14 Things You Shouldn’t Feel Obligated to Tip For

Tipping in America is a topic that often sparks debate. Many Americans find the tipping culture challenging, and opinions vary widely on when to tip. A 2023 Statista survey revealed that while a significant portion of Americans tip between 16% and 20% of the total service cost, there’s still confusion about when it’s actually necessary. This has been exacerbated post-pandemic, with even online markets prompting tips at checkout.

To clarify this issue, we’ve delved into American tipping practices and survey responses and compiled a list of situations where tipping is generally not required. Here’s what you need to know about the most common scenarios where tipping isn’t expected in the US.

Employees At Retail Store

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

In the U.S., most retail store employees cannot accept tips. However, workers often go out of their regular duties to help customers. For instance, they help customers by pushing their shopping carts and loading heavy bags onto their car trunks. Even if they offer their service to you, it’s best not to tip them. Offering a tip might put their job at risk if they are caught accepting it.

Fast Food Hubs

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Unlike sit-in restaurants, tipping is not customary in fast food establishments across America. This is primarily because there is limited personal interaction with the staff who serve you. Customers typically place and pick up their orders at the counter. As a result, there’s no expectation for you to leave a tip at these venues.

Grocery Stores

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Grocery store employees, including clerks and accountants, earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. This is significantly more than the $2.13 per hour that tipped employees typically receive. Consequently, tipping employees at grocery stores is not customary.

Food Trucks

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

While some food trucks in the US may see themselves as casual dining spots and request tips of up to 20 or 30%, this can seem excessive. Since food trucks usually offer counter service without the full range of amenities found in sit-down restaurants, tipping isn’t always expected.

A Forbes 2023 survey found that about 40% of Americans don’t tip food truck employees. Therefore, it’s generally acceptable not to tip at food trucks, following social norms that recognize their limited services compared to traditional restaurants.

Housekeeping At Hotel

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Tipping the hotel housekeeping staff members in the US is controversial. It’s because different people have varying perspectives. However, as per a New York Times post, only 30% of hotel guests prefer paying any tip. It is mostly because people already pay a hefty price expecting a clean room and housekeeping services throughout their stay. It isn’t right to expect guests to be empathetic toward the average salaries of housekeeping staff members. It should be the job of the hotel authorities.

Lawyer Services

Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Tipping a lawyer is not customary, as lawyers hold a professional status and receive an income for their services. It is generally considered unorthodox and unnecessary to offer tips to lawyers, as they do not expect them.

Public Transport Drivers

Image Credits: Deposit Photos

Tipping public transport drivers in the US isn’t a mandatory social culture. This is because such drivers are already getting their designated salaries as per the US minimum wage law. Expecting a tip beyond that results in poor experience for the customers and creates unwanted ambiguity. Moreover, as the scope of interaction between passengers and drivers is less, there’s no point in tipping.

Airport Security Staff

Image Credits: Adobe Stock

You shouldn’t tip the airport security staff for their services for several reasons. First, they are salaried employees and are paid well enough. Second, forceful tipping might make the staff doubt your intentions, and they might call you for a secondary inspection.

E-Commerce Delivery Staff

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Delivery drivers often expect tips based on factors like package size or delivery distance, similar to restaurant workers in the US. However, unlike restaurant staff, delivery drivers typically follow predetermined routes and don’t make special trips for individual deliveries. They are appointed after correctly mapping the addresses in a specific route. Therefore, you aren’t liable to pay any tip to the delivery drivers as they are simply fulfilling their job duties.

Photography Services

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Photographers charge a reasonable amount to justify their services, whether full-time or self-employed. Therefore, you aren’t supposed to give them additional tips. Some photographers might demand a fixed percentage of the tip against the crew’s efforts, which you shouldn’t entertain. The price you pay for the photography or videography package as a whole includes the crew’s share, so paying extra for the same isn’t mandatory.


Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Teachers are crucial to educating children, which is inherently their duty and moral responsibility. Offering tips to teachers may raise concerns about their integrity and commitment to their profession.

Accepting tips also suggests impropriety, with authorities viewing it as a form of bribery for better grades. Moreover, such actions could jeopardize the teacher’s employment status and the student’s academic journey. Consequently, you shouldn’t consider tipping a teacher in the US.

Gas Station Operators

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

In America, you don’t need to tip a gas station attendant or operator because they perform a standard service for all customers. Their primary responsibility involves filling your car’s gas tank to a specified amount, which they do upon your request. Since they provide a standardized service and don’t offer personalized assistance, you are not expected to tip them.

Customs Agents

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Customs agents play a vital role in ensuring the security and compliance of international travelers and goods entering the country. However, tipping customs agents is neither customary nor necessary in the United States. Employees receive salaries for their duties, which include processing travelers and inspecting goods. As such, there is no need to offer tips to customs agents for their services.

Flight Attendants

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Flight attendants are essential crew members, ensuring passengers’ safety and comfort. However, tipping flight attendants is not customary or expected in the United States. Their role is included in the service provided by the airline, and their salary covers their duties. Therefore, you do not need to offer tips to flight attendants for their services.

Scroll to Top