Tipping in Australia (Do you leave a tip or not?)

This is a topic that is rarely covered (or at least I am yet to see it covered), do you need to leave a tip in Australia for service or goods someone has provided you?

Many people are unsure, I know that I do leave a tip if the service is good and the change brought back to me is more of a pain than it is worth (though you could put this into your coin jar if you were so inclined). But should you be leaving a tip via your credit card or similar no matter what?

For example, if you go out to dinner in Australia – is it customary to leave a tip without question? The short answer is no, but it really comes down to a matter of opinion on this topic. Let’s have a closer look.

Americans leave tips, does that mean I have to?

Many people notice that America is the land of the tips – there is good reason for this beyond just a tradition. American employees do not have a minimum wage like we do in Australia, this means that a waiter or a waitress could be working for well below what any of us would even get out of bed for (this may not be the case in all American states, but most). In turn, a tip is a necessity for most of these employees as it is the tips that they are actually living off – not the minimum wage. In Australia however, we do have a minimum wage, but sometimes it can be very good to leave a tip as the person might be working for quite a low wage depending upon age.

An example of this was when I got my first job as a youngster, I worked at Australia’s (if not the worlds) largest toy shop. Stacking shelves and doing general duties along with my older associate’s earnt me nearly 3/4’s less than what they were earning – yet they probably did less work than me by ordering me around. Remember these things when leaving a tip.

So do you have to partake in tipping in Australia?

It is totally up to you. Some restaurants include a tip in the bill before you even add your own, this tends to really annoy me as they include it as a given service charge. Check whether or not that is included on the bill before leaving a tip. I tend to leave a tip of 10% or less if the service was good but I feel that I am feeding a tradition that is really not relevant to Australia’s culture.

If you do leave a tip, what is a good number?

The customary thing to do in Australia when leaving a tip, tends to sit at around 10% of the total cost of the meal. Depending on the cost of the meal, keep in mind that 10% can become quite a lot of money (for those fancy dinners on birthdays or Christmas).

How much do you tip? Do you think tipping is necessary?

Tell us below in the comments field your thoughts on tipping in Australia. Do you do it? Do you hate it? We would love to hear from you and it will only take 5 seconds.


  1. Emily says

    I’ll leave a tip if the service is good or the waiter friendly.

    When wait staff act like they’re doing me a favour by serving me then I won’t tip – regardless of how good the meal is.

    10% is my general rule too, but again this can vary if I had to beg for service.

  2. gaynor glenn says

    My tip for all Australians in America is “join a union!”.

    Tipping should only be for exceptional service.

  3. Mikel says

    I try to tip a little (up to 10%) for good service, but I’m in two minds: I could go to Subway or McDonalds and have a meal for $5, but if I eat out, the tip alone could be that much, and that doesn’t seem at all sensible.

  4. says

    I agree Mikel, 10% is a great tip depending on the cost of the meal. But as you said, the service cannot be bad for a tip to be placed.

  5. Catherine says

    I worked for 5 years making coffee at a major sporting area in Australia, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and only received one tip in the whole time I was there – from an American. Not being used to the whole tipping thing I raced off after the gentleman and let him know he’d paid too much for their coffee. His response was “You put that in your pocket”. Made my day. But definately not required.

  6. L C Stanton says

    The argument that tipping is not part of our culture is suspect when you consider that until recently fine dining was not part of our culture either. You cannot have one without the other.

    In a basic but friendly local cafe, the staff are paid the award wage of say $15 per hour. At fine dining restaurants the staff are paid the same: $15 per hour. However, there is a far greater level of skill and knowledge involved in the fine dining establishment.

    How are the more experienced, skillful staff paid more and retained? What makes the difference in their income that enables them to do it as a career – not just while they are at uni or between travelling?

    The answer is tipping. Tipping is a way of paying restaurant staff a part of their wage directly. If tipping were to stop tomorrow, all decent restaurants would immediately put their prices up to pay the extra wages. If the dining public want and expect good service, then you have to be prepared to pay for it through a tip. Not all the time, but definitely when the service is good.

  7. Stavros Birkolopoulos says

    Interesting article. One correction though, it is absolutely incorrect that there is no minimum wage in the US. There is a Federal minimum wage and a higher state minimum wage in most states. This is lower than Australian award wages and it is certainly true that tipping is an essential part of a waiters take home pay. I think tipping in the US produces a slightly higher level of service, but personally I find the ritual a bit tiresome.

