How to Calculate a Tip Without a Calculator

How to Calculate a Tip
It’s easy to calculate a tip without a calculator just by moving the decimal point of the bill. If that sounds too hard, just double the amount of the sales tax.

You don’t need to whip out a calculator or consult a chart to calculate a tip. Leaving a tip is customary for service people, like waiters and waitresses, salon staff, and drivers. The tips are an important part of their wages. Typically, an average tip is 15% and a tip for excellent service is 20%. However, a 10% tip is fine for certain service. Here are easy way to calculate a tip in your head, along with examples.

Calculate your tip based on the pre-tax portion of the bill.

How to Calculate a 10% Tip

A 10% tip is the easiest tip to calculate in your head because all you do is move the decimal point of the bill. For example, if the bill is $27.04, moving the decimal point one place gives you a 10% tip of 2.70. Don’t sweat the cents. A tip of $2.75 or $3 works just fine.

An even easier method is using the sales tax as a guide. Sales tax typically runs around 10%, give or take a few percent. If you just can’t do the math, use the sales tax as the amount of your tip.

How to Calculate a 15% Tip

A 15% tip is a typical tip for most services. The most common way of calculating a 15% tip is finding a 10% tip and then adding another half. To do this, move the decimal point one space. Then, add half as much again.

So, if a bill is $50, moving the decimal point one place gives $5. Add half of this amount ($2.50). The tip is $5 + $2.50 = $7.50.

Usually the bill isn’t an even amount. For example, let’s calculate the tip for a $72.33 bill. Moving the decimal point one place gives you 10%, which is $7.233. Don’t worry about the cents. Call it $7. Now, find half of this amount, which is $3.50. So, the tip is $7 + $3.50 = $10.50. In this example, rounding down gives a tip slightly less than 15%. Keep this in mind when you estimate the tip. Leaving $10.50 is fine, but rounding up to $11 is closer to the mark (and appreciated by staff).

How to Calculate a 20% Tip

Calculating a 20% tip is easier than finding a 15% tip. Just take the 10% tip and double it.

For example, consider a bill of $144.55. Moving the decimal point one place for 10% gives you $14.455. Doubling this gives you $28.91 or $29. Notice you don’t have to break out the pen and paper and do any complicated math. It’s 14 x 2 plus some change. Whether you round up or down is up to you.

Alternatively, doubling the sales tax usually gets you close to 20%.

If you just can’t do the math, ask your smartphone to tell you 20 percent of the total!

Who Should You Tip?

Generally speaking, people in the service industry are the ones you tip. So, this includes waiters and waitresses, bartenders, hair stylists, nail technicians, massage therapists, valets, bellhops, housekeepers, drivers, groomers, sitters, and deliverers. If a person performs a service, tipping is a good idea. Additionally, it’s fine giving small holiday gifts to regular providers, like mail carriers and home service providers.

Tipping varies according to what country you live in. While tips are the norm in North America (Canada, United States, Mexico), it is not expected in Europe. In fact, you may even offend a service provider if you tip! When in doubt, ask a local about the local customs.

Even where tipping is common, some places include the tip in the cost of service. For example, many restaurants automatically include a tip (often 18%) in the bill. Be wary of over-tipping in these situations.

How Much Should You Tip?

The rate of tips varies according to the service. There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some typical rates. In general, if a person goes above and beyond service expectations or your service requires extra effort, offer a larger tip. If you receive poor service, your better off talking to a manager than skimping on the tip.

ServiceTip Rate
Bartenders and Baristas$1-$2 per drink or 10%-15% of bill
Bellhop$1-$3 per bag
Deliveries (e.g., large furniture)$5-$20
Drivers (Taxi, Uber, Lyft)15%-20% of bill
Food Takeout or Delivery10%-15% of bill
Hairdressers$15%-25% of bill
Massage Therapists15% of bill
Nail Technicians10%-20% of bill
Pet Walkers, Groomers, Sitters10%-15% of bill
Valet $2-10, more for special requests
Waiters and Waitresses15%-20% of bill