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35 percent of Americans say tipping out of control

Barista: ‘You almost get emotionally attached to the tips’

By Katie Kelton, Bankrate.com
Published: June 15, 2024, 6:03am

Nora, a barista in Colorado Springs, Colo., began earning more money when the coffee shop where she works switched from a no-tip to a tip model. But it came with some emotional baggage.

“You almost get emotionally attached to the tips,” she said. “You’re so dependent on it, it creates a level of anxiety.”

Even if the transaction was friendly, Nora said, it’s off-putting when the customer doesn’t tip. In conversation with Nora, who requested not to share her last name, it was clear that tipping is about more than just dollars and cents.

Baristas aren’t the only people with mixed feelings about tipping. According to a new Bankrate survey on tipping culture, 59 percent of Americans view tipping negatively, down from 66 percent in 2023. This includes people who feel businesses should pay employees better, are annoyed about pre-entered tip screens or would be willing to pay higher prices to be done with tipping.

With Americans staring down credit card debt and picking up habits like doom spending and soft saving, it may not come as a surprise that they’re reluctant to add extra dollars to the tab. In fact, 59 percent of Americans view at least one aspect of tipping negatively:

  • 37 percent believe businesses should pay their employees better, rather than relying so much on tips.
  • 35 percent believe that tipping culture has gotten out of control.
  • 34 percent are annoyed about the pre-entered tip screens they encounter at coffee shops, food trucks and elsewhere.
  • 14 percent would be willing to pay higher prices in order to do away with tipping.
  • 11 percent are confused about who and how much to tip.

As people get older, their opinions about tipping seem to become more negative. Seventy-two percent of boomers (ages 60-78) and 62 percent of Gen Xers (ages 44-59) have at least one negative view toward tipping, compared to 51 percent of millennials (ages 28-43) and 45 percent of Gen Zers (ages 18-27).

But feelings about tipping aren’t all negative:

  • 14 percent agree they tend to tip more when presented with a pre-entered tip screen (e.g., at coffee shops, food trucks, in mobile apps, etc.).
  • 29 percent feel good when they leave a big tip.
  • 37 percent say they typically tip at least 20 percent at sit-down restaurants.

Age seems to be a factor

When compared to last year’s tipping survey, one opinion stands out: Tipping culture has gotten increasingly out of control. Thirty-five percent of Americans surveyed in 2024 agreed, compared to 30 percent in 2023.

Notably, only 23 percent of Gen Zers and 27 percent of millennials think tipping culture has gotten out of control, as opposed to 40 percent of Gen Xers and 46 percent of boomers. Could younger folks be more used to modern tipping culture, while older generations remember it differently?

Jilian Locricchio — a millennial, tipping customer and former server — notes that the minimum tip suggestion for counter service seems to be 20 percent and can run as high as 30 percent. She shared that when she worked at a counter — as opposed to serving tables — she expected tips of only 10 percent.

Quality of service

Sixty-four percent of people say the amount they tip is most influenced by the quality of service. But 10 percent say they always tip the same amount regardless. Boomers (76 percent) and Gen Xers (67 percent) are much more likely than millennials (55 percent) and Gen Zers (50 percent) to say their tip depends on the quality of the service.

Locricchio said she’s never not tipped due to bad service. If the service is poor, she might lower her tip to 15 percent.

Pre-entered tip screens

Pre-entered tip screens are pushing people’s buttons.

Thirty-four percent of Americans are annoyed about the pre-entered tip screens you might see at coffee shops, food trucks and in mobile apps. Further, 25 percent tend to tip less or not at all when presented with a pre-entered tip screen. But 14 percent tend to tip more.

Increased spending

A Bankrate survey on going into debt for fun showed that Americans are spending more on travel, dining out and live entertainment this year — and they’re tipping for it.

Among U.S. adults who use each of the following services, here’s a breakdown of how many people always tip:

  • Servers at a sit-down restaurant: 67 percent (up from 65 percent last year)
  • Hair stylists/barbers: 55 percent (up from 53 percent last year)
  • Food-delivery people: 51 percent (up from 50 percent last year)
  • Taxi/rideshare drivers: 41 percent (up from 40 percent last year)

Sit-down restaurants

Only 35 percent of Gen Zers who go to sit-down restaurants always tip, compared with 56 percent of millennials, 78 percent of Gen Xers and 86 percent of baby boomers.

Additionally, 71 percent of women and 63 percent of men who go to sit-down restaurants always tip.

“When I’m in a restaurant and I’m getting table service, I’m always tipping 20 percent and above. It was my lifeline for so many years,” Locricchio said. “… The restaurant industry is kind of broken, the way they pay people.”

Not all services benefit from tips

On the other hand, not all services are benefiting from Americans’ tips this year.

Among U.S. adults who use each of the following services, here’s a breakdown of how many people always tip:

  • Hotel housekeepers: 22 percent (down from 23 percent last year)
  • Coffee shop baristas: 20 percent (down from 22 percent last year)
  • Furniture/appliance delivery workers: 15 percent (down from 17 percent last year)
  • When picking up takeout food: 11 percent (down from 13 percent last year)
  • Home services/repair people: 10 percent (same as last year)
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