How much you should tip valets depends on the location and the quality of the valet experience. Generally, the standard tip for valet service is anywhere from $2 to $5. And while leaving a tip for the valet staff is not mandatory, it’s a nice gesture to show your gratitude and appreciation — especially if they’ve provided excellent customer service.
We’ve all been there: circling a crowded parking lot, looking for a spot while the clock ticks closer to our appointment time. It’s enough to make anyone’s blood pressure rise. Needless to say, navigating a crowded parking lot can be frustrating, especially if you’re running late.
Thankfully, valets can take the stress out of finding a parking spot by doing it for you. But once they’ve found you a spot, what’s the appropriate amount to tip? Is it mandatory to leave a tip? And should you tip the valet before or after the service?
How much should you tip valets?
While there’s no hard and fast rule, most online sources suggest tipping valets $2 to $5. However, Blake Presson, owner of Box Truck Movers LLC and a former valet, says, “You should always tip your valet drivers at least $5. Why? We live off of that. Depending on the company you work for, some pay hourly ($7.50/hour), which is nothing.” He adds, “If the valet worker does a great job, respects your property, opens the door for you, and presents professionalism, I think a tip is deserved.”
Larry Snider, the VP of Operations of Redwood Vacation Rentals and a frequent user of valet services, also agrees that $5 should be the minimum tip amount. He wrote, “$5 is my standard for tipping. Nothing less. Ever. However, if the valet does an exceptional job, I’ll tip as much as $10. An exceptional job means they retrieved the car fast, their customer service stood out to me, or if I see they’re really busy and still managed to maintain professionalism.”
Of course, it’s not mandatory to tip a valet attendant if you aren’t satisfied with the valet service. For example, if they damaged the interior or exterior of your car or took forever to return your vehicle. However, if you have a pleasant experience, a cash tip is always appreciated.
What is a decent tip for valet parking?
A decent valet parking tip is typically at least $5. But again, how much to tip will also depend on the level of service provided, the cost of parking, and the location.
In upscale areas, it’s common to tip around 10% to 15% of the cost of service. And if the valet worker provided special services, such as helping you with your luggage, you may want to leave a larger tip — approximately 20% to 30%.
Why you should tip valets
Other than showing your appreciation, there are a few different reasons you should tip your valet.
- Valets work hard and often long hours. Valets stand outside for long hours, even in the rain, snow, and heat. During peak times like special events or holidays, they work even harder — often running back and forth across the parking lot to keep up with the influx of cars. So, consider offering a simple tip to show your recognition for their hard work and dedication.
- Valets don’t get paid much. According to ZipRecruiter, as of 2023, valets make, on average, $27,475 a year, which translates to $13 per hour. Keep in mind that this is the average, meaning that many valets make less than this amount and rely primarily on tips to supplement their income and earn a liveable wage.
- Incentivizes better service. Showing appreciation through valet tipping incentivizes them to go above and beyond in providing exceptional service, like helping with luggage or giving directions around town.
When to tip the valet
Some prefer to leave a nice tip after their car has been safely retrieved and the valet hands back the car keys. But some may offer a tip directly at the vehicle drop-off zone so that the valet is incentivized to provide exceptional service.
While the former is the more common option, there’s no strict rule regarding when to tip valets. You can tip your valet when you feel the opportunity is right.
Valet parking etiquette you should know about
Besides leaving a tip, here are other valet parking etiquette to keep in mind.
- Be alert at the vehicle drop-off zone. Be sure to drive into the vehicle drop-off zone slowly and follow the valet’s instructions so that you’re going the right way.
- Prepare your vehicle for valet parking. Always remember to remove your personal items from your car and store them in a safe place before reaching the valet stand.
- Communicate clearly with the valet. Explain any vehicle quirks they should know about, such as touchy brakes or a sensitive alarm system.
- Be patient. Allow the valet time to park, retrieve, and return your vehicle. Don’t rush them if they’re overwhelmed with customers during peak hours.
- Say thank you. Acknowledge the valet attendant for their service by thanking them and tipping them appropriately, especially if the same valet parked and retrieved your car.
- Keep your claim ticket. If you lose your claim ticket, it’ll take valets longer to retrieve your vehicle, which can be inconvenient if they’re busy.
How much do you tip a valet at a hotel?
While there’s no hard-and-fast rule, it’s generally expected that you leave an average tip of $5 per car for hotel valet. But that amount could either go up or down depending on the level of service you receive. For example, did the parking attendant go above and beyond to make sure your car was parked safely? Or did the valet take a long time to retrieve your car?
Do you tip hotel front desk staff?
It’s not necessary to tip the hotel front desk staff. However, if your front desk clerk goes out of his or her way to provide information about the city, ensure you receive great room service, or even help you reserve a table at a popular restaurant, you may want to leave a generous tip to express your gratitude.
Is it free to use valet parking?
Valet parking service is generally not free. Some locations charge by the hour, while some charge a flat fee. If you’re planning to attend a high-end event, be prepared to pay more for the privilege of valet parking.
But while it might cost a bit extra than finding your own parking spot, many people find that the convenience and peace of mind are worth it.
Is valet parking a good job?
Though the pay is typically low, valet parking could be a good entry-level job for those who enjoy driving. Working as a valet driver also provides a unique opportunity to get behind the wheel of high-end sports cars, a perk not many other jobs offer.
Plus, for those who don’t have a post-secondary degree, valet parking could be a great way to get their foot in the door of the hospitality industry.
- Tipping valets is customary, with most sources suggesting $2 to $5 as the minimum tip. However, you’re not obligated to tip if the valet service is not up to par.
- Valets work hard and often long hours, so tipping is a great way to show appreciation for their hard work and dedication.
- Depending on your preference, you can tip valets when you drop off or pick up your car.
- Besides leaving tips, practice good etiquette when using valet services. For example, slowly driving into the vehicle drop-off zone, communicating any quirks about the vehicle with the valet attendant, and staying patient while they park and return your car.
Keep track of your cash expenses
When you tip valets in cash, you can easily lose track of how much money you’re shelling out each month. So, be sure to keep tabs on your valet expenses through a budgeting app like Mint. By doing so, you can have a clearer picture of your tipping behavior and make sure you’re not going over budget.
View Article Sources
- Minimum Wage Tracker — Economic Policy Institute
- Tip Regulations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); Partial Withdrawal — Federal Register
- $13 an Hour is How Much a Year? — SuperMoney
- What is Unearned Income? Definition and Examples — SuperMoney
- 10 Best Summer Jobs For College Students In 2023 — SuperMoney
- 11 Clever Ways to Find Unadvertised Jobs — SuperMoney
- 10 Best Jobs That Pay $20 An Hour — SuperMoney
- How Many Jobs Are Available In Consumer Services? — SuperMoney
- How Old Do You Have To Be To Drive Lyft & Other Lyft Driver Requirements — SuperMoney
- Six Interesting Ways To Make Money With Your Car — SuperMoney