Is it Rude Not to Tip When Ordering Take Out?


When you eat at a restaurant, you leave a tip.

You leave a tip when your barber or beautician does something to your hair.

Services usually come with some kind of tip and there is no question about whether or not you should leave one.

However, I find myself in a dilemma every time I order take out.

When I make an order for something, so many things run through my head, and a decision needs to be made within seconds.

The type of service I was given (if there was any), the politeness from the cashier, how fancy the restaurant was, whether or not I am a regular, etc. will always be a factor.

To answer the question, it is always going to be optional whether or not you should tip when ordering take out.

But rather than giving you one answer, I want to show you the different situations and how I handle them.

I guess you can say this is the standard when it comes to tipping and ordering food to go.

When Should You Tip When Ordering Take Out?

That’s the question I seem to ask myself, every single time I order from a restaurant without “dining in”.

The conclusion I’ve come up with will not give you a direct answer.

Every single time I pull out my wallet to take out my credit card, there are several thoughts that come to mind.

With these thoughts, I have come up with the answer, depending on several factors.

These factors ultimately make your decision, so do pick and choose wisely.

What Service Was Provided?

Sometimes ordering takeout can be a lot more complicated come time for pickup.

Pull up to the restaurant, and you have some freaky crap going on.

Someone is walking up to your car to deliver your food.

Dang nabit, now you feel the need to tip.

You see a special VIP parking for takeout orders only.

That leaves you with the impression that you had a service provided for you.

There are certain things that restaurants do these days and it gets you feeling a bit funny.

Again, pick and choose where that tip should go, regardless of what kind of walking anyone does.

Are You a Frequent Flyer?

This is probably the most important factor out of everything I will cover.

If I order quite a bit from a certain restaurant, I make it a point to come up with a plan.

Tip once and you might feel stuck.

Every time you go to that restaurant, you might be leaving a tip thanks to the standard you just set.

This will work in your favor though as you know the staff will always remember how awesome you were by leaving a tip.

Do keep in mind that over the course of a year, you will have spent a lot of money just on tips alone.

Were There Any Extra Charges?

Restaurants are always different and sometimes they slip in some extra charges that you don’t even know about.

Check your receipt and see if there was anything that they charged you for because it can happen.

I know that sometimes I get charged for a to-go container, which is something that caught me off guard.

I mean, did you expect to put the food on my hands when I came to pick it up?

Restaurant owners shouldn’t do such a thing but it can happen without you even knowing.

Sometimes restaurants send people out to deliver your food, so that can be another factor.

Now if you are simply ordering pizza for carryout, I’m sure the employees aren’t expecting any kind of tip.

Dine in or have it delivered and that’s when you have to tap into the tip fund.

Was the Cashier Too Friendly?

Often times I find myself tipping simply because the staff was extra friendly.

Sure they might be doing it for the tip but sometimes it is extra hard to leave without leaving a tip.

Now you can bet that if I had some poor service I would not leave a tip regardless.

It’s not my fault you had to ring me up, so give me my food and have a great day.

An extra awesome greeting might make your decision but don’t get carried away with things.

I’d say a dollar or two is fine but that’s about it.

How Much Did You Spend?

When you order food to go, there is technically no reason why you should tip.

Maybe for the cook or something but not for the person handing you your food.

They are simply doing their job and they didn’t provide you with any type of service.

Dining in is a completely different story and in the end, I do not believe you are obligated to leave any kind of tip whatsoever.

If you are spending $15 for something so simple as a burger, keep your money in your pocket and focus on saving more money instead.

The workers at that establishment don’t expect you to tip, even if they are probably hoping you did.

Conclusion – No, You Do Not Need to Tip When Ordering Takeout

Without everything above in the equation and you can bet that I disagree with having to tip when ordering something to go.

Sometimes we might feel a little more pressure to tip if we’re ordering from a fancier restaurant but there is no rule that says you have to.

That friendly smile might almost force you to but just remember that we all have bills to pay.

Every now and then, you will probably give in but make a conscious decision and save your money.

Tipping when ordering takeout is completely optional and that is my final answer.

Now you tell me, should you tip when ordering takeout?

For a more “proper” answer, check out AJ’s response on Quora.

12 thoughts on “Is it Rude Not to Tip When Ordering Take Out?”

  1. I’m so happy I’m not the only one that has asked themselves the same question. Usually, I look at the receipt and see a delivery charge and I think, “no tip required”. I have to admit, I usually cave and tip anyway. That is as long as the service was good. If not, no tip. great post. Lots of good insight and well thought out.

  2. Dear Jonh
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website that shows the most effective approach to start up your own online marketing business which can grow gradually.
    Kind regards,

  3. To Insure Proper Service–TIPS. A token of gratitude for a job well done. I like to tip well, when dining in, and may or may not tip when picking up a food order.
    Your explanations of the when and whys were humorous.
    I like to start subtracting a $1 each time the wait person ignores or forgets things in a commonly ordered meal.

    • Lol Rudy. If I was to deduct $1 for every ignore or forgotten item, I think most of my servers would get $0. However, there are some people that go above and beyond, just like I experienced yesterday for my son’s 5th birthday. Not only was this individual constantly checking on our party of 50+ but she also gave us her discount! Not to mention I only made reservations for 40 and she accommodated us and told another party that we “reserved these tables too”, even if we didn’t.

      Such little acts of kindness can go a long way and of course she got a very nice tip. But the main takeaway from this is the fact that we will be going to that restaurant more and will always remember what she did for us. Not so much about taking out but this was just an amazing experience that I had to share.

  4. Great article! I determine if I’m going to leave a tip based solely on the service provided. I dont automatically leave a tip when I dine in. Also, If i order takeout, ill leave a tip If my heart desires at that time. I dont feel an obligation to leave a tip simply based on societal norms

  5. Hi John
    Great post. I come form a country where there is no tipping at all for anything. However, if visitors feel that they have received above extra service it is up to them if they would like to leave a tip, but it is not expected. This has been a big dilemma for me when I travel to countries that do expect tipping it makes me nervous because I am always worried about how much to tip, have I offended by not tipping the right amount, and to be honest, it would not cross my mind to tip for takeout or takeaways as we call it.

    • That’s great to know Nadine as most of us only think about the Western part of the world. For me, tipping is pretty much a must when dining in as the employees are usually banking on them due to the lack of hours and the minimum wage they receive. That’s how the business operates and that’s why it’s fair game here. Now I’m sure that it’s different there so tipping might not be necessary. For takeout, although it does cross my mind, I can still agree that it isn’t necessary as no one served you like you were dinging in. Thanks for the awesome info though Nadine and I hope things are going well for you and your family in this supposed to be fun but stressful time of year.


Leave a Comment