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As an example I've recently been to Paris and the level of credit card adoption there is so high I didn't once need to take out cash. I likewise assume many of the locals avoid cash altogether and only pay by card.

But what's the etiquette in places where tips are common, like bars and restaurants? Are you supposed to keep cash just for the tips? Or is it up to the waiter/barman to offer you a tip option on the card terminal? I've tried asking the wait staff if I can leave a tip by card but they either misunderstood me or their POS terminal didn't have such a feature.

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    In France a service charge should be included I believe, so you wouldn't normally be expected to tip anyway. – Muzer May 23 '17 at 9:27
  • @Muzer I've seen plenty of tip jars though. And sometimes I do want to tip someone for good service. It's just that I don't want to take out cash just for the sake of tipping. – JonathanReez May 23 '17 at 9:36
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    I have typically seen in Europe that the credit card slip does not offer a tip line like in the US; they are not set up to handle it that way. What I do in such cases is to tell the server before he runs my card to 'make it x'. – Aganju May 23 '17 at 10:49
  • My understanding is that if there's a tip jar, the position is well paid enough and the jar is just an extra that will get pooled but nobody really expects to get. Similarly, I like to think that if there is no line for a tip or I am not explicitly given the ability to add a tip (such as when paying on a tablet) then the position is one that does not require a tip. I was at an open bar where the bartender had a jar that sat empty all night and I made the friendly comment that he should talk with his employer about setting up a credit card system - he said all the bartenders are pushing for one – Brian R May 23 '17 at 15:23
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The fact that transactions are cashless does not change habits on tipping.

In Canada for example over the last several years when we moved to chip credit-cards, the machines prompt for an optional tip. Many even give the option of calculating it for you by entering a percentage. With swipe cards which are still common in the US, the bill includes an extra line where you can set a tip and sum it. You then sign and they complete it as a single transaction which includes the tip.

In some places, you are right though that you may need to carry cash in small denominations for tips. Although this seems to be uncommon in places where tips are a larger portion of income. In countries where I had to transact by credit cards and then add a cash tip, it is usually a small amount, more like rounding the total than adding 10-15%.

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The U.S. is unusual in that tipping is essentially required, forming part of staff's assumed compensation. In the U.S., adding a tip to the credit card slip is standard practice. Outside the U.S. it's common that tips should be given in cash directly to the person being tipped, as anything added to a credit card charge slip might never get to the staff, and anything left on a table might go to someone else. If there's a tip jar, then dropping cash into it is the right way to tip.

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