In Mexico, tipping is customary and expected in many situations, but you generally won't get any flak if you neglect to give a tip. Although your server may call you codo behind your back, which is slang for cheap and literally means "elbow." Not only does tipping reward the good service you've already received, it may also help to ensure special treatment throughout your stay at a hotel or resort, or a restaurant to which you intend to return.
Do keep in mind that most of the people working in Mexico's service industry earn very modest salaries and rely on tips to earn a living wage. So if you receive good service, it is a good idea to show your appreciation accordingly. Leaving a tip is important, but a smile and a "gracias" can be just as important in showing your appreciation to someone who has provided you with a service.
In Mexico, tipping in either US dollars (bills only, no coins) or pesos is acceptable, though pesos are usually more practical for the recipient (and will save them a trip to the casa de cambio), they'll generally be happy to receive a tip in either currency.
The amount you tip is at your discretion and should be based on the quality of service you received. That said, there are some standards for tipping and it's good to have a basic understanding of how much is usually tipped, and who will expect it when you travel to Mexico.
Hotels in Mexico see a lot of American guests, so tipping customs are pretty similar to those you might be used to in the US. Many resorts officially have no-tipping policies but these are rarely enforced, and wages are still very low, so most staff will be happy to receive tips.
- A bellhop who assists you with your luggage and shows you to your room should be tipped between 25-50 pesos.
- Depending on the hotel class and quality of service received, you should tip the housekeeping staff from 20-50 pesos per night. If your room is particularly messy, tip more. It's best to tip on a daily basis and not on the last day of your stay, since it may not be the same person who cleans your room every day.
Restaurants and Bars
When dining out in Mexico, you must ask for the bill (la cuenta) in Spanish, or make a hand signal like you're writing in the air. If you're in a hurry, you may want to ask for the bill before you've finished your meal so that you won't have to wait around for it afterward.
- In most restaurants, it's customary to leave a tip equal to 10-20 percent of the total cost of the bill. A service charge may sometimes be included automatically, particularly if you're part of a large group, but this is not usually the case, so double-check the bill. If a service charge is included, you may choose to tip extra for superior service.
- At food stalls and low-cost eateries (fondas and cocinas economicas) most patrons do not leave a tip, but if you do give one, it is greatly appreciated.
- When drinking at a bar, whether it be in town or at your all-inclusive resorts, it is appropriate to tip 20 pesos per drink, or the equivalent to $1 USD.
Whether you choose to take a cab or rent your own car in Mexico, there are some tipping customs you'll need to know for the road.
- It is not customary to tip taxi drivers, unless they assist you with your luggage, in which case 10 pesos per suitcase is a good rule of thumb.
- Gas station attendants are not usually tipped unless they provide some extra service such as cleaning your windshield, in which case 5-10 pesos is sufficient. If they also check the oil or the air in your tires, you should tip more.
In Mexico, your tour guide will likely expect a tip at the end of the tour, especially for a multi-day experience.
- For a day-tour, or one that only lasts a few hours, it is appropriate to tip your guide 10-20 percent of the total cost of the tour.
- For multi-day group tours, tip the tour leader a minimum of 60-100 pesos per day.
- For a private tour, you should tip 200 pesos per day.
- If you have a driver in addition to a tour guide, you should tip them 40 pesos per day.
It is customary to tip spa service providers 15-20 percent of the cost of the spa treatment. Usually, you can leave it at the desk in an envelope with your attendant's name on it.
In Mexican grocery stores, there may be teens or seniors who will bag your purchases. These people do not receive any payment other than the tips they are given. You can tip them 1-2 pesos per shopping and if they help you take the bags out to your car, tip at least 10-20 pesos.