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Home » Food & Drink

How Much Do you Tip for Takeout Food?

Last updated by on 49 Comments

How Much Tip for Takeout (if anything)?

A while back, I asked readers the question, “how much do you tip for food delivery?“. It inspired an interesting, and somewhat heated debate! The differences in opinion in that debate highlight the ambiguity around tipping in the U.S., particularly in the restaurant industry. There seems to be no defined standard for anything.

Well, I have a related confession to make. Until recently (and maybe this is just me being completely clueless on my part), I didn’t realize that some people make it common practice to tip on takeout, or carryout orders that you pick up yourself. Wow! Who knew? Obviously, not me. But am I alone on this one? I don’t think so.

Do you Tip for Carry-Out what you Normally Tip at a Restaurant?

how much do you tip for takeout

For a sit-down meal with waiting service, I usually stick to 15% tip, but go up to 20% if the service is good and I like the waitstaff. I go down to 10% if I get crappy service or feel like I have been disrespected. And I’m afraid I have no idea what, if anything, is customary in the United States to tip for takeout food?

I think my whole thought process was that I pay around 15-20% for sit-down meals because of all of the added service that the waitstaff adds to the meal. I didn’t realize until recently that some waitstaff in sit-down restaurants that manage the register actually make the same low waiting wages and rely on takeout order tips to make a fair wage. And to be honest, I have no idea how rare or common this is in the restaurant industry.

So, I have two questions for the readers:

  1. Do you tip for takeout?

  2. How much do you tip for takeout?

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49 Comments »
  • Julie says:

    I had no idea about that either. I actually never tipped on take out orders, nor did I ever consider that I should tip on those orders.

  • RB says:

    I work in the back of a restaurant, and my job is to take, and put together to go orders. At this restaurant, the customer parks in one of several designated spots, and I run the food out to them. Not everyone tips, but the ones who do tip between 10 and 20%. They are tipping for the friendly service, and the extra convenience. I believe if you are too lazy to even get out of your car to pickup dinner, you should leave a tip!

    • Kim says:

      Why is someone who frequents a curbside takeaway lazy??? Don’t ASSume that a person is lazy. I have had a child in a car seat, been on crutches or other reasons when I have frequented this service. I ALWAYS tip and usually 20% or more!

    • Blair says:

      Tip on takeout? Dont think so. Unless they offer you water or anything while your waiting, your just picking up, how is it sensible to tip for something that was never waited on? It’s not like they picked up after you or delivered it.

      • Hey Blair says:

        When I waited tables, we put together the to-go food, including making milkshakes or smoothies to go alongside, rang up the customer, and were responsible for paying if they didn’t show up. Most people were awesome and some people said what you did (by the way, we could only give away “free” water if we paid for the cup!)

        No tips for all that WHILE waiting on other people who are tipping would be cause for us to treat you less nicely. Think of it this way: if you don’t tip, whether you eat in or take it with you, the wait staff will remember..

  • R S says:

    I’ve tipped for the carryout service. when it’s been brought out to my car. I’ve also tipped for carryout when it’s for a party, because they usually help bring the large platters out to the car, which saves several trips. The nebulous factor there is that they send 3 people out with me, and I don’t know who to hand a cash tip to. I typically end up tipping w/ my CC and hope they know that their help was appreciated..

  • bh says:

    I tip based on what was done to get the food to me, just like in a restaurant sitting down. A server has to run back/forth, be jovial, chat it up etc & gets 15-20%. A pick-up order just needs to be presented well on time & gets 10-15% at most.

  • I tip in all food service establishment because I know how little these poor people make. My daughter was a server and told me about all the people who stiffed her as well as tipped generously. I have had Chinese food delivered. I know it has to be the owner doing the delivering. I still tip 155 percent. These people are working and need to be compensated for their service.

    Don’t be cheap. People usually never forget the good tippers and always remember the bad tippers.

  • r says:

    I tip ~10% on take-out orders and ~20% on sit-down restaurants. i figure take-out orders should be tipped less since there is no busboy involved (but this is coming from somebody who has never worked in the food services industry)…

  • Jillian says:

    Restaurant tipping should not be a standard 20%. I’ve worked in your typical chain restaurant (think Office Space) to some of the nicest restaurants. The typical check at a chain restaurant might be $25, but the server probably has to visit the table several times to refill sodas, bottomless chips, etc. At a more upscale restaurant folks tend to get a glass or bottle of wine, and an entree, which requires the server to visit the table only a couple of times – the remainder of the service is provided by food runners, bus boys, etc, whom the server will “tip out” at the end of the night.

