June 15, 2022

How much should you tip?

By Brenda Spiering and Marie-Claude Marsolais

How much should you tip? Who should you tip and when? Here’s some advice about tips.

Ah, tipping! Are you unsure who to tip and how much you should give? You’re not alone! Etiquette consultant Lisa Wright says that confusion over tipping is very common. “People do get anxious about it,” she says. “We’d love to tip everyone, but if we did, we’d be broke.”

Canada has an established tipping culture. What’s more, Canadians have been tipping more generously during the pandemic. That being said, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to tipping. That’s where understanding the nuances comes in handy.

Lisa Wright recommends you consider both the level of service you received and the particular situation. You also need to consider local cultural norms. And customs differ from one country to another. If you’re travelling, make sure you do some research first. 

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Who do you tip and how much?

Tips should be calculated on the total before tax. If you’re paying by credit or debit card, choose the “dollar amount” option instead of the percentage. Otherwise, your tip will be calculated on the total including tax.

Here are some examples of acceptable tipping in Canada:

  • Restaurant servers: 15% before tax (or up to 20% on business-related meals).
  • Takeout: No tip required.
  • Hair salon: 10% to 15% (if your hairstylist is the owner of the salon, you do not have to tip, but if you get excellent service, a tip is still a good way to show you’re pleased).
  • Massage, salon and spa services: 5% to 10%
  • Hotel: You should leave a tip of $1 or $2 per day for housekeeping staff.
  • Taxi driver: 10% to 15%. If they help with your bags, add $1 per bag.
  • Delivery driver: For groceries, flowers or furniture, no tip. For restaurant meals: 10% of the total order.
  • Tour guide: 10% to 20% of the tour price.

Should you leave a tip if the food was bad?

Remember, the tip reflects the service you received. If the food was bad, it’s not the server who should pay the price. However, you should let the restaurant know that you were not happy with the food.

Should you leave a tip if the service was poor? 

Was the service poor? You should still leave something, even if it’s just a little.  

Want to save more for dining out?

An advisor can help you build a savings plan that works for you.

This article is meant to provide general information only. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada does not provide legal, accounting, taxation or other professional advice. Please seek advice from a qualified professional, including a thorough examination of your specific legal, accounting and tax situation.

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