We’ve all been in that situation: we go to sign off on a bill or hand over our payment at a counter, and when we get to the tip line: panic. Do we need to tip? If so, how much?
In some industries, workers’ livelihoods depend almost entirely on tips. That’s thanks to a 1966 law that allows employers to pay servers as little as $2.13 an hour. In Washington, D.C., voters recently approved an initiative to raise the minimum wage for these types of employees – but in most of the country, the $2.13/hr minimum still stands. And, even if a business pays minimum wage in N.C., that is only 7.25 per hour. According to Just Economics, Asheville’s certified living wage is $13 per hour.
Tipping etiquette can vary greatly from service to service, and whatever the norm was a few years ago may not be the norm today. We reached out to Ashevillians on Reddit, Facebook and Instagram to ask what rules they follow for tipping. We heard from servers, bartenders, Uber drivers, baristas and more.
We compiled their answers (along with answers from CHStoday + COLAtoday readers) + made a guide that can be used as a reference point for tipping around town. Because how can you follow the rules if the rules are unwritten? Check it out here. ⬇
For your consideration
Tipping may vary based on industry, but there are a few golden rules that transcend any service:
- If you receive a discount, tip on the original price of the service – not the discounted price.
- If you’re unsure about whether someone works on salary or commission, don’t forgo the tip – if nothing else, just ask. Even those who are self-employed may rely on tips.
- If being taxed, (e.g. at a restaurant), you can calculate your tip based on the pre-tax total – rather than the total after tax.
- If it’s a holiday, or the business is particularly slammed, a little generosity never hurts.
Food + Bev
💸 Sit-down restaurants: Minimum 15-20%
- Remember, at most restaurants in North Carolina, servers make only $2.13 an hour – that’s less than a third of the minimum wage. (Otherwise, your bill at the end of the night would be a lot higher). So, even if your service isn’t great, you should be tipping something (at a minimum, 10%). And keep this in mind: at many restaurants, servers are required to hand over a portion of their tips to other front-of-house workers – like hosts, food runners, bartenders, bar backs, + bussers. DYK: Servers in Asheville make an average annual income of $23,744.
💸 Bars/Breweries: Always tip $1–$2 per drink, or 20% of the bar tab
💸 Coffee shops: Depends
- If your order is simple + you’re only stopping in to get coffee, no tip is necessary. But complicated orders call for tipping your barista 1-2 bucks. And – if you’re hanging out in the coffeeshop for an extended period of time – make sure to leave a few bucks for the staff.
- Pro tip: “I work at a coffee shop, and generally don’t expect a tip on small orders, usually people leave their change (coins) if paying with cash and people will often drop a dollar or so in the jar throughout the day which adds up to about $2/hour extra for all the hourly staff when we combine it each week. Tips are very much appreciated especially in larger orders but not generally expected like in other industries.” – @sageDieu on Reddit
💸 Buffets: 10%
💸 Takeout: No tip necessary – unless your order was large and/or contained special requests – then, tip 10%
- Pro tip: “I worked as a hostess at a restaurant for a while and handled takeout orders as part of my duties. I never cared if someone didn’t leave a tip for a small order. On the other hand, large takeout orders and those with added extra requests I felt were deserving of a tip. We’d have companies buying lunch for their employees with well over $100 tabs that wouldn’t tip. There’s a lot of work that goes into making a takeout order of that size.”
💸 Sommelier: 15% of the cost of the bottle
💸 Food truck: Leave $1-2 for good measure
- Pro tip: “I worked in a pretty popular food truck. On good nights, we’d make a good $20+ extra per hour (max 2 people on the truck at a time). It was my first time on a good truck and I was blown away by how nice most people were with tipping.” – @amrungwaew on Reddit
💸 Hair salons: 20%+
- Pro tip: “A lot of people don’t realize that most stylists only get paid a portion of the service they provide, and on top of that we have to pay taxes on it due to being an independent contractor.”
💸 Massages: Always tip at least 20%
- Pro tip: “"Most people tip 20%, and if they are a regular client, they often also give extra money around the holidays. It shows that they appreciate being well taken care of for their personal services.”
💸 Mani/pedis: 15%+
💸 Estheticians: 18-25%
- Pro tip: “Beauty service industry: Makeup and hair styling and spray tans.... please tip y’all! We are working our booties off to make you feel special, comfortable, and beautiful!”
💸 Barbershop: 20%+
- Pro tip: “I’m a barber and 9 out of 10 times I’ll receive a minimum of 20% tip and a lot of times it’s 30+%. Sometimes people aren’t used to Barbershop’s and don’t think about tipping. A lot of early 20’s men don’t tip. I never say anything but someone should.”
💸 Valet: $5+
- “The majority of restaurants offer ‘complimentary valet’ but this can be deceiving. A lot of people may not realize that at the end of the night the valet(s) have to split their tips to cover the parking lot fee. Anything left over is what you walk away with.”
