Gift Cards & Tipping – What’s Your Opinion?

Photo Credit: y2bk

Gift cards have become increasingly popular year after year! It’s an easy way to send someone you love a nice gift that they can use at their convenience. This post is specifically about gift cards to restaurants, but it’s not about the actual gift card as much as it is about how you tip when you pay with one.

Recently we used a $25 gift card for a local restaurant and during this process it got me thinking. Do people generally tip more or less when their bill is reduced because of a gift card?

Our meal was about $6 after the gift card was deducted and we needed to leave a tip for the excellent service we just received.

I used to deliver pizzas and when someone used a coupon for a free pizza or had a gift card they rarely tipped at all. Some people would tip on the out-of-pocket cost, but most people still tipped based on the total bill.

Since I used to work for tips, I am way more likely to leave a much higher tip than the typical 10%-20% most people leave, and when I get a discount I tip even higher. I kind of see tipping as something more than just paying someone for great service. I see it as a great opportunity to give back to the community that has immediate benefit without having first had to be siphoned through the government!

To be clear I think tipping 10% for good service is totally fine so this isn’t my attempt to say that someone that tips less than me is inhumane. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m just curious as to what others do.

So do you tip more if you receive a discount on your order because you used a gift card?

On $31 I would generally tip about five bucks, sometimes more, but since we got $25 off knocked off our bill I tipped ten dollars. We were able to still enjoy the savings, while at the same time were able to tip someone a little extra for excellent service.

To me that’s a win-win situation!

How do you tip when using a gift card? There’s no wrong answer here, just share your thoughts.

I love giving! That’s why I want you to be sure you don’t miss Brad and J’s (as in J money from Budgets Are Sexy) 2nd Annual Christmas Stimulus. Look for our posts this Friday for more details. Not to mention Love Drop will begin changing lives in January. Check it out! It’s so exciting!

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10 Responses to “Gift Cards & Tipping – What’s Your Opinion?”

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  1. Saro says:

    I usually tip around 20% on the total bill and like yourself, usually give an extra generous tip when using a gift card or coupon, for much the same reasons. Also, often the difference between an average tip and a great tip is a few bucks, and how often do I have the chance to make someone’s work day better for the cost of a Starbucks run?

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree Saro, that’s a great point!! I can think of more than just a few things I waste money on regularly, but there are some people who get bent out of shape if you tip too much. I think the general 10% rule is fine but being able to make someone’s day a little better for a few more dollars is awesome! ๐Ÿ˜€

      I haven’t done it yet but I plan to in 2011 for sure! I want to randomly tip someone a hundred dollar bill just because.

  2. J$ says:

    I believe we are now giving out MORE than we are getting with our blogs! haha… time to drop some love all over!!!

  3. Wade says:

    Even with a gift card, I still prefer to leave a tip between 15-20% of the total bill. It all depends on the quality of service to determing whether it’s closer to one or the other. I have tipped above that range just once for stellar service, and a couple of times below that range for very subpar service. For me, the fact that I have a gift card or coupon doesn’t change how I tip.

  4. We tip about the same as usual. 15% for solid service and 20% for awesome service. But, if the normal tip will leave less than $4 on the card, we do just give a higher tip, lol.

  5. Brad Chaffee says:

    Great responses everyone!

    Not surprised by the fact that most everyone seems to tip above average, but I am a little surprised no one tips a little more if their meal cost them significantly less or almost nothing.

    For instance if I had a $35 gift card for a restaurant, and the bill came to $35. I would definitely tip AT LEAST $10. No one else? ๐Ÿ™

    I guess I have to stop telling my wife that’s what everyone does. LOL Although I will continue to tip more when I pay less. As I said I see it as a way for me to give back as well as tip good and great for excellent service.

    Not a bad thing just surprised to be the only one. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Kathleen says:

    I tip the same either way – I just make sure if I’m using a gift card/coupon, I tip on the total bill, not my out of pocket cost. If service is excellent I tip extra, but the whole reason I use gift cards/coupons is because I’m broke and couldn’t afford to eat out otherwise. That being said, my usual tip is 20% or a little higher, so it’s not as if I’m being ungenerous.

  7. Debra says:

    I tip based on the total bill and not my out of pocket cost. I don’t often use gift cards, but I do use coupons, and I know from experience that servers have to tip out based on their sales and not what others actually pay after all is said and done. I usually tip right around 20%, but I’ve been known to go above that for excellent service, and when I’ve had a meal comped, I leave a generous tip. I must also say that while some servers make minimum wage plus tips, others only make about $2.13 per hour plus tips (and that was the case where I lived when I was a server), which means you don’t get a paycheck, owe taxes every year (and extra if you actually want any benefits), and walk with much less than you’re tipped after tipping out others. So I don’t think that a 10% tip is adequate and should be reserved for times when someone feels justified in leaving so little because their service was all but non-existent.

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