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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.

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