I’m going to Berlin for 5 days.
What’s the tipping culture in Germany?
A little googling results in confusing answers.
I’m going for a personal vacation, not part of a group. Nothing fancy.
Will be staying at a simple hotel in Berlin that provides breakfast, eating lunch on the go between museums and the usual tourist attractions, and eating dinner for two with the spouse in casual restaurants.
I’m also driving one day to a small town in rural Germany 2 hours south of Berlin, where most people speak absolutely no English. I will meet with a museum curator ,who’s English in emails is understandable, but awkward. (The museum has information about relatives who lived in the area before World War II.)
Service (and sales tax) is included in the printed prices in restaurants, so tipping is not obligatory. If you’re satisfied, it is still considered courteous to give a little something extra. Make it 5 percent if you want to put a number on it.
Is this related to the tipping question? If they have a jar, or hold up their hat, just throw in a euro or two.
Tip is on a continuum of zero (i.e. getting back and pocketing exact change) if you are dissatisfied to rounding up to about 10% if you are very satisfied.
You usually hand over the amount you want to pay, saying “Stimmt, danke”, or state the amount you will pay and get change for the amount.
For example when I am satisfied it’s usually on the following lines:
fünfundzwanzigsechzig, bitte (25.60 €, please) achtundzwanzig ::hands over 30 €:: Danke. :: hands back 2 € change::
sechsundvierzig, bitte (46 €, please) Stimmt, danke ::hands over 50 €:: Danke. :: there is no change ::
You can also count off a cash tip after getting your change (advisable if you are not quick at mental arithmetic), or when paying with a credit card. It’s usual to hand the tip to the server, not leave it on the table. Note: do not rely on a restaurant accepting credit cards. Those that do, sometimes will ask you to accompany the server to the counter as not all restaurants have portable card terminals. German restaurants and retail run on cash for a large portion of their sales.
Having worked in Germany, visited friends and eaten out many, many times. I’ve never seen anyone tip other than to leave a small amount of loose change (maybe a euro or two at most). Most times it is done by card and no option to tip is given. If paying by cash just take your change and go.
I was just in Germany a few weeks ago, some of it in pretty small towns along the Rhine.
Everywhere I went with very few exceptions they had the ability to accept card payments, but unlike in the US there is no “tip” line on the credit card slips, so you’ll have to either tell them to overcharge you, which may be awkward and difficult in a “no English” situation, or you can just leave extra cash. Even though most servers I encountered spoke English, I opted for the cash option almost every time; I usually just paid cash and told them to keep the change. They always were appreciative and frequently even surprised.
ETA: unrelated to the OP’s question, but I just wanted to comment that I really liked that servers in Europe always brought the machine over to the table and ran the card in front of me, rather than the American practice of taking the card, processing it elsewhere, and bringing it back.
I think you can thank chip and PIN cards for that. Can’t process it elsewhere without getting the PIN. I’ve noticed a few places have now started taking the card away again, for contactless payments. I don’t like it when they do that either, you can’t see what amount they put in, and if they put in an extra 0 or something it could take a few days to sort out…
General rule in Europe- tip if you want, don’t if you don’t. If you’re somewhere very fancy, they may expect it, but plenty of people, especially older people, don’t ever tip.
Tipping rules you find online are pretty much one person’s personal rules, not an overall cultural guideline.
I can easily find claims that in the UK it’s customary to leave 10-15%, which, working as a server in a tourist pub-restaurant in the UK, I can state is total rubbish. Abut 1/3 leave nothing, 1/2 throw a £1 or £2 coin in and only the big tables or someone showing off to their date will leave more than £5, regardless of the bill.
Having said that, there is a certain expectation that Americans will tip well, because they usually do, but that’s not honestly your problem. It’s not the staff’s main source of pay, it’s a nice little extra.
My experience, although not as varied (or, perhaps, specific) as many who have already responded, is that tipping is neither required or expected throughout Europe. For a five year period earlier in this millennia, my employer saw it necessary for me to go to Europe two to four times a year, taking me to most of the European countries at one point or another, dealing with colleagues from as many different countries.
Tipping was neither required or expected anywhere I went. At one place in England, I had the server tell me “No need to do that, we can already tell that you’re an American”. While tipping service people is always appreciated, nobody is going to think badly of you if you don’t leave a tip and will most likely think “those crazy Americans” if you do. They won’t think badly of you for leaving a tip, but merely pocket it and think “America must be a very strange place”.
Tipping has really gotten out of hand in the US. Absurdly so. Part has to do, I guess, with the minimum wage laws classifying workers as “tipped employees” and “non-tipped employees” and setting different minimum wages for the different classes. I would eliminate that, which would force places that employed both classes to pay the non-tipped class more to make their compensation comparable to the tipped class, not by fiat, but by necessity. But, that is a rant for another thread.
Just for the record, I hate tipping and wish it were abolished. Pay the servers what they are worth or add a standard service charge to the bill, whatever, but I find tipping demeaning. Almost like the servers have to beg for their wages. Add to that that employers can confiscate the tips or divide them among the staff and it is really disgusting.
Here in Canada, with chip and pin cards, you never have to hand out your card, although the server will usually take the card, insert it into the machine and give it back. You then decide on a tip (either a cash amount or a percentage, which the machine will calculate for you), type in the pin, wait till the machine says it has been approved and then remove your card. When you pay at a store, the cashier literally never touches your card. It is on a counter out of their reach usually. Of course, I suppose someone could modify the program to steal your card number and your pin.
The American practice is treated as illegal in several European countries (even without the PIN requirement and even though the law doesn’t directly forbid it); it’s been linked to fraud and you really don’t want the hassle to be one of the places under investigation if someone happens to rob your customer. Either the machine is brought to the customer or, if it’s still one of the “tied in place” models, the customer pays at the bar.