What is the tipping process in restaurants in the US?

  • I'm supposed to write down something on the bill I get?
    Do I hand the waiter my credit card after doing so?

    Since I need a receipt, do I wait for the waiter to bring things back?
    What's the process, from asking for the check till I can walk out with a receipt?

    Useful advice, tip aggressively. The people serving you literally get paid less than a minimum wage with the assumption that tips will supplement their income. The guideline is usually 20% of the price of your food (unthinkable in the UK, but less is morally dubious in the US).

    Note that waitstaff are not always paid less than minimum wage. This depends on the state. We had a question on this last year. One is expected to tip, and tip well, regardless of course.

    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

    I agree with @AJFaraday that tipping aggressively is great for staff who have performed excellently, or at any restaurant you intend to visit somewhat regularly -- in many cases (especially in smaller/family restaurants) the waitstaff will start to remember you, and they will often pay extra attention to you. Even if just visiting once, tipping 15+% is a good idea unless the service/food was horrible (I make a point of leaving a 10% tip when the staff are particularly rude or inattentive -- not counting very busy times, I know they can only wait one table at a time). My usual is 18-20%.

    More "standard percentage" inflation. It was 10% a couple of decades ago. Now it's 15%, and people keep trying to drag the baseline to 18% or 20%.

    @chrylis Hmm... I lived in the USA a couple of decades ago (and also 3 decades ago) and I don't ever remember the norm being less than 15%.

    I don't really get why the tip is a percentage ... does the server deserve more tip when the food is extra expensive?

  • cpast

    cpast Correct answer

    4 years ago

    Normally, the sequence is this:

    1. Get the bill from the server. Check it for any issues.
    2. Give the server your credit card.
    3. The server goes off and swipes your card, coming back with your card and the receipt.
    4. There are two copies of the receipt, one for you and one for the restaurant. Write the tip on the restaurant copy and sign it; take your copy and your card.
    5. Leave the restaurant copy of the receipt on the table as you walk out of the restaurant.

    How does it work when you have a chip+pin credit card? There will be no slip to sign and once you entered your pin code, the payment will be completed. Should I tell the server to take e.g "50$" for a 40$ restuarant bill?

    @JuniorDev: That's what I do. Get the bill, calculate the amount including tip, round up or down to a decent number, and ask them to charge that (they never refuse ;) ). That's in The Netherlands though, but I figure it's the only way, unless you pay in cash.

    **1.Get the bill from the server.** *And add the tip amount to it?* That step seems missing for a casual reader

    Vast majority of restaurants and diners I eat in do not have chip and pin facilities. Even though my debit card is chip-enabled, and in supermarkets I am required to enter a pin when I pay in restaurants I use swipe-and-sign, adding a tip at the point of signing.

    Actually, there is another step missing here. When the waiter hands you the receipt, you should look it over and make sure everything looks correct. THAT is the point at which you should ask the waiter about any questions or issues with the bill. Also - a lot of U.S. restaurants automatically apply a gratuity to the bill for large groups, and some do that for every bill even if it's just you. As for newer chip cards, I've only been to one place so far (Olive Garden) that had a reader at the table for those. Everywhere else uses the process listed here.

    @JuniorDev Most US restaurants will take the card away from you and run it as a signature transaction, without a pin. It's pretty rare that someone comes along with a portable terminal and does it in front of you (like you normally see in Europe). And most US credit cards that have chip are chip+signature, not chip+pin, so everything is setup to work that way.

    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM