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Just as in the USA, tips in Mexico are not only very much appreciated, but they are also expected. That said, when it comes to leaving la propina, there are a few subtleties regarding when, where, and how much.
As a general guideline, beach destinations are more expensive than major cities or places in Mexico that are further off the tourist trail (both for visitors and for those who live and work there). Hospitality employees and locals in Mexico will tell you that the percentage for tipping in heavily trafficked destinations is often on the higher end, while elsewhere it tends to be a bit lower.
No matter where you are in Mexico, however, you’ll be tipping for most things along your travels, so it’s good to know what the locals do to avoid looking like a total gringo.
Overview of tipping in Mexico
|Situation||Should you tip?||How much?|
|Meal at a sit-down restaurant||Yes||10–20%|
|Drinks at a café||Yes||10–20%|
|Bartender||Yes||20 pesos per round, or 10–20% of total bill|
|Hotel housekeeping||Yes||25–50 pesos per day|
|Hotel concierge||Yes||100–150 pesos|
|Hotel room service||Yes||10–20%|
|Hotel porters||Yes||40–50 pesos|
|Taxi||Sometimes||10 pesos if they help with luggage|
|Tour guide (large groups)||Yes||100 pesos|
|Tour guide (private tour)||Yes||Half day: 200–400 pesos per person; full day: 300–600 per person|
|Spa treatments, massages, barbers, hairdressers||Yes||10–20% of the cost|
Tipping in restaurants and cafés is always a percentage, but that percentage varies
Tipping at restaurants in Mexico is always expected. However, how much you tip varies on the level of service and location within the country. Because beach destinations tend to see more foreign tourists from the United States and Canada, it is customary to tip between 15 and 20 percent. For destinations that are less touristy, like those in the interior of the country, locals will tell you that between 10 and 15 percent is sufficient.
Similar to the U.S., waitstaff in Mexico are often not paid a living wage. They rely on tips to heavily supplement their income. If you’re pleased with the service, it’s never a bad idea to tip on the higher end. But locals may go so far as to caution you against over-tipping (beyond 20 percent), because often that shifts the dynamic in destinations for domestic travelers who then may receive worse service than fat-tipping foreigners. Twenty percent is considered an excellent tip.
You can add a tip to the bill or tip in cash (“en efectivo”)
Most restaurants that accept credit cards will either have a line where you can write in a tip, or the server will ask you what percentage you want to leave. Typically tips that are added to the credit card bills are distributed among the entire restaurant staff. If you want to single out a specific employee for outstanding service, it is better to tip in cash.
Some checks include a service charge
It does not happen often, but occasionally some restaurants will add a service charge to the bill. This tends to happen in hotels or resorts, specifically with room service. You may see a note at the bottom of a room service menu or on the receipt that says a service charge has been tacked on. Check what percentage was added to your bill. It’s often about 10 percent. You can choose to add more on top of that, but it does not have to be much.
Yes, you tip at bars in Mexico, too
Just as in the U.S., tipping your bartender is a big “Si!” in Mexico. If you’re going round for round, you can leave pesos on the bar as you would at home. About 20 pesos per round is sufficient. If you open a tab and are paying at the end, then the same 10 to 20 percent rule as restaurants applies, again with that range depending on where you are.
It’s always nice to tip at hotels
Tipping at hotels in Mexico may not be as expected as in restaurants or bars, but it’s definitely appreciated, especially for hotel employees who may make below a living wage.
Housekeeping: 20 to 50 pesos per day
Hotel housekeepers are some of the most underpaid, but hardest-working, hotel employees. A good rule of thumb is to leave between 20 and 50 pesos per day. You can leave this tip daily or at the end of your stay. Sometimes the housekeeping staff changes every day, and other times you will be assigned one specific housekeeper for your visit. Leaving a little tip each time your room is cleaned will ensure that anyone who cleans it gets a tip.
Concierge: 100 to 150 pesos
A good concierge is sometimes like having a master key to the destination. They can often help you snag that exclusive beach club reservation, or tell you where the best street tacos are. Sometimes these insider secrets can help push a great trip into the “unforgettable” category, so it doesn’t hurt to leave a little something for the expert behind the scenes.
Room service waiters: appreciated, unless it’s already added to the bill
If an extra service charge is not added to your bill already (remember to check!), then tipping between 10 and 20 percent as you would at restaurants and bars is customary.
Porters: 40 to 50 pesos
If a porter is helping you bring your luggage to your room, then offer a tip of 40 to 50 pesos.
You do not need to tip taxi drivers—unless it’s an Uber
Believe it or not, taxis are the one place you are not expected to tip in Mexico. If the taxi driver helps you with your bags, you can offer them a little something like 10 or 20 pesos. But if not, then the rate is the rate. The only exception would be with Uber. Tipping your Uber driver in Mexico is the same as in the USA. A large portion of that rate goes directly to Uber, so adding a little something extra for your driver goes a long way.
Tour guides, however, should always get a tip
No matter if you’re part of a big group tour or a highly customized private tour, your tour guide is doing a lot of legwork and definitely should be tipped. For large group tours, 100 pesos per person is plenty.
The guidelines become a little more nuanced when it’s a private tour, which is often much more in-depth, customizable, and requires a lot of attention and detail. For a half-day private tour, it’s common to tip between 200 and 400 pesos, depending on what is offered and the level of service. For full-day private tours, anywhere between 300 and 600 pesos per person is much appreciated, again depending on what’s included with the tour and how involved the guide is.
Spas, massages, barbers, and hairdressers? 10 to 20 percent
Just like restaurants, cafés, bars, and most other services in Mexico, you can expect to tip between 10 and 20 percent on pampering, as well. The higher end of that spectrum is typically meant for the more touristy destinations, while the lower end is often reserved for nonbeach destinations. You can’t go wrong offering 15 to 18 percent across the board, no matter where you are in Mexico.