Personal Finance

4 times when it's OK not to tip

Key Points
  • Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting founder Jodi Smith says tipping is typically set on precedence and evolves over time.
  • Academic professionals, highly skilled people and small-business owners are a couple of people who you wouldn't typically give a gratuity.
  • Men, Republicans, Northeasterners and baby boomers are the best tippers, according to The site says women, Democrats and Southerners are the worst tippers.
These things will make you think twice about tipping

Being a bad tipper might not be such a bad thing — at least, in some circumstances.

Men, Republicans, Northeasterners, baby boomers and folks with credit cards or debit cards tend to be the most generous tippers, according to a new report. People in those demographics tipped a median of 20 percent when dining out.

"What ties all of those groups together is that they tend to be higher income than some of their counterparts," said Matt Schulz, senior analyst at "I think when it comes to tipping, it generally comes down to income. The more money you have, the more willing you are to leave money at the end of the night."

The worst tippers in the survey were women, Democrats, Southerners and people who paid with cash. Those demographics tipped a median 15 to 16 percent — which is still pretty good, Schulz said.

"When it gets right down to it, Americans are pretty generous when it comes to tipping at a restaurant especially when there's good service," he said. "Unless your service is an absolute disaster, it's pretty hard to justify not tipping at all."

And income does not necessarily dictate tipping behavior. Those who've worked in the service industry are also typically generous tippers, according to Jodi Smith, founder of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.

"People who tend to be more generous generally tended to be people who have waited tables or done a job requiring tips," she said.

Are you a chintzy tipper? How to avoid these tipping mistakes

Yet sometimes the etiquette is not to tip. Tipping is set on precedence and evolves over time, Smith said.

If you're ever in doubt on whether or not you should or shouldn't tip, "It is always better to offer a tip than not to tip," she said.

Here are four times a cash tip may not be required:

1) Professionals

It's awkward to offer a cash tip for professionals like a doctor, lawyer or accountant. A gift is more appropriate if you want to thank that person, said Smith.

The same holds true for your child's teachers. Cash can create a conflict of interest, and may run afoul of school policies. A gift (even if that's a gift card) is better.

2) Highly skilled workers

Service technicians such as plumbers and electricians typically contract to do the work at a price that values their time. But if you're calling for emergency help on a holiday or during uncommon work hours, that quick response could warrant a tip, Smith said.

3) Gratuity included

Oftentimes, restaurants automatically add a gratuity to the bill for large parties, so check before you pay. (Some restaurants have also implemented no-tipping models, with higher menu prices to reflect that policy.) If the wait staff was especially attentive, you could add more to that total, Smith said.

4) Small-business owners

Established prices often already include a suggested tip, additional tipping is usually not necessary. However, Smith emphasized, this can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.