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How Much Should I Tip for Valet Parking?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Tips are generally customary when you valet park your car in the US. There is some disagreement about when and how much to tip, however. Some suggest a larger tip if you have a nice car and want to keep it safe. On the other hand, some feel that the parking fee that some parking establishments assess should already include the tip.

Most sources suggests tipping between 2 and 5 US dollars (USD) when a valet returns a car. When valet parking is free/complimentary, a tip is definitely required as this is the only source of income for the valet. If you are not sure about the amount, a safe bet is probably around $5.

Many still argue that the valet should also be tipped when he takes the car. The idea is that a few extra bucks will induce him or her to park the car with greater care.This may be a wise idea if you have a very expensive car. In this case, total valet tip can go up to $10.

Sometimes, you'll park your car yourself but have a valet return the car to you. In these situations, the standard 2-5 USD tip is applicable. It is not necessary to tip a garage attendant when parking your own vehicle, however. A simple rule for calculating the tip may be to tip at least 2-5 USD any time the person drives the car. Therefore, free valet parking offered at restaurants or other businesses mean tipping twice.

When visiting a foreign country, it is wise to look up the local tipping customs. Country-specific travel guides often have this information readily available. Tipping is not customary in some Asian countries and many European countries. Knowing appropriate tipping practices ahead of time can save you the embarrassment and anxiety about whether you should or shouldn't. It will also make sure that the workers are properly compensated.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WikiMotors contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon924262 — On Jan 03, 2014

I look at it this way and this is my honest answer. If you want to know how much you should tip, ask the valet how much their base wage is. Remember, when someone hears valet parking is free, about 60 percent of those who use it won't tip. So you want to keep that in mind.

For example, in Colorado Springs, CO the salary average is $14k. True, it seems horrible and it is when the national average is $20k. Denver, CO is better at $17k. So let’s say you go to a hospital and valet your car. Ask the valet the wage they are paid. Some are $5.50/ hour others $7.00 / hour and better yet some are $9.00/ hour. Colorado Springs is between $5.50 - $7.00/ hour. So in this case, $2 is a tip, but an unhealthy one for someone who is a single parent trying to work whatever job he/ she can get.

Ultimately, how much you tip is up to you. I just recommend a difference in how much someone is paid per hour. So if $2 is all you can afford, then great. Don't expect smiles over it. It's when valets get tens and twenties that get them really wanting to treat you nice. But not everyone is rich.

Now let's say you are at a hospital and every time you valet it is $10 charge. If you leave and come back 10 times in one day, don't expect to tip. On the other hand if valet is free, please tip. Remember, just because you tip doesn’t mean everyone does.

By anon338917 — On Jun 18, 2013

Everyone saying that companies should pay their employees more is 100 percent right. People shouldn't have to work for tips, but that is the way it is and it's never going to change.

I have four young kids and my husband is disabled, so we have very little income and don't get to go very many places that offer valet or even out to eat at restaurants where tipping is required. When we do though, I tell you I don't tip the waitress any less than 20 percent and I give the valet $5 in and $5 out, no matter what. I always have it ready before I go because I know that I'm headed some place where I will need cash. Do I like spending the extra money? No, but that is the way things work in the US. If you don't like it, then don't go anywhere the gratuity isn't included with the bill.

If valets and servers all left their positions because they weren't happy with the owner's rate of pay or what customers tip, many people would be very upset that they have to do something on their own, e.g., park their own car or make their own dinner.

By anon338913 — On Jun 18, 2013

I tipped a valet in Las Vegas $20 and I thought the man was going to break down and cry. The reason why I tipped so much was it was the middle of summer and hot in that garage. But I've used the same valet in the winter and still tipped at least $10.

By anon338173 — On Jun 11, 2013

What is the tipping norm if valet parking (daily fee) is the only parking available, and you also will be coming and going a dozen times a day?

By anon329566 — On Apr 10, 2013

I worked as a valet and loved it. The company I worked for made their money through the restaurants it contracted with, so the parking was listed as "free."

I did my job enthusiastically and with a smile. I always made a point to talk with customers and treat everyone equally, no matter what kind of car they drove or what they looked like. One time I even noticed a woman's tire running low, and zipped it down to the corner station and threw air in it (I told her and she gave me $25).

About 90 percent of the time, I was very well rewarded for being friendly and attentive. As with all business, people give you money usually based on your attitude, not just how fast you can get a car. Yes, I was stiffed many times. It stinks. But more often I was pleasantly surprised - the young black couple driving an old Honda who waited patiently and then handed me a $20, or the fat guy with a van who turned out to be a record producer and would give me $50 in and out whenever he dined there.

So my advice is this: Do not feel obligated to pay more than you want for mediocre or bad service. On the flip side, pony up a little more when you see a valet really making an effort. Pay what feels right to you. If you only have a buck but want to give a $5, make sure to mention it to the valet. A compliment is always nice, and a good valet will make it up with other clients.

By anon326582 — On Mar 22, 2013

Don't be that guy, or gal! if the valet does their part, do yours and tip.

