How much should I tip?

When tipping a food delivery person, how much is appropriate?

It is now standard to tip a server in a restaurant anywhere from 15 to 20 percent; some people may even tip more, some also tip less depending on the service. How much should you tip a food delivery person when they bring you food you ordered to your home, office or meeting?

Research shows that food delivery people should be tipped 10 percent of the bill, at least $1 for bills up to $10. A person should tip 15-20 percent for a difficult delivery. The only exception is when you order a super-cheap meal, say $10 or less. In that case, give the driver a flat tip. Some say $5 is the absolute minimum.

Mike Lynn, associate professor of consumer behavior at the Cornell Hotel School, suggests tipping pizza delivery folk a minimum of $2 per pizza. His reasoning: Food delivery can be dangerous if delivering to crime-ridden neighborhoods or driving in bad weather, etc. suggests tipping 15 percent for normal service with a $2 minimum, 20 percent for excellent service, 10 percent or less for poor service, and at least 10 percent for orders of $50 or more.

Here are some common questions people have asked regarding tipping a food delivery person:

  • Do I still tip if there is a delivery charge? Don't assume a delivery charge goes to the deliverer. Ask the person who takes your order.
  • Do I really have to tip for online ordering? Yes, you really do need to tip. While someone who delivers food to your home isn’t waiting on you through the entire meal, their work may be even more stressful than serving in a restaurant.
  • How do I know delivery people actually get tips left on a credit card? You have no way of knowing this.
  • Is there any benefit to paying tips in cash? Not really, but if you simply don’t trust that delivery people will receive their tips at the end of the day, then go ahead and feel free to tip in cash.

In our world, the tip is also a part of someone’s income. You never know when that extra buck or two might help a person reach their next goal. As a part of managing your own funds, tipping is part of the cost of prepared meals you should consider for your budget.

As a part of our work, Michigan State University Extension provides financial literacy programming. To learn more about the positive impact of MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H career preparationmoney management and entrepreneurship programs, read the Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Employment.”

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