Tipping, New York City

46 Reviews

Know about this?

  • tip the attendant
    tip the attendant
    by machomikemd
  • tip the bartender
    tip the bartender
    by machomikemd
  • tip the cab driver
    tip the cab driver
    by machomikemd
  • TempNomad's Profile Photo

    New Yorkers are Friendly. Really!

    by TempNomad Written Sep 27, 2002

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We're actually very nice. We don't mind getting close (the trains and buses make that necessary), but most people won't hesitate to comment on rudeness or poor hygiene. I think that in NYC, more than anywhere else, you get what you give. If you say 'excuse me,' you'll probably get a very friendly response. If you ask for directions deferentially, you'll probably get a very detailed and complete response. Unless, that is, the train is just leaving!

    Tips are generally pretty high, but it's your cash. Most servers are not paid full salaries, so the tips are actually the paycheck. Give more if the person went out of her way - less if you were treated poorly. Please tip at least 15%! (Can you tell I was a waitress for many years?)

    And we don't ALL wear black.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Brits don't do tipping..you do here.

    by vixen6 Written Sep 3, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    As a Brit, we are used to our bar staff and waitresses getting paid well and service is always included. Even at home, we do tip for good service, but in NYC, it's obligatory. My friend actually got chased after receiving rubbish service in a bar and even though she left a small tip, that wasn't good enough. If you're not sure about tipping, ask a local. I did. I got told that it was around a dollar per drink. OK I suppose but budget for it in your spends because after a week of clubbing and eating it builds up. I tipped between 15 and 20% when eating.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Jenniflower's Profile Photo


    by Jenniflower Updated Aug 26, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We are very good tippers, always giving more than the local accepted tarrif.

    New York is the first place we have ever visited where we have felt bombarded to pay a tip (as if it's assumed we would not be going to...), and we were even told on one occasion how much to give to the cent!!! Which we of course thought was a bally cheek!

    The two most irritating times were on the open top tour bus, and a local cafe across the road from our hotel. It put us off eating there again!

    In one of our bus trips (it was a hop and off type bus), there was this very loud and brash guy (OK, we are in New York haha), and he would be telling us about the history or significance of a place as we drove by, but at each and every stop he would go on about how he earns minimum wage and relies on tips, and then he goes and stands right by the front exit door, so you have to go past him to get out, talk about pressure!

    After a few times we were getting off thankfully, and he was the ONLY person, on principal, that we never gave a tip to. We did not like his aggressive behaviour, or the sarcastic comments he would trail behind those who got off and did not give him a tip.

    We pay a lot of money for the tickets themselves, and tips are not obligatory... so we really didn't appreciate his forcefulness and attitude!!!

    Then at the cafe we had a light-ish meal, and before we had finished eating we asked for the bill as per usual. I had popped to the loo, and the waitress gave my husband the bill and said at the sam time, 'and your tip is $x.xx'... down to the cents!

    My husband was taken aback.. we have travelled to many countries and never before have we been told what tip we should give!!! Plus she had added on a 20% tip, and sorry, but this was a cafe, a 15% tip would be the max we would give her. A 20% tip is for a proper restaurant. We are not fools.

    'What a cheek' I thought when hubby told me what she had said... she is lucky that I wasn't there when she said it as I would have let her know that what she was saying was out of order to customers.

    The food was good, the cafe quite sweet, but this left a bad taste in our mouth and we did not return there, which is a shame, as it was a handy little place across the road from our hotel.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Photography

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tipping is part of our economy...its important

    by Romulusisthewolf Written Jul 15, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    See, the thing is...if you refuse to tip, it might not affect you...although you will get extremely dirty looks at the very least. But tipping is really a legal requirement, cuz here, waiters only get paid about $2 per hour usually. This is way under the legal minimum wage of almost $7. If everyone were to stop tipping, resteraunts would eventually be legally required to pay thier staff a minimum wage of $7...which would drive prices way way up(and thier already sky high)
    So again, tipping is important to our economy...if you don't tip, everything gets screwed up.
    Also, its jsutr the decent thing to do. There's nothing worse than a tourist who knowingly breaks the social laws. When your here, you have to do your best to act like us.
    And for everyone who complains about being on a budget, at least you have a budget in which you can travel, waiters do not.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tipping in NYC...

    by tan1415 Written Dec 26, 2006

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Hi All,

    Tipping in NYC or the states in general is always tuff.The biggest problem is that it's pretty high and frankly hard to calculate.

