Spread the wealth: Tipping in Vegas

I know that money makes everything happen in Las Vegas, but who should I tip and how much?

Kendall
(Dallas, Texas)

See the answer »

Basic tipping guidelines

Read the article for details, but here's a rough outline for reference on who to tip and how much:

  • Bag handlers, luggage porters and hotel bell staff
    $1 per bag. A bit higher for full bag service at an upscale hotel; use $5 as the minimum in that case.
  • Cab drivers, limo drivers
    15%-20%, generally rounded to the next highest $5 mark. For limo service use 20% as your base, unless service is bad.
  • Parking valets
    $1 or $2, up to $5 or so, if leaving a high-dollar hotel, restaurant or nightclub.
  • Restaurant wait staff (non-buffet), room service
    15%-20% of the pre-tax total
  • Buffet wait staff
    $2-$5 left on the table for drink servers and bus staff.
  • Bars and cocktail servers
    Tip by the round or every other round, so that it averages out to about $1 per person per round.
  • Pool staff (towel attendants, etc.)
    $1 or $2
  • Casino dealers and slot attendants
    A small bet from time to time if the dealer is friendly.
  • Hotel housekeeping staff
    $2-$5 per day if service was good

Las Vegas is likely the most tip-centric city you'll ever visit. A general rule of thumb is this: Tip everybody you can think of. If it's a situation where the service is ongoing, such as ordering drinks, tip the server early and tip them a little more than you might think appropriate in most other circumstances. More than anywhere else I've ever been, service in Las Vegas is directly correlated to how much cash you spread around.

Here are a few guidelines of commonly encountered tipping situations:

Tip cab drivers somewhere around 15 to 20 percent. My own practice is to estimate what a 15-percent tip would come to, then round upwards to the nearest $5. If you're unlucky and get one of the rare cab drivers who lie and claim there's a mandatory 15-percent gratuity (there's no such thing), then stiff the guy with a 10-percent tip, if you feel like it.

If anyone loads, unloads or stores your bags for you -- shuttle drivers or the hotel bag check clerk, for example -- slip them a couple of bucks per bag.

At bars or when ordering from cocktail waitresses while gambling, tip about a dollar a drink. Once you've established a pattern of tipping, don't feel bad if you miss slipping the waitress a gratuity on one or two of her trips. She knows you'll average things out. Also remember that casino chips are as good as cash when tipping, and often a lot handier than reaching into your wallet for bills.

At super-hip nightclubs, slide the bartender or waitress a 20 with your first order and let them know you'll be ordering more throughout the night. Then tip another $10 every two or three orders.

When gambling, tip a friendly dealer by either placing a bet for them when you hit a hot streak or simply put a few chips on the table -- but not in the betting area -- when leaving, and let the dealer know the gratuity is for them. Don't feel like you have to tip a grouchy dealer at all. On rare occasion you may run into a surly dealer actively trying to get you to tip them. This is called "hustling tokes" and is pretty much universally hated. Just leave that table and tip them nothing.

If you have tickets to a show that does not have assigned seating, but instead has someone to seat you, plan on tipping about $10. Slipping a bill to the maitre d' along with a request about where you'd like to be positioned can go a long way to moving you away from the exit and closer to the stage.

Drop a dollar or two to the attendant at the pool whenever you pick up new towels.

At a low- to mid-tier hotel, leave 10 bucks or so for the housekeeping staff when you leave. At a very nice place, bump it to 20 or more.

If you visit a strip club... well, they're going to end up with all your cash, no matter how much or little you start with.

You're going to end up spending quite a bit of money on tips, but it's kind of fun. Spreading cash around can kind of make a person feel like a big shot, and, in the overall picture, it doesn't really add too much to the price of the trip.

20 responses to “Spread the wealth: Tipping in Vegas”


  1. Steve the Texan said:

    Shelby,
    In many cases, tips ARE the wages in Las Vegas, or the biggest part of them, at least. Cocktail waitresses, bartenders, dealers, most of them would not bring home much income at all if they had to get by on base pay alone. Customers are expected to tip. It's a long-established part of Vegas culture. In return they are given perks -- from low-level goodies like free drinks while gambling, to big items like free show tickets or expensive dinners on the house -- not seen in most other cities.


  2. Shelby said:

    Tipping is for excellent service only!! You read some of these comments and you could be out of pocket in a day!! At the end of the day, that is their job and peolle shouldn't expect tips to make up their wages; it's all a bit desperate!!


  3. Steve the Texan said:

    Here's a link to an article that may be helpful, Alan. It's specifically about buying show tickets, but the advice is valid for tours as well.
    * Buy in advance or wait?


