Has tipping gone too far? 1 in 3 Americans think so

Tipping is on the rise across the United States as more and more businesses have started asking for a little extra. Fast food restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, online retailers, home repair workers and even self-checkout machines are now asking for a tip these days.

Some Americans even feel like tipping has become a hidden tax. 

According to a new Bankrate survey on tipping culture, 59% of Americans said they view tipping negatively. This includes people who feel businesses should pay employees better, are annoyed about pre-entered tip screens or would be willing to pay higher prices to be done with tipping altogether. 

For the survey, Bankrate surveyed more than 2,400 U.S. adults between April and May 2024.

Tip screen

(File: sefa ozel / Getty Images Plus)

"It feels like a record number of businesses are soliciting tips. Tipping has become a hidden tax," Ted Rossman, a Bankrate senior industry analyst, said in a statement. "Many companies are hesitant to raise prices further, given all of the increases we've seen in recent years, but asking for tips can essentially be a way for them to raise prices without acting like they're raising prices." 

A study by Pew Research Center last November also found that more than 70% of Americans said tipping is expected in more places now than it was five years ago, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the phenomenon has even earned the nickname "tipflation."

According to Investopedia, tipflation refers to the increased rates that people are now expected to tip at restaurants and for other goods and services.

Pre-pandemic, it was common for people to tip servers 15% to 20% based on the service received. Today, that range can vary wildly when faced with a preset tipping screen at many types of businesses, including for services that people didn’t typically tip for in the past. These tipping screens often result in people feeling pressured to tip larger amounts than usual.

Tipping culture out of control

The survey also found that 35% of Americans believe tipping culture has gone too far. Compared to last year’s tipping survey, more respondents now believe tipping culture has gotten increasingly out of control. More than 1 in 3 (35%) of Americans surveyed in 2024 agreed, compared to 30% in 2023. 

"Tipping is a hot-button issue that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon," Rossman continued.

As people get older, opinions about tipping also seem to become more negative. According to the survey, 72% of boomers and and 62% of Gen Xers had at least one negative view toward tipping, compared to 51% of millennials and 45% of Gen Zers.

Tipping etiquette in U.S.

Among the U.S. adults who use each of the following services, here’s a breakdown of how many people always tip:

Servers at a sit-down restaurant: 67% (up from 65% last year)

Hair stylists/barbers: 55% (up from 53% last year)

Food delivery people: 51% (up from 50% last year)

Taxi/rideshare drivers: 41% (up from 40% last year)

Hotel housekeepers: 22% (down from 23% last year)

Coffee shop baristas: 20% (down from 22% last year)

Furniture/appliance delivery workers: 15% (down from 17% last year)

When picking up takeout food: 11% (down from 13% last year)

Home service/repair people: 10% (same as last year)

Even though there is a tipping etiquette, BankRate said how much a person tips is largely a personal decision. It might depend on how personal the transaction was, how long the service took and the quality of the service.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.