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A Columbia First Year’s Guide To Tipping

New York City: The land of expenses. Here’s our guide to tipping all different sorts of workers around the city. 

One of the first things you’ll notice when you get to New York (other than the oppressive humidity) is how expensive everything is. You’ll find that an $18 salad or a $5 coffee is typical at many places. Of course, that means it’s expensive for everyone else, too. New York has one of the highest costs of living in the world, and an 8.875% sales tax to boot. With that in mind, please, please don’t forget to tip people in the service industry! Of course you already know to do that, but just in case, here’s a reminder about where (and how much!) you should tip. Also, as a general rule, cash is best, but some places will add it to your credit card or take Venmo.

  • Sit-down restaurants: I recommend starting at 15-20% and going up based on how good your service was, how busy the restaurant is, etc.
  • Food delivery (Postmates, pizza, Chinese food): 15-20%, if the weather’s bad, go up.
  • Taxis: Same thing, go up for bad traffic or if you have a really good driver. Pay and tip in cash if possible.
  • Ubers/Lyfts: Uber is well known for treating their drivers like crap. Always give a five star rating unless something really, really bad happens, and again, tip in cash if possible – that way you know it’s going to the driver and not the company.
  • Tattoo/piercing parlors: These are skilled jobs that require a license, and tattooing especially is hard work. Many places will have a minimum of at least $200, so it might hurt you to shell out an extra 20-25%, but please: do it. Piercings are generally not as difficult, so start at 15-20%.
  • Hair salons: Same thing. Getting “just a trim” is not any easier for the stylist and color is a really long and involved process (no pun intended). Also make sure you tip everyone who attends to your hair, if someone other than your usual person washes or dries it. I usually give my stylist 25%, and I wouldn’t go much lower.
  • Barbershops: Men’s hair does tend to be easier than women’s, however. Start with 15-20% and go up from there.
  • Nail salons: Start with 18-20% and go up based on how bad this article makes you feel.
  • Bars: Standard is $1 per drink if you’re getting something simple like a beer or a vodka soda. If you’re at a nicer place ordering Cosmopolitans or mojitos, try $2 or $3.
  • Handymen: GS students or anyone who lives in their own housing: 18-20%.

Remember that the vast majority of these are luxuries. If you can’t afford to tip, it’s better to not buy it. Good luck!

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  • Upperclassman says:

    @Upperclassman What about food carts, TAs, and sugar babies?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Ridiculous. It’s up to business owners to pay their employees. Tip no more than 10-15% on services and $5 for delivery. $1 per drink at bars is fine.

    1. Former delivery driver says:

      @Former delivery driver Can confirm. Used to deliver in HS. I was more than happy with a 5 dollar tip. Only time more is warranted is when the driver has to make more than 1 trip for very large orders. In which case, I would say 4-5 per trip is fair.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous There are many cheap eats and markets in Morningside.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Why is Bwog so out of touch with reality?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Probably because they are all histrionic Barnard freshman….who DO NOT go to Columbia

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Just double the tax

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