Has tipping gotten out of hand?

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a bite to eat at my neighborhood watering hole. I handed over my card as usual. But when I looked at the tip options, I noticed that the default tipping options were 30%, 35% and 40%. I’ve always tipped at least 20%. I often add a few dollars to that when I get great service. But I couldn’t help wondering: Are other people really tipping 40%???

I’ve seen so many stories lately about just how confused everyone is about tipping. Recently I got a letter from someone who was wondering if she was supposed to tip the handyman. https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/budgeting/should-you-tip-handyman/ (Since I rent, my landlord handles any handyman expenses. I had never thought of tipping the handyman, but when I polled several homeowner friends, they all said they wouldn’t tip in this situation.)

So I’m wondering: Does anyone have a solid rule of thumb for when you should or shouldn’t tip? I’d never dream of not tipping my server or bartender or hairdresser, of course. But there are so many gray areas. A lot of the guidance boils down to whether someone makes a living wage, but that’s often information we’re not privy to. For example, my sister is a flight attendant. Occasionally, a passenger will try to hand her a tip, which she can’t accept per her airline’s rules. But I get why a passenger would be confused by that!
I feel like most people I’ve discussed this with genuinely want to do the right thing. They want to tip when it’s appropriate, but they also don’t want to give out money willy-nilly.

Also, in the past couple of years, have you started tipping more generously? I’ve been more inclined to add a few dollars to my tips when I go out since service workers were hit hard by the pandemic. But if 35-40% were really the new normal, I don’t think I could afford to dine out.


Yes, tipping has gotten out of hand, I do not tip for carry outs because they are preparing the food and that is it, they are doing their job, If they were serving me at a sit-down place, that is different, I am being served and are glad to pay for the service.


We pretty much tip 20% because we can. Only for good service


I generally tip 20%, but will sometimes go beyond that for regularly scheduled services- hair/nails, or for fantastic service, OR if it ends up costing less than I had budgeted.

I always over-tip breakfast servers because: 1- I am not a morning person and cannot imagine dealing with people that early, and 2- breakfast is usually a less expensive meal and I tend to linger over it.

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It seemed like 15-20% was the norm a few years ago. Now, especially after 2020, my new norm is 20-25%. But 40!? To me, that shows that the workers are nowhere near earning a living wage. For the business to expect the customers to supplement their employees earnings shows that something is way out of balance.

There are a few restaurants in my cities where a “living wage” fee (about 18%) is applied to every order – dine in, carry out, etc. That’s a good solution in my opinion!

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I tip 20% when prompted but it really has gotten out of hand. I’m not sure why I tip for carry out but I do - maybe I need to rethink that. Back when I lived on the east coast, I remember wait staff getting a much lower minimum wage (like $2.50 per hour) because it’s expected for them to receive tips. In that case, I’d advocate those people are truly deserving of making a livable wage. A handyman charging me $35 an hour? Not so much. Their rates are set to be competitive in the marketplace and I would imagine tips would come as a surprise rather then being implied. But in the service industry, I do consistently tip but even if the service isn’t that great - perhaps I feel bad for the wait staff even if the cook isn’t great and it stems from my memories of the low paid wages from yesteryear.

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Thank you for posting this! Yes, tipping has gotten out of hand. I understand that with large parties, 20% will automatically be included. I also understand that during the pandemic and inflation, we help each other out.

There are several aspects of tipping that are bothersome:

  1. When paying on a touch pad device, options are to choose 18%, 20%, 22%, 25%, 30%, etc.

  2. Tip shown is calculated AFTER city tax, county tax, state tax, food and beverage taxes, etc.

  3. When ordering food/grocery delivery, there is a delivery fee, service fee and a tip for the driver.

  4. When buying products with services, tip options shown are again AFTER total of services and products.

I’m more than happy to tip reasonably, but please make it less demanding. I’ll calculate and enter/write the tip on my own. As consumers, we have to budget as well. Fees and tips should not double nor triple the entire purchase.


If I could like this more than once, I would!


I usually ignore the “suggested “ percentage and do my own calculations on any tip. I also expect ( at least in my state NY) that all employers are paying the state minimum wage which is higher than the federal minimum wage. Okay for my state that’s not enough to earn a fair wage, but most minimum jobs are not career skill jobs unless you are planning to work up the line into a higher position with higher pay. I also know that many people who have these minimum wage jobs are eligible for help benefits that I don’t qualify for because my fixed income level is considered high enough to pay full price for any purchases. I tip for service received and I plan that cost into the purchase of what I brought. In my case, it would mostly be a prepared food or drink item which is not an everyday purchase to begin with. For example, if I buy a slice of pizza or a sandwich, I give enough money to leave a tip —a $3.50 slice, I pay $5 and leave the change. I only started giving delivery drivers who delivered any food to my doorstep when I found out that the delivery charge was not including the tip for the delivery driver but a charge by delivery service company. But I don’t use the guideline tip suggestion.


As someone who spent nearly 20 years in the service industry, tipping has definitely gotten out of hand! I regularly tip a minimum of 20% and upwards of 30-35% if someone does an exceptional job, but that should be at my discretion, not prompting from a credit card processing machine.

Everywhere you go these days they are asking for a tip. The local Water and Ice store where I fill up my own water bottles, asks for a tip. I have expect to see gas pumps as for tips when I am done pumping my own gas! I just published a blog post on saving money at the gas pump. Reach out to me if you’re interested in learning more.

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