I'm traveling from Peru to New Zealand and I have some leftover Soles. I'm curious if I were in a coffee shop or a restaurant: how would my server react to a tip that includes a foreign currency?

To be clear, I would still leave a proper tip in the local currency (NZD in this case), but I might add a few Peruvian coins/bills "for fun".

Would this sort of thing be appreciated, should I not bother, or maybe does it depend on the situation (e.g., tip jars at a coffee shop work differently than tipping your server at a restaurant)?

  • 3
    If your goal is simply to give small amounts of leftover foreign currency to people who might appreciate them, that's something that might be of interest to children you meet or any young relatives back home. They might think it's cool or they might think it's stupid, but at least you won't risk annoying waitstaff and they might enjoy it. (Needless to say, hanging out at a playground offering foreign money to random kids is uniquely to go over well in some parts of the world, and asking parents before offering gifts to kids is recommended.) Jun 2 '17 at 23:05

In New Zealand tipping (wait-staff or anyone in fact) is not normal nor expected.

Many places like coffee shops have tip-jars if you want to give something extra, but it's not expected. If anything, often all that goes into a tip-jar is coins from change - occasionally someone will put more in.

No one would be offended if you put foreign coins into a tip-jar, however I think the charity collection bins they have in many shops, banks, or museums would be a better place for them (these often say you are welcome to put foreign coins in).


Tipping on foreign currency is okay if:

  • It's a global currency (dollars, pounds, euros) or a locally known currency (e.g. Australian dollars in New Zealand)
  • You have notes rather than coins, since most exchange places only accept bills
  • You're in a touristy place

Otherwise it would only annoy the server as they'd have to go out of their way to exchange your money, or just throw it out as a useless piece of paper. So to answer your question - no, do not tip in Soles while in New Zealand.

  • 2
    I would say that tipping in foreign currency is often unacceptable even if it's a global currency. Most US waitstaff would not be amused by a tip in euros or pounds, especially outside of some border communities, even in touristy places, and this is often the case in many other parts of the world. Jun 2 '17 at 22:41
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    @ZachLipton here in Prague it's perfectly fine to use dollars as a tip. Perhaps things are different where the tips are nearly mandatory.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 2 '17 at 22:54
  • 2
    Tipping itself is rare in New Zealand, and tipping a foreign currency in New Zealand would be taken by many or most as an offensive prank. What in all heck is a New Zealander supposed to do with a £5 or €5 or US$1 note, start fires with it? AU$ are unknown for many in NZ, perhaps answering a question with specific details that you cannot vouch for, is a bad decision.
    – Nij
    Oct 31 '17 at 18:53

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