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Poll: Women and boomers are the best tippers in the U.S.

But millennials and men are still lagging behind, according to a new CreditCards.com survey

Summary

Find out the latest stats on who tips (and how much) and who doesn’t. Then, explore experts’ views on some of the possible reasons why.

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Women and baby boomers are the best tippers — and men and millennials are the worst — according to a new CreditCards.com poll.

Women are a lot more likely than men to always tip hairstylists (66 percent versus 60 percent), wait staff (80 percent versus 74 percent) and food delivery people (66 percent versus 59 percent).

And boomers are more likely than millennials to always tip restaurant servers (89 percent versus 66 percent), taxi or rideshare drivers (63 percent versus 40 percent), hairstylists (73 percent versus 53 percent), food delivery people (72 percent versus 56 percent) and hotel housekeepers (33 percent versus 23 percent).

But among those who tip, women give about a percentage point less than men at restaurants.

And when millennials do tip, they typically give 22 percent at restaurants, while boomers usually give 17 percent.

So, as a service person, you’re more likely to get a really good tip from a man or a millennial — and also more likely to get stiffed.

Check out these other significant results from our tipping poll:

  • Some people always tip. Here are the percentages of people who always tip when they use the following services: wait staff at a sit-down restaurant (77 percent), hairdressers (63 percent), food deliverers (63 percent), hotel housekeepers (27 percent), coffee shop baristas (24 percent) and taxi and rideshare drivers (49 percent).
  • Others never tip. These are the percentages of people who never tip when they use the following services: wait staff at a sit-down restaurant (3 percent), hairdressers (9 percent), food deliverers (6 percent), hotel housekeepers (27 percent), coffee shop baristas (27 percent) and taxi and rideshare drivers (14 percent).
  • Some things don’t change much. Among all restaurant diners, the median tip is 18 percent, which remains the same as when we conducted this survey in 2017 and 2018. Among diners who always leave tips, that median tip rises to 20 percent.
  • Those who have worked for gratuities are better tippers. Twenty-eight percent of U.S. adults have held a job in which they routinely received gratuities, and they tip restaurant servers an average of 22 percent versus 17 percent for those who have never worked for tips. They’re also more likely to tip housekeepers, baristas, mail carriers, trash collectors, teachers and childcare providers.
  • Many say “bah humbug” during the holidays. It used to be conventional to tip certain service providers during the winter holidays, but not anymore. Note how many of the U.S. adults surveyed don’t tip these service people at that time: trash collectors (70 percent), mail carriers (60 percent), children’s teachers (47 percent) and childcare providers (47 percent).

The survey of 2,569 U.S. adults was conducted online between August 21-23, 2019. See survey methodology.

Millennials may have a cultural aversion to tipping

One reason millennials don’t have a great reputation when it comes to giving tips might be because many prefer restaurants that don’t require tipping.

But Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said that many millennials seem to have a cultural aversion to tipping.

“In last year’s survey, we asked if people would be willing to pay more for restaurant meals if tipping were abolished, and millennials were the most likely to say yes,” Rossman pointed out.

And that, Rossman said, is counterintuitive to millennials being the worst tippers — it seems odd they would be stingy with gratuities yet claim that paying more for the service is OK.

“That’s why I think it’s more nuanced than ‘millennials generally have less money than boomers,’” Rossman added.

There is definitely a difference between how millennials and boomers tip, according to Chad R. MacDonald, 20-year veteran of the restaurant industry and owner of the pop culture website GCandU.

But MacDonald said when it comes to tipping, he puts people on a curve.

Imagine an arc that begins rising when people are in their late teens and early twenties and descends again when people reach their late sixties and early seventies.

On both ends of this arc is where people either don’t tip at all or tip very poorly, according to MacDonald.

“I worked at a lot of bars that catered to younger crowds and they were among the worst places for tips,” MacDonald said.

He attributed that to a couple of factors – not knowing, realizing or even caring about how much to leave; and simply a lack of funds, meaning they planned on spending the majority of their money that night on food and drink.

On the other end of the arc, you have the Silent Generation — those 74 and older — who, in MacDonald’s experience, did not tend to tip well.

“I’d hypothesize that millennials don’t tip as well as boomers because they’re closer to the younger end of the arc,” MacDonald said.

And boomers might tip better because many of them are still working late in life or have just recently retired, he added.

In addition, MacDonald said millennials have had considerably fewer career opportunities than boomers and they’ve had to accumulate crushing debt in comparison.

“When jobs become scarce and debt more prevalent, that factors into diminished gratuities as well,” MacDonald said.

See related:  Foodies unite — these are the best credit cards for restaurants in 2019

Millennials might expect more for their money

Millennials value experiences, and have become accustomed to personalization, said Emily Garbinsky, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

For example, Netflix now filters TV shows based on personal preferences and Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service, assigns a personal stylist to each customer to match their particular preferences for clothes.

Thus, one of the reasons why millennials are less likely than baby boomers to tip for certain experiences could be the difference in what they expect from that particular experience.

“It might be that baby boomers simply desire sufficient service, whereas millennials want services that feel tailored specifically to them,” Garbinsky said.

Income might not affect tipping as much as you would think

You might think income predicts tipping.

That sounds reasonable when comparing millennials to boomers, according to Rossman, but that doesn’t explain why women are generally better tippers than men since women tend to make less money than men.

Are women just nicer or more empathetic than men?

One area in which men tend to tip more is with wait staff, Rossman said.

“That could be a showy male thing where dining companions might look at the check and be impressed, whereas some of the other scenarios we asked about are more private,” Rossman asked.

See related:  Guide to tipping — how to tip and use rewards points to save on tipping

To tip or not to tip

Tipping is a personal thing — and how much to give as a tip, to whom and how often can be very confusing.

So, what’s a consumer to do?

“When in doubt, I think you should tip, particularly if this is a service provider you interact with regularly,” Rossman said.

You may get better service as a result, and you’ll definitely make a difference to a hardworking member of your community, Rossman added.

He also noted that tipping can make or break service people — and juice the local economy.

“I actually prefer tipping over donating to charity because I view tipping as a more tangible, face-to-face interaction,” Rossman said.

Survey methodology

CreditCards.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,569 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken online Aug. 21-23, 2019. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic differences between the sample and the U.S. population.

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