    In either case, I think that 20% is the minimum for good service. If you feel the server did an excellent job, go as high as 30%. Tip 10-15% on delivery and take-out orders.

    • abc says:

      If you don’t think 15-20% is enough, perhaps you need to find a different place to work.

      • Hey abc says:

        servers in this state are paid TWO dollars per hour and if restaurant is slow, make less than $30/day

        We had to clock out before cleaning bathrooms, rolling silverware (yup, we did both :p ew, huh?) and some people still didn’t tip at all.

        it’s tough.

        abc, i think you’re right, Jillian should change jobs-

        keep in mind, folks, if you like your waitstaff show them by tipping well- greater than 20% is worthwhile if you appreciate the service. they’re probably doing way more work than you see

        • kit7kat says:

          I have a friend work in an Asian restaurant. He get paid minimum wage but could not keep the tip. It goes to the owner. Personally I do not tip for take out and do tip around 15 to 20% for sit down. Not all customers are rich like restaurant workers that get paid less. If someone do not treat me well, I never go there again, whose loss?

  • Paul says:

    10-15% on carry out.

    15-20 on table service – almost always 20% unless I am disappointed with something that the server could have prevented.

  • Shawn says:

    I never tip for orders that I place on the phone and then go pick up myself. When I tip, I feel I’m tipping for good service, being waited on. When I pick it up myself, I’m buying a product and paying what the product costs, no more.

    For delivery, I do tip, but not very much. I usually tip about $2 no matter how much my order was. I figure the person is doing the same service for me (bringing me the food) no matter if my order is $10 or $40. So, I should pay them the same. If it’s bad weather outside, rain or snow, I tip more.

  • IndeGuru says:

    Hi, It depends on my cash flow. I did not tip for Subway, fastfood when econ was good. I recently started tipping for takeout. Inde.

  • JB says:

    I have never tipped on a to go order. It is my understanding that tipping is part of receiving a service (refilling water, taking order, etc) which doesn’t make me think of a to go order. Most people that tip on a to go order seem to often do so out of guilt or ambiguity.

    I always tip well when eating out since I am receiving a service.

    Frankly, I wish the whole process would be clear and just built into the price of dining out. Or pay waiters/waitresses a living wage and build that into the price of the food.

    • Kerri says:

      I agree totally! As I’m sitting here at the bar in ruby tuesday its so akward but the bartender does put the order together as she is serving other costumers then they stand there as you sign slip I gave 15% but why do we not feel obligated to tip@ mcdonald, bk etc

  • Anthony says:

    Sorry, no tip for takeout. Otherwise, I always tip 15-20% for sit down meals and delivery.

  • fool says:

    I tip between 10-15%… Even when I pickup…

  • Vydra says:

    Tip 20%. 50% if I feel wacky! No matter what. Take out. Delivery. Bar. Nice restaurant. Crappy restaurant. One soda, one beer.

    Doesn’t matter.

    I lived in New Orleans, where almost every single person I knew lived off of tips. The whole, ‘I’ll tip less if I didn’t like the service’ is awful.

    Maybe their manager told them to cover 3 times the tables they normally have, maybe the line cook is sick, and the food is just going to be bad, maybe the hostess is being awful to them.

    What I’m saying is: crap runs downhill at a bar/restaurant/whathaveyou and the lowly service people take the brunt of it, and usually work for a few bucks an hour.

    If you can’t afford the tip, you can’t afford to eat.

    What if you were on a tip-based pay for your job? How do you think you’d do?

    Off the soapbox. :)

    • ejs says:

      If I had to work on tips, I’d leave my bs at the door just like I do at work as a teacher. I can’t be rude or negligent to my students just because I don’t feel well or someone is being crappy to me. Geez, I WISH I could get tipped for the extra hours and effort I put into my job. I’d be RICH! I almost always leave a tip and usually a generous one for service that is at least mediocre, but if a server is consistently negligent AND rude, I just feel like a dummy if I leave them some of my hard-earned money as a reward for being a jerk who did a terrible job.

  • Alaska says:

    I add a few extra bucks to my check when I sign my bill. When you’re hired as waitstaff, just because you’re working the curbside take-away doesn’t mean your hourly wage magically increases. You’re still making 2.65 an hour or whatever it is these days.

