Are you tipping enough? Your data-filled guide to tipping norms 💰

Tipping has increased during pandemic

Exchanging money. (Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels)

Should you tip that person? What about that person? And how much should you tip? Are we tipping enough?! What about the holidays?! We have the data to help.


💰 Tips on tips

If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, you may remember this bit from Jerry:

Have you noticed that every place you go into lately has that tip jar on the counter? What is the service that this tip is for, anyway? I mean, isn’t the man basically just turning around? Isn’t that really all it is? I think we’re tipping people now just for the absence of outright hostility. “Thanks very much. Here’s a little extra for not taking my head and smashing my face through the glass countertop. Really good service here.”

Tipping has always been a matter of debate. The average amount we tip for any service has changed (as in, it has increased) over the years, and who we tip has changed. It continues to expand.

And with the pandemic, tipping became more than just tipping -- it became a way of thanking essential workers, delivery drivers, chefs, waitstaff and others who helped us get though.

Here are some key tipping stats from a new survey from Popmenu:

  • 58% of consumers say they have increased the amount they typically tip servers and delivery drivers during the pandemic; 30% have been tipping the same; 6% have been tipping less and 6% don’t typically tip at all.
  • 56% typically tip servers 20% or more; 1 in 5 (20%) typically tip servers 25% or more.
  • 38% typically tip delivery drivers 20% or more while 61% typically tip delivery drivers at least 15%.

Popmenu also found that Michigan is one of the strongest tipping states:

“Popmenu analyzed a sample of approximately 450,000 online food orders placed in the last 180 days to compile a list of top cities with the highest percentage of orders that included tips of 20% or higher. On average, around 1 in 4 orders in these cities included tips of 20% or more. In the top three, 38% of online orders included tips of 20% or more.”

  • Seattle, WA – 38%
  • Austin, TX – 38%
  • Nashville, TN – 38%
  • Detroit, MI – 34%
  • Denver, CO – 33%
  • Washington, DC – 32%
  • Omaha, NE – 30%
  • Dallas, TX – 30%
  • Pittsburgh, PA – 29%
  • Columbus, OH – 27%

I’m just happy we are more generous than Ohio, not that I needed confirmation. Of course we are.

Still, pandemic aside, the average percentages for tipping are around 18-22% for most.

Most common tipping percentages in the US. (Finder)

And here’s a interesting stat from Finder: “Of those who tip under 18% on average, 17% say they leave between 14% and 17.9%, 10% say they drop 10% to 13.9% and nearly 2% saying they leave less than 10%. Remarkably, a little over 7% of American adults say they don’t tip at all — almost 19 million people.”

Some other stats on tipping in the U.S.:

  • Women are bigger tippers than men by a margin of almost 5 percentage points, with 66.29% of women saying that they tip 18% or more on average, compared to 61.87% of men who say the same. (Finder)
  • Of those who leave more than 18%, about 63% are between the ages of 45 to 54 and roughly 62% are ages 35 to 44. (Finder)
  • The best tippers? Those between the ages of 25 and 34. This age group leaves 18% or more on a check nearly 67% of the time. The next closest age group are those ages 55 to 64, which tip 18% or more some 65% of the time. (Finder)
Most common tipping percentages by age. (Finder)
  • From coast to coast, it’s the middle that tips the most, with the Midwest dispensing its tips with such largesse that some 67% say they leave more than 18% on a bill for service. (Finder)
Most common tipping percentages by region. (Finder)

Ok, so what about the holidays? Are you supposed to tip more for Christmas?

Here’s what a poll from CreditCards.com found when it comes to holiday tips:

  • Lots of providers will get extra. Of the 27% who said they would tip mail carriers more, the median amount reported was $20, while 19% said they’d tip trash collectors more ($20), 41% plan to tip teachers more ($25), 36% would give a landscaper more ($30), and 41% and 47% would give a childcare provider or housekeeper more ($50 for both), respectively.
  • Waitstaff for the win. Of the 45% of U.S. adults who said they would give bigger-than-usual tips during the holidays to at least one type of service provider, 27% said they’d tip waitstaff more, 19% said hairstylist or barber, 16% said food delivery person, 10% said bartender and 9% said coffee shop barista.

No matter how you tip, who you tip or how much you tip, just know, it’s appreciated, when you’re able to do it.



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About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.