HOW TO TIP IN AUSTRALIA
In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette which is ingrained in all trades, from wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades. Tipping in Australia can be confusing for tourists because unlike the US where tips are expected everywhere, tipping here is entirely voluntary so do not feel obligated to leave a gratuity.
The questions `when?` and `how much?` that surround tipping can leave some travelers confused, as the practice varies. This guide attempts to cover most situations that you, as a tourist, will encounter. Hopefully using these `tips` will provide a smooth experience when interacting with locals in restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators, and taxis.Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars, or should I use Aussie dollars?
The currnecy in Australia is the Australian dollar (referred to as the `Aussie` and abbreviated as `AU$`) US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your US dollars for Australian dollars upon arrival. In our culture we can put everything on credit and debit cards, however, in Australia you will find it useful to always keep a little cash on hand. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?
Generally there are no service charges in Australia, but in some restaurants they may add a service charge if it is a national holiday or you are part of a large group. Always be sure to check your bill and determine if you want to leave a tip for good food or exceptional service. Tipping is not mandatory but the staff always appreciates it. Stick to the 10-15% rule, which is considered very generous. They do provide tip jars in some restaurants, cafes and pubs; if you desire, leave some small change in the jar.
Note: The service in Australia is a lot more laid back than in many other countries. Do not compare the service in restaurants to what you would expect in America. The staff is not being rude it is just part of the Aussie characteristics. If you receive bad service you can politely reach out to a manager.Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?
Tipping in hotels is considered a kind gesture but is not expected. The bellman or porter at your hotel will not expect a tip, but are generally pleased with AU$2 per bag in more expensive hotels. Housekeeping will not accept a tip nor will the concierge.Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?
Tipping drivers is unusual, but appreciated, especially if they help you with your luggage or provide you with useful information about getting around the city. Most commonly rounding the fare to the nearest dollar or letting the driver `keep the change` is a common courtesy and is also a convenience for both the passenger and driver. If you have hired a private driver you can leave AU$25 - $50. If they went above and beyond you can always tip more.Tour Guides: Is a tip required?
Tipping tour guides is very much appreciated but not expected. Common practice is in the range of AU$5 - $10 for a bus guide, AU$25 - $50 for a private guideMiscellaneous: Is there anyone I should tip that I would not normally?
Other Services: In the event that you are in Australia for a special occasion (wedding, honeymoon, etc) and employ the services of a hairdresser, make-up artist, personal shopper or spa services (which are usually all-inclusive and do not require additional gratuity) use your best judgment in tipping. Factor in the cost and quality of service and, as a general rule, stay in the 10% - 15% range.Final Thoughts:
Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. This is also true for hotel staff, however if you should encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.
When paying for services in cash (which we generally recommend for services other than your hotel) remember to take your receipt. This is important for two reasons; If you leave a tip on a credit card, the person providing the service may not always get it, and if there is a discrepancy it is important to have your receipt to settle it with the manager of the establishment and to prove that you paid for the service.