A Tip About Tipping: It’s Different in Every State

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Jessica is a respected contributor to the Sampling America writing team, eloquently sharing tales of adventures across the country and beyond.

A video has recently gone viral of a rather salty DoorDash delivery person criticizing a woman for only tipping him $5 for the delivery of a $20 pizza because he said she had a “nice house” and thought he deserved more.

But isn’t a 25% tip high to begin with? It turns out, it may depend on what state you live in. Every state has a different expected tipping percentage, with some skewing much higher than others. And if you’re not aware of this, you may be in danger of being cursed at like the woman in the video!

Californians Are the Lowest Tippers

Mostly empty tip jar
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In sunny California, tips for service at restaurants are expected to be around 17.5% as of March 2023. You can, of course, tip more if you’d like, but according to recent surveys, almost 75% of California residents actually tip below the country’s standard 15% rate, making them the worst tippers in the U.S.

Idaho, Maryland, and Wisconsin Tie for Second-Lowest Tippers

Low tip
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While these three states actually see mid-range to high tipping standards (between 19% and 20% on average), 50% of residents in these states are notorious for tipping below this number. This means that servers at restaurants may not expect to see high tips here… but it doesn’t mean they are happy about it.

States That Tip Over 20%

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For a long time, the average tip expected for delivery people or waiters hovered around 15%, but inflation, higher costs of living, and other factors have caused it to increase.

Even the lowest tipping states in the U.S. begin at above 17% these days, but there are many states that take it even further. Indiana, Iowa, Wyoming, Kentucky, Ohio, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, Missouri, Montana, and Rhode Island all see an average tip percentage in excess of 20%, with Indiana and Wyoming topping out at the highest of this group at 20.8%. But there is one state that out-tips even these…

Delaware: Home of the Highest Tips in the Country

Happy server with tip jar
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Employees in the service industry in Delaware may have something to celebrate: their state has the highest tipping average of them all, coming in at around 21.8%.

If you dine in a restaurant here or have food delivered to you, expect that your server/deliverer will expect a higher tip than you may normally give in another state. Not the 25+ percent that the DoorDasher expected in that viral video, perhaps… but still high!


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