Here's How Much You Should Tip At Restaurants In 2023 & A Pro Says It's Not 18%

It's getting expensive out there!

A server handing a diner the bill after dinner. Right: A payment terminal.
Global Staff Writer

A server handing a diner the bill after dinner. Right: A payment terminal.

Tipping culture gets North Americans worked up at the best of times, but with restaurants setting the new minimum amount at 18%, it's hard to know what the "right" number is for a meal.

You might ask yourself: Can I still tip 15%? Or do I have to do 18% no matter what?

Narcity spoke to an etiquette expert who knows this stuff best, and we're happy to report that you're not a bad person if you go below the 18% mark.

Lydia Ramsey, who offers seminars, keynote presentations and coaching services about etiquette, says tipping should fall into a range, not a mandatory 18% across the board.

"You should be allowed to tip according to how much you want to tip and how much you can," said Ramsey.

According to Ramsey, the minimum amount to tip is 15%, and 20% when you feel generous or receive exceptional service.

"If you're feeling extremely generous, you can bump it up some, but I don't think people need to feel like they're being stingy if they stick to the 15% rule, especially if you're going out a lot or if you're on the road [...] and have to really watch those expenses," Ramsey said.

She acknowledges that the minimum tipping amount going up makes sense because of the recent rise in the cost of living. But that same rule also applies to the customer, so expecting an extra 3% of income through a tip from customers is also not fair.

"There has to be some sort of ceiling or some sort of limit," Ramsey said.

She also suggests using the custom tip amount option so that you can give exactly what you think your server deserves.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with going with the 'custom tip' or 'other' option so that you can give what works for you."

But Ramsey did acknowledge that the process of paying and leaving a tip can also be a little overbearing and awkward, especially when the server is watching you pay the bill.

She added that it's "very intrusive" when "they're standing there watching you."

"It's awkward, and I really, I really don't like that, and I think it is causing some hard feelings," Ramsey said. However, she says it still shouldn't stop you from punching in the custom amount you want to pay.

What's a big tipping etiquette no-no, though? Not leaving a tip at all.

According to Ramsey, it should be standard practice to drop off a tip for your server in North America.

"Servers have a hard job, and we know that many of them just operate off of their tips," she said. That means you risk looking awful by not leaving them a tip.

Ramsey says you should only ever risk a no-tip move if you have a very good reason, such as receiving awful service.

So there you have it: the next time you feel bad about only tipping 15%, don't! Smash that "other amount" button and do what you think is right.

How much do you typically tip?

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Sameen Chaudhry
Global Staff Writer
Sameen Chaudhry was a Staff Writer for Narcity’s Global Desk focused on TikTok drama and based in Toronto, Ontario.