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Tipping in San Francisco.

Tipping cultures and expectations vary greatly across different major cities and popular tourist destinations. How and who to tip in San Francisco will depend on what you’re doing, and how much you’ve enjoyed your experience. Doing what the locals do is usually a good start - read on to find out where a gratuity tip will be expected in San Francisco to avoid any awkward moments when paying restaurant bills or checking out of your hotel.

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Do you tip in San Francisco?

In San Francisco, like many popular travel destinations, tips and gratuities are discretionary and dependent on the service quality you’ve received. Sometimes it’s appropriate to tip simply because it’s customary - for example in a restaurant, hotel or cab.

Elsewhere, tipping might not always be expected but is most certainly appreciated. Read on to find out how to tip like a local when visiting San Francisco.

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Tipping in San Francisco in restaurants & bars

Plan to tip around 10-15% in San Francisco restaurants. However, the exact tip amount when eating out in San Francisco depends on the place, occasion, and order size. It’s customary to give your waiter or waitress a slightly higher tip than you would a bartender, as they are likely sharing their tip with the kitchen staff.

In bars and cafes in San Francisco you can round the bill to the next significant amount, or leave a small tip each time you order a drink. If you are in a fancy cocktail bar, where cocktail making is a craft - or have a particularly skilled barista make your cappuccino - you might wish to splash out and leave a bigger tip.

Suggested tip:

100 US dollars meal = suggested tip of 10 or 15 US dollars

10 US dollars for a drink = suggested tip of 1-2 US dollars

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restaurant bill

Tipping in hotels in San Francisco

If you’re staying in a hotel in San Francisco it’s standard practise to tip between 10-20%. In top end hotels with high service levels you’ll likely want to tip a range of staff, such as maids, bellboys, valets and front desk employees.

Who you tip, and how much, is ultimately at your discretion, and should be based on the levels of service you receive. To help you figure out how to budget and approach hotel tipping, check out our handy cheat sheet for tipping in San Francisco hotels.

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Hotel staffSuggested TipReasons to tip


5-10 USD

Housekeepers and maids are among the hardest working hotel staff. It’s common to say thanks for great service with a small daily tip.

Luggage attendants / Porters

1 USD / per bag

When you arrive at your hotel in San Francisco you’ll probably need help getting your bags to your room. It’s customary to give a small tip to porters so don’t forget to have some small change when checking in!

Concierge/ Receptionist

10-15 USD

If the hotel concierge during your stay in San Francisco offers exceptional service, you may want to tip. Tips aren’t needed if reception staff simply helped ordering a cab or booking dinner reservations.


5-10 USD / each time

If you’re driving, pay a small tip every time a valet retrieves your car from the hotel parking lot.

Tipping taxi drivers in San Francisco

It’s common to tip 10% in San Francisco for a longer journey, and if you were helped with your luggage. For short journeys the easiest option is to round up the bill to the nearest significant amount in US dollars. Don’t forget, if you’re using local taxis rather than a ride-hailing service such as Uber, you’ll need to agree on the fare before your journey.

Suggested tip:

50 US dollars taxi bill = 5 US dollars tip for a longer journey

7.50 US dollars taxi bill = 0.50 US dollars tip for a short journey

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tipping taxi drivers

Tipping tour guides in San Francisco

Your tour guide can make or break your experience when travelling - so when you find a great guide in San Francisco do tip them the standard 10%. Tips are equally welcome whether you’re taking a private, multi-day, or walking tour.

If you join a free tour in San Francisco it’s worth tipping too. Tours like these often operate on a ‘pay what you like’ basis. Your tips may be the only income your guide makes.

Sometimes you may be asked to leave a TripAdvisor review if you enjoyed your experience instead of tipping. This might help guides earn commission - and help other travellers have their own great experience in future.

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tipping tour guides

Tipping at a spa in San Francisco

If you need a massage to unwind after your adventures in San Francisco it is appropriate to leave a small tip to the therapist. Budget around 10-15% of the treatment price.

That means that for a massage costing you 100 US dollars, you might consider leaving a tip of 10 US dollars if the service was average, or as you’d expect - or say thanks with a 15% tip if the therapist provided an outstanding treatment.

Suggested tip:

100 US dollars massage bill = 10 US dollars tip to masseuse for a standard treatment

100 US dollars massage bill = 15 US dollars tip to masseuse for an outstanding treatment

tipping at a spa

Tips for tipping in San Francisco

Tip in the local currency
Whenever you tip during your trip to San Francisco it is important to use the local currency, that is - US dollars. Otherwise you’ll leave your service providers with cash they can’t use without paying high fees on currency exchange. Prepare some small change in the local currency before leaving the airport if you can, to tip drivers and hotel porters.
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The tip may already be included in your bill
Service charges may be added to the bill automatically when you’re in a restaurant, hotel or bar in San Francisco. Double check your bill before deciding whether or not to tip. In some countries adding a service charge is a common practice, in others less so.
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Tipping on a business trip
Don’t get caught out in an embarrassing situation at a business dinner. As tipping etiquette varies by country, it’s important you familiarise yourself with international tipping standards, to avoid doubt and awkward moments!
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Use your own judgement
Tipping is a great way to acknowledge and reward great service. If the service charge is not already added to your bill, then tipping is at your discretion - but will always be appreciated. The staff working in restaurants and hotels in San Francisco often have tough jobs for lower end wages - think twice before canceling any gratuity tip request on their payment terminals.

Tipping in San Francisco FAQ

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Tip and spend in local currency with Wise US dollar travel card.

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