HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

No bill fold - where do you leave the cash tip - table or in the hands of the server?

fldhkybnva Aug 27, 2013 03:55 PM

Without the bill fold, where do you leave the cash tip?

I generally leave it with the check fold, though if they don't return it afterwards and you haven't left the tip yet, the dilemma is whether to hand it directly to the server or leave it on the table. Which do you prefer?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. emglow101 RE: fldhkybnva Aug 27, 2013 04:19 PM

    Always to the server.

    2 Replies
    1. re: emglow101
      Worldwide Diner RE: emglow101 Aug 27, 2013 07:00 PM

      Since when? I've been leaving cash on the table for a long time.

      1. re: emglow101
        flavrmeistr RE: emglow101 Aug 27, 2013 07:54 PM


      2. Kat RE: fldhkybnva Aug 27, 2013 06:51 PM

        Leave it on the table under a glass.

        1. foodieX2 RE: fldhkybnva Aug 27, 2013 06:58 PM

          to the server

          1. Bill Hunt RE: fldhkybnva Aug 27, 2013 07:30 PM

            I normally tip on my CC, for the fare.

            When I need to tip cash, I will shake the person's hand, and pass the bill. I have done that most often with sommeliers, who provided excellent service, but also with bussers, who went beyond - and especially when the server was not that good.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Bill Hunt
              latindancer RE: Bill Hunt Aug 29, 2013 08:36 AM

              <and especially when the server was not that good>

              I've run into this often, lately.
              I'll do the same.

            2. t
              thimes RE: fldhkybnva Aug 28, 2013 05:41 AM

              On the table.

              1. f
                Fydeaux RE: fldhkybnva Aug 28, 2013 06:02 AM

                On the table under a glass or coaster. Handing it directly to the waitstaff, even discreetly, always seemd to me to be a way of saying "see what I'm doing" without actually saying it out loud. I will make an exception if there is one person on the staff who gave me distinguished service while the rest were less than "attentive".

                3 Replies
                1. re: Fydeaux
                  flavrmeistr RE: Fydeaux Aug 28, 2013 07:49 AM

                  Trust me, they won't think any less of you for handing them cash.

                  1. re: Fydeaux
                    Midknight RE: Fydeaux Aug 28, 2013 08:00 AM

                    I feel the same way as Fydeaux. If go out of my way to find the waiter and had it to them, I feel like I'm making a show and boasting "Look at me! I'm giving you a big tip! Aren't I just a great guy?!"
                    Unless, of course, it's great personal service, but even in that case, I'll make an effort to tell the manager how comfortable and special they made me feel.


                    1. re: Midknight
                      flavrmeistr RE: Midknight Aug 28, 2013 08:19 AM

                      You guys are over-thinking it. These people aren't working there for their health. The actual tip is all that really matters to them. In a situation where people survive on tips, they don't consider customers who slip them cash "uncool". In fact, it's quite the opposite. Coworkers and customers do and will scoop money off the table, especially in "nice" places where the lighting is low and the checks and corresponding tips are large. Slipping them cash doesn't say you're an asshole. It says you care.

                  2. Motosport RE: fldhkybnva Aug 28, 2013 08:01 AM

                    On the table under a glass so it does not "blow" away except when dining alfresco where there is a chance a passerby might snatch it off the table.

                    1. h
                      Harters RE: fldhkybnva Aug 28, 2013 08:17 AM


                      1. Midlife RE: fldhkybnva Aug 28, 2013 12:11 PM

                        Leaving a cash tip on the table, depending on the place, might cause concern that it could be picked up by someone other than the server.............. or blow away (usually solved, outdoors, by covering it with a plate or glass). I tend to cover it anyway, just to make it less visible (see previous concern).

                        I do think, though, that I'd only find the server and do it in person, if I were a regular and knew the server well................ or had had an unusually good and personal experience during that meal. Otherwise, I guess I'm not that much of a people person that I'd want to hand it over personally.

                        Just my 2ยข.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Midlife
                          Bill Hunt RE: Midlife Aug 28, 2013 07:45 PM

                          Aside from the possible issues with leaving things on the table, I like to hand off the tip, to the person deserving it, so that I can look into their eyes, and express a personal "thank you." Just my way of doing things like this.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            flavrmeistr RE: Bill Hunt Aug 29, 2013 07:03 AM


                            The other issue is whether to tip in cash or add the tip into the bill when paying with a credit/debit card. Since servers are taxed on tips, cash is king in the restaurant/service world. Therefore, I always try to tip in cash. If it's a big group or a big check and/or if they automatically include a gratuity, I'll usually include an additional 5% in cash for good service.

                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                              JonParker RE: Bill Hunt Aug 29, 2013 07:09 PM

                              I always felt like that was somewhat rude, like I was expecting personal gratitude. If there is no wallet for the check, then I leave it on the table slighty protruding from under a plate of other dish. Turning tipping into a production always struck me as tastless.

                              1. re: JonParker
                                flavrmeistr RE: JonParker Aug 29, 2013 08:06 PM

                                The Easter egg hunt approach. Very tasteful indeed.

                                I prefer to leave a trail of one dollar bills as I stroll grandly toward the exit.

                                1. re: flavrmeistr
                                  JonParker RE: flavrmeistr Aug 29, 2013 08:57 PM

                                  If you think leaving them visible but not open game to anyone who strolls through is an "Easter egg hunt," I hope you never misplace your car keys. You have my sympathy, sir.

                                  1. re: JonParker
                                    flavrmeistr RE: JonParker Aug 30, 2013 05:27 AM

                                    I've misplaced my car a few times, but never my keys.

                                  2. re: flavrmeistr
                                    Worldwide Diner RE: flavrmeistr Aug 30, 2013 05:41 AM

                                    It seems like there are multiple ways of doing things. I see no need to browbeat people who do it differently than you.

                                    1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                      flavrmeistr RE: Worldwide Diner Aug 30, 2013 05:57 AM

                                      They'll take a beating and they'll like it, see!

                                      Relax, it's all in fun.

                                  3. re: JonParker
                                    SaraAshley RE: JonParker Aug 30, 2013 03:20 PM

                                    As a former server for one month of my life (never again! no offense to those that do, but you'll see partly why below), I believe being handed the tip is only rude when you're being handed a crappy tip, like $5 on a $40 check. These instances are also the only time I was ever handed a tip in my short time as a server. And trust me when I say that the people doing this were handing me the tip in genuine appreciation and not as a way as trying to bring to my awareness any bad service on my part. As long as the tip is good, and certainly if the tip is great, I can see this as a nice gesture.

                                    1. re: SaraAshley
                                      flavrmeistr RE: SaraAshley Aug 30, 2013 03:28 PM


                              2. Uncle Bob RE: fldhkybnva Aug 29, 2013 09:02 AM

                                No folder....Cash under some thing heavy. ~ Sometimes/rarely on a CC..

                                1. westsidegal RE: fldhkybnva Aug 29, 2013 05:16 PM

                                  even when there is a bill fold, i do my best to leave it in the server's hand.

                                  1. s
                                    sandylc RE: fldhkybnva Aug 29, 2013 06:49 PM

                                    What do you mean by "bill fold"?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: sandylc
                                      fldhkybnva RE: sandylc Aug 29, 2013 06:56 PM

                                      The usually leather folder which holds bills and/or credit cards

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                                        sandylc RE: fldhkybnva Aug 29, 2013 07:21 PM

                                        Oh. That's what I thought you meant, but I've never heard that term for that item before!

                                        My parents call a wallet a billfold.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva
                                          Midlife RE: fldhkybnva Nov 3, 2013 11:52 AM

                                          Leather? I guess I don't go to the right places. Those things are always vinyl or poly-whatever at the places I go. ;o)

                                      2. m
                                        mwhitmore RE: fldhkybnva Aug 30, 2013 09:44 AM

                                        Nobody has mentioned sanitation. The server should not be handling 'filthy lucre' unless s/he hand-washes afterward, which is an inconvenience. That's why the folder or tray, so the cashier is the only one handling the stuff.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: mwhitmore
                                          JonParker RE: mwhitmore Aug 30, 2013 11:15 AM

                                          In most restaurants except at the very high and very low end, the server is the one who deals with your check at the register.

                                          1. re: mwhitmore
                                            flavrmeistr RE: mwhitmore Aug 30, 2013 03:06 PM

                                            I thought the folder or tray was to hold the filthy lucre.

                                          2. cronker RE: fldhkybnva Sep 1, 2013 06:27 PM

                                            Wow, tips seem to get a lot of chat in here.

                                            I work in Australia, where tipping is not a cultural thing, and usually only reserved for excellent service and experience.
                                            Handing a waiter cash is often seen as theft if they don't declare it at the end of shift.

                                            Then again, wait staff are paid very well over here.
                                            I prefer the tip to be advised: I would like to give $20 to my waitress, as she was excellent etc.
                                            Most Australian places divide the nights tips evenly between all workers and the kitchen staff too. I always think the dish hand should be tipped, because without clean plates, we can't open.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: cronker
                                              Midlife RE: cronker Nov 3, 2013 11:54 AM

                                              I wish restaurants would tell you if they DO split tips all the way into the kitchen. I think I'd tip even more.

                                            2. c
                                              cleobeach RE: fldhkybnva Nov 4, 2013 06:52 AM

                                              Up until two or three years ago, I would leave the cash tip under a glass.

                                              Then I witnessed someone (a departing customer) taking a tip off a table. An employee saw it and chased the person down but they denied it.

                                              We talked to the manager and our server about it and they said it was becoming a problem. Curious about this, I asked at another restaurant we frequent and they reported the same time.

                                              Since then, I make sure the tip gets into the servers hands whether it is via giving the tip at the time of paying the check or flagging the server down before we leave.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: cleobeach
                                                waxyjax RE: cleobeach Nov 4, 2013 02:32 PM

                                                I don't have a career in hospitality, but several years ago I was a waitress for a short period of time to make extra money during a prolonged vacation. I received tips both ways and was fine with either.

                                                Obviously, when someone made the effort to hand me my tip and thank me I was very appreciative. But I also understood that patrons who didn't do so were probably just not accustomed to that, or were too shy, or weren't able to wait around for me to have a break in-between serving other tables.

                                                I live in New York and would say there are a few logistics that make tipping a server in person difficult:

                                                1) servers are working at very fast speeds - it's rare to see them have even 20 seconds of breathing room. They'd still be appreciative of an in-person tip, and I'm sure it would give them a smile, but the disruption might frazzle their rhythm a bit.
                                                2) patrons who wait for a server to have that 20 second downtime in between serving other tables means they have to wait somewhere in the restaurant. If they're in a busy restaurant with a queue of people waiting for a table (nowadays most decent restaurants in the city are like that), it'd be rude to linger at one. The other option would be to wait somewhere else in the restaurant - but again, those areas would likely be taken up by those waiting for a table, making you a traffic jam for the servers and runners.
                                                3) I can imagine many New York patrons often have something else to run to once the bill is paid and aren't likely to be able to wait for an opportunity to engage their server.

                                                That said, if I'm seated at an outdoor table, or at a space with lots of non-staff foot traffic, I always give the tip and receipt to the server - or if they're in the middle of taking or running an order (if there aren't runners), then I'll at least flag them and motion that I'm about to give it to the cashier.

                                                I'm sure it's a lot simpler in cities that aren't as crowded or fast-paced.

                                                1. re: waxyjax
                                                  waxyjax RE: waxyjax Nov 4, 2013 02:38 PM

                                                  oh, and thought i'd mention that in German-speaking countries it's considered rude to leave your tip (Trinkgeld) on the table. you have to give it to your server - normally when you pay, you tell them the total including tip and then they just give you the change (and a smile if your'e tip is sufficient).

                                              Show Hidden Posts