What happens if you don’t tip in America? (Answered)

By John Goldsmith •  Updated: 12/20/21 •  6 min read

The practice of tipping in America is a custom that many people don’t really understand.

In fact, it’s not required legally and you’re free to tip whatever amount you want, but the average person still leaves 15-25%.

It can be confusing for some because there are so many different customs when it comes to tipping.

In this article, we’ll talk about why Americans tend to tip more than other cultures do, what happens if you don’t leave a gratuity at all, and what tips are considered offensive.

We hope this article will give readers an idea of the history and reasoning behind tipping in American culture.

what happens if you dont tip in america?

What is a tip and why do we give them?

A tip is given when someone provides their service to you over and above what you are normally paying them for that service.

You may be wondering why it’s necessary to give a tip when someone does something extra for you since they’re already getting paid for their work.

The answer is simple: tips are meant to show extra appreciation for an exceptional job well done.

Tipping in America has become so customary that not tipping would be considered rude.

If your waiter brings out some bread while you wait for your meal at the restaurant, that’s part of their job, but having them bring it out before you’ve even had time to open your menu or get settled is just going the extra mile.

That’s the kind of service that deserves a nice tip.

How much should you tip?

The amount you should tip generally ranges from 15-25%.

This may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that your waitstaff is relying on those tips to make a living.

If you’re not sure how much to leave, the general rule of thumb is to base it on the pre-tax bill amount.

So, if your meal cost $100 with tax, you would leave a $15 tip ($100 x .15 = $15).

It’s also customary to give an extra dollar or two for each person in your party in addition to the main gratuity.

How much should you tip in America?

The average American tips between 15% and 20%, although there are some who leave more depending on how they feel about the service.

There are very few who would consider leaving less than 10%.

If you want to make sure that your waiter or waitress is satisfied, you could even go 25% (depending on the quality of service).

Tips aren’t always a percentage of a pre-tax bill amount.

While it’s customary to tip the appropriate percentage, others choose to tip a flat amount no matter what.

Others may round up or down from their actual bill amount.

What happens if you don’t tip in America?

Since tipping is voluntary, you’re not legally required to leave a tip if you don’t feel that your waiter or waitress is deserving of one.

You could just decide that the service wasn’t good enough to warrant a tip and not give anything at all.

However, what’s considered acceptable in other cultures may be considered rude in America.

In our culture, it’s customary to tip waitstaff because they provide a bigger service than what you normally pay them for.

For example, it takes a lot more work on the part of the waiter to bring out several people’s food at once rather than bringing each person’s meal individually as they finish their previous plate (which is how things are traditionally done).

If you do choose not to leave a tip, your waiter or waitress is likely to come after you and ask why.

It’s also possible that they may not give you their best service if they think you’re one of those people who stiff the waitstaff on a regular basis.

When not to tip

There are some occasions when you don’t have to leave a tip, no matter how good the service is.

These include: when the service is poor when you’re served by a busboy or runner, and when the gratuity has already been included in your bill.

What are some tips for tipping abroad?

If you’re traveling outside of America and aren’t sure whether or not to tip, it’s best to do your research before you go.

Some cultures frown upon tipping while others see it as an essential part of providing service.

In some cases, the tip may even be included in your bill so make sure to check before you hand over any extra cash.

When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of generosity.

If you’re still not sure, it’s always better to give too much than too little.

That way, you won’t run the risk of offending your waiter or waitress.

Remember that tipping is a form of gratitude for good service.

It’s a way to say “thank you” for going above and beyond what’s expected.

Tipping etiquette for specific situations

There are some situations in which the standard 15-25% tip doesn’t necessarily apply.

Here are a few guidelines to help you out:


Tipping in America isn’t required but it is recommended.

Some service industry employees rely on TIPS to make a living.

When in doubt, it is always better to give more than less.

Remember that tipping is a way of saying thank you for good service.

It’s not just about money–it’s also about showing your appreciation for the effort that someone has put into making your experience a good one.

John Goldsmith