shutterstock_94225909Have you noticed something missing from Restaurant.com certificates lately? That’s right, the mandatory 18% gratuity has been removed from our restrictions! We have been listening to customer feedback and we heard you loud and clear: you want to be able to determine a tip yourselves. Now, you can tip as much or as little as you believe the service you receive warrants.

Need a quick refresher on some tipping etiquette? We’ve compiled some advice below.

15-20 percent is the norm: The basic guideline for tipping a waiter or waitress at a restaurant is to give 15-20 percent on the full bill. Tip more if your server offered extraordinary service and less if you weren’t satisfied. It’s not very nice to tip less than that, even if your service wasn’t up to your standards. In many restaurants, tips are shared between wait staff, hosts, bussers, and bartenders, and the tipped minimum wage can be as low as $2.13! Plus, you don’t want to be stingy: a 2012 study found that the average American tips 19.1 percent, up from 18.3 percent ten years ago.

Tip on the full price, not the discount: This goes for any deal and is just plain ole’ shutterstock_111942299proper tipping etiquette. Your server does the same amount of work for your meal when you use a discount, so they shouldn’t have to take a pay cut. Be sure to calculate gratuity on the full, pre-discount amount so servers stay happy and continue to provide excellent service to customers with coupons.

Tip more for large parties: Many restaurants add gratuity to the bill for large parties (you should be aware of this ahead of time). They do this to protect their staff from being stiffed on a large bill. Managing a large party with different food and drink orders is a difficult task. (We know this because many of us at Restaurant.com started out as waiters and waitresses!) Check with the restaurant beforehand!

Here are some more general tipping guidelines for other dining situations:

shutterstock_69059158Maitre d’: $5 to $25 for special efforts
Sommelier: This varies … tip 15 percent to 20 percent on the entire bill including the wine, and the restaurant will divide appropriately. Or, tip 10 percent to 15 percent on the wine alone.
Buffet Waiters and Waitresses: 5 percent to 10 percent, depending on the service provided.
Pizza Delivery: Depending on the distance and size of the order, anywhere from $1 to $5 is acceptable. “Delivery fees” are typically kept by the restaurant, not given to the driver.
Bartenders: 10 percent to 15 percent is standard.
Barista: Generally add your extra change into their glass jar … perhaps more if they remember your name and drink order every time!
Cruise Ship Waiters and Waitresses: $3 per day
If you are ordering takeout, it is not necessary to tip.

Remember, happy waiters equals happy customers – give and you shall receive!