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Should You Tip When Picking Up Food?

Tipping your server at a restaurant is a given when dining in, but what about when you order food for pickup? 

Customers have been debating this question since tipping became standard. 

Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about tipping. Read on to ensure you’re not shorting the staff – or getting ripped off. 

Let’s dig in!

What Is a Tip for Food Pickup?

Many service-related workers rely on tips. Waitstaff, bartenders, baristas, drivers, bellhops, and beyond all depend on their customer’s generosity to make a decent wage.

Many countries pay servers a liveable wage like any other job. Essentially, their ‘tip’ is figured into the price of the meal, which benefits everyone. Customers don’t have to do mental gymnastics to figure out their bills, and waitstaff can do their jobs knowing they’ll receive appropriate compensation. 

But in the United States, tipping is integral to restaurant culture. 

The US government only requires restaurant owners to pay servers a ‘tipped minimum wage.’ For years, this base pay has languished at a mere $2.13 an hour, so tips are a server’s bread and butter. For dine-in restaurants, tips typically range from 15% to 25%.

However, things get murky when it comes to tipping on takeaway food. 

Tipping while getting a takeaway
It never hurts to tip your favorite food joints.

Why Should You Tip for Food Pickup?

Takeout customers interact less with their servers, but the server starts working on your order before you even arrive at the restaurant. They take orders over the phone, double-check the charge when it’s ready, bag it up, and process payment at pickup. 

All of these duties take time away from their dine-in customers. And because server wages are so low, staff are essentially doing all this work for free when carryout customers don’t tip. 

Servers might take dozens of takeout orders each shift, so not tipping can significantly hurt their take-home pay. Add on any tip-outs servers pay to hosts, bussers, and bartenders, and they may very well end up paying out of pocket.

It’s also important to remember that when you order food for pickup, they’re saving you the trouble of grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up after. 

Is It Rude to Not Tip When You’re Picking Up Food?

Tipping comes with a host of social implications as well. It’s how customers show appreciation for the work servers do. And it’s no surprise that people are more likely to go above and beyond when they feel appreciated. 

When you order takeout, especially from somewhere you’ll likely return, it’s a good idea to get on good terms with the staff. Servers tend to remember good tippers and will be sure to go the extra mile when they see your name pop up on Caller ID. 

Takeout orders don’t require tipping, but your server will always appreciate an acknowledgment of their excellent service. 

Pro Tip: We took a closer look to uncover Should You Tip at Starbucks?

Pizza delivery
While you should always tip for delivery, picking up a take-out order may not require the extra cash.

How Much Should You Tip When Picking Up Your Food?

How much to tip varies based on a lot of factors. For dine-in service, 20% gratuity is the standard. But when it comes to carryout, the conventions aren’t quite as clear. 

One significant factor is how much food you order. 

If you order a single takeaway soup for lunch, throwing a dollar in the tip jar is probably sufficient. But if you order a three-course meal for a family of four, your server will do much more work. 

It isn’t necessary or expected to leave a 20% tip on takeout food. However, a 10% to 15% gratuity tells your server you’re thankful for their hard work, even when it goes on behind the scenes.

A good rule of thumb is when in doubt, leave a tip. 

Should You Tip at Fast-Food Restaurants?

In recent years, tip jars have appeared more and more in unlikely places. After all, it can’t hurt to give customers the option. Right? One of those unexpected places is the humble fast-food joint. 

Despite their appearance, corporate fast-food restaurants almost universally pay their staff at or above minimum wage. This means that fast-food workers aren’t relying on customer tips to make their expected pay. 

If you receive outstanding service at a fast-food restaurant and want to show your appreciation, by all means, tip that staff member! They will undoubtedly appreciate it. But you certainly won’t look rude if you skip it. 

Take out order station
The next time you order take-out, add an extra tip for your server.

Should You Tip for Pizza Deliveries?

Pizza delivery drivers use personal vehicles to make deliveries. They buy their own gas and pay for their maintenance. Any time you have food delivered, as opposed to picking it up, those drivers rely on your tips to make the trip worthwhile. 

Remember, delivery drivers also double-check your order for accuracy, grab any extra sauces or drinks you ordered, and bring that meal all the way to your doorstep. 

Generally, 15% to 20% gratuity is standard for pizza delivery. 

Pro Tip: Leave an extra tip while dining at one of these 7 Most Unique Restaurants in the USA.

When Is It Okay Not to Tip?

In some situations, tipping isn’t necessary because your bill will include the gratuity. This often happens when you have a large party of more than eight or ten people, so check your tab. Outside of the service industry, tipping is usually not expected. 

Highly skilled laborers like plumbers and electricians typically set their rates to ensure jobs are worth their time. They may charge an additional fee to come out on holidays or in the middle of the night. If you’re feeling especially generous, a tip for a late-night repair would be appreciated but certainly not expected.

Sometimes, tipping can be seen as inappropriate and may create a conflict of interest. For example, tipping professionals such as your doctor, your tax accountant, or your child’s teacher is frowned upon. In these situations, showing appreciation with a small gift is better. 

Should You Tip When Picking Up Food?

Whether or not to tip for takeout food has sparked debate for decades. While some think gratuity should be reserved for dining in, the reality is that servers still have to work hard to ensure carryout customers get exactly what they want. And more often than not, those servers are doing the work for free unless the customer tips.

So, the next time you place an order for pickup, leave a little something for your server to let them know you appreciate them.

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