    When I tip..I expect to get good service in return.In the usa that's mostly not a problem.(I found that most europeans are not so demanding compared with the american counterparts.I guess because americans pay tips, they are used to demanding more service.In europe it's not like that.Here in europe depending because the service is mostly included, level of service is expected according to establishment.For example in McD's we expect less service than in a michelin start restaurant)

    But what really bother me...people still expect to get a tip even if there service was awfull. And sometimes they can get really really rude about it.
    Some of these people really know how to make you feel uncomfortable if your tip is to low..
    And I hate that and also understand that 15% is expected..so that's what i pony up.

    But 15% is not an easy number to calculate. I follow a tip I read in a travelguide. Just double the tax of about 8% and adjust that downwards.That way you get close to the 15% tip.But if you are a foreigner/foreign looking you can get away with lower tip. But please let it be 10% and above if you want to avoid a not so nice situation.

    20% tip what is suggested here is rather expensive...why that's 1/5 of your bill. Are you telling me that the waiter serving me is 1/5 of the total costs!!That's pretty high ratio to me.

    Also in the fancy restaurants where u have a maitre D', sommelier and waiter....all of them seem to expect a tip.I think I have been screwed over....because I always end up paying more than 15% tip.

    Furthermore is there are a maximum on the amount of tip? Or is that 15% of teh total bill? I have paid $100+ tips a couple of times when i ate at some expensive restaurant. Its still 15%...but 100$ tip. Yikes.

    Related to:
    • Business Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • If you don't tip, don't go out in NYC

    by SheenaB Written Nov 28, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    As a former NYC bartender, and a native NY'r, I'm here to tell you that most bartenders get between $25 & $35 for the entire shift they work, and the rest is all tips. It's rare that they're even paid a minimum wage! A bartender can make or break your good time at the bar. Most people agree, and that's why it's one of the most competetive jobs going.

    Ok, they may seem like they're getting rich, but perhaps that is their only shift at the bar? Add that to their high cost of living & their possible $1200 rent, and they're getting by like any new yorker.

    If you got this far, perhaps you'll find your way into a good NYC bar, and not some tourist trap. A good bar has a buy back policy, meaning that every 3 drinks you buy, your 4th will be free. If you're not tipping, you're not gonna get that buy back, are you?

    Yes, $1 a drink is standard, Of course if you're treated like pure & utter ***, it's a different scenario, isn't it? take your stuff & walk.

    Now that I've left NYC for Europe, I can tell you that I wish we had the tipping policy over here!
    It breeds brilliant customer service skills.

    Related to:
    • Work Abroad
    • Beer Tasting
    • Music

    Was this review helpful?

  • Walk the walk and talk the talk

    by concierge562 Written Aug 13, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    New York city is a very interesting place, but not any different than large cities like Las Vegas:
    Always be aware of your surroundings.
    Never make eye contact with the weirdos unless you want to be harassed.
    Trust your instincts...
    Sometimes travel magazines 'hype' up certain restaurants/bars...look for people your own age and ask where they would go to have fun, they know where the happening spots are...
    Read the free papers located at the newstands on every corner. Some offer good discounts for lunch and dinner.
    Look confident and walk at a fast pace.
    If you are confused where you going, go into a hotel, store or ask a police officer for assistance.
    Bellman, Doormen, Cabbies expect tips ($$$)
    tipping 15-20% is standard
    Keep an open mind and respect people of all nationalities (You will see the beauty of people from all over the world here)
    When going to a fast food place or deli for lunch, make sure you know what you want before you stand in line...especially during the work week when all the office workers have only 1 hour to eat!
    Dress any way you want! Whatever you feel...anything and everything goes...
    When it calls for rain, don't be caught without an umbrella! You will find that everyone has an umbrella...or you can buy one at almost every street corner, from $2 to $5...
    If you like bargains, go to Chinatown...anything is sold in Chinatown!

