Here's how much and who you should be tipping at American hotels

To tip or not to tip: That is the question. Well, one of them.

a close up of a piece of paper: This isn't so much a hack as it is a suggestion: Leave a tip for housekeeping. The selfish reason: They'll give you better service the next day. The unselfish reason: Hotel housekeepers aren't making bank. According to jobs website, the average pay for a hotel housekeeper is $11.01 per hour in the United States. Tip $1-5 per night. The American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests tipping $1 to $5 per night and notes the tip should be left daily, preferably in an envelope or with a note so that it’s clear it’s for housekeeping.

You may be confused about if — and how much — you need to be tipping hotel staff, from the valet to housekeeping to the concierge.

“No one really has a clear picture,” Ann Sadie Osten, a travel advisor and president of Sadie’s Global Travel who specializes in luxury travel, tells USA TODAY. 

When in doubt, tipping is a better idea than not, though how much you tip depends on what type of accommodation you’re staying in (hotel luxury and amenities factor into how much you need to shell out, for example). The consistent rule across hotels: Bring cash.

Here’s everything you should know about hotel tipping in the U.S. 

How much you should tip a valet

For a mid-level hotel with valet service, you should tip anywhere from $2 to $5, Osten says. The American Hotel & Lodging Association recommends $1 to $5 when someone delivers your car; tipping when your car is parked is up to your discretion. 

You also may not always get the same valet, so it’s nice to give something extra to different people moving your car back and forth. If there’s bad weather, and valets are working in an uncovered area, Osten recommends tipping even more.

If you stay at a luxury hotel, a valet or bellman may help transport your bags for you, in which case you’ll want to tip them (think $5 or more, especially if you have multiple bags).

How much you should tip a concierge

Tipping a concierge, or member of a hotel staff providing you with detailed information about what to explore during your stay in a certain location, remains a vague prospect. It depends on what service they’re providing and how much you use them. 

If you go to the concierge and ask for advice on what tours to take and receive specific recommendations, you could shell out between $5 and $50, Osten says. The higher end of that would likely be something you consider at a luxury hotel. The American Hotel & Lodging Association recommends $5 or $10 depending on what service they provide, like booking a restaurant or snagging you hard-to-get tickets, or a lump sum when you leave.

You may want to tip upfront if you know you’re going to use them frequently during your trip. “That way each time you go to them they will be very attentive,” Osten says.

How much you should tip on room service and housekeeping

A hotel may automatically add gratuity to room service (but it’s best to double check). Otherwise 18% to 20% should suffice.

Tipping housekeeping may not be the norm, but it is nice to leave a small gratuity, especially if you leave a big mess or call for extra towels. Anywhere from $3 to $7 daily works, Osten says. The American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests $1 to $5 each night. You should leave a note thanking them, along with the money making it clear the money is for housekeeping.

Other hotel tipping tips

A shuttle service to and from the hotel should run you between $1 to $2 per person in tips or $4 to $5 per party, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Osten recommends spending between $5 and $15, and if it’s two people $10 to $20. The amount depends on the individual’s helpfulness.

You don’t see tipping as much at hotels that don’t have concierge service. If a front desk attendant helps you out a lot, of course, tipping would be a nice gesture. You can also tip housekeeping here, too, though it is not expected.

Make sure you know the typical tipping procedure wherever you’re traveling to, since form rules don’t exist around the world even from hotel to hotel. “There are certain countries that it’s not a standard practice to tip, and it’s not in their culture whatsoever so it’s not required or expected,” Osten says.

Overall, tip what you’re comfortable spending and take into account a series of recommendations before coming up with a plan. 

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