other services.

Nerdwallet says a lot of that may be down to the use of new card readers that build the tip question right into the purchase process.

Nerdwallet offers suggestions for tipping practices, especially when it comes to services:

Servers and bartenders should receive 20%.

Rideshare drivers: 15% to 20%.

Food delivery drivers: 15% to 20%.

Spa or salon professionals: 15% to 20%.