Welcome to the Big Apple, a city that never sleeps, with its dazzling lights, iconic landmarks, and unique blend of cultures. One thing that might perplex you as a traveler is the tipping culture. It’s almost like a social contract, an unspoken rule in the service industry. Let’s dig into this a bit more, shall we?

The Culture of Tipping in the USA

Tipping is deeply ingrained in the American service industry, and New York is no exception. It’s not merely an act of generosity but an expected part of the service exchange. Now, you might be asking yourself, “Who do I tip?” and “How much should I tip?”

Who to Tip in New York City?

Let’s break this down by sectors to make it easier.

Restaurants and Cafes

Waitstaff and bartenders are at the top of the list. Not to forget your barista who prepares your much-needed morning caffeine fix.

Bars and Nightlife

From your bartender to the live band playing your favorite tunes, tips are always appreciated.


Bellhops, doormen, housekeeping, and concierge all deserve a tip for making your stay comfortable and memorable.

Taxis and Rideshares

Your driver who skillfully navigates through New York’s notorious traffic deserves a tip too.

How Much Should You Tip in New York City?

Great! Now we know who to tip. But how much?

Tipping at Restaurants and Cafes

A general rule of thumb is to tip 15-20% of your pre-tax bill. If service was exceptional, feel free to tip more.

Tipping at Bars and Nightlife

A dollar per drink or 15-20% of the total bill is standard. Enjoyed the live music? Consider tipping the band.

Tipping at Hotels

A dollar or two for bellhops and doormen, $2-5 per day for housekeeping, and $5-10 for concierge services.

Tipping for Taxis and Rideshares

Typically, 10-20% of your fare or a minimum of $1 for short trips.

Exceptions to the Rule

Keep in mind, some places may include a service charge in the bill, especially for larger parties. In these cases, additional tipping is optional.

Tips for Foreign Travelers

Credit cards are widely used in the USA. Most terminals will ask for a tip, making it easy to add one. However, cash is often preferred by service workers.


Tipping in New York City can seem daunting at first, but with these guidelines, you’ll soon become a pro. Remember, it’s not only about the amount, but the gesture of appreciation that counts. Happy tipping!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I have to tip even if the service was poor? While tipping is customary, it’s a personal choice and should reflect the quality of service.
  2. Should I tip at fast-food chains? Tipping isn’t expected at fast-food restaurants.
  3. Is tipping mandatory in New York? It’s not legally required but is customary and expected in most service settings.
  4. How much do I tip a tour guide? A tip of $5-10 per person for group tours, and more for private tours is appropriate.
  5. Should I tip street performers? If you enjoy their performance, it’s kind to leave a tip, generally $1-5.