  8. Hemant says

    Being a bartender i have worked bars many years and tips are an awesome supplement for hospitalities terrible wages.

    Most australians think that because we work in hospitality we are making 20-25$ an hour on weeekends…that is not so….the rates that some hospitality workers are just as just as bad as the shit wages in america factoring in cost of living in a big city.

    If you find yourself waiting for ages to be served…think about how much you tip. Bartender is ignoring you because you are a cheapskate.

    If you snap your fingers and shout “hey bartender” bartender again is ignoring you because you are obnoxious.

    Now if you do tip and tip well bartender will know your drink and give you preecedence over the other monkeys in the bar.
    Furthermore tip well and the bartender will hook you up :)

  9. Billy Mackay says

    @L C Stanton – You couldn’t be more wrong. A “fine dining” establishment will obviously charge a higher price for their dishes, thus generating more income so they can pay higher quality staff. It is simply the cost of doing business. If you want to operate a prestige business, then you charge prestige prices and pass the benefits to your prestige staff. I don’t tip my lawyer, dentist, bus driver, university teacher, ski instructor or barista, so why should restaurant staff be any different?

  10. Lorry says

    In Australia, if you are very pleased with the wait staff attending to your needs and you wish to leave a gratuity – do not include it in the credit card payment – many restaurant owners steal their wait staffs tips, despite having included sufficient profit margins for themselves. It is not expected by wait staff, however the pay for working like a dog from $11-$15 (well below the average 9-5 basic office work salary) having to fence off abuse for slow cooks & long pain inducing shifts due to insufficient staff on roster to service the customers- to be rewarded for focusing on ensuring a diners experience is the best you can provide, only to find a tip was included in the bill and have the restaurant owner or their family keep it for themselves ( or to feed their drug problem) is very disheartening. Suggest all diners when in Australia tip the wait staff directly in cash – it doesn’t have to be much at all – it is the thought that counts, but it does help pay for travel or parking fees which is equal to an hour or two hrs. Putting it on your credit card just means a second bank fee & adding to the owners profit margin, not benefiting the wait staff. It was not America that started gratuities – it was the civilized English in the 1700’s to support low paid service providers who despite their position cared about the people they served – which most of us Aussie/English wait staff do and do take pride in our good service. We do however not have respect for rude, ignorant, thoughtless people who treat waiters like 2nd class citizens, because our pay is lower than theirs, expecting us (Human beings) to remain polite & friendly when they are being total B—–ds, then complain to management if we fail to smile or look a little unhappy after enduring rudeness from them for several hours. Walk a mile, or closer to 10 a day, in our shoes.

  11. Anthony says

    @ L C Stanton – I don’t agree that fine dining typically earns the minimum wage. One of the benefits of working in an industry for a while is that you build up your skills and therefore earn more money because you’re more valuable to your employer (and, crucially, to competitors).

    This means a waiter at a fine dining establishment is a lot more skilful, and a lot better remunerated, than the disinterested 14-year-old burning your chicken at KFC.

  12. JH says

    I don’t believe tipping is part of the Australian culture or part of our system of remuneration. We should resist it. Tipping is not required in any situation in Australia. Employees are paid very well here. I am now a professional but worked hard in a supermarket job throughout high school and uni. I was paid a good hourly rate and never expected anything more. People in restaurants are paid similarly – why should they get tips when others don’t? We have no reason to import this bizarre US tradition which is just a band-aid to deal with their dysfunctional way of remunerating people.

  13. Mike says

    There is a federal nationwide minimum wage in the US, as well as state minimum wages that are higher.

  14. Samantha says

    Coming from an American, yes we absolutely have a minimum wage. However, waiters & waitresses are often exempt from that wage and rely heavily on their tips as means of income. A typical restaurant wage could be as low as $4 for a server who shows up at work everyday to provide their customers the best service in order to earn their tip. Hence why an American dining bill often requires a 20% tip.

  15. Noelbelle says

    I recently was a waitress in a big city in America – we didn’t make minimum wage we made $2.13 an hour + tips, this is true for the majority of wait staff in America.

    So tips are absolutely needed in America for waitstaff to live – and if you consider how cheap an American dinner can be the tip – of 15% – 20% in America should be included for decent to good service.

    In Australia I was dumfounded to hear how much wait staff make.

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