Can You Tip With A Gift Card?


Picture this scenario: You’ve just finished a great meal at a restaurant, and you’re planning to pay with a gift card that you either got as a gift, or you purchased for yourself. The gift card is worth more than your bill, so you instinctively write the remaining value on the tip line. But you second guess yourself wondering if you really can use the remaining gift card value as a tip.

Can you use gift card value as a tip? The answer is, maybe. It really depends upon the policy of the restaurant. Here are some tips to making sure you handle paying for your bill with a gift card correctly.

Call The Restaurant

Be prepared before even getting in your car. Call the restaurant, talk to a manager and ask what their policy is regarding using a gift card for tipping, and if their system is setup to handle it. This will let you know exactly what is possible before you walk in the door.

Bring Cash

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; Cash Is King. I never go anywhere without cash, especially if I’m going somewhere a tip might be expected. Even if tipping with the gift card is allowed, I might decide to splurge on the surf and turf and need extra cash for tipping anyway.

Verify With Server

Have you ever called a business to ask if something is in stock, drive across town to pick it up only to find out the employee you talked to wrong? Verifying the possibility with the server before ordering will make absolutely sure you know whether you can use the gift card value for a tip or not.

Remember To Tip Correctly

The tipping rules are the same regardless of whether you pay out of your own pocket, or with a gift card. The server doesn’t care if Aunt Better wanted to treat you to a free meal, but the gift card only has $0.37 on it after paying your bill. Regular tipping customs apply.

Paying for a meal with a gift card feels like a windfall, because no (or at least less) money comes out of your pocket. However, tipping is still expected, and don’t expect you can use the gift card to tip as well. These steps will help you identify exactly what you’ll need to do and prevent an embarrassing situation when the bill arrives.

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