  • Jen says:

    With takeaway, no tip. Sometimes, the cost savings of not having to leave the tip is the only reason I am able to “splurge” on a real restaurant. Otherwise, my dining out custom would go to a fast food establishment.

  • Balance Sheet says:

     I too did not know the particular ratio of tipping. Didn’t know waitstaff was so dependent on tipping. Nice insight!

  • Master Allan says:

    How about one of my favorite restaurants like Chili’s? I may get take out but always prefer parking and entering the side door especially for take out.

    I give the cashier my order, usually a meal for one, pay for it, wait about ten minutes, and leave with my order. I certainly don’t feel this warrants a tip but that must be a real bad position to work for $3.00/hr.

    If I had a complex order, a number of questions or specific request, or waited outside in the pickup parking space, then a few dollars would be appreciated. But tipping someone who punches a few keys on the register to me is like tipping the city bus driver for doing his job.

    • Erin says:

      I used to get take out at Ruby Tuesdays weekly when I worked at the mall and I’d go to the bar, place my to go order and tip $1 because really what did he do? He pushed some buttons and ignored me while I was waiting, gee thanks. The end. And really that was still like 9% so he didn’t have much to complain about I guess since 10% seems to be average.

  • Christina says:

    When you placed your order did you talk to someone? Were they pleasant and helpful? Did they take your order? Did they take the time to make sure there were utensils, condiments, napkins, maybe bread if that’s customary at that particular restaurant, or that your order is correct and complete?

    There’s more to it than pushing a button and taking your money. Frankly, that kind of mentality and ignorance is insulting.

    It doesn’t need to be 20%. It doesn’t need to be based on percentage at all. A couple dollars is all it takes.

    $0 tip * 15 people = $0 , $3 tip * 15 people = $45 .

    They’re still providing you a convenient service and if you are that strapped for cash and $3 is to much to part with then go to McDonald’s.

  • Alex says:

    I usually don’t tip on takeout unless they bring the food to my car or go out of their way to help. If they do then ill leave few dollars. I leave a dollar if they are sweet.

  • Pik says:

    I do tip for carry out.. 5 to 10 %. I do not believe it is mandatory. Tipping is for a service to get the food to you either delivery or waiter/ waitress. The price on the menu is the cost of the food and the prep ( employees and overhead) thus this is included in the price on menu..when you get carry out there are no dishes to clean no tables to wipe. Do you tip your cashier at the grocery store, the service person when you get your oil changed… Do you really have to tip someone for doing their job. I look at a tip as a thank you for making my life easier and I do it without conviction.

  • Lira says:

    I don’t get it. If I go to Old Navy and buy some pants—I don’t tip them for taking the pants out of the box and hanging it up, making sure it’s neat, checking me out at the register. And those folks make the same amt of money. I think the American tipping culture is getting out of control.

    • Black dynamite says:

      Everyone wants something for nothing these days. Tipping is for service. If I have to drive to the restaurant, waste my time and gas, why would I tip the person who takes my money and hands me the food? That is stupid. They don’t give you a discount on the food for picking it up yourself so why should I tip? Whats next, leave a tip for the guy who cleans the bathrooms? The amount they charge for meals these is ridiculous as it is. There is so much profit in food it’s crazy. 4 chicken tenders and fries $10 or more, the actuall cost of that food is maybe $2. So then it is marked up by 500% to make chicken tenders, effort and time is minimal. Restaurant makes a big profit and part of that money pays the staffs hourly wage. The old navy example was perfect.

  • Erin says:

    I don’t tip for carry out except maybe some change like I do when I get my coffee in the morning. The staff isn’t doing anything special putting in my order and then handing it to me is their job and nothing more. I do tip delivery drivers (10%-15%) and waitresses 15-30% depending on how nice they are and how helpful I’ve found them. Yes I know that they are dependent on my tips but I never forced them into that profession and it’s not really my responsibility to take care of them.

  • Black dynamite says:

    I will tip for carry out if they give me a discount on the food to compensate me for my gas. How about that? Lazy fuks always want something for nothing. I don’t tip the cashier at target, yet she talks to me, is cute, and bags my stuff and takes my money.

  • TopoftheCraft says:

    I dont tip at McDonalds so why tip for takeout at a restaurant.

  • J says:

    I’m about to take a job at Bertucci’s (Italian Restaurant) again as a Carry-Out Hostess to hopefully work up to Waitress this time. The Carry-Out Hostess is lucky to get $10 in tips a week, if any, and if I do say so myself, the food is very good. What can I do to make more in tips? I would appreciate any feedback. Thank you for your time.