By anon325656 — On Mar 17, 2013

I was a parking valet for 10-plus years as a first job and now my side job. Just be friendly and the valet will be friendly back. Note: You give a tip up front depending on how much (i.e. 5, 10, 15, 20-plus) you will be guaranteed a front or very close spot to the front of the establishment. It is pretty common sense but some customers don't think so. We are not dumb and not mean people. We just want to make a buck and go home like every other job.

By anon315343 — On Jan 23, 2013

I don't make an outrageous salary, but I make more than I need to live comfortably. I remember being a truly broke college kid and wishing I had just $5 to grab something to eat or go to the movies with my friends. So I'm very sympathetic to the young guys who valet and I don't mind tipping well.

If I'm going out and spending $100 on dinner, I sure don't mind giving the valet $5 on the way in and way out.

By anon288314 — On Aug 29, 2012

Being tipped is an earned privilege not an expected right. If you valet people don't like that, get a real job.

By anon287210 — On Aug 24, 2012

OK. Valet is good if that's what you want. Coming from the UK we usually self park. When on vacation in LA we have no option but to use valet parking at the hotel. It's $35 a night, plus tip on arrival and tip when leaving. If we go out more than once a day, we end up paying around $50 a day for parking a rental car that we don't care about, so it's $350 for seven nights. It's an expense that would be avoidable in many other countries around the world. I am more than capable of parking a car myself.

Therefore, my question is: Why is there so much valet parking and not more self parking? Is it not just another money spinner like the resort fee, premium location fee, room service delivery charge on top of 21 percent service charge, etc., etc., etc. The USA is the world's best at charge, charge, charge! We will soon be charged to pay a charge! Don't get me wrong; I love America. It's just all these extra charges that keep getting invented. The rich get richer and the rest get charged!

By anon282873 — On Aug 01, 2012

I'd just like to go on record as being very appreciative to the $10 tipper tonight. He drove a 10 year old Toyota Camry, but it had a V6 and a 5-speed. It was more shocking that if Elvis galloped by on a unicorn!

Anyway, folks like that are awesome. Such kindness and generosity is what makes it bearable to endure all the rich pricks who tip $0-1.

By anon278961 — On Jul 10, 2012

I would never stiff a valet, but what planet do you live on that "$10 on the way out is average?" You're kidding me, right?

Also, those who only tip on return are not very smart. The guy parking your car is doing just as much as a service, and probably won't be the guy who returns it to you later.

By anon266590 — On May 07, 2012

I work as a valet. Those who hate that we have low end jobs, sorry I'm not on welfare.

Anyway, where I work it's a 7 dollar company charge for the valet service. My boss pays 4 dollars for every car put in the garage. Three dollars goes to the company to pay my amazing $4.50 hourly wage and other company expenses. Oh yeah, I also have 50-plus dollars deducted from each check to pay into an accident fund.

VIP/Regulars: Like has been said, you throw me cash on the way in ($20-plus), I'll get you a place up front. I'll say thank you very much and not even give you a ticket because I'll remember you took care of me, so I'll take care of you. Even at the risk of the parking authority giving me a $150 dollar ticket which comes out of my pocket.

On the 7 dollar charge, I have to give my boss for every car I park, a $10 on the way out is average and greatly appreciated. Even a few bucks on the way in, I make note of it that you showed appreciation on the way in, and make sure your car isn't on level 8 of the garage, yet level 1/2.

A stiff really irks me. I clearly state on the way in that the 7 dollars is a company/garage fee. Example: I waited 1 1/2 (12:45 a.m.) hours for my last car one night. Driver of the party comes out and says "Aww, have you been waiting on us?"

I say, "Yeah, you're my last car, but I wanted to take care of you." She says, "Aww you're sweet." I sprint to get her car, bring it right up front and she gives me $7. I'll remember her, and walk the next time she comes in.

All of that being said, tip your valet. We take care of one of your most prized investments. A better tip equals even better care. And on average, the guy in the '98 PT Cruiser tips better than the 12 Bentley continentals. Bentleys never tip.

By anon233674 — On Dec 08, 2011

i live in an apartment where there is no alternative, but valet. We pay $400 a month for two cars. How do I give them money, when there are so many and how much to the boss and let him divide it. I have no idea how many guys work in the garage. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. --krkZ

By anon212045 — On Sep 05, 2011

It is unbelievable the bad rap valets get. I work as a valet as well, and have been researching online valet etiquette. It amazes me that most of the "tipping guides" don't differentiate "complimentary" valet parking from the valet parking that costs a fee.

For the parking that costs a fee, usually the valet is getting paid the minimum wage hourly rate. Here a tip of $2-3 is fine. Also, if you are parking at a hotel or a place where you leave your car overnight, tip when dropping the car off, and when picking it up. Because most likely, the valet working will not be the same person.

Now for "complimentary" parking, the valet is working only off of tips. Sometimes they are given up to $2.13 an hour. Top that off with having to split tips with other workers, and you have someone making around $4 an hour. Think about the national minimum wage. A $5 tip should be the minimum for a "complimentary" valet.

