Survey: Find Out How Much Canadians Tip and What Irritates Them

By Julien Brault | Published on 30 Jan 2024

A payment terminal displaying tipping percentage options including 18%, 20%, 22% and 25%

It’s not just the increase in food prices that’s driving up our expenses. It’s also tipflation, a phenomenon we wanted to examine by conducting a survey on tipping in Canada. The results of our survey show that the majority of Canadians tip more because of the options presented by payment terminals. Indeed, 24% of Canadians admit to having developed the habit of leaving tips in establishments without table service. However, the average tip left in restaurants does not seem to have increased significantly compared to the 15% norm.

How much Canadians tip in different establishments

Type of establishmentAverage tipMost common tip
Sit-down restaurants15.14%15%
Hairdressers and barbers10.91%10%
Fast food and cafés without table service2.14%0$
Meal delivery apps10.26%10%

Unsurprisingly, the norm for tips in sit-down restaurants is 15%. While 68% of Canadians typically leave a 15% tip, there are almost as many people who leave less than 15% (14% of Canadians), as well as those who leave more (18% of Canadians).

For establishments without table service, where tipping was not customary not so long ago, no less than 24% of Canadians admit to leaving tips. The average 2% tip is not very significant, as this calculation includes the 76% of Canadians who leave no tip in these establishments. However, Canadians who tip based on a percentage of their bill in these establishments give an average of no less than 9.5%!

Another finding from this part of the survey is the proportion of people who leave no tip for their Uber driver, which is 25% of Canadians, while no less than 37% of Canadians leave a 15% tip or more. In short, despite an average of 9%, the tip that should be left for Uber drivers is not unanimous. This anomaly is probably explained by the fact that it was not even possible to leave a tip via Uber before 2017.

How much Canadians tip by age group

GenerationAverage Tip
(at sit-down restaurants)
Gen Z Adults (18-27)16.58%
Millenials (28-43)14.77%
Gen X (44-59)15.05%
Baby Boomers (60-78)15.24%
Post-War Gen (79 and over)13.85%

The real revelation about tipping by age group is the generosity of Generation Z adults (18 to 27), who stand out as the most generous tippers. Second place goes to baby boomers, whose generosity is less surprising given their high purchasing power.

Asking for tips via payment terminals

According to Statista, the proportion of transactions made in cash in Canadian stores went from 60% in 2008 to 10% in 2021. The vast majority of Canadians now settle their purchases with their credit or debit card and, therefore, have to answer the questions of the payment terminals.

This reality, combined with the shortage of staff in retail, has created an environment conducive to tipflation. Indeed, merchants seem to have identified tips as an effective way to retain their employees without increasing wages, and payment terminals have allowed them to ask their customers to foot the bill.

The results of our survey show that this scheme works – up to a point. Indeed, 62% of respondents report having left a higher tip than expected because of the choices presented by the payment terminal, whether by calculating the percentage of tip on the total after taxes or by presenting higher tipping percentages. However, this does not mean that Canadians are tipping everywhere they go, as evidenced by the results of our survey.

Where the impact of terminals on Canadian habits seems more lasting is in the type of commerce in which Canadians find it normal to leave a tip. Therefore, it is cafes, bakeries, and restaurants without table service that seem to benefit most from tipflation. Indeed, 65% of respondents reported having left a tip solely because the payment terminal offered this option. Moreover, the impact of this trend is also observed in the proportion of Canadians (no less than 24%) leaving tips in these establishments.

Infographic: Canadian Tipping Habits in 2024

If you’d like to find out more about Hardbacon’s tip survey, I invite you to take a look at this infographic, which reveals not only the average tip given but also the distribution of responses. We have also included in this infographic a section dedicated to qualitative comments from respondents.

Three tips for dealing with tipflation

As can be seen from the survey results, tip inflation is far from a matter of consensus. In 2024, it’s still possible to visit restaurants and cafés without breaking the bank. Here are three tips for surviving tipflation.

1. Choose the “Custom” option and calculate the tip yourself

Now that you know the Canadian norms for tipping, you will no longer be influenced by the options presented by the payment terminals. So, get into the habit of choosing the “Custom” option and calculating the tip yourself, applying the percentage of tip you wish to leave on the total before taxes. A trick to simplify the tip calculation at sit-down restaurants is to leave exactly three times the amount of GST, which equates to leaving 15% of the total before taxes. If the service was exceptional and you want to reward your server, feel free to give more – but you should not feel obligated.

2. Do not hesitate to not leave a tip in establishments without service

In all establishments without table service, the norm is not to leave a tip. Consequently, you should not feel guilty for selecting the “No thank you” option. If you find it difficult to click on this button, get into the habit of paying in cash in this type of business. You will see that no one will ask you if you want to add a tip verbally. And, once again, if you want to please the person behind the counter, feel free to leave a tip!

3. Opt for a restaurant credit card

If frequenting sit-down restaurants is one of your guilty pleasures, paying a tip is unavoidable. However, by choosing the right restaurant credit card, you can get cashback on these expenses. In this regard, the no-fee Neo Credit card stands out by offering generous rebates of up to 10%, but only in partner restaurants. With 10,000 partners, the restaurants that are part of Neo’s network include chains like Boston Pizza as well as independent eateries like the iconic Montreal institution Schwartz’s. For those who do not want to choose their restaurants based on a list of partners, you should know that the free Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa offers 4% on all your restaurant spending. 

Julien started Hardbacon to help Canadians make better investment decisions. He’s raised more than three million dollars and signed strategic partnerships with financial institutions across the country. Before starting Hardbacon, Julien shared his passion for personal finance and the stock market while working as a business journalist for Les Affaires. He passed the Canadian Securities Course (CSC), and, over the years, collaborated with various media including CBC, LCN and Urbania.