    • Big T says:

      This is how my people get good tips. $3-5 a visit. Super friendly. A lot of hostesses ect. are the cute girls. I’m a fat mom, believe me–leave the judgmental attitude behind and know that my family and I are MUCH more likely to be repeat customers and TIPPERS when you are glad to see me!! Always include free bread, or anything else, like chips at a Mexican place, that we would ordinarily get with our meal. Utensils etc. good too. And I guess this is normal human behavior, but if I tip you, REMEMBER ME!! Write down names if need be. If I order and my husband forgets to tip you, don’t sweat it. I’ll tip more next time as long as you are friendly!!

  • Darquent Mahn says:

    C’mon folks, tipping for carry out?? I have no problems with kicking a few bucks to someone if they bring it to my car but if I go in and pick it up at the register, why would I tip??? If you want to tip because you just want to, that’s fine. I’ll never have a problem with anyone doing a good deed. But to say that you SHOULD tip doesn’t make sense. When you buy a Big Mac, you’re paying for the food, the cook, the packaging and the cashier. Same with any other restaurant, low or high end. The cooks in the kitchen are the ones that plate/package everything that’s prepared so why are you tipping the cashier? For bringing the food out to the counter in a bag?? The tip comes in for all the additional services. I tend to be a pretty good tipper but I don’t tip in circumstances that don’t warrant it. In my humble opinion, many of the fast food stores that have tip jars out only started doing this because people were tipping them for just doing their job and now some of them think they are entitled to it.

  • Mitt Romney says:

    On take out orders your saving the restaurant money by not taking a table, so no need to tip. They save money on dish washers and table bussers. They won’t need as much square footage so their rent or building is cheaper. Plus they would rather have your business with no tip, than no business at at all.

  • Channing says:

    I’ve worked as a hostess at a fine dining restaurant and as a cashier/food prepper at a local sandwich shop. Having that background, I’m aware that these positions usually only earn minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage and rarely get tips. However, my issue is ensuring that the tip goes to the people who cooked and prepared my order (always check to make sure it’s correct before tipping!) I wouldn’t want my tip to be pocketed by the cashier if they did nothing else but ring up the order. For takeout orders, I suggest asking for the person’s name on the phone who’s taking your order as they are at least half responsible for making sure it’s correct. Be sure to tip the correct person and not the jar where it will be divided equally. Also I never tip for takeout at a restaurant I haven’t eaten at before anymore. I have in the past and after eating my meal, discovered the food was not good and I would not be returning. Correct special orders, large orders, and restaurants you frequent warrant a tip; based on the service and quality anywhere from 5-10%.

  • Paul says:

    Tipping is only common in some countries.

    Hence, it reasonable when using Australian themed restaurants in US to not tip, but suggest that they triple the minimum wage.

    On the other hand, in places where tips may be taken from staff by management, it can be appropriate playing the obnoxious foreignor and pretending to not tip, but discretely tipping in local cash over 100%.

    Elsewhere, I only tip when I think the service is really good, when I intend to return and they will remember me, or when I am with people who will return.

  • MyTipsBigger says:

    Tipping should be a law. Every worker, for every trade/skill, should carry litte jars dangling from their necks with a ‘tips sign.’ For example Cop comes and profiles your ass, proceeds to kick your ass for not having any drugs, and then takes you to jail for assault on him, tip his jar 10%-15% of your bond. I mean, you did get served?

  • Belloski says:

    I just tipped on a carry-out order I believe for the first time tonight. Restaurant was not real busy and cashier helped me take order out to my car. The cashier at this particular joint is tending bar and taking orders and bagging them up. I don’t owe them the tip but I do consider the low wages they are paid. If I don’t have tip money then I don’t leave it of course. I receive some tips at my job. I feel like I already get paid to do my job, but some folks just want to show some appreciation sometimes. I don’t feel like I deserve it any more than the next guy. I agree that the tip should not be necessary. That things should cost what they cost and people should be paid what they deserve. It’s simple that way.

  • Ptowndc77 says:

    Many of you sound like uppity a-holes! You obviously just see these people as the “help” or servants of some kind. I always tip at least 10% for take out and 20-30% for sit down. You have no idea what people in the service industry have to put up with. I hope they remember you and do something horrible to your food!

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