Woman at a coffee shop looking at money.

4 New Names to Describe Tipping (and They’re Not Good)

Americans used to feel good about rounding up their bill by a few dollars, helping the person serving them. Now, these same people are viewed as stingy.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an American who doesn’t work in the service industry who’s happy with the current tipping trend in the United States. There’s so much frustration that dictionaries might soon have to carve out space to accommodate the new, unflattering terms around tipping.

Mindfully American pulled terms from news headlines to put together this list of the newest and oh-so-true names and phrases about current U.S. tipping practices. We don’t know about you, but we’d like to go back to when “tipping” and “gratuity” were the only words people used.

1: Tipflation

Inflation has caused a double-whammy hit to the average American’s wallet when it comes to eating out. Not only is the standard to tip higher ever since the pandemic, but the cost of dining out due to inflation spiked 5.1% between January 2023 and January 2024 alone.

That means hard-working Americans are paying a higher tip percentage on more expensive food for the same meal and service. The result has been dubbed “tipflation.”

“Tipflation” has become so common in mainstream news that we’re surprised Grammarly still sees it as a misspelled word.

2: Tipping Guilt

We often think of guilt in the context of feeling bad for something we did. But psychologists point out that it’s human nature for guilt to arise in us when we fail to do something we feel we should have done. We’re not psychologists, but we’ll go out on a limb and hypothesize that people can also feel guilt for partially doing something.

Case in point? Leaving a 10% tip instead of the 20% or more tip you believe to be socially acceptable. You might choose to leave that relatively low tip because of poor service — something one shouldn’t objectively feel guilty about. And yet, so many of us feel guilty nonetheless.

Hence the term “tipping guilt” has risen in popularity.

Unless you’ve always tipped 20% or more in every circumstance you’ve ever been prompted to, including when someone hands you a coffee that you ordered and waited for at the counter, you’ve likely felt tipping guilt.

3: Tip Creep

Most of us have heard of lifestyle creep, a self-sabotaging act of gradually purchasing higher-priced, unnecessary items as our income increases. Tip creep follows a similar idea with one major difference: Society normalizes the gradual increase of tipping percentages.

One could argue that consumers can prevent tip creep by refusing to pay such high tips. After all, no one forces us to spend money outside our bill.

However, refusing to give in to the societal pressure of paying higher and higher tipping percentages leads to tipping guilt for many of us. Guilt of any kind is far from what we want to feel after an otherwise pleasant meal out.

4: Tipping Fatigue

If you’re sick and tired of tipflation, which has caused tipping guilt because you can’t stand to give in to tip creep, then you’re probably feeling tipping fatigue. According to a Bankrate survey, approximately two out of every three Americans hold negative views about tipping.

Such negativity can lead to tipping fatigue, the feeling of exhaustion around leaving a gratuity. Tipping fatigue can come in several forms, such as being asked to tip in places where one never used to, being expected to tip in exorbitant amounts, and the emotional toll that comes with not leaving as much money as one feels they should.

Taking a Step Back

Despite many Americans feeling understandably frustrated around our culture’s current tipping practices, not tipping at all isn’t the answer — unless the government steps in and makes laws to protect service-based employees.

As it currently stands, the federal minimum wage for a tipped-based employee is $2.13 per hour. This number varies by state, with states like California and Washington having more friendly policies for tipped employees. That said, the way the law currently stands, taking a stance against tipflation by not tipping at all financially harms service workers.

Furthermore, many experts warn that by reducing or eliminating tips for service-based employees, the cost of a meal or service will increase, as business owners need to recoup their money.

The bottom line? There’s no easy solution to tipflation, but many Americans are ready for a change from how things currently operate.

9 Countries Where Tipping Is Rude or Uncommon

Since when did tipping your local coffee shop barista 20% become the norm? If you’re tired of American tipping practices, you just might want to visit (and perhaps move to) one of these countries.

9 Countries Where Tipping Is Rude or Uncommon

From the Experts

Nowadays, many customers are shown an iPad with extravagantly high tip recommendations. Pew Research Center dove into what’s changed about Americans’ views of tipping and tipping culture, and their results are revealing.

American Tipping Culture Is Changing and People Aren’t Happy About It, Research Shows

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