tipping and paying in a restaurant

Paying And Tipping At Restaurants: 5 Etiquette Basics

who this class is for

Restaurant guests, waiters and restaurant staff

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About this micro-class

Paying and tipping with grace and consideration at a restaurant is an essential aspect of dining etiquette.

Rules for Paying and Tipping at Restaurants

1. Before You Arrive

Research the Restaurant

Check if the restaurant has a specific tipping policy. Some upscale restaurants may include service charges in the bill.

Some restaurants don’t accept cash, while others are cash-only. Ensure that you are prepared to pay in the appropriate ways.

Don't forget your wallet

Ensure that you have your wallet or means of payment with you.

2. Handling the Bill

Checking the Bill

Review the bill carefully to ensure accuracy.

If there are any issues, discreetly bring them to the attention of the server.

Payment Options

Be prepared to pay using cash, credit, or mobile payment.

Splitting the bill? Communicate this early with your server.

3. Tipping Etiquette

Standard Tipping Rate

The standard tip in the U.S. is 15-20% of the pre-tax total. For exceptional service, consider tipping more.

Adapt to the setting. Etiquette may vary; adapt to the formality of the restaurant.

Calculating the Tip

Calculate the tip based on the pre-tax amount.

Use mental math or your phone discreetly; avoid calculating at the table.

Credit Card Tips

If paying with a credit card, tip by adding an amount or percentage when signing the bill.

Touch-screens Tips

If paying through a touch-screen device, tip by adding an amount or percentage before checking out. Wait for the system to prompt you to tip.

Cash Tips

If paying in cash, leave the tip on the table when you leave.

Discreetly fold bills to ensure privacy for both you and the server.

4. Departure

Leaving the Table

Wait for everyone to finish before leaving the table.

Place the napkin neatly on the table or chair.

Expressing Gratitude

Thank the server verbally when leaving.

If the service was exceptional, consider leaving a note of appreciation.

5. Common Etiquette Mistakes


Failing to leave an appropriate tip reflects poorly on your manners.

Discussing Finances

Avoid discussing the cost or your ability to pay in front of others.

Snapping Fingers or Gesturing

Always seek eye contact when trying to get the server’s attention.

Dining and Dashing

Leaving without paying is unacceptable and illegal.

Test your knowledge with a quick test and earn a free micro-certificate

Shop for etiquette, behavioral, and contextual signs

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