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GUIDE TO TIPPING IN MEXICO
Tipping guidelines for Mexico are nearly the same as tipping guidelines used in the United States or Canada, with some exceptions. Most service employees earn very little or no base salary and the tips they earn comprise the vast majority of their overall income.
If arriving in Mexico without Mexican currency, pesos can easily be obtained at automatic teller machines or casas de cambio which are plentiful. If arriving in Mexico with a small amount of local currency, most international airports from which travelers depart have currency exchanges available for that purpose.
Following are tipping guidelines, beginning with the jobs where tipping differs from the United States and Canada.
The bagging clerks (very often children) earn no wage at all. Most people will leave them at least 10 to 20 pesos, more if they take your cart out to your car for you and help you load your groceries. Remember that foreign coins have no value in Mexico. Not even the banks accept them.
A shared transfer differs per length of trip $2-$5 U.S. (40-90 pesos)
Private transfers - $1-$2 U.S. (20-40 pesos for the greeter) - $5 U.S. (90 pesos) pp
(it is really appreciated if you tip $5/bag!)
People do not normally tip taxi drivers. However, if a taxi driver provides extra service, e.g., loading/unloading your bags or groceries, waiting for you while you shop, etc., then a tip is warranted for the extra effort $2-$5 U.S. (40-90 pesos).
If you receive good service from your waiter or waitress, it is customary to leave a tip of 15% of the cost of the food/beverages before the value added tax (listed as ‘IVA’ or Impuesto al Valor Agregado on your bill) is added. IVA is 16% of the cost so if you want to leave a 16% tip, simply use the amount of IVA to leave as your tip. This doesn't work always as often the IVA is not shown, but simply included in the bill.You may choose to leave more for exceptional service, and less for poor service.
If the service was good most people, at least in Mexico City, tend to give a 10% tip if the party was up to 5 persons. If the party was bigger, usually a 15% tip is given. Percentage is based on the total amount, including taxes (IVA).
Some restaurants automatically add a tip to your bill, regardless of whether or not you’re in a large party. A charge labeled “propina” on your bill is a gratuity that the restaurant includes automatically with each bill. It is not necessary to tip an additional amount.
AI Resorts: $1-$2 U.S. (20-40 pesos) pp for buffets / $5 U.S. (90 pesos) pp for an alacarte dinner
A minimum of $1-$2 U.S. (20-40 pesos) per round of drinks is customary, or if you’re running a tab, leave 15-20% of the total as a tip. Remember, if you are receiving Happy Hour half-price, tip on the regular pricing amount.
MUSICIANS & BANDS
Remember to leave a tip in the musician/band's tip jar. For an evening of entertainment, $5 U.S. (90 pesos) is suggested as a minimum. Do not leave foreign coins.
SKYCAPS/BAGGAGE HANDLERS/BELL BOYS
A tip of $1-$2 U.S. (20-40 pesos) per bag is customary, more if you have a lot of luggage or very heavy or otherwise difficult bags to deal with, or if they must take your bags up a flight of stairs to your room.
SPA SERVICE PROVIDERS
Spa service providers (massage therapists, aestheticians, manicurists, hair stylists) are usually tipped 15-20% of the cost of the spa treatment. The exception to the rule: no tip is necessary if the service is provided by the owner of the establishment, or by a medical professional, such as a nurse or doctor.
Housekeepers should be tipped based on the occupancy of your room; $3-$5 U.S. (50-90 pesos) per bedroom, per housekeeping visit. Please tip more if your hotel or resort room is very messy (e.g., lots of dirty dishes, clothes strewn everywhere, a room full of sand that has been tracked in, etc.) They depend upon those tips to live.
TOUR AND ACTIVITY GUIDES
If you’re on a tour with a lot of people (20-100 people), each person should leave a tip of at least $5 U.S. (90 pesos). If you’re on a tour with very few people (e.g., four people in your family), the group should leave a tip that is equivalent to 15-20% of the cost of the tour.
FISHING CAPTAIN AND CREW
Special Note: It is customary in Mexico to hand the tip directly to the captain rather than a crew member.
Tipping guidelines for a fishing charter are often debated because of the high cost of fishing (usually $500 U.S. or more for a charter). Avid fisherman believe that you should tip the captain/crew a minimum of 15-20% of the charter, regardless of the size of the charter or number of crew on the boat or if you catch fish or not. For example, if you chartered a boat that cost $500 U.S., then the anglers on board would tip a combined total of $100 U.S. (1800 pesos).
Others believe that the boat captain should earn $50 U.S. (900 pesos), and the crew $25 U.S. (450 pesos) each. For a charter boat with one captain and two crew, that means that the anglers on board should tip a combined total of $100 U.S (1800 pesos).
Both methods result in a similar tip for smaller charters. However, the difference comes in when you charter a larger boat. If, for instance, you charter a larger boat for $1,100 U.S. with one captain and two crew members, and you tip 20% of the cost of the charter, the tip would be $220 U.S. (4000 pesos). However, if you use the second method, the tip would only be $100 U.S. (1800 pesos). The theory is that the captain and two-member crew work no harder on a larger boat than they do on a smaller boat, so the tip shouldn’t be tied to the cost of the charter but rather to the service provided.
Ask on the local travel forum for the preferred tipping amount and method for that destination and do you best to use local currency.