💸 Uber + Lyft: Always tip
- When Uber started gaining popularity, people thought of it as a way to get a ride without worrying about a tip. But since then, the rideshare service has lowered its fares – meaning drivers now make less money. And now, there’s an option in the app to tip your driver right after a ride is complete – so not having cash on you is no longer an excuse. Pro tip: “$2 or $3 on most trips. On a longer trip it’d be great to get $5-6. As a side note– I always appreciate tips. They are never expected.”
- “Uber driver here. Tipping really helps even it’s just a dollar. Uber takes a good chunk out of what you pay so that extra helps cover what Uber takes. I always try to give people more than their ride if their in a talkative mood. I’ll give recommendations about where to eat, hikes to take, stores to check out, local events, and occasionally chocolate chip cookies. Of course alternative tips are also accepted. (Not those you perverts) I’ve had people give me beer and weed as tips. When I ride Uber i try to stick to my 20% rule I use for restaurants.” – @cjbucktooth on Reddit
💸 Furniture Delivery: $5–$10 per worker
💸 Pizza delivery: Always tip
- Pro tip: “Around $4-5 is a fair tip. I get paid under minimum wage ($5.35/hr) because I’m technically waitstaff. I put about 100 miles/day on my car and require an oil change every month. Gas and maintenance are not comped by the company, I have to do all that myself (they think a 5% commission will cover it. Comes out to maybe $10-$20/day).” – @invalidusernamelol on Reddit
💸 Food delivery service (Uber Eats, Bitesquad, Grubhub): Tip
- “I drive for Bite Squad and the tips have been great. I don’t expect them TBH, I’ve worked in F&B and feel like tipping should be for above and beyond not just doing my job. That being said, if you order food and you’re 20-30 min away I wouldn’t mind a lil tip for the gas (we get $1 per delivery, getting stuck on two notch at rush hour sucks)”
💸Catering delivery: Always tip
- “I work for a restaurant & do a lot of catering deliveries. When I deliver a large amount of food (like over $250), I hope/sort of expect a tip between $10- $20. For orders $500- $1,500, I hope to get at least $25- $50. I don’t just drive your food to you. I pack your salad dressings, utensils, plates, cups, etc., and set it up for you so it is displayed beautifully.”
💸Grocery delivery: Always tip
- Pro tip: “I do grocery delivery through Instacart. In Asheville shoppers are all “Full Service”. Shoppers are paid a base rate of ~$4 for deliveries and a small commission per unique item in the customer’s order. Unfortunately some customers believe that we are employees of the store from which they are ordering and are under the impression that we are paid hourly and/or receive mileage pay. (We aren’t and we don’t.) In reality shoppers are very dependent on tips on small orders just to make minimum wage. In general we do expect tips for the level of service we provide, and anything less than $4 is genuinely insulting. On small orders a flat rate tip of $5-$10 is generally considered appropriate, while 10-20% is appropriate for larger orders.” – @AshleyHoneyBee on Reddit
💸 Shuttle drivers, doormen + bellhops: $1–$2 per bag if helping with luggage
💸 Tattoos: 10-20%
💸 Tour Guides: Tip optional
- Pro tip: “While I don’t expect a tip, it is appreciated. $5 per person seems to be the average.”
💸 Bathroom attendants: $1
💸 Maid service: $1–$5 per hour
- Pro tip: “I clean people’s homes through a local service, and a few of my clients tip. From those who do, I generally receive about $5-$10 per hour. Some other clients will at least often give a Christmas gift of about $100-$150. I don’t necessarily expect a tip, but house cleaning is hard work for very modest pay, so it’s always very appreciated. Life is expensive, and extra cash really helps make ends meet. If someone can afford a cleaning service, they can afford to tip. I never skimp on my service, but I definitely go the extra mile to accommodate folks who show their appreciation.” – @natsoray on Reddit
💸 Buskers: Optional
- Pro tip: If they make you stop for longer than 30 seconds, or you snap a photo – drop a buck.
💸 Car detailing, painting + tinting: Sometimes tip
- Pro tip: “Typically, if it’s just a standard detail ($200- $400), I don’t expect a tip– as the majority of these tickets are moms/dads who don’t have the time to clean their cars thoroughly, are cars from body shops (which don’t tip), or the occasional vomit comet from Uber/Lyft. If I’m doing a heavy paint correction and ceramic coating ($900- $2,000), then in most cases I expect a tip– even if small– based on the fact that I’ve gotten tips for those jobs since I’ve worked there. Hell, even if it’s just $50 on a $1,500 ticket, that still pays for my lunch and gas during the time I was working on the vehicle.”
💸 Car wash: $3–$5
My golden rule when it comes to tipping: never say never. If an employee goes above + beyond for you, or if you needed a complicated service rendered + they pulled it off, their work should be rewarded – even if tipping them isn’t necessarily required.
Think of it this way: extra work = extra reward.
As one who spent most of high school + college in the service industry, take it from a person who understands the appreciation + value of a tip.
Tip kindly, Asheville.