Tipping in Mexico; Villa Rentals, Hotels and Restaurants
Surprisingly enough, tipping guidelines in Mexico are quite similar to those in the United States and Canada; and you may ask why surprisingly enough? While in the U.S. and Canada, service employees earn a decent salary, in Mexico, most of them earn lousy salaries or no salaries (many waiters receive no salary for their job and rely only on tips). So, you can say that yes, tipping in Mexico is customary. The question isn’t to tip or not to tip, but when and where to tip. It is commonly understood that Mexican workers prefer tips in pesos to avoid the trouble of visiting a currency exchange where they will most probably receive the “buy” rate, which is always discounted. But that’s not an accurate asseveration. Most Mexican service workers love foreign currencies; it doesn’t matter if they are U.S. Dollars, Euros, Sterling Pounds, or Canadian Dollars; they are all very welcome options for them.
The common rate for tips in restaurants in Mexico goes from 10% to 15%. Some places add a charge for “service,” in which case you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip, as this is considered an abusive practice that in effect charges for the tip. Good restaurants don’t charge for “service,” which’s taken for granted when you decide to dine out. Tour guides in Mexico’s main tourist destinations are widely coveted jobs, as they are considered “fun jobs” with good tipping money, which’s exactly why many of these jobs have no base salary. So, if you enjoyed your day out, your tour guide made a good effort to make the most of the excursion, and he or she had the good taste to never ask for the tip, an equivalent of $5 to $10 US Dollars per person is considered a good tip.
When shopping in the large Walmart-style grocery stores, you will always receive the help of small children or older adults to put your products on plastic bags or cardboard boxes. These bagging clerks earn no wage at all. The normal policy for letting children work at the grocery stores is to have the best grades in their school, so a 5 pesos coin will be a well-earned reward for these hard-working and responsible children. If they are older adults, you can be sure that they don’t receive a pension and that the tips they earn as bagging clerks are their main income. If you have a car or rent one, you will soon find that in Mexico, you need to leave your vacation rental villa or hotel with plenty of change in your pocket, as every time you park, someone will ask you to wash your car or keep an eye on it. Once you leave the place, they will “assist” you in taking your car out of the parking lot. Any coin is good for them, as most of the time, they don’t really do anything, but 5 pesos is the normal rate. In a luxury villa rental in Mexico, you usually leave a tip at the end of your stay to all staff members (private chef, housekeeper, waiter & barman); depending on the quality of service, most villas are fully staffed, approximately 5-10% of the total rental amount.