If you come from Europe or other parts of the world where tipping is not expected, you will be surprised at the fact that in Vegas everybody expects a tip, regardless of their salary. I still remember a conversation I had with a server working at a top buffet in Vegas who told me he often earned about 300 dollars a day in tips!
In the past, a Vegas visitor who would not tip generously would often be frowned upon or face some rudeness, even! Luckily, after the economic crisis the culture has changed in Vegas: I see people happy to receive any tip at all, in most cases. This means that these days, when you prepare for your Vegas trip, you don’t have to set aside too much tipping money at all. As a rule of thumb, at the risk of sounding too harsh, I’d say tip if you have received the service expected in a courteous and efficient manner: we don’t tip anybody who has been rude or has provided a service which is not fair, not ethical and not efficient. For example, if you checked in and your room was dirty (and there are some dirty rooms in Vegas!), don’t feel obliged to tip (why should you?) but rather call housekeeping and have the room properly cleaned (you can tip the maid who cleans it directly). The same is applicable to anybody who expects a tip: only if they provide a good service in a courteous, efficient way. It sounds like common sense, but we’ve met visitors who tip regardless of how bad the service received may be, and we feel it’s not fair. You (the visitor) deserve to be treated well, since it adds to your overall experience of Las Vegas and, if it’s a good one, you are likely to return, over and over!
Let’s discuss the main ‘tipping situations’ you will encounter in Vegas and how much you are ‘expected’ to tip:
– taxis/cabs. There is no real set tip amount so, in general, if you feel your cab driver has taken you from A to B efficiently (without getting lost or taking the longer route, the latter may be a problem at times as explained on our transportation in Vegas page) and has helped you with your luggage, then 15% of the fair is fine; if your fair ends up being really high, then you don’t have to feel pressurized to tip 15% but you could tip your driver a fixed rate, lower than 15%.
– bell desk. On rare occasions some resorts apply a porterage fee if you require a bellman to take your luggage to your room (so, it’s advisable to ask beforehand if it’s the case in your chosen resort). However, frankly, we have never had to pay any porterage fee no matter how full the cart was once we loaded all our bags on it. We tip the ‘bellman’ a couple of dollars minimum, depending on the number of bags and how courteous and efficient he/she is. Some visitors tip a dollar per bag, others 2 dollars per suitcase, but it’s really up to you of course. As I said, these days I have found all bellmen quite happy to be tipped something regardless of how little it may be (compared to the ‘good old days’). One annoying novelty I have noticed in some resorts lately is that bell service can be split in two: the person who collects your bags and the person who takes your bags to your room; therefore, make sure you know ahead of time, so you don’t leave all your cash with the 1st person and then you have nothing to give to the person who actually does most of the work (that of taking all your bags to your room). If you have very little cash to tip, then just leave one dollar with the person collecting your bags (especially if you placed them on to the cart yourselves) and 2 dollars to the person who takes it to your room. You can be much more generous of course, especially if the suitcases are heavy and they have actually loaded them on and off the cart for you) but if I were you I’d keep to those ratios in the case of ‘split’ bellmen service; just a thought.
– maid. If you found a clean room at check in and if the room is serviced every day in an efficient and satisfactory manner, you may want to leave a couple of dollars every day for your maid (or at least one dollar). If you don’t require maid service at all (sometimes we don’t, because we have many items around the room which we don’t want moved), you can just leave a small tip at the end of your stay. If your room was dirty to begin with and you think the service is not up to good standards, you should not tip at all.
– buffet server. If you plates were cleared quickly and efficiently, and if your drinks were brought to you without making you wait too long, then a tip is expected; how much is up to you, but I have seen people leave one to two dollars per person (so, if you are a group of four people, you could leave from four dollars or up to eight dollars in total; you can always leave more, of course). If you have special requests over and over, you should be tipping a bit more. Some buffets have self-serve drinks, so the aspect to consider is whether your plates were cleared off your table quickly enough. Sometimes when I noticed the person clearing my table is not the same as the server, I give him/her a special tip because I feel they have the toughest job; I noticed that at high end resorts (of course, provided they cleared my table constantly). So don’t get too ‘stuck’ on your server (some of them are pretty average in their service, at best) but keep an eye out for the person who is keeping your table clear of dirty plates! Having said that, one particular server at Bellagio (William, who’s worked there for many years) is so classy, so efficient, so courteous (making me feel really like a special guest) that I do try and leave a generous tip; if this happens to you (if you have a really awesome server), tipping is a must, since some servers these days seem to be just ‘getting through’ it.
– valet service. We don’t use it, ever; if we rent a car, we self-park. However, if you use a valet you are expected to tip him/her, of course; you can, as a basic tip, leave a couple of dollars at drop off and the same on pick up. Some say it’s courteous to tip more during the hottest months (because the valet will have had to walk through the outside heat to pick up your car); it makes sense, of course, but again it’s really up to you.
– check in (registration). You are not really expected to leave a tip at check in. Registration should be a process based on fairness and ‘better rooms’ or upgrades should be assigned in a logic way (for invited VIP guest, for example). But some Vegas visitors try to tip at registration in order to be given a ‘free upgrade’ we explain this on our ‘twenty-dollar’ trick page. Please don’t forget to share or recommend this page if you found it useful, thank you: