Tipping in Mexico: How Much to Tip in Mexico

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How Much to Tip in Mexico

Just like the United States, Mexico is a tipping culture. Poor wages, stellar service, and proximity to the United States have gradually made tipping part of the Mexican culture. However, there are some key differences between tipping in Mexico and tipping in other countries. Therefore, WeExpats has put together a guide for expats and travelers who are curious about the basics of tipping in Mexico.



When I’m in Mexico, I generally try and tip in MXN pesos. I hardly ever try and tip in dollars. You will end up paying more unless you have loads of $1 USD bills lying around, and it also saves the staff a trip to the casa de cambio (currency exchange). Never tip in American coins, these cannot be exchanged at a currency exchange.

I would not recommend tipping in any other currency, such as Euros or GBP. These are only rarer and more difficult to exchange. If you are forced into a situation where you have to tip in another currency, make sure it’s a hefty sum to compensate for the added hassle of exchanging them. £5 or €5 can really make someone’s day in Mexico.





The standard tip in Mexico for a restaurant bill is 10% of your total bill. This is obviously assuming that the service has been acceptable—which it so often is in Mexico. If the wait staff has been stellar, attentive, and offering you extra bread and salsas on demand, then I would recommend tipping 15%. Rarely do people tip 20% like strong tippers in the United States. The economy simply isn’t that strong to do so. Similarly, a 5% tip for a hefty meal at a decent restaurant—especially in an urban environment—is also considered missing the mark. The argument made by so many waiters and waitresses is that: if you couldn’t afford the tip, then you shouldn’t have gone out to eat at a nicer restaurant.



Let’s be honest. If you’re eating at a divey torta place at 2:30am in Mazunte, they are not going to expect you to tip 15%. They might appreciate it, but no one will fault you for tipping a little less if the establishment’s business model is built around heavy table turnovers, and late-night meals with cheap ingredients. At these places, you can probably get away with tipping 7% or 8%.



If you are paying in cash, it’s no different than in the United States or other countries with a tipping culture. Simply add up the check and leave what you think is appropriate.

If you are paying by card, then it is a little different. Often the wait staff will ask you in somewhat obscure language if you would like to leave a tip. They might ask you in Spanish if you would like to add on for the service (agregar para el servicio). This is just a polite way of not sounding pushy, however the tip is expected. I’ve misunderstood what they were asking before, and when I replied no because I didn’t understand exactly what they were asking, they repeated it in clearer language. The typical answer is to add on 10% or 15% and this will get added on to your bill. Only weirdos like my father add a specific amount to the tab.

Read the check first to see if it says, “Propina Incluida”. This means that the gratuity is included in the bill’s total, and that you do not have to tip. High-end restaurants will often include the tip already calculated at 18%.



Tipping at tacos stands in Mexico—or other street or market vendors—is not necessary. However, these individuals generally work so hard and for so many hours, that I often round up. Many times, I will just leave them the change. Other times, the taco stand will have a jar where you can throw in some coins. Either way, I’m sure it’s appreciated—but it isn’t necessary.



If you’re a starving 19-year-old student backpacking through Mexico, and the support staff can tell that you’re traveling on a shoestring budget, many places will be understanding of your situation. They’ve likely been poor youths at some point as well. Waiters will generally understand. Just be conscious of this fact.

When I was a college student, I would let the waiter know that I was on a meager budget, and I would be apologetic and understanding. If you begin making strict demands of the staff to cater to your needs, and then you do not tip them for their extra-attentive service, this is considered rude. You won’t get assaulted in a back alley somewhere, but I wouldn’t make a habit of it.





In Mexico, all gas stations are full service. There are no self-service pumps. Sometimes these attendants only work for tips. I would recommend leaving them between $10 – $20 MXN—especially if they check your tires or wipe your windows. . . etc.



Many people set up in a parking lot to help people pull in and out without getting hit—especially in tight spaces or overcrowded spaces. Sometimes, it’s just the security guard looking to make a bit of extra cash. Other times it’s a just a person with an entrepreneurial spirit trying to make ends meet. Either way, I would recommend tipping some coins.

My grandmother used to stay, “Mexico survives on coins.” Be wary about keeping them in a change tray because valets have been known to help themselves to supplement their income. Now we just make sure to keep some lose change. It can be embarrassing to be caught without a coin after someone helps you pull out.

In some areas, like the Condesa in Mexico City at night, there are men who will charge you to park on a public street. They often put up cones or pallets and remove them for paying customers. They will expect payment up front. This is a racket often run by rather dangerous people. I would recommend avoiding parking spots like these. However, if you absolutely have to park there for some reason—because you’re running late or something—I strongly advise that you pay the man whatever he asks to watch your car. It won’t be too much. Don’t worry, he’ll keep it safe if you pay him. You may want to tip him too.



When you are staying in a hotel, then you might want to consider tipping the porter who helps you with your bags. I’ve been stuck without some change before, and I insist on taking my own bags up. The way I see it, it’s the lesser of two evils. A $20 MXN bill or two will do.

Tipping the maid is a must in most hotels in Mexico. Many hotels in hubs of tourism like Cancun will have small envelopes on your nightstand where you can put whatever you feel is appropriate. These individuals work hard for little pay, and tips can make all the difference. I usually try to put a $20 – $50 MXN bill into the envelope if the hotel chain has one lying around. If they don’t however, I’ve left a note with the money, or even tried to find them afterward.



Many bathrooms in clubs or trendy restaurants have bathroom attendants who ensure sanitary conditions in the bathroom. They will generally hand you paper towels after washing your hands, and they will sometimes offer you a spritz of cologne. These individuals work solely on tips, and they don’t make much. If I have a coin handy, I will always offer it to them. However, if I am repeatedly using the bathroom, I don’t tip them more than once.



Most of the people bagging at supermarkets are either young students or the elderly. These people work solely for tips as a way of making ends meet. I have been caught paying so many times by credit card without a coin to spare, and I always feel awful. I have made it a habit of remembering to bring some coins or a $20 MXN bill to ensure that they make some money for their efforts. If you’re just checking in to the store for a couple items, a few coins are enough however.



At some point, you are bound to encounter someone with a rag or some newspaper and a bottle of soapy solution, asking to wipe your windows for some loose change. Over the years, I have discovered this is a controversial practice in Mexico. Some people think that they provide a good service to commuters, while trying to gather some change to feed themselves for the day. If so, then you can offer them a few coins for their troubles and go on your merry way.

However, others are wary of the chemicals they use—claiming that some can be abrasive to the exterior of the car. Some think that they make traffic worse by holding up traffic as cars are getting washed. Also, I have heard some people say that these individuals are just scraping by, when they could be bettering their life through more productive work. This is a decision to be made based upon one’s own personal value system.

If you do not wish your window to be wiped, simply shake your finger no when they walk up. Occasionally, you will get the window washer who squirts your window anyway, and then asks for change regardless. You can then decide to tip them or not.



The practice of shoe shining is alive and well in Mexico. They can be found in places like public parks, bus stations, and airports. If you have some leather shoes that need shining, then they will do a good job. It is customary to round up a bit when you get your shoes shined. The shoe shiner will pay extra careful attention to your pair of shoes.



Street performers are all throughout Mexico, and this is a hefty topic to attempt to pick apart. If you are in a touristic city center like Coyoacan, and you are enjoying some huapango, then you should tip them some change, or even a $20 MXN bill for some exceptional music.

Occasionally, you will get buskers with more heart than talent who are overly officious about making their voices heard. Occasionally, I get perturbed and I will not tip those musicians. As a jazz guitarist myself, I tend to get annoyed with some musicians who make up for talent with volume. This is my personal choice. I do however appreciate a good voice if the musician only knows a few chords.

There are other forms of street performers however. If you are driving in a car, then you will no doubt see hula hoopers, fire dancers, jugglers, break dancers, circus clowns, and all other manner of live acts. These performers sometimes perform alone, or sometimes in groups. They will do a short routine timed-perfectly to end before the light turns green. Then they will walk by the car. If you enjoyed their routine, feel free to offer them some coins. One successful young performer—often found by my street corner in Cuernavaca—solves a Rubik’s cube in the time it takes for the light to turn green. I try and tip him some coins whenever I can.

However, be aware that the fire breathers tend to use harmful chemicals that can cause serious injury esophageal damage with prolonged exposure. Many Mexicans refuse to tip these individuals because of this fact.

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Comments (18)

  • Morris

    Tip 20% at all restaurants. You can afford to. Remember 20 pesos is about a dollar. I tip baggers at least 20 pesos for small amounts of bagging and 50 pesos for a lot of bagging. I can afford to even on my limited income. I also don’t a lot with Street venders. They don’t own the merchandise and 50 or 100 pesos is more to them than it is to me. Besrnsitive, not cheap. We’re in a third world country where they need money more than we do.

    • Raf Bracho

      That’s good advice. Thanks for commenting Morris!

      We hope this message finds you well.

    • Jenita

      I disagree. Tip based on the standards of the country. I live here and when you come disrupting the economy and norms, it impacts the everyday people.

      Tip what is fair and within country norms.

      • Lemuel Stone


      • Amber

        Many cleaning ladies in Chapala area will no longer work for other Mexicans because westerners “feel sorry” and pay much more than the asking rate.

      • Tracy

        Morris is ignorant. Stop bragging and insulting Mexico. I have never thought México was the third world – it simply is not. And the only reason some Mexicans are not living better is because undereducated tourists like you are driving up the prices. I travel the word – México is great. Why do you have to brag about what you give and guilt trip others while insulting locals – such over privileged mentality yet without knowledge. Just please stop boasting. There are lots of people visiting Mexico for different reasons – and no most of us do not think 20% is little. Not all of us are here to have fun – some come here for work and other reasons. We don’t need to compete with you. I’m a student but I was wealthier before studying for another degree – yet not once did I brag about how much more I gave and obligate others to do so. Now I am a student, I really dislike people like you because you make others fee pressured or feel bad because they have less than you. What a Pharisee.
        Driving up expectations is bad for everyone else but you who tries to glorify yourself.

        Jenita’s reply is the appropriate and fair-minded one. Unfortunately, The internet is full of spoiled socialists that keep writing wrong comments and try to ruin the economy and oppress the less rich. Maybe Morris should learn and understand, there aren’t just rich people and third world people. There area spectrum of every kind of standard of living. Travel more and open your eyes.

    • Michael Livingston

      I have only lived in Mexico for 6 months, however, my newly made Mexican friends have told me two things: pay the artisans what they ask; unless you feel that the price is inflated, and respect the mores of this culture. Baggers in supermarkets are usually older citizens and it has been suggested to begin a tip at 20 pesos. I was also told the same about gas station attendants most of whom are not salaried. The adage is appropriate, When in Rome…..”

      • Raf Bracho

        That’s great advice Michael! Thanks for contributing your thoughts.

    • Doris Bothell

      If you can afford it, please be generous. I live here for 8 Years now and I always am. People work so very hard and for so little Money. ❤️

  • Fred

    Why should foreigners tip more than a regular Mexican would? If the going rate is 10-15% to tip waiters, do that. Don’t feel pressured by people like Morris to do more than what is expected. If Morris wants to tip 20%, good for him. He is overtipping for the baggers as well. No Mexican tips 20-50 pesos for baggers! Don’t be a show off!

    • Raf Bracho


      Ultimately you are correct. Tipping is a choice made based on your own financial situation, as well as what kind of service you received.

      Sometimes, I cannot tip in grocery stores for example because I have no cash and I pay on my card. When this happens, I make sure that I am only getting a few things, and I often bag my own groceries (if it’s just a few items).

      However, if I am doing a 2-week run and stocking my entire kitchen then I will often tip a $20-peso bill for each person helping. It is common when I do these runs that two people have to help me because I am shopping for a whole family.

      Concerning restaurants, I agree with you that it is Mexico. I never tip 20% (unless I am at a very nice restaurant, my finances are stable, I’m on a date, and everything was just stellar). However, I also almost never tip 10% unless I’m eating some Itacates in a divey, open-air restaurant with a dirt floor in Tepoztlan (as an example).

      I typically settle at 15% in almost every restaurant scenario.

  • Ben Herrera

    And always tip your tour guides.

  • Greg Heebner

    I’ve been out eating with Internationals who tip outrageously, sometimes 50% or even more at most every meal, usually average or perhaps good service. When I have questioned them about this, their answer is why not, it’s not a lot of money because of the exchange rate and they’re poor people.

    My response is two fold, one you make 20% tip from me look cheap, and two, you are creating a situation where Mexicans think all foreigners have bags of money and that this is what should be the norm. Prices will rise accordingly and all of a sudden Mexico pricing becomes less attractive, especially for foreigners on fixed incomes, many of whom choose to live or winter in Mexico because the cost of living is attractive.

    • Tracy

      I agree with you. I highly detest Americans who tip outrageously and keep on telling other travelers they “can afford it.” I’m sorry but what a colonial and ignorant mindset? Just because they are rich, everyone else is? There are lots of people from America who moved to Mexico because they CANNOT afford the lifestyle there. Now these entitled, self-righeous “tippers” try to educate others and guilt them into tipping the same outrageous amount? They drive up the expectations for both local Mexican people who can’t afford their standards, and also less wealthy travelers or migrants. It would have been bearable for me if they were not on every other website bragging about it and lecturing people how they ought to do the same. But no, they have to act like Pharisees and entitled elites – so horrible.

