While there are no laws governing tipping, because many employers are permitted to pay below the minimum wage, tipping is a part of the USA service economy and their taxation system. So, all visitors should understand that it is part of the local culture. Before tipping in restaurants and bars, check that the tip has not already been included as a ‘gratuity’ or ‘service charge’ at the bottom of your bill/check. Anything over 18% can (and should) be challenged. Tips should be by cash and not included on your credit card. 15% is acceptable and based on the before tax amount. If you buy a drink at the bar leave a tip on the bar of about $1 – $2 .
A rule of thumb:
- cloakroom attendants = $1 per coat,
- taxis/cabs = round-up to the next dollar to approximate equivalent of 15%,
- any hotel porter/concierge assistance with bags or hailing a cab, etc. = $1 per bag/hail.
A visit to some hairdressers can become a little more complex. There you may be expected to tip each service, e.g. the shampoo person, the colourist, and each other service, as well as the hairdresser at 15%. Use your discretion and your budget to determine who deserves what.