    Was this review helpful?

  • When In Rome...

    by tuthaliash Written Apr 19, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    It seems Brits share at least one trait with many Americans...when they travel abroad, they expect that things ought to be the way they are at home. I don't particularly enjoy paying double what everything is worth in London, but I do. If you think tipping is tough in New York, try Milan - they won't even seat you at some restaurants without adding an extra charge, called a coperto, just for sitting down at a table, and then there is a 15% gratuity added to the bill, upon which you are expected to tip an additional amount.

    Like it or not, different countries and cities have different customs and ways of life. Being a visitor to New York does not exempt you from them. Wages for service personnel in the US are quite low, and these people really do depend on tipping for their livelihood - besides which, as someone else pointed out, most of them don't get health benefits as people do automatically in other countries, including Britain. If that's inconvenient or incomprehensible for you, stay home by all means. It's true that tipping is commensurate with the level of service, but even for indifferent service I have never, NEVER left less than10 percent at a restaurant; I will, however, mention the server's inattentiveness ot the management on my way out.

    Bottom line: realise that things are different in various places, accept it, be polite, and know that what you put out into the world comes back to you multiplied.

    Was this review helpful?

  • tomhoward's Profile Photo

    Tipping The NYC Way 1

    by tomhoward Written Jul 21, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Tipping on this scale is surely the biggest scam ever to befall a nation. The number of people employed in the service industry here is crazy, to the extent that in some high end restaurants you could well have been served (from the maitre d’, table walker, coat checker, waiter, water pourer, toilet attendant etc) by 8 different people by the time you leave.

    Unfortunately the only people really benefiting from this arrangement are the many hoteliers and restaurateurs in America. By putting the onus on you, the customer, to pay the bulk of the wages of these people, they gain two fold.

    Firstly, their businesses become extremely efficient and slick, packed with eager to please employees.

    Secondly this comes at minimum cost to themselves, and in some cases such as the toilet attendants and taxi whistlers in Vegas, I suspect it’s even free.

    Even more genius is the way its now been ingrained into the American way of life, and you will struggle to find anyone who finds it odd to have to pay $1 (60p) every time they have a p*ss.

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Business Travel
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • what the #$%?

    by naveen82 Updated Jun 30, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    i don't understand why none of the posts here are actually from the traveller's point of view. new yorker waiters, waitresses and bartenders expect tips because the cost of living in nyc is high? perhaps they fail to realize that a lot of tourists come here on a budget and don't care to pay 20% in tips for everything... sure, if the service was exemplary, there would be no doubt about it, but if you're a budget traveller and you're receiving poor to moderate service, i see no reason for tipping anything higher than a couple of dollars if you can afford it...

    poor waiters and waitresses can and must expect a poor tip from a poor customer; that's a social convention much more concrete than the insane 20% tipping policy new york restauranteurs live by. they need to stop living on good faith in people's generosity and demand money from the people they work for, like the rest of the planet...

    after all, are'nt the only other 'industries' that depend on people's generosity charity/beggars?

    i can't WAIT to get chased down, so i can educate these un-selfconscious leeches...

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Beth75NJ's Profile Photo

    Don't forget to tip

    by Beth75NJ Written Dec 23, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In America in general, not just nyc, it's customary to tip service people. Often, waitstaff work for an hourly wage of about $2 so tips make up most of their salary. 15% is the usual and 20% for exceptional service with a haircut or restaraunt. I worked my way through college bartending adn waitressing so I always tip at least 20% but that's a little over the top. (okay a lot over the top)

    Tipping a cab driver $1 or $2 depending on the fare is acceptable.

    and I believe the tipping for a doorman is $1 to hail a cab and $1 a bag if he helps with your luggage.

    Was this review helpful?

  • elPierro's Profile Photo


    by elPierro Written Nov 21, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Tipping is mandatory, get used to it. Many people here discuss whether or not it is fair that so much personell is being tipped, but since it's customary to do so, you'd better do it to.

    So where do you tip?
    Taxidrivers, chauffeurs, restaurants, bars, hotels. It's not necessary to tip in shops, deli's or fastfoodstores.

    How much do you tip?
    Simply add about 15% to the bill and round it up to complete dollars. If you are buying something cheap like a beer for $5,- just add 1 dollar it. Don't just tip with cash money, when paying with your creditcard you can fill in how much you want to add to the bill.
    Looking at it from the bright side, in bars they do give you a round after you had some beers. Basically that pays back your tips.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Maggies's Profile Photo

    Savoir vivre in the restaurant

    by Maggies Written Sep 12, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    New York’s city sales tax of 8.25% will be added to your bill. Service in not usually included. Tipping can run from 10% at the coffee shop to 25% at the fanciest places, with 15% an average fair tip.
    Smoking in now illegal in restaurants with 35 seats or more. Still, many places provide separate room for smokers.

    Was this review helpful?

  • jobekenobi's Profile Photo

    Don't feel obliged

    by jobekenobi Written Apr 12, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Tipping is a much bigger deal in NYC than in the UK - you are expected to leave about 20% at restaurants, a dollar a drink at bars and doormen, taxi drivers and porters all need a couple of dollars.
    However, at restaurants don't feel obliged if service isn't included: We went to a cafe for lunch and it wasn't very nice and was overpriced - we didn't have much change so left 10% and the waitress called us cheap and was quite rude. Service wasn't included so I think it was really out of order for her to say anything to us as tipping should be at your discretion. It spoilt the aftrenoon as we were all stewing about it. So - if you do't think its worth it, then don't feel bad about leaving a tip of your choosing!

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tipping 101, from a service worker.

    by fiction1117 Written Sep 4, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Here is a tip for everyone, be pleasant to your servers. In most instances, they are working hard to improve their lives. There is nothing worse than a table that just acts plain rude, and treats a server like they are from a lower class. I have regular customers who, while they might not tip so great, I enjoy serving them, because they are warm, and they can bring a smile to my face. (Unfortunately I can't pay my rent with a smile...)

    I am a bartender/waitress in a NYC restaurant. Let me tell you a little about the service industry. The government sets the minimum wage for servers much lower than the minimum wage for other jobs. Our hourly wage is usually less than $4/hour. Out of that money, almost all of it goes to taxes, so our checks for those wages are usually for less than $5, per week. We do not get health/dental insurance, sick days, vacation time, etc. Out of our tips, we tip out other people in the restaurant: runners, bussers, barbacks, bartenders, sommeliers, expeditors, etc. When I am serving, at least 30% of my tips go to other people in the restaurant, more if I have made an unusual amount money, or if someone on the support staff really helped me out a lot.

    Many restaurant workers are actors, singers, and students. Our days are filled with auditions and classwork, so many of us are only able to work part time. I, personally, am a full time student, juggling about 16 credits with a full-time job.

    Although we don't always get paid so well, restaurant workers that I know are all very giving and generous with their time and money. I don't know any worker who would tip less than 20% even for just OK service. This amount is not expected from normal folks, but 18% considered a descent tip. And believe me, if you tip 10% and/or act like a jerk to your server, they will remember you, and the next time you come in, you probably won't get top-notch service, because our time is better spent trying to help the customers who appreciate our hard work.

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: New York City

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

29 travelers online now


View all New York City hotels