Tipping in Mexico

A lot of people ask me when they come to Mexico, how much should I tip and when.  I am in several ExPat groups and someone sent me this article for my blog, and I thought I would share.

This article is from http://www.mexperience.com, and is a very popular website for ExPats in Mexico.

Reading this should help you with any questions on how much to tip and when.

Thanks, Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

The Real Value of Your Tip

Tipping people for services rendered is a practice that is deeply engrained into Mexican culture.

Many of the people working in Mexico’s tourism and catering service industries earn a low minimum wage and depend upon your tips to earn their living.   The importance of earning those tips, coupled with extensive training programs rolled-out nationwide out by Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism, have caused service levels in Mexico to increase remarkably over the last decade.

The practice of tipping in Mexico goes far beyond the restaurant table: there are many situations where a small tip is appropriate, and keeping change on hand, in the form of small denomination coins, is essential for this purpose when you are visiting or living in the country.

There are two situations which are worth a particular mention as they are often overlooked by foreign visitors:

The first relates to the unsung heroines (they are invariably women) of the hotel industry: chamber maids.   They will often travel a considerable distance to reach your hotel and spend the day cleaning and maintaining guest rooms in good order, so that when you get back after to your room, it’s waiting for you clean, fresh and tidy.  It’s appropriate to leave a small tip and leave it each day because work schedules change, and the maid who cleaned your room initially may not be on duty the day when you leave.  The amount of the tip should vary depending upon the category of hotel; a sum in Mexican pesos, left in cash on the side table (next to the maid’s greeting card if one is present), equivalent to between US$1 and US$5 (for highest-end luxury hotels) per day is suggested and will be sincerely appreciated.

The second situation relates to “all inclusive” hotels and travel packages.  A small few packages stipulate that ‘tips are included’ and in this case no further tipping is required.  However in most cases, porters, the concierge, table staff, and the chamber maids (see above) will appreciate a small tip – even if, for example, the price of your meals (or just breakfast) is included in the room rate.  A dollar per bag for porters, a dollar or two left on the table after a breakfast or meal, and a modest tip for the chamber maids will add less than US$40 to your total spend over a seven-day vacation in Mexico; and the amounts you tip will mean a great deal to the people serving you and your partner or family during your stay.

Our guide to tipping in Mexico contains a comprehensive list of situations and the amounts you may consider tipping in given circumstances.

Tipping in Mexico

Tipping is common in the United States: it is almost second-nature and practiced frequently at most service establishments. In many European countries, it is not so common or customary to tip people for services.

In Mexico, not only is it customary, it is expected and appreciated in return for good service.

Most people working in Mexico’s tourism and service sectors rely on your tips to supplement their basic pay and they give good service to prove that it makes a significant difference to them.

When you are traveling in Mexico, always keep some loose change in your pocket because you never know when you’re going to need some of it for a tip.

Even fringe services like someone at a taxi rank opening the door for you (and perhaps putting your cases in the car’s trunk) should receive a small tip (just 1 or 2 pesos will suffice in these cases).

Some hotels and tours indicate that “all tips are included in the price”; if this is the case, fair enough, and there is no need to tip further. You may still wish to leave a small tip for the maids at the rooms you stay in, or offer the tour guide a small tip at the end of the program.

Although tips are frequent in Mexico, the amounts are relatively small, and they really can make a different to the person whom you are rewarding.

If you did not get poor service, you should consider tipping in these situations:

 

Restaurants – 10% – 15% is normal, depending on the class of establishment and level of service you received. At diners and similar places 10% is sufficient; at higher-end restaurants and bistros, 15% is expected for good service.

Hotels – Bellboys should be paid around US$1 per bag; Concierge around US$2 equivalent if they do something for you (e.g. book a table at a local restaurant); more if they undertake some particular research (e.g. found you a local tour operator, car rental agency, or chauffeur). If you don’t speak Spanish, remember that they will also be acting as translators for you and you should take this into account with your tip.

Hotel Maids – Many people leave a tip for the Maid, about US$1-US$5 equivalent per night’s stay, depending on the class of establishment. It’s best to leave your tips daily as the maids who are assigned to look after your room are probably on a rotating schedule and may not be on duty the day you leave.

Gasoline Service Stations – If you rent a car and buy fuel, 3-5% of the cost of the fuel is normal, with 5-10% of the cost of the fuel if the attendant provides additional services (water, oil, tire pressure, etc). It’s usual to leave a few pesos tip within a rounded amount; for example, if you are filling up with $200 pesos of fuel, then you may tell the attendant that you want $190 or $195 pesos of fuel; you hand over the $200 peso bill and the attendant keeps the change. Read related guide to Driving in Mexico. You’ll need to ask for the additional services if you want them.

Car Valets – If you drive to a bar or restaurant and have your car parked by the establishment’s valet service, you should tip the attendant around US$1 equivalent in pesos when you leave, unless the valet has a pre-advertised rate (probably higher than this) in which case, pay that rate and no more.

Porters – When you arrive at a bus station, airport or hotel there will usually be a group of porters nearby waiting to take your bags. US$1 per bag in pesos equivalent is sufficient; perhaps a little more if the bags are over-sized, particularly heavy or if the attendant offers some additional value, for example, some local advice or directions.

Bus Station Taxi Rank Attendants – If you carried your own bags to the official taxi booth at the bus station, you may find that there is an assistant waiting nearby there who will offer to carry your bags once you have purchased your ticket. You don’t have to allow this person to help you, but if you do, you may find it more efficient getting the next taxi from the rank. See Traveling by Bus in Mexico for more details. US$1 in pesos equivalent is a fair tip. See Traveling by Bus in Mexico.

Taxis – If you take a cab from the street, it’s appreciated if you round up the meter charge to nearest 5 or 10 pesos depending on the comfort and speed of your journey; however, taxis hired from taxi ranks at hotels or official taxi ranks should be paid the advertised rate (or the rate you agree in advance) and no more. Also read the guide about Traveling by Taxi in Mexico which includes a link to current taxi prices in Mexico.

Bars and Cantinas – Tables at these are often attended (you don’t need to go to the bar to order food or drink) – and a tip of 10% of the value of your spending that evening is normal.

Car Park Attendants – Often, car parks will have an “attendant”; a man or woman dressed up in a security-type uniform, who may direct you to a free spot, and see you reverse out when you return. These attendants are often older men who also keep an eye on things while you’re away. 2-3 Pesos is sufficient; a little more if they help you load your shopping bags into your car.

Spas – For personal services at Resort Spas, 10-15% of the value of the service (e.g. a Massage) is normal. If you’re staying at a Destination Spa, you can tip good service personally, 5-10% of the service’s ‘stand alone’ value is fine; or you can add a tip to your final bill, to cover everyone—even the ‘behind the scenes’ people: 10-15% of the bill is sufficient. For more information about Spas, read our guides to Spas in Mexico.

Toilets / Restrooms – Public toilets / restrooms are a rare sight, and if you find one, it may not be very pretty! Some public toilets now make a small charge for entry, and you’ll find these are usually reasonably clean and tidy. If one of these is not available, go to a restaurant, bar (even if you’re not eating or drinking at it) or department store if there’s one nearby. You may well find an attendant there who is looking after the place, making sure it’s clean tidy; some may hand you a paper towel to dry your hands. Near the wash-basins, you may see a small wooden box, sometimes with a piece of cloth inside (and usually a coin or three on it). 2-5 pesos tip, commensurate with the class of establishment, is sufficient.

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