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Jul 30, 2007 10:07 AM

Tips - cash or card in upscale places?

In the UK, it's usual to add the tip to a card payment, particularly in high end restaurants..

Is it the same in the US or is it more appropriate that I should leave cash on the table as I would in more casual places?

As a travelling Brit (shortly to visit Washington DC, Charleston and NYC) is there any other tipping "etiquette" I need to know about? Past trips to the US have not involved particularly fine dining places - but I know that the tip rate is higher than in the UK - around 15 - 20% (and at the upper end in upper end places)

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  1. surely it's the same thing worldwide, the server ALWAYS prefers tips in cash in any country and at any restaurant.

    5 Replies
    1. re: smartie

      Not true - I waited tables for years and it's no different to have tips in cash than on the card. You get the money for the tips on the cards at the end of the night just the same.

      What servers prefer is that you use the method that results in a larger tip!

      1. re: lupaglupa

        <You get the money for the tips on the cards at the end of the night just the same>

        not necessarily. depending on the organization the server has to wait up to a week or two. also some places take a percentage off the serever's credit card tips (aside from the normal tippool on sales).

        so if you have the cash on you, then great, leave that. but don't worry about it if you prefer to leave it on the card.

      2. re: smartie


        Not necessarily so. In many restaurants in Europe (including the UK), tips in the usual sense are not given at all. A percentage is simply added to the bill (check) as a "service charge". Staff then receive it as part of their salary. Good restaurant owners normally ensure all staff (not just wait staff) get a share of the charge.

        I appreciate the difference in the US, where wait staff can, I think, be paid less than the minimum wage. Doesnt happen in the UK - minimum wage is minimum wage..

        1. re: Brit on a Trip

          sorry Brit, I don't agree with you. I am a Londoner in Florida, been here 2 years and have worked in catering and restaurants in both countries. Service is not always added to a bill in England, and you can certainly choose to add in to your CC or pay it in cash. How a restaurant distributes it afterwards varies.

          Anyway you can also ask a restaurant to remove the service charge if you want to add more or none if the service was really bad.

          I always left a tip in England, usually 10 - 12 % and when I was a waitress years back was always left one.

          1. re: smartie

            Hi, smartie. Sorry you disagree - not sure with which bit, though. I said "many restaurants in Europe" add a service charge, not all. I think it's a great idea for the customer (as I'm sure you know, in France a service charge is always levied).


      3. There is no problem with leaving a tip on a credit card. The only difference to the server is that they have to report is as income for taxes, versus cash where the can fudge the numbers. You'll be fine if you tip in the 15-20% range.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ajs228

          Cash is changing in that it's being reported more and more with tip out amounts for the IRS. All tips are taxable income.

        2. jfood has NEVER left a cash tip when he can use his card for 100% of the total plus tip. That goes for US, South America, Europe, Mid-east, Asia, pretty worldwide acceptance.

          1. When charging the meal, my DH likes to leave a cash tip when he can (I just did that today, in fact). I think it's because he feels that the waiter will know right away what tips he got from the table rather than waiting till later... hmm, technically, this would only happen in places where we bring the bill up to the cashier... so I think his practice stems from when we first starting eating out (at Denny's, Baker's Square, etc.), and he has just continued doing it. In a regular restaurant, your server can see the tips since he/she is handling the bill as well.

            To answer your question, just do whatever is convenient for you.

            1. I always leave a tip on the card in restaurants, or for any service for that matter, unless I am asked specifically to tip in cash. In some low end operations and non-food services, the owner may balk at having to pay a card charge fee for tips and may even take it out of the total given to the server. I've had some servers come out and tell me that you can't tip on the card. It can vary from one to seven percent for some cards. In some places, the servers may just be trying to earn "non-reportable" income. However, in a business setting or other upscale environment, or even a typical chain restaurant, I would only leave a tip on the card. It is irritating to tip in cash, it makes a mess of your business records, and frankly, the server is not necessarily going to get as large of a tip because it depends on how much cash I have in hand. I think I am more generous with cards. BTW, has anyone noticed that Sonic Drive Ins don't allow tips on card purchases? I had to do a fund raiser for my daughter's team once, and if the customer paid with a card, there was often no tip left for the server at all.