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The Post-Covid-19 Rules of Tipping


For the past year, whenever Jillian Seroka picks up her usual almond milk cortado from Oslo Coffee Roasters in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan, she is presented with a prompt on the point-of-sale iPad asking how much gratuity to add on top of her $6 bill. She typically tips $3.

“Sometimes, I walk away and I’m like, I probably could have gotten an appetizer at a restaurant for that price,” says Ms. Seroka, a 29-year-old who works as an advertising account manager.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, she says she has found herself tipping service workers 30% or more to champion businesses that have struggled to stay afloat.

“I feel good about it for supporting them but sometimes, by the time the tip is done and your different specifications with your coffee, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I need to get my spending under control.’ ”

Tipping on credit cards increased nationwide last summer, according to Mike Lynn, researcher and professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. Analyzing data from payment company Square, Prof. Lynn found that credit-card tips for quick-service and full-service restaurant delivery orders jumped from below 11% before the pandemic to above 15% in May of last year.

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