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Tipping in America

Tipping statistics: Who are America's best and worst tippers?

While tipping is a reality of everyday life in the US, less than half (47%) of Americans say they always tip, according to the latest research from Finder. A touch over a quarter (28%) said they leave a tip most of the time, with about one in five (17%) saying they sometimes leave a tip. While only 2% say they never leave a tip, that equates to roughly 6 million Americans stiffing their server.

For the majority of us, the quality of the service (54%) has the most impact on how much we’re tipping, followed by the total of the check (22%) and our budget (12%).

If you’re looking for a “good tip,” you probably want to be working in a restaurant rather than a takeout location, with 41% saying they leave a tip of between 15% and 20% in a full-service restaurant versus 14% who say the same in a fast-casual location.

The pandemic brought a raft of changes to everyday American life, with the tablet checkout kiosk becoming a mainstay at takeout and cafe counters. While the majority (56%) say they don’t feel obliged to tip when that screen is spun around, close to a third (30%) say they feel pressured to tip.

And with merchants programming these devices with preset tip amounts, oftentimes starting at 18% but going as high as 30%(1), these kiosks have sparked backlash for creating “tipflation” or “tip creep.”(2) Of those who feel obligated to tip when presented with these screens, roughly fifths (39%) say they use the suggested tip amounts at checkout.

Restaurant workers and servers are occupation to most likely get tipped. Less than one in five (19%) say that they tip fast food employees.

Women are more generous and frequent tippers than men

Over half (55%) of the women surveyed said they always tip, compared to just 39% of men.

Not only are women more likely to tip, but they’re also more likely to leave a bigger gratuity than men when dining at a restaurant, with 44% of women tipping 16% to 20% of the bill and 15% dropping a tip of 21% to 25%. This is compared to 37% of men who leave tips of 16% to 20% and 14% who leave 21% to 25%.

However, not only are men (34%) more likely than women (25%) to say they feel obliged to leave a tip when greeted by a kiosk screen, men (46%) are also more likely to stick with the suggested tip amounts than women (32%).

Boomers most likely to always tip

Always leaving a tip seems to be on the way out, as younger generations are far less likely to say they always leave a tip. Roughly three-fifths (60%) of boomers say they leave a tip every time, compared to just 32% of gen Z.

The quality of the service is the number one factor for all generations. Interestingly, the check total is the most important factor in tipping for 40% of boomers, while almost a quarter (23%) of gen Z say their budget is the deciding factor.

About 57% of boomers and 45% of gen X say they leave 16% to 20% when dining in a restaurant, while 17% of millennials leave 21% to 25%.

Younger generations are more likely to feel social pressure to tip when presented with a tablet, with 40% of gen Z and 43% of millennials saying they feel obligated to tip.

Those younger generations are also most likely to stick with the tip prompts they’re greeted with, with 43% of gen Z and half (50%) of millennials using the suggested tip options.

The West is least likely to tip

Just 38% of those in the West say they always tip, compared to over half (53%) of those living in the Midwest.

44% of those living in the Northeast say they leave a tip of 16% to 20% when dining in a restaurant. Whereas 16% of those in the West say they drop the same when getting takeout.

People living in the West (35%) are most likely to say they feel obliged to tip at a kiosk.

How to tip with a credit card

Need a selfish reason to start tipping? Tipping with your credit card often counts toward your earned rewards. That means if you have a dining card that earns 5x points, a $20 tip will earn you an extra 100 points on top of the points from the meal.


Written by

Richard Laycock

Richard Laycock is Finder’s NYC-based senior content marketing manager & insights editor, spending the last decade data diving, writing and editing articles about all things personal finance. His musings can be found across the web including on NASDAQ, MoneyMag, Yahoo Finance and Travel Weekly. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University, including a semester abroad at The Missouri School of Journalism (MIZZOU). See full profile

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