To the people saying get another job or things like that: Wow. That's all I can say. Not very many valets want to be doing that work for the rest of their lives. Most are in school or trying to support their family using it as a second job or whatever the case may be. It isn't their fault that the employers are cheaping out and "passing on the cost to the consumer/customer". So don't take it out on the valet. Complain to the correct party, please.

Also, the whole "Ferris Bueller" valet stuff is just ridiculous. I'm sure there has been some crazy stuff happen, but we are extremely professional. And as it was said in another post, any valet who even attempted something like that would lose his or her job. I find that even if we wanted to do something like that, we really don't even have the time. The valet experience should be very smooth. In the rare occasion that damage occurs, the valet company always has insurance, and any repairs will be covered.

As far as people complaining about the weather and having to wait out in the same weather in your nice suits, etc.: At most of the fine dining restaurant accounts, you can give the ticket to your server and have your car already pulled up and waiting for you. If that isn't the case, I've actually suggested people wait inside, or they are even sometimes offered umbrellas, etc. Complaining about waiting 30 seconds to one minute in the rain/snow, while the valet has to spend usually at least four to six hours and many times a lot more than that, in the same weather? Give me a damn break. That is ridiculous. Obviously, if you receive horrible service, the tip should reflect that. I just don't see it happening very often, if at all. Valets know the better the service they provide, the better the tips should be. So they actually try.

Lastly, if you are a cheap jerk who is going to give a $1 tip, just go ahead and keep it. In my opinion, as well as all of my coworkers, a $1 tip is much more of an insult than just a good old $0 stiff. Nothing is more aggravating than someone in their $90,000+ Mercedes to tip $1-2. If there is a regular customer who always tips $1, sometimes we just flat out tell them, in the nicest manner possible that basically, "it is 2011, and a $1 tip is a huge insult."

By anon192874 — On Jul 02, 2011

I work as a nanny in the hotels in Vegas. A few of the hotels are valet only, and there is no way to self park. How much do you tip then? I don't mind tipping because I know what it's like to work and not get tipped at all. I just don't think it's fair for them to expect a tip when there's not even an option to park my own car.

By anon183630 — On Jun 05, 2011

I've been a valet for two years now at a hotel. Better tippers are always remembered. I remember the better tippers' last names and always greet them by those as soon as they pull up to the hotel.

A guy who frequently visits our restaurant drives a 92 Ford Taurus, but I always remember his name when he pulls up. I always greet him as Mr. Name, good afternoon, welcome back, it's great to see you. He gets a front v.i.p. spot, and is escorted inside the hotel. This is exceptional service, and in return he gives me a $20 bill on the way out.

Now the guy who talks on his phone when he pulls up, drives a bmw, and is cheap tipper ($1 rolled up), gets parked in the overflow lot, but i still give him good service.

A good example of a good tipper is a guy in a gold jag who rolled up, handed me a $10 and said can you keep it away from everything. I said, is that spot over there by the porsche good, and he replied, that will work great. I remembered his name and gave him service beyond the normal here's your ticket and I'll park your car.

If you receive normal service, then tip normally. However, if you expect exceptional service, and receive exceptional service, then an exceptional tip would match this. Exceptional being no less that $5. At my hotel, we charge a $24 a night fee for overnight guests, and usually I try to joke around, like, yeah, my company's CEO needs to renew his country club membership with that money. This helps them figure it out like oh, wow. They don't get this money, and i should maybe throw him a few dollars.

Just be sure to tip a valet. Don't have change? Valets usually do, and if not they will be glad to go find you change promptly. Don't have cash? Ask them for the nearest ATM, because they usually know. There is really no excuse.

I hate working for nine hours and leaving with 25 dollars in my pocket, when i spend six of it on gas just coming to work, not to mention the time it took me to shave, iron my shirt, and drive to work just so I look nice. Then when I get home, I have to shower again because of all the sweat.

When a valet is outside wearing long sleeves, shirt, a tie, long pants, a vest and it's 95 degrees outside, then they run and get in your car that's 120 degrees and turn the A/C on high for you. The least you could do is tip them a few dollars so you don't have to sweat your butt off.

By anon177057 — On May 17, 2011

Wow, this is amazing! I'm a valet at the biggest hotel in Southern California (Anaheim) and our guests are so out of touch with real life. We offer self-parking as well as valet. If you choose to valet, then you should expect that a tip is appropriate. Maybe not going in, but definitely on the way out! And for those who say the hotel should pay more: if the hotel could pay below minimum wage, you could bet they would. This is a business and ALL businesses try to minimize their costs and maximize their prices. If anyone believes otherwise, wake up!

Most of us don't tip at McDonalds, and it's not expected. But go to Morton's Steak House and guess what? The workers expect to be tipped and your fellow diners would be amazed at your Scrooge-ness if you failed to tip even for ordinary service.

By anon176489 — On May 16, 2011

To all of the disgruntled, here's a solution: Don't valet your car if you care so much about the tip (or more accurately not tipping). The fact is other people understand classy service at high-end places and are willing to pay for it. That's the way it is.

