I know this is a poor excuse for a first Life Skills post, but I’m in Columbus, OH, working 16+ hour days this week, so you’ll have to cope:)

I usually tip just over 20%.  It’s easy to calculate out 20%, and then I just round up to the nearest dollar, or more if the service was really good.

How to calculate the tip:

  1. Take the dollar figure total, move the decimal point one position to the left
  2. Double this amount, rounding up

So for instance, if the bill comes to $53.71, move the decimal point over, giving you $5.37, then double rounding up giving you $11.  There’s your tip amount.  If the service was really good, I might tip $15.  I rarely under-tip, and only if the service involved intentionally making me miserable, which is thankfully rare.

People get nit-picky about tip amounts sometimes, aiming for 15% instead of 20%, etc…  My take is that the difference is usually just a few bucks, and those few bucks will matter a lot more to your server, who lives on tips, than they matter to you, who can afford to go out to eat.

Also, a good tip will make your server happy, and if you return and tip well consistently, you will reap some rewards of that.  But that’s not why you should tip.

For non-restaurant tipping I recommend a couple of singles as a minimum, and $5s and $20s if you want to get some cool returns.

Tipping a valet $2-3 is pretty standard.  Tipping $5 is nice, and they’ll likely be a little more careful with your doors, etc…  Tipping $20 will usually get your car parked out front, and you’ll often walk out to a warmed up running car waiting for you.

If you’re going to be using the concierge service at a hotel, I’d recommend tipping at least $20 the first time, even if it’s for something small like dinner recommendations.  Two reasons there, a hotel concierge, at least a good one, can be an invaluable asset when you’re in a new city.  They can get you reservations at a booked restaurant, point you to the best bar or club in the area, get you a great haircut, find you a replacement pair of your designer shoes which got ruined, etc…  So if they’re good they deserve an ample reward.  Secondly, if you tip well, sometimes you’ll get some extra perks.  For instance many nice hotels have private cars (like a BMW L series, Bentley, Rolls, etc…).  If you don’t tip you’ll probably never see the inside of one.  If you do you may find yourself sitting in luxury when you just asked for a cab.

If you’re on a date, don’t tell your date what you tipped.  That’s between you and the tip recipient.

A subtle tip is easy.  Have the bill(s) prepped, folded into 1/4th, in your pocket.  Reach into your pocket, cup the bill inside your hand, and reach out as if you’re going to shake (and sometimes you will), and slip them the bill.  Practice if you’re worried.