  4. ALAN said:

    First time to Vegas. Want to do the grand canion heli trip to the floor. should I book from home or when I get there?


  5. John said:

    I always bring a stack of $2.00 bills for tipping. They're not common and they get you remembered.


  6. jen said:

    I have worked as a waitress at a couple of restaurants during college. We get paid minimum and tipping is appreciated. However the mentality that "if you're getting serviced, then tip" is absurd. All this is doing is "rewarding" work and poor behavior with a tip! This is backwards- by saying that you see an increase in service after you tip them? All that is being done is allowing bad work ethic to continue. Tip those that give amazing service.


  7. Susan said:

    Everyone should try working in the hospitality industry at some point in their life. If your server is anything but downright rude or abusive, then a tip should be left. If it's so bad you don't want to tip, then you should always notify a manager. If they are not there, then email their home office. 15% is the normal these days, but if you can't bring yourself to do it, then leave 10%. Those are not easy jobs. Those who find themselves rewarded for doing a good job seem to do a better job.


  8. Jim said:

    There seems to be a misconception...'You NEED to tip'. When in reality...NO YOU DON'T.

    I'm not cheap...in fact I like to tip, but only for good service!

    Did my cab driver take me the long way around thus upping my fare by $5-$10? The no tip for him.

    Was I waiting for a refill on my drink at the restaurant and it only got offered after my meal was eaten? This again will affect the tip (good or bad).

    I will always tip on my first 'free drink' while gambling...if I plan on being there a while. If you are sitting down for 5 minutes, why bother? (On the other hand I have played black jack for 12 hours straight and tipped on every drink.)

    My point is this...you DON'T HAVE TO TIP.

    Is it fun? yes.
    Is it merited at times? Yes.
    Should you feel pressured into tipping? No.

    It's your money. Tip for good service and you will continue to get good service. But if the service was poor...don't tip. Maybe they will learn to be more service oriented.


  9. Steve the Texan said:

    Toni, I can't imagine anyone getting upset at a little term of affection. You go ahead and call people "luv" if you'd like. About the only danger you may have is drunk young dudes getting the wrong idea and assuming you're hitting on them.


  10. toni naylor said:

    Being English, we call everyone (even strangers) darlin, luv, sweetie etc. Is this acceptible in Vegas?? (having never been to america before)


  11. Diane said:

    We left a couple of dollars each day for the maid in our hotel rather than one tip at the end as we thought it a bit unfair if the regular maid wasn't on duty when we left!


  12. Steve the Texan said:

    Sheldon,

    If you have some specific examples you could share, it would be helpful.


  13. Sheldon said:

    I was in Vegas back in August, quite often when i went to tip a person they told me no, they didn't want a tip


  14. Steve the Texan said:

    Tanya, a floor of about 20 percent (rounding up if needed) is a good estimate, increasing if the stylist does a particularly good job. I'd probably top out at around 40 percent for great work and a friendly stylist.


  15. Tanya said:

    What about for a hairstylist? My brother's getting married in Vegas on Sunday and a stylist is coming to the bride's room to do our hair - any thoughts on how much to tip her?


  16. Chris in Texas said:

    Be sure also to tip the valet parking staff when they get your car for you. I guess a few bucks would be acceptable but I always tip them $5 - after a few times they see me coming abd they will practically fight over who gets my car, and they will practically RUN to retrieve it.


  17. Brian Thomson, London UK said:

    Tipping is a must and we've found is worth every penny (cent).It does improve the service that you get and we've yet to find the obstinate or surly (nor tip pushy) that seems to be everyone's bane in life. It's one of the world's vacation destinations where everybody is out to have a great time and greasing the wheels does help you to feel good and the recipient as well


  18. Terry Barth said:

    Don't forget to tip your Concierge. They seem to be able to get you those hard to find tickets for the shows you wanted to see as well as getting you dinner reservations to the most popular dining spots as well as the clubs. Just remember - ANYONE THAT PROVIDES A SERVICE FOR YOU - YOU NEED TO TIP.


  19. Steve the Texan said:

    Tip what you can afford, Yo. When planning a Las Vegas trip, though, it helps to keep two things in mind:

    1. By being careful with your money it's possible to make the trip less expensive, but it's almost impossible to make it cheap. Everything in tourist Vegas is designed to part you from your money. They're honest about that, and usually at least give you a fun time in return.

    2. Bartenders, waitresses, dealers, cabdrivers, etc. don't care in the slightest that you're a student. Do your best to tip consistently, even if it's at a little lower amount, and you'll get better service.


  20. YO said:

    How about for students? i don't think we can tip like that can we?

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