Tipping (Trinkgeld) in Germany – Local’s Guide [2022]

by | Aug 20, 2022 | Life in Germany

Home 9 Life in Germany 9 Tipping (Trinkgeld) in Germany – Local’s Guide [2022]

Tipping culture usually depends on the norms set in according to the mindset of the masses. Hence, whenever traveling abroad, do make sure that you are aware of the country’s specific tipping norms. If you are traveling to Germany, then we have got you covered. Here is a complete guide on the German norms about tipping. Take a deep look into the article to get to know the real truth behind German tipping scenarios. 

Now, you might tip according to what generally people tip and think. Or you can tip according to the needs of the waiter. Now here are two different perspectives that you should know about. Also, we will be using food servers as an example of tip receivers.

Normal Cultural Tipping Norms in Germany

Germany is a very well-to-do country. People here receive good wages in exchange for their work. You can take any profession and compare it to the rest of the world. You will see how the professionals in Germany receive better wages than in most of the other countries. Similarly, German waiters also receive an amount quite better than Americans or any other waiters. 

But this quite high minimum wage is becoming a nuisance for German food servers. Due to their better wages, German customers tend to lower their tip to an extremely low level. If you ask a German how much to tip in Germany, he will give any of these ridiculous tipping options. 

  • Germans think that rounding off their food bill to the next whole is the best way to tip food servers. For example, you owe a bill of 42.3 euros. Germans would advise you to pay 43 euros, including the tip for the server. Hence, you will just be paying 0.7 euros to the waiter which is ridiculously low.
  • Some Germans will be a little generous and will ask you to pay the server an amount equal to the price of a drink. This is the very norm that gave tipping its German name, Trinkgeld, which actually means drink money. Just to be clear, it will not be much more than the rounding-off rule. You will still be leaving the server with a tip of no use.
  • Some Germans will even tell you that you do not need to tip if you do not like the service. A very common way of getting away with tips. Though you can skip tips if you genuinely faced a mishap or poor service. But just making an excuse to get away from tipping is not a good idea. Another common excuse is that the tip is included in the server’s wage which is actually not true. Unless you don’t find just a statement on the menu, do not believe it. Even in such cases, the fixed tip is quite low. 

As much as you might find these trends useless and disturbing, you will find them pretty prevalent in Germany. These practices are quite deep-rooted in German society.

What Tip Receivers Expect to be Tipped

You will be surprised to know that in a country like Germany, food servers actually earn a little lower than American food servers. Though their wage is higher, the poor tipping practices lower their earnings to very low levels. Hence, if you are traveling to Germany, be a little generous about your tips. 

You should at least tip the waiter 5%-10% of your food bill. For example, if your food bill is 42.3 euros, at least pay 2.4 euros to the server. This way you can help them to earn a respectable amount of income. Though most of the Germans still have the same thoughts about tipping, you can make a little difference by tipping generously as a tourist. 

How, How Much, and When to Tip in Germany

Here is a German cultural practice of tipping.

How Much to Tip in Germany?

Above you read about two perspectives on tipping culture in Germany. You can choose either of them to go with your tipping when paying at a restaurant in Germany. If you decide to go with the sensible way, here is a little detail to reflect the service on your tip. 

  • If you received excellent service, you can pay 15% of your food bill as a tip to the waiter. Anything above then that will be considered overly generous. However, you should know that in Germany, good service is linked with the speed, not to the behavior of the server. You would hardly find your server engaging in pleasant conversations with the customers to get a better tip. They would just speed up the service to receive a generous tip.
  • For a service better than good, you can pay 10% of your food bill. Know that, it is still quite a generous tip. 
  • For an average service, you can pay the normal 5%. It is not a generous one, but still, a good amount that will please the server for sure. 

When and How To Tip in Germany?

Tipping usually come at the end of the service. Generally, with the bill. Even paying with a bill has a process to be followed. 

  • When the waiter brings your bill along with a credit card machine, and a wallet, you have to tell him the amount of tip you are willing to pay. He will either swipe your card, and add the tip to the bill, or you can pay him the tip separately in cash. Paying the tip in cash is always a better idea, because this way, all the tip goes to the server directly. 
  • If you are paying by cash, just add the tip to the bill and pay the server. But you will still need to tell him the amount of tip that you are paying.
  • Now, if you plan to pay by check, it is again better to pay the tip separately in cash.

This was the usual way of tipping in Germany. But you can also find a few different practices.

  • One of them is the presence of a piggy bank. You can simply drop a coin or two, during the service, to tip the server. This way your tip will be kept a secret and the servers divide the tips at the end of the day.
  • Another unusual practice is to place dishes outside the restaurants. Customers drop tips on the dish when leaving the restaurant. Some of these dishes are even labeled with a minimum tip amount. This is done to save the servers from the usual practice of paying low tips in Germany. 

Tipping Servers other than Food Servers

Tipping is not only limited to the food industry. There are a number of different servers that expect tips in exchange for their service. When traveling to Germany, you should be looking forward to such service providers and tip them. Being a tourist, you are generally expected to give generous tips. However, there is no hard and fast rule. You can tip whatever you are easy to. In fact, skipping the tip a few times can also be tolerated. Here is a detail on how to tip each one of them.

Tipping at a Hair Salon

In Germany, tipping your hairdresser is a common practice. If you are happy with your haircut, it is good to leave a small tip for the hairdresser. In most hair salons you can find a small piggy bank, kept at the counter. You can drop coins as a tip. 

Tipping a Taxi Driver

Taxi drivers also earn something around a minimum wage, hence, tipping them for their service is a good idea. If you are using uber or any other online taxi service, you can simply add your tip using the app. Otherwise, tipping 2 to 5 euros is more than enough for a ride to Berlin Gate.

    Tipping the Tour Guide

    In Germany, locals usually form groups to show the tourists around the places. This business is usually tip based, as the guides do not charge anything on their own. Your trip will be free of cost until to pay them a tip of your own will. They are usually paid quite generously.

    Tipping a Delivery Rider

    Delivery riders receive a very low wage. Hence, they are depending on your tip a lot. You can pay them the same amount of tip you would pay a driver, or a little lesser than that would also be enough.

    Tipping the Movers

    Moving is usually a one-time service. But it is actually a hard one. So make sure to tip your movers generously. But the exact amount will depend on your budget and the grind of the task. In Germany, people usually tip quite generously to their movers.

    Tipping in Bars

    Though we said above that rounding up your food bill is not a good idea. But rounding up your bar bill is always acceptable. Because, a drink generally costs something around 3-6 euros, and paying less than euro for this much bill is not stingy at all.

    Tipping in German Hotels

    Tipping the porter in German hotels is a very common norm. If you are satisfied with your porter’s service, you can tip him a little amount. 

      Conclusion

      Concluding the German Trinkgeld, the practices common in Germany are quite stingy. The service providers are paid well, but the underpaid tip system, concludes their overall earnings to be not quite good. Hence, whenever you are visiting Germany, tip them handsomely despite the established impression of Germany. It won’t hurt you to spend a few more euros, but it will definitely be a good change for them to receive good tips. 

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