Are You a Big Tipper? Survey Shows Age Matters

Restaurant billWho are better tippers in restaurants, older or younger diners? You might be surprised, reports a new survey – 30 percent of those 18 to 34 admit they usually skimp on their tip, while nearly all customers age 65-plus say they tip the expected 15 to 20 percent.

The survey from French company Michelin, publisher of well-known restaurant guides, found that on average, Americans tip 18 percent for good service after dining out, slightly less than the 19 percent a Zagat survey found last year.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that 70 percent of us usually tip between 15 and 20 percent and 1 in 10 say they typically tip more than 20 percent – men are more likely to say this than women.

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Fortunately, considering that tips make up most of a waiter’s wages, only a mean-spirited 1 percent say they leave nothing.

But the survey also revealed some surprising results:

Older diners are more consistently generous tippers. Most of those age 65 and over (84 percent) said they always tip between 15 and 20 percent. More than half of diners age 55-plus said they typically leave 20 percent, as did 41 percent of those ages 35 to 54.

Those under 35 are more likely to undertip. A third of those ages 18 to 34 admitted they usually tip less than 15 percent, perhaps because they earn less, while only 16 percent of those over age 35 did.

But younger diners are also more likely to leave an unusually large tip. Nearly 40 percent of those ages 18 to 44 said they have occasionally left a 30 percent tip or more for good service, vs. 22 percent of those 55-plus. Sixteen percent of the under-44 crowd have also left a hefty 50 percent tip, compared to only 7 percent of those over 55.

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The Northeast tips the best. Diners in the Northeast not only tipped more than those in other regions, they were also least likely to leave under 15 percent. On the other hand, if you’re a waiter in the South or the West, you may need a second job: Customers there were the most likely to leave a skimpy tip.

Men are more likely than women to be big tippers. The survey didn’t find a lot of differences between men and women, although more men say they’re big tippers: More men made it a rule to tip more than 20 percent, and they were also more likely to leave an exceedingly generous tip of 30 or 50 percent.

Photo: DNY59/iStock


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trollzindawoodz 5pts

I love to go into a restaurant and pay the bill for any "little old lady" and not tell her it was done. They usually don't believe it..............  I usually do it at the local cracker barrel And tip  25% at least.. I am 70 + years.. a biker and a Marine and a trucker..   all good tippers

collycat 5pts

I work to supplement my retirement income as a server at Cracker Barrel. I am 64 yo. It is a very demanding job. There are lots of reasons a guest might receive "poor service". The servers performance, or lack there of, is only one of the reasons. There is a lot going on behind the scenes that the guest isn't aware of. I find it very insulting when, after giving the best service I can give, a guest leaves me a 10% tip.  I find that the majority of the senior population does not tip 20%. Leaving a server $2.00 for a $25.00 meal is discouraging to say the least.

tw7097 5pts

I have a friend that will leave just pennies and a few nickels no matter the amount..........yet she flies all around the world, house a beautiful house to be a Snowbird in the winter..........once I seen that she does this I will avoid at all cost going out to eat with her. These servers are not paid minimum wage and that is a slap in the face to them. The servers do what I could never do and I appreciate and SHOW them so in tips. I clean homes for others as a job so I don't rake in big bucks either nor do I get tips but let's do what the bible tells us to do..........."Do unto others, as you would have to do unto you" AMEN

dorkmeyer 5pts

"Nearly 40 percent . . . said," "more men say"

It might be well to keep in mind that self-reported behavior might not be optimal survey design/format.

2Papa 5pts

I leave a Senior Citizen Tip, which can be defined as any loose change I may happen to have in my pocket.

dk7007561 5pts

When will we abolish this crazy and unfair practice?  I'd be willing to pay more for my meal and have the wait staff get paid a fair wage. That way, everyone pays equally.  As it is, the restaurants are often getting away with huge profits when they are charging $30+ for a meal and not paying their staff fairly.  If a waitress is serving 10 meals/hour @ 15% average tip, she's making $45.00/hour above her base rate.  I know few factory workers who make anywhere close to that and have to pay taxes on all of it (I know tips are now taxable - but who's really completely honest).      

 Tips are supposed to be awarded for good service, but let's be real.  Social pressure makes us leave trips automatically and the biggest injustice of all is that sex appeal rather than good service is what most often get awarded.

dragons3 5pts

I don't usually leave large tips, but I do tip well most of the time.  Primarily, it's because I worked my way through school, in part, by working as a waitress.  I know what a hard job it is and I know how poorly it pays.  I usually tip 20%, occasionally a bit over that, especially when the server has gone out of his/her way to do something or fix a problem.  The only time I don't is when the service is terrible.

InsertCleverNameHere 5pts

@dk7007561 Tipping is "injustice?"  There is lots of real injustice in the world, so why make some up?  Restaurants "getting away with huge profits?"  Clearly you have never owned a restaurant.  "Social pressure?"  To tip?  Maybe in your social circles, but not in the real world.  A waitress getting an extra buck or two for showing some cleavage is the "biggest injustice of all?"