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Tipping in New York City

How Much and to Whom Should You Tip?

Updated: January 25, 2024

As New Yorkers, our local tour guides have been tipping for years. We are in a unique position to share with you the inside scoop on who to tip in NYC and how much.

This post explains tipping (gratuities) for various services in New York City.

We explain why tipping is expected, who to tip, how much to tip, and advice to make the tipping process easier for you.

We’ve also included some opinions about tipping in NYC from members of the more than 225,000 members of our popular NYC Travel Tips Facebook group.

You don't need to become a member to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

So check out the group after you've read this post!


WHY TIPPING IS EXPECTED

Tipping is the customary act of giving additional money (or gratuity) to someone who has provided a service.

This includes waitstaff in bars and restaurants, concierges, hotel maids and luggage handlers in hotels, and taxi drivers, for example.

We know that in many parts of the world, good service is expected without having to pay more for it. 

So why is it customary in the United States to tip for services you use?

The answer is simple. Many jobs, including being a food server or bartender, are not paid very well.

As of 2024, in NYC, the minimum wage for restaurant waitstaff is $15.00 per hour. This is certainly not enough to live in this city!

Tips are therefore the only way that such employees can make a liveable wage.

You shouldn't ever feel pressured by anyone to tip, but those who provide services in NYC expect (and depend on) tips.

Having said that, if you receive horrendous service, perhaps the worst service in your entire life, don't be afraid to not tip.


WHO TO TIP AND HOW MUCH

Here are some of the most common occupations that rely on tips, along with the standard tipping amount for each.

You will likely be provided with such services while visiting New York City.


Taxi and Uber Drivers 

At a minimum, you should tip 15% for the most basic of services. No help with your bags, for example, a bad driver, a filthy cab, etc.

The standard tip for a good ride is 20%. You can tip any amount for outstanding service!

It is required by law for official NYC taxi rides to accept credit or debit cards, or cash.

You can leave a tip on your credit/debit card when paying with one.

All official taxis are outfitted with credit card machines. It is a small LCD screen where you can see the fare.

before dipping your card, you will be given the option to choose how much you want to tip, with three suggested amounts of 20%, 25% or 30%.

You can, however, choose your own amount by typing it into the screen. Again, no pressure to tip those amounts just because they are there on the screen to you.

Cash tips are always appreciated though.

If you take an Uber or Lyft, check their policy on tips. See our post on how to use Uber in NYC.


Food Service

Sit-down Restaurant Waitstaff: 15% for bare minimum service where the waitstaff takes your order, drops off the food and brings you the bill.

18-20% for good service. 22% and up for very good to excellent service.

10% if service was less than satisfactory.

And don't feel obligated to tip if you were treated badly and your waitstaff forgot about you for hours because they were busy scrolling on their phone looking at Tik-Tok!

Bartenders: Same as restaurants -- 15% to 20% of your total bill. If getting just one drink, leave a dollar or two.

If you buy a round, say 4 or 5 drinks at a time, do tip 20%

Fast Food Servers: You don't have to tip in fast food and takeaway restaurants, but if there is a tip jar it's nice to leave some coins.

A $1 tip on a $6 Starbucks drink will make someone's day! 


Hotel Service

Room Service: 15% of the total bill, but make sure it is not already included.

Concierge: $3-5 for providing useful information and time spent assisting you.

If the concierge helps you with a complicated matter and spends considerable time with you, consider leaving $10 and up.

You can also consider leaving one large tip at the end of your stay.   

Bellhop or Doorman: $1-$2 per bag.

Housekeeping: $5 per night, more if you are a large (or especially messy!) group. You can leave a tip each day as the cleaning staff may change daily.


Good to Know: Even if you are not staying at a hotel, but are looking for a place to stow your luggage for a short time, a small tip of $5-$10 at a hotel front desk could be the difference between a yes or no.

Fortunately, with so many luggage storage companies opening in the United States, you need not ask at a hotel! Find out more from our post on New York Luggage Storage.


Tour Guides

Most tour companies pay their guides an hourly or per-tour salary.

However, the guides for Free Tours by Foot do not receive any compensation other than tips from guests. 

This guarantees that your guide will be working hard to give you the best tour experience possible.

We do realize that travelers are on a budget. That is why our tours are offered on a pay-what-you-like basis. 

It is free to join our tours (but please make a reservation). At the end of a tour, you decide what your experience was worth.

The beauty of our pay-what-you-like system is that you can factor in your budget, the length of the tour, and the quality of the tour when deciding how much to tip, or if to tip at all. 

Guests of Free Tours by Foot tours tip, on average, a minimum of $7-10 dollars per person.

You can certainly tip more if you have a fantastic time. We think you will!


SOME TIPS ON TIPPING

Carry $1 bills

Have small bills handy for when you are ready to tip.

If you only have large bills, tipping gets complicated. It's awkward to ask for the large bill to be broken so that you can leave a few dollars.

Tipping for large groups

Many restaurants include the tip for parties of 6 or more, so check your bill before tipping so you don't tip twice.

Avoid double tipping

Be sure to read your bill at restaurants before leaving gratuities, especially in a tourist district.  

Many restaurants anticipate that tourists will leave insufficient, or even no gratuities as it is not custom to do so in every country.

They may automatically add in an 18% service charge.

Look for the words "Service Included" for example.


TIPS FROM LOCALS AND TRAVELERS

Here are some thoughts on tipping in NYC from members of our New York Travel Tips group on Facebook.

You don't need to become a member to read the posts, comments, and advice. 

So when you are done reading this post why not have a look? Perhaps even ask some questions yourself!

Members of our group generally agree with what we have shared about tipping in this post, though some have different opinions.

Commenters tended to write about several occasions that you might want to tip so take a look through all of them.

Most members agree with our thoughts on tips for hotel staff. One member included some wise advice about when to leave the tip for housekeeping.

For food-related service, there was also general agreement.

Here are two shortcuts to figure out the tip quickly at a restaurant.


NYC Travel Tips & Hacks Facebook Group

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About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: January 25th, 2024
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