How to Calculate Tip

By Kathy Adams

Figuring out a 20 percent tip in your head, the easy way

How to Calculate Tip

Forget about whipping out a calculator or guessing how much to tip the next time you're splitting a restaurant bill with friends. Tipping a standard 15 to 20 percent can be as easy as rounding up, doubling and moving a decimal place, which takes practically no time, even for those not gifted in math.

Base the tip on the total

When paying a restaurant bill or bar tab, look at the total amount due – for instance, $19.97. Round up that number to the next simple amount, which is $20. Double the amount to an even $40, then move the decimal point one place to the left to get the tip amount: $4. This method will bring the tip amount very close to a standard tip of 20 percent. If your server or bartender offered exceptional service, feel free to tip an extra amount that you deem appropriate.

Tip

Using the bill total amount, including taxes, will make the tip higher than 20 percent of your actual meal or drink charge. Tipping based on the total before taxes will make the tip amount very close to 20 percent.

If you feel the service received was only worth a 15 percent tip, divide the 20 percent tip amount by 4, which will give you 5 percent. Multiply the 5 percent amount by 3 to get 15 percent.

Calculating tip on your share of the bill

When splitting the bill with friends, add up the totals for the items you consumed, rounding up to the next highest dollar. Double the amount for your items, then move the decimal point to the left one place to calculate your share of the tip.

Add your tip to the total amount of your purchases, keeping in mind you'll need to add enough to cover any taxes on the bill too. Look at the total tax amount, then figure out what percentage of that amount goes toward items you purchased when figuring out how much you actually owe. It's better to overestimate to ensure the bill is paid with a fair tip left over for the server.

Tipping beyond restaurants and bars

Figuring out a fair tip for other common services doesn't always follow the 15 to 20 percent rule. Here are some typical services and the standard tip expectations:

  • Bellhop: Tip whoever carries your luggage to your room $2 to $3 per bag in general; feel free to pay more if you have quite a few bags or bags that are heavy or awkward. Pay them again if they carry your bags back to your car or taxi. 
  • Hotel housekeeper: Tip a dollar or two per day for basic housekeeping service, or up to $5 per day if you leave the room a mess.
  • Taxi or ride-service driver: Tip around 20 percent. 
  • Stylist, masseuse, barber or nail-salon worker: Tip anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of your total bill.

Fun with smartphones

If you have an iPhone, using Siri can be a fun way to calculate the tip. This also works with other voice-activated smartphones. Decide how much you'd like to tip – for instance, 17 percent. Ask Siri or "OK Google" or whatever your phone's command is, "What's 17 percent of (your total)?" Your phone will announce the answer.

If you don't have a voice-recognition smartphone, use your phone's calculator to figure out the tip. To calculate a 17 percent tip, for instance, multiply the before-tax total by 0.17. The answer will be a precise 17 percent tip.

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.