If you have a vacation or trip planned to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula you may be wondering what the expectations for tipping in Mexico are and if it is customary. Actually they are not too dissimilar to that of the U.S and Canada, however, while service industry workers in the States and Canada are well protected and usually earn a fair wage the same cannot be said for Mexico, most earn very low wages. Many waiters will not receive a wage at all and will rely completely on tips, something to bear in mind when you’re tucking into your fresh fried snapper. So yes Tipping in Mexico is customary.
The question shouldn’t be to tip or not to tip, but rather where and when to tip. It is a common misconception that Mexican workers prefer tips in pesos, as a way to avoid the hassle of visiting a currency exchange and where they will get penalised with the “buy” rate which is not always the best, but that’s not actually true. Most Mexican service workers love foreign currencies, it doesn’t matter if they are U.S. Dollars, Canadian Dollars, Euros, or Sterling Pounds, they are all very welcome.
The usual rate for tipping in Mexico ranges from 10% to 15%. Watch out for places that add a “service charge”, in which case you should not feel obligated to tip, this is considered an abusive and sneaky practice. Good restaurants do not charge for “service”, that’s taken for granted when you choose to dine out. Tour guides in Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations are widely coveted jobs, as they are considered “fun jobs” with generous tipping, and that’s why many of these jobs have no basic salary. So remember, if you enjoyed your day out, your tour guide went above and beyond to make the most of the excursion and he or she had the good grace to not even ask for a tip $5 to $10 US Dollars per person is considered a good tip.
When shopping at the large stores like Costco and Walmart you will always find small children or elderly people at the cashier to help pack your groceries. These bagging clerks earn no wage at all. The standard policy for letting children work at the grocery stores is that they have to have the top grades of their school, so 5 pesos will be a well-earn reward for these hard-working and polite children. If they are elderly people, you can be sure that they receive little or no pension and that the tips they earn as bagging clerks is their main income. The Mexican government created a program in 2003 where people over the age of 60 could work as volunteers bagging groceries to make extra money. The program is managed by the Instituto Nacional de las Personas Adultas Mayores (INAPAM).
INAPAM has established agreements with grocery store chains across the country to provide them with volunteers.
If you rent a car you will soon discover that in Mexico you need to leave your vacation rental or hotel with plenty of change in your pocket, as every time you park someone will ask you to wash your car, keep an eye on it and guide you while you reverse out of your car space, even if the carpark is empty, all for a small tip of course. Tip: save all those small peso coins and keep them in your car.
Porters at Airports and big bus terminals – These guys can be very persistent, if you don’t need one, just politely say “no gracias”. But if you do use these guys, and you have a lot of bags, or it’s a long walk to the taxi rank, then $10 pesos is a decent tip.
Taxis – It’s not the norm to tip the taxi driver since you usually have to negotiate on the price first. ALWAYS ask the price before you get in. As everywhere Taxi drivers can be sneaky with foreigners. That said, if you have lots of bags and he helps you with them in and out of the trunk (most likely) or into your hotel, you should leave them a tip of $10 pesos.
Buying fuel – In Mexico you don’t put your own fuel in the car. There are service people who will do this for you. You just sit in the car and wait. You tip these guys around $5-10 pesos. If you ask for another service like your windscreen washