How To Tip: What You Need To Know

It's the one bill you have control over. 2 Wants to Know is talking tipping. Who do you tip and how much? Everyday this week we're going to give you what the experts say about tipping.

CRUISE SHIP TIPPING: No cash - no credit - no checks. Charges are put on a cruise line card, then paid at the end of trip. Added to those charges, automatic daily gratuity.

Cruisers can go to reception or the purser's office and ask that auto-tip to be adjusted -- up or down. Think before skipping tips, though. Many workers doing the more routine jobs on the ship often rely on tips as the backbone of their pay.

ISN'T A TIP INCLUDED IN THE FEES?: Sometimes, you think people are already getting paid, like when you see room service fees.You might ask, 'don't they go to the staff?' The answer is no. Experts at the STR Hotel Research firm found many hotel policies vary. A "delivery charge" or "delivery fee" typically goes to the hotel. A "service charge" is usually a tip, but it might be pooled among the room-service team, and in some cases, depending on the hotel, can be less than 20%. So what does go to the server? There's a line on many room-service checks for an extra gratuity. That generally goes directly to the server who brings the food to the room.

CONCIERGE: Our experts at U-S-A Today say a hotel concierge should be tipped for almost every service he or she does for you. But that does not include simple directions or easy reservations. But if they got you seats at the theater, a tip is a nice thank you!

Experts suggest waiting until after the event to tip, just in case the arrangements aren't what you expected. The recommendation is five to 10 bucks, unless they went above and beyond. Then you may want to give a little more.

But they say you should just give it to them in an envelope at the end of your stay.

RESTAURANTS: You may think all tips - whether they are left in cash or on a credit card - are the same, but that is not necessarily the case.

Credit card companies charge service fees on gratuity that some eateries make your waiter or bartender pay.

Those credit cards tips are not always given to employees on the same day they are charged which means waiting and the chance for employers to fudge on what is owed. If you like your service, you might want to leave cash.

As for what to leave, etiquette experts say 20 percent is the norm but 15 to 18 percent is acceptable, especially at informal eateries.

Always double check to make sure a service charge has not already been added to your bill. Places catering to tourists from countries where tipping is not the custom and many foreign countries will tack on an extra percentage, so read it closely.

HOTELS: A USA TODAY writer worked alongside a housekeeper. That day, they cleaned 17 rooms-- that's changing the sheets 17 times, scouring 17 bathrooms and vacuuming 17 rooms. True, it's their job. But it's also a service. Like most service jobs, the hourly pay isn't much. The housekeepers union UNITE HERE estimates the median hourly pay for a U.S. hotel housekeeper is $9.21.

Experts suggest $2 to $5 a day, depending on the luxury level of the hotel. Some hotels have policies against employees taking money left in a room. So be clear the money's for the housekeeper, use the hotel notepad to write "thank you" on a piece of paper.

Here's a scenario you're in more often, the pizza delivery guy. Are you a low, average or high tipper? says tips make up 30 to 70-percent of delivery drivers' salaries. So where do you fit in on the giving scale? The site says average tippers give two to three bucks. High tippers give $4 or 20-percent.

Check back for more tipping tips as we go through the week.


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