      Stop messing with other people’s economy and telling people what to do. Tip according to the norm. If you have to go under or over don’t be out here forcing others to feel guilty. I really dislike that kind of self-centered “giving” that is more about themselves then genuine concern for others. If the latter, no need to boast about it.

  • Gavan Connell

    I have been here for 17 years, have a Mexican family and Mexican citizenship, am fluent in Spanish and would like to add this:
    The Mexicans have this thing they call ‘cara de gringo’, which is basically if you look like a gringo, you are fair game and the price of everything is doubled. I always tell people I am a citizen and want the local price. In one shop in a tourist area, I was charged exactly 50% of what was on the price tag.
    With regard to tipping, someone above has already mentioned the cleaning ladies who won’t work for Mexican people any more because they get extra money from foreigners. In my village, cleaning ladies who clean apartments can earn up to 900 pesos a day tax free. That’s good money anywhere.
    If you tip the person 20 pesos who fills your bag or guides you out of the car-parking space at the supermarket and ask us all to do the same, you will create problems with the baggers and parking attendants. Imagine in Wal Mart in the high season for expats where a parking attendant rushes to help an expat with is/her trolley for the twenty pesos leaving an old Mexican lady to fend for herself because she tips 2-5 pesos. Imagine that same person helping several hundred people in the course of the day. Before long he will be paying protection money to someone so they don’t take his job.
    We all like to help out where we can but creating a pocket or enclave of expats in a small community where certain bars are frequented and certain restaurants and tipping is big there and not in the other places just distorts the local economy.
    Many Mexicans resent the fact the price of houses has gone up in their village because of expat money driving things. They can’t afford to buy into their own communities any more.
    Earning US Dollars and buying in Mexican Pesos is a luxury. Telling people on here they are cheap for not tipping 30% just because you happen to earn USD when others earn Canadian, Oz, NZ, or are self funded retirees is unrealistic and selfish.
    Splashing your money around in the community doesn’t help the community either, it creates all sorts of issues and may even disrupt the way families operate. By all means spend locally but don’t make it hard for those who will follow by overpaying or over tipping.
    Someone else here wrote about the unions. They decide the level of wages and publicise them. It helps control inflation and even out the opportunities for their members. If you pay your cleaning lady/albanil/labourer/gardener double the going rate, it makes it harder for the unions and the government.
    We are lucky to be allowed to live here. It comes with responsibilities as well.

    • Raf Bracho

      That is a wonderful outlook. Thanks for sharing! We agree.

    • Tracy

      Gavin, you are correct and educated.
      There are people out here bragging about how much they give and try to guilt-trip people in giving more than what is right – these are fake and ignorant people. If they give more – there is really nothing to brag about and to lecture others on. Not everyone has that kind of money. I’m counting my budge everyone and I have actually eaten with an American who pushed my hand on the table to force me to give 15% because I was giving 12% – even though in America at the time it WAS 12%. The issue was not that she wanted to give more, but she was keen to shaming me for giving the standard. And I see this kind of ignorant and rude people all over the internet who fakes being kind when really they just feel like they are superior and want to boss others around with their socialist rubbish.

      I just recently graduated and came to Mexico for a break because I couldn’t afford to take a break in the U.S. When I did research, again, all these so-called trip advising website written by white Americans or upper-class Americanized Mexican international “teach” you WRONGLY that you have tip 15-20% everywhere. I’d be like really struggling to eat enough here if I tipped like that. I asked an LOCAL Uber driver here – and he told me clearly most non-touristy restaurants no locals tip unless a tip is expected (unless at a nice restaurant or you have a big group). Even at restaurants, the tip is 10%. But why are the websites lying – yes because middle class Americans are so self-centered they think they represent all the people who travel to Mexico? What if I am a Jamaican traveling here, how about a lower class American, or a Chinese person? Are the rest of the world all the same as you? Do all of us think $2.5 is very little? No! How about the freaking rest of the nation who is neither traveling for leisure but actually came here to work or to get away from high prices in America?

      My advise to them is to start using their minds and stop being self-promoting jerks.
      No one is trying to stand in their way of overpaying. But for websites like TripAdvisor writers to simply lie and claim that it is customary for locals to pay such and such amount of tips when it is not true – this is horrendous. They need to stop acting like they own the world! In doing so, they are causing Mexicans to actually poorer because they are made to live at the standard of tourists when they can’t afford it.

      Rich, white people – please humble yourselves and stop boasting ignorantly.


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