Tipping customs in the United States can be surprising for people who travel there for the first time. It happened to me when I used a shuttle van service out of LAX a few years ago. To sum up the bias: I am French; a country where service charges are included and optional tips to waiters in restaurants are only a few euros.
Although I paid by credit card, the driver gave me a pen and a form on which I could write the tip amount. At that moment, I was really missing simple rules that could help me define how much a suitable tip could be.
Afterwards, I heard about different calculation tricks. Some people say it's 20%, others 18%; some suggest to double the sales tax.
- Is the rule the same for all occasions to tip, or are there different amounts depending for a table service restaurant, the tip jar of a fast-food restaurant, a bar waiter, a taxi driver?
- When someone gives outstanding service although not used to get tips, how much is appropriate? For instance, we had an airport car rental shuttle bus driver calling a competitor rental company for us to see if they had cars available, since the rental company of that bus was sold out.
- Restaurants often add a gratuity for large parties. Are patrons expected to tip beyond this amount and how much?