Tipping by State

Quartz looked at tens of millions of food transactions using data by Square, a mobile payments company, to see the tipping habits of diners of each state in the U.S. Of course, not every dining establishment accepts Square, but the coffee shop and food truck data is particularly interesting:

At food trucks and coffee shops, there is a wide disparity in tipping behavior between states. More than two-thirds of Alaskans tip at coffee shops but only 19% of people in New Jersey do.

In North Dakota, food-truck goers reward their server 62% of the time, but in New York, the number drops to 22%. In Alabama, it’s barely more than 19%. The national average for food trucks is just above 37%.

See the rest of the data and look at the interactive chart here.

We’ve talked about the debate over tipping at food trucks before, and I always leave a tip, but only leave a tip at coffee shops if I’m ordering an espresso drink or food. What are your habits?

Photo: Aaron Stidwell

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8 Comments / Post A Comment

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

I always tip, but if I’m just stopping in somewhere for a cup of coffee as opposed to an espresso drink, I tip a very negligible amount (maybe 25 cents, which is about 10% or more of the cost of the coffee). Any other situation, and I’m a solid 20%er. I’m at a point at my life where I can enjoy the occasional meal out or fancy drink so I can afford to share the largesse. :)

I have been a barista and server at various times in my life, and I know how essential tips are to a servers ability to eat, pay bills, pay rent, so I guess I still have a little bit of that “we’re-all-in-the-trenches-together” mentality.

Heather F G (#6,074)

@LookUponMyWorks I’m also a solid 20%er, 25% if it was amazing service, 30% if I have extra largesse. For other services, I’ve begun mentally referring to a chart that I found really helpful once, which can be found here: http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/04/everything-dont-know-tipping.html

(For salon services, though, my budget has recently only been allowing me to go to a cosmetology school, which not just discourages tipping, it disallows it, which would be an interesting topic of discussion)

The chart doesn’t include food trucks, which is something I guess we’ll be navigating as that industry expands. Sadly, I hadn’t really thought of percentage-tipping them before (never caught the original Billfold article on that). I always throw my spare change in the bucket for them, but my eyes are really opened now. I regret not tipping my favorite banh mi and poutine truck more, they recently had to disband and I’m heartbroken.

Aunt Scar (#5,377)

I work at a hospital, and we have an on-site spa. I have started to patronize them because 1) they don’t tell me I need to wax my whole face and 2) they do not accept tips. It is $22.50 vs the $20 I would pay before. It is worth it.

Allison (#4,509)

I wish we would just build the gratuity into the amount on the menu, because I do believe that if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out, so why not just have that be part of the charges from the get go?

Fear Biter (#981)

I try very hard always to tip in cash, and never willingly put a tip on my credit card, even at a restaurant, unless I really don’t have enough cash on hand for the tip. I think the service staff get screwed fairly often when the tip goes on your card, so it’s just better to avoid it if possible.

As for tipping at a coffee shop, I always tip, and generally I tip a minimum of a dollar no matter what I buy. I admit this is kind of extravagant, but I feel self-conscious just throwing in the change. FULL DISCLOSURE: This is my weird issue, I am definitely not judging anyone else’s tipping practices. I will also not tell a barista if they have made my order wrong, so I am in no way an authority on how to conduct oneself in a cafe.

WhyHelloThere (#1,398)

Hmm. I live in Iowa and can’t remember the last time I saw a food truck, unless you count the Good Humor van. I think maybe the data for Iowans tipping food trucks is skewed by the fact that food trucks are pretty rare here? And yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people are tipping in cash.

jennonthego (#5,366)

I always tip if I can do so on my card, unless I have specifically planned for a cash only place (like the place where I get my pedicures). I just never, ever carry cash of any kind, so if I can’t add a couple of bucks when I’m checking out at a food truck, then they don’t get a tip. I’m not trying to be a cheapskate or a dick, I just don’t carry cash.

raw money (#3,975)

At sit-down restaurants I tip 20% for dinner, 15-18% for anything else, unless the service was stellar. At bars I usually pay cash, so I’ll give a dollar per drink no matter the price (usually a $5-6 beer). I don’t eat at food trucks that often, but I don’t tip there when I do. The way I see it, they might be assembling my meal (like a burrito or something), but I don’t tip at Chipotle so it doesn’t make sense to tip at the food truck. I don’t normally tip at coffee shops either. There is one where I tip because they have two tip bowls, each with something different written on it, and you vote for one with your tips. It’s mundane things like which dog breed you like better, but it’s cute and often clever.

For services like nails, hair, and massage, I always tip around 20%.

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