If you have a problem then you probably can't afford where you're staying/eating. I don't make very much money, but even I understand that when you go to a fancy place you tip the valet just like you tip your server. You don't see anyone griping about having to tip a waitress. See the light people.

By anon169129 — On Apr 20, 2011

Do not assume that the valets are getting minimum on top of the tips. Most high end restaurants that offer complimentary valet (southern California ) are paying the valet owner a monthly fee. The employees do not get paid hourly but only work on tips.

The parking lot maybe right next to the place, but say there is a designated 30 spots, the valet needs to utilize those 30 spots into 50 spots and then use there overflow lot that maybe 25 yards to a 1/4 mile away. There is always public parking but guess what? You pay for premium parking so do not expect to get free upfront parking to a nice establishment that is in high demand and has reflective prices.

This is where the tips get in. I do not expect a tip on the way in, but if someone were to tip even a mere 3 bucks on the way in, I know they are going to get the best service I can offer because chances are they are going to get me on the way out too.

Do not give the valet a hard time about why you are not able to park yourself in the lot. They do not make the rules. If general public was allowed to park next to the valet customers cars and they put a door ding in, guess who takes the rap?

By anon166949 — On Apr 11, 2011

What a joke. You want five bucks in and five bucks out? It maybe takes you five minutes to park and retrieve my car. That's 1-2 dollars per minute to drive a few yards. That's $60-$120 an hour on top of your wage. I'm in the wrong bleeping business.

Tipping is just a scam that allows employers to underpay their workers and pass that burden to the consumer. Having just lived in Australia for a couple of years, where you don't tip anyone (because the business is expected to pay a fair wage) I hate that every time I turn around someone has their hand out here.

If you don't like being a valet, do something else. When companies can't get anyone to take a valet job, they'll wake up and have to pay a decent wage.

By anon164652 — On Apr 01, 2011

I am known as a generous tipper and because I am,

service people go out of their way to provide good

service. I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate it. It is well worth the few extra bucks to me for the extra service.

By anon163135 — On Mar 26, 2011

OK, so I stay at a hotel that charges a $40 parking fee per night (5 nights $200) and then expects me to tip the parking valet as well every time I retrieve my car ($5 in,$5 out)? How about the hotel just paying their employees more than minimum wage instead of pocketing the excessive fees?

The customer is paying for parking and the employee's wages and the hotel loses nothing. And when a customer refuses to tip it's the "customer's fault" the valet can't pay their bills?

By anon160165 — On Mar 14, 2011

As a valet who gets paid minimum wage at a luxury resort (go figure), I can say it's a huge disappointment when someone tips you $1 or worse, $0. Actually, I'm not sure what's worse: getting nothing or getting loose change from someone's lint-filled pocket. What upsets me is when a guest doesn't even give you a second glance or smile and slams the door in your face.

My valet buddy currently has a large bruise on his leg from a woman who was too eager to get into her vehicle without tipping. If you don't plan on tipping for the complimentary valet service, then go park your own car. If you disagree with that, like some commentators here do, I'm sorry but that's just the way the hotel business is run. If you don't like it then don't use the service. It's usually optional. But when you're paying $300-$1000 a night or simply having dinner and wine for $150+, you're just being cheap to not tip the valet for a free service.

Also, valets don't go joyriding like in the movies. Most of them wouldn't even if they could. It's absurd. You'd be fired before you were gone five minutes. It doesn't happen. We treat your cars with care and respect like they were our own. We're not fast food employees; we're professionals. If you knew how strict managers are in picking great employees you'd be surprised, at least at a quality establishment like mine.

As far as how much to tip, I can say that $5 is very much appreciated. Even $4 isn't bad.

Any less and you know you're not going to make very much money that day especially in lower quantity/volume places like destination resorts.

It can be frustrating when people in $80,000+ vehicles stiff you for no reason other than being cheap. It's a give and take; when you care enough to remember a guest's name, retrieve their car promptly (often in bad weather), and do it all with a smile, you kind of expect them to appreciate that great service with a gratuity. If not, you can't help but feel insulted.

I must say working a job for tips has opened my mind now that I'm on the other end of things. To all you penny pinchers out there, put yourself in the valet's shoes and think about it from their side.

By anon157234 — On Mar 02, 2011

I can park my own damn car. I should have that option when I drive into a restaurant lot that has plenty of parking spots. It's just a way for the restaurant to make more money.

The poor sucker punk who works valet should get training and a real job. It's a scam. Should I also tip my mail carrier every day? The boy the fast food place who brings my food? Come on. It's a car! Get a real job!

By anon147900 — On Jan 31, 2011

Tip at least 5 dollars. But that advice only goes for places where valet is free or complimentary. From my experience, places that charge for valet, pay the valets hourly. Sometimes it can be 10 to 12 dollars an hour so tipping them is optional.

Think about it. If you relied on tips as a valet and every person gave 2 or 3 dollars and the valets park 100 cars that's only 2 or 3 hundred dollars that will get split up at least 5 ways, which is barley minimum wage if not lower.

As a valet, I have made only 3 or 4 dollars an hour at work because people think a dollar or two is enough.

If you do not plan to give at least $4, don't valet! Find your own parking!

P.S. the worst is when someone says they don't have any cash. Why did you valet, then?

By anon147898 — On Jan 31, 2011

Very true to all my tipped position employees.

We would like tips for great service. We are making tips mostly because if the places that have, let's say free valet, charged, you would end up paying a lot more than throwing the 2-3 dollar tip.

I agree if there was bad service rendered of course, but otherwise, we are doing a physical service, running in the elements so you don't have to, that's why you used valet didn't you, so you didn't have to walk far or in bad weather. And yeah, in some places if you want VIP service, tip at least $5-10. If you do that where i work, you are parked up front, and no waiting. You go before everyone else. Of course, more might be expected in higher class areas for that same service.

But whatever excuse you have for not tipping, we've heard it all and every day. We know that this wasn't a fluke day that the "casino" got all your money. And don't think we don't. Don't think bartenders, valets and waiters don't remember who stiff all the time, because we do. With that said, good service equals tip.

Anon72123: I agree with you also, might i add, also, that be ready when you pull into valet and when ready to leave. Looking for items in your car, talking on your phone, and just hanging around takes up time as well.

If you're ready to leave and someone is doing all this junk in front of you, you can be waiting a while just because someone isn't ready to get in or out of their car in a timely manner.

By anon146974 — On Jan 27, 2011

I'm not a valet, I'm a bartender, but as someone who works for tips I can say that for those of you who think you shouldn't have to tip us because our employer should pay us more, don't think we don't think the same thing most of the time.

Do you think we like the low hourly wage? Because we don't. We have rent/mortgages, tuition, kids, utilities, and car payments just like the rest of you. We don't all work these jobs because we love them, we do it because the economy stinks and you take what you can get to provide for yourself and your family.

Fact is, in America, we tip for services that are provided to us. Whether it's someone making us a drink or parking our car it is standard to show gratitude to that person for taking care of us.

If you don't care to tip someone, then go through the drive through or park your own car because it's 2011 and everyone should know by now that tipping is standard and $1 is a slap in the face.

By anon133295 — On Dec 10, 2010

I disagree with the entire concept of an "expected" gratuity. Businesses should compensate their employees fairly and then charge the customers a rate for their services that covers the cost of their employees.

Why? Because if you're doing a $20 an hour job, you deserve a $20 an hour wage, not 7.50 an hour plus hoping another six people an hour give you a $2 tip. The gratuity system is designed to shift the burden of fairly compensating employees from the employer to the customer.

Why should you take my money and then turn around and expect me to cover your employees' paychecks?

Look at it this way: if you took your car in to your local service shop for a $500 job, and the manager said: "OK, I'll charge you $250 but I "expect" you to tip my mechanic at least $250 and he might do bad things to your car if he doesn't like what you give him," how would you feel about that? You'd much rather he quoted you a fair price up front for doing a good job, and then delivered that good job happily for whatever price he chose to charge.

By anon132800 — On Dec 08, 2010

I tip $1-$2 in and outs at hotels. If you make a lot of money, then do tip higher. I think it depends on your income. Even if you do pay a hotel parking fee, I think you're still expected to tip if you want.

Try this to see how honest your Valet is. Usually nothing happens, but one time, something did.

I leave some change in plain sight, and have counted it. I've left a few cans of soda, some candy, checked channel radio was on etc. I counted everything and left some things in open sight. Only one time I had missing change, candy and noticed the radio station was changed.

So when I left the hotel I let the front desk manager know this and didn't tip upon leaving.

By anon132795 — On Dec 08, 2010

Our family only makes $40k per year. So money is tight. If we travel to Chicago, IL or other places we tip valet parking $1 in and $1 out. Sometimes $2 if they help out with things or get the car fast.

Though if we had millions, we of course, would tip $5 to $10 in and outs, but like I said, money is tight and trips come maybe once a year.

We don't tip the garbage or mail people. I do my job and I don't see tips for being a supermarket truck driver. Plus, they make good money for what they do.

By anon128317 — On Nov 19, 2010

Happened to me once that a costumer who usually didn't tip, was looking for his "baby" 2010 Audi s5, just to find out that it was parked in the very back of the parking lot and a 1999 suburban right at front.

He just asked me, "Did you park back there so it can in a safer spot?" I just said yes, but from his face I can tell that he got the message.

VIP spots are for regulars and people that tip, so don't expect your car to be there if you just say thank you. I don't pay my bills with "thanks."

By anon116512 — On Oct 06, 2010

I'm doing a wedding and utilizing valet parking for the event. I'm not expecting most people to bring cash, so I'm thinking about covering the valet gratuity as well as the added valet expense. How much should I tip the valet per car for the entire event?

By anon113817 — On Sep 26, 2010

I am at a hotel that only offers valet parking. My car is a rental car. the hotel charges 30.00 a day for parking. I am here for seven days. I have no choice but to valet park my car. Do I tip the valet? I feel that I should not tip because I am being charged 30.00 USD a day! Please advise.

By anon110209 — On Sep 11, 2010

I have worked valet at two different places. One you have to pay daily and the other free. Let me first say that *most* valets do *not* take your car joyriding. If a car left either of the two places I have worked, the attendant would be fired before he/she even got back.

Being a valet can be a very fun job, but it is very stressful at times when you are dealing with expensive cars and weather issues. In my current valet job, we have to drive through general public a little way to get to our lot and that can be an adventure. Add rain, snow, wind, or even bright sunlight to the mix and it can be difficult.

So, when you park your car, realize that, as you hand off your keys, that the attendant is putting him/herself at extreme risk in making sure nothing happens to the car in his/her care.

I would like to echo what anon72123 wrote, especially when it comes to damages. I would be willing to lay down some serious money that 95 percent of damage claims and subsequent repairs were not the fault of the valet. I have been in this business a long time and have parked tens of thousands of cars and I know I have not put a single scratch on a single car. I know of only three to five incidents involving my coworkers and all of those the customers were told by the company before they even saw it themselves.

So, when it comes down to tipping, realize that you most likely tip your waitresses and if they screw up than all they have to do is redo your order. If a valet screws up, well they have a lot more to deal with. Not to mention waiters are inside a climate controlled building. (For the most part.) We love the $2 in, $2 out. We have a few $5 in $5 out. But we also have a few people who come in on a daily basis who don't tip and we are more than happy to help them because they are nice, and they still try when they can.

But if you're rude and you don't tip, don't ask for any favors because they won't be granted.

The valet business I work at now is a casino. If you just cash your ticket out when it starts to get low, around $2-3, you would have enough to tip. Don't say oh I lost it all.

And finally to anon98509: it's not a bribe. It's a thank you for you not having to walk to your car in the same elements we have to get your car in. If you don't feel we deserve it, then find self-parking. -Johnnie

By anon107573 — On Aug 30, 2010

I am a valet lead at accounts all over dallas texas, and anything less than $5 for good service is nothing less than a slap in the face.

How much do you rely on your car? How much did your car cost you? Think about it: getting that very valuable possession back unharmed and properly cared for as well as getting the convenience and friendliness of a good valet is worth a five.

As a rule, if your car is in sight or within close proximity of the valet stand, it is VIP parking. the accounts I work park sometimes hundreds of cars a night and if your car is one of the 10-30 cars that is VIP you are getting special treatment, and you should at least tip $10 for vip. Most vips tip $10-100 (yes, $100). Do the math: For a $100,000-plus car, a $20-$100 tip is worth being close instead of going up and down eight floors of a parking garage.

Also, do people consider the risk valets take every day and their expenses? most valets have to pay 1/4 to 1/2 of any damage done, up to the insurance deductible (5k-10k), so one scratch/dent/ding on your m-benz or lexus can easily put a valet back 1k, and a maserati, porsche, ferrari or lambo dent can be way more.

Now the risks: I have been hit four times by drunks/texting people four times while on foot, while they were driving less than 20 mph. Do you know how much that hurts? valets' legs can get broken easily at 3 a.m. by drunks.

Have you ever tried dealing with a 250-pound drunk football player trying to impress his chick but found his car was not in "VIP" because he treated the valet like dirt on the way in? it's not easy.

110 degrees, 20 degrees, ice, snow, rain, wind, drunks, late hours, constantly driving around drunks, valets take care of one of your most valuable possessions. He sprints for hours, so take care of him and he will take care of you. Tipping $5-$10 on the way helps ensure pristine service, but don't forget to tip on the way out.

If you want valets who make minimum wage driving your cars, go ahead tip $2-$5, and we will have the nearest mcdonalds worker drive your car.

I make $60-80k a year as a valet lead working 70-100 hours a week at all hours of the day, night and morning, i handle hundreds of millions worth of dollars in cars a year and bring them back to the owner in the same condition.

Mcdonalds worker or professional valets? is a $10 tip worth it? I definitely think so with my car.

By anon100885 — On Aug 01, 2010

If you don't want to tip and self parking is available, please self park your car. You don't go out to eat and not tip your server just because you want to save money.

Don't know how to tip? Just ask. Find someone that you think looks honest and ask. Concierges and doormen are typically best.

Be understanding. Valets are trying to service not only you and the three bell carts you need for you and your 5 kids.

By anon99662 — On Jul 27, 2010

I usually tip valets. $5 is my standard, but I have been known to drop $2 or $3 instead.

The key word here, is usually.

If it's cold or raining or 105 degrees, the valet needs to remember that the client is also standing outside in the same weather, in a much more expensive suit or dress, waiting. I don't care if the car is 10 feet away, or 10 miles away. If they wait long, you shouldn't be expecting a tip.

$5 on the way in, and $5 adds up too. On a recent seven-day trip to Las Vegas (where valet parking is free) I spent $340 on "free" parking!

And to you whiny valets out there who complain about stiffs, let me ask you this:

When did you last tip your hotel maid? Did you tip her every day of your stay? She cleaned every day, picked your hairs out of the tub, all for minimum wage.

Did you tip your local firemen? Cookies are always welcome, but they wouldn't frown on a couple of steaks for their efforts, especially since most fire departments in this country are staffed by volunteers. They work in the rain and snow, and worse, but do you even think about them? Probably not.

I don't advocate stiffing the valet, but if everyone gave $1 to the valet on the way in, and $1 on the way out after getting the car in a minute or less, that's $60 an hour. $5 in and $5 out, and now you're making $600 an hour. So stop your griping! Work like the rest of us, demand more pay from your employer (form a union if you have to) and accept tips for what they are - a gratuity.

By anon98509 — On Jul 23, 2010

I'm sorry but don't you guys get paid a salary or do you guys do it pro bono. Why do you need to be paid a bribe to do your job? You certainly do not pay every person who performs a service for you, a tip.

By anon94924 — On Jul 10, 2010

I went on a date with a 23 year old who tipped $20 on a $35 valet. that comes off as really presumptions. I'm not going out with that guy again. Give the dude like $5.

By anon78079 — On Apr 16, 2010

When the hotel I stay at charges $12/day for valet parking, I don't consider it a "convenience." I don't have a choice. I'll tip the valet $2 when the car is returned but he can talk to the hotel about splitting the $12 if he wants more.

By anon72291 — On Mar 22, 2010

I started part time as a valet parking attendant at only 18 while going to college. I then went on to create my own company at 26 years old with seven different locations between California and New York.

When I arrange to serve an event, I always tell my clients, if your people don't tip well. we won't be doing business again. Why? Because I make sure my guys work extra hard and are the most professional. Most importantly because I know the people can afford $5.

If your valet attendant is smiling, polite and respectful, tip him even if its a dime, seriously. However, the tip should be according to what you 'appear' to spend.

If you show up in a 1990 Honda and tip a dollar the valet guy will be grateful. If you give the same tip while driving a new BMW, not so much. The nicer the car, the nicer the restaurant, the nicer the event the bigger the tip should be. If the valet cost $5, tip $1. $10=$2, $20=$5.

Now, I have also been on the other side and being in this business I see so many things being done wrong by valet people when I go out.

So as a rule of thumb I always tip if they are friendly, polite and a good mood. No matter how miserable you are in the cold or how hot you are under the heat, a valet should never let the clients know that. I've been through it. I know.

By anon72123 — On Mar 21, 2010

Here's a little background, spoken from the perspective of a valet parker:

I work for a major hotel/casino as a valet parker in an area where parking spaces are a premium. Valet parking is provided as a free service by the business, and is not contracted out.

Self-parking is provided at a fee, but is refunded for guests who actually utilize our business, rather than go somewhere else (almost like validated parking).

The environment can reach upwards of 110 degrees regularly (summer), and a low of 30 degrees (winter). Vehicles range from clunkers to luxury vehicles. Cleanliness of vehicles range from garbage bins to professionally detailed.

To begin with, the above article is pretty close to accurate, but some things should be clearer.

It is generally good to tip a valet when they take your vehicle, and to also tip when the vehicle is retrieved ($2 USD should be considered a minimum). The reasoning is simple, and twofold.

First, valet parkers tend to pool, and then split, their tips on a predetermined cut. Thus, the valet who parks your car may not be on the same cut as the valet who retrieves it.

Second, and more importantly, you are paying for the convenience of having someone park your car, and the convenience of having someone retrieve your car.

If someone doesn't want to pay for the convenience of having someone park/retrieve their vehicle, then they should utilize the nearest self-parking area provided. Simple, and to the point.

Now, let's talk about the "stiff". A stiff is typically one of two types of people. The first is that person that just doesn't know better. They believe the tip is already a part of their current "service" charge, or for some other reason of ignorance. Annoying, but not nearly as bad as the second type.

The second type of stiff is the person who utilizes the convenience of the service, but feels that they should not have to pay for the convenience of that service. It should be noted that the second type of stiff not only annoys the valet, but there may also be another customer, who is willing to pay for the service, who is now having to wait for their own vehicle immediately following the stiff.

Obviously, the second type is completely in it for themselves, and could careless about what is considered to be "fair."

So, what does giving a tip get you? If you tip up front, the valet now knows that their efforts are not in vain. They will provide you with the closest spot available under the known circumstances. Generally speaking, parking spots are first come, first serve. If all the close spots are already taken, then your vehicle is going to be out further.

However, a larger than normal tip can influence a valet to make an attempt to park your vehicle in a better spot. Worried about an upfront tip not being noticed later? Don't. Usually upfront tipping is documented in some manner by the taking valet.

Tipping also influences the valet to retrieve your vehicle as quickly as possible. Most professional valet employers hire valets to park and retrieve vehicles. It is generally not required in the job description for a valet to run to, and run from, the vehicle in order to accomplish the required parking and retrieving. Is a walking valet frowned upon? Yes. Required? Generally not.

Now, some valet pet peeves:

Kill switches, alarm systems, and unique quirks: Tell the valet of any such systems, or quirks, on the vehicle. More often than not, the valet will figure it out. However, it consumes unnecessary time.

Conspicuous mileage checking: Yes, even I've heard the horror stories of valet driving a vehicle around town ("heard", not confirmed). However, it has to be a rare event amongst professional valet parkers.

The reasoning of this occurring rarely is simpler than one would expect. Valets typically don't work alone, and they split their tips. To have a rogue valet joyriding is going to be noticed by other coworkers, and would be frowned upon, at the very least. Tips are earned by good customer service, and to endanger that source of income is not going to be left unchecked for very long. Even a lone valet will eventually be noticed as "missing" for any extended length of time.

If one must check mileage, do it discreetly and accurately. Nothing pisses someone off more than being accused of something they did not do. Plus, if it really does concern you that much, why risk valet parking in the first place?

Damage checks: This is more understandable than mileage checks. However, be absolutely certain the damage occurred by the valet. It drives me nuts knowing that people check their vehicle for door dings only after valet parking their vehicle, but almost never after leaving the local supermarket. So, how would one truly "know" the valet did the particular damage? It's always better to check your vehicle for damage immediately before you let the valet take it, not just after. And unless your vehicle is garage kept, not driven on a freeway/highway (where small rocks and debris chip paint), or not left in parking lots regularly to be door-dinged, don't blame the valet for very small damage unless you are absolutely certain it was the valet.

Above all, don't valet park a car with a known safety issue! Just because you may be willing to drive around with bad brakes, a broken steering column, coated scum on a windshield, or a vehicle that stalls regularly, does not mean a valet will want to take the same risk.

By anon57856 — On Dec 28, 2009

I'm hoping that the next person that searches for an article like this sees my comment before some others. Check the mileage? If you drive a car and have to worry about checking the mileage, then you have enough money to tip the valet well on the way in, say "keep it close" and trust me -- not only will it be sitting in front of the restaurant all night in plain view of its owner but it's likely that you'll be remembered the next time you stop by and receive just as good service for a more modest tip.

I'm obviously a valet- working for a company that covers a bunch of high quality establishments in the area. We therefore have the opportunity to park some really nice cars and cater to regulars and vip's. Most of those people treat us well because they can, no matter how often they come in.

Does that mean we treat everyone else like crap? No. The ones that we want to treat like crap are the ones who watch us run out to their car in 20 degree, snowy weather that we've been out all day in, see us brush off their car while warming it up, then hand us a dollar or two.

Here's something to look out for- valet companies that are sub contracted to a few or more establishments have become more common. My company treats me well for all the hard work I do for them. Still, when you see a sign like ours that states the three or four dollar charge for service, my employer takes all but 50 cents of that. So the 50 cents and any tips go to pay my hourly.

If I do well enough to warrant some nice tips, it comes back to me. If you give me the exact charge or stiff me (happens too often to believe), then that comes out of my pocket.

So go ahead, listen to this mindless pinhead- Emily Post and tip the guys two bucks that run around in dangerous, sometimes ice and snow covered parking lots where drunken idiots speed around. See where that gets you- besides being despised by the valet.

I'm not saying that everyone needs to tip $5 every time but cough up a third or fourth buck. It makes the difference.

And for the heartless, cheap SOB's that go to a fine dining establishment with a group of coworkers to suckle from the company's teat by eating for free for some meeting or awards party- effectively walking away without spending a dime- instead of giving us the one crinkled dollar you have ready, just go ahead and shove it up your butt. Park it yourself next time.

Unless you are at a place that requires you to valet (not many of those left these days) then put some money in the kid's hand who busts his rear in the worst weather because you didn't feel like walking to your car.

By anon41205 — On Aug 13, 2009

i am a account manager for the valet at a restaurant in uptown dallas texas called bella. we offer great service, nothing but the best. I'm sorry to hear some stories that people tell about the valet screeching away in their car. that's' not how my guys work and if i see or hear them doing that i remove them. I want to thank all those who tip us. we do work hard whether sleet, snow, rain, or sunshine. people do get what they pay for. but nobody deserves to have their car damaged or driven improperly, or treated wrong. --brian

By anon30063 — On Apr 13, 2009

How much and when do you tip when you live in a condo that uses valet as the monthly means of parking? Do you tip at the end of the month, upon each time your car is brought to you? Who do you tip, as the person delivering the car is different each time?

By anon29588 — On Apr 04, 2009

I gave a guy a $10 tip tonight and he looked at me like I was a jerk. Forget him. I'm not tipping the valets at that place any more.

By anon25495 — On Jan 30, 2009

Valets like that would take the money and drive it anyway.

By WGwriter — On May 01, 2008


Your comment reminded me so much of the movie Ferris Bueller, when the kids take the car out, and the valets put a couple 100 miles on the thing. Naturally most valets wouldn't do that, but I suppose there are a few unscrupulous ones that might. Good advice though.

By osmosis — On May 01, 2008

Check the mileage on the car to make sure the valet just parked it and that's all. Most people are honest, of course, but there's always a few people who will take advantage of you.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WikiMotors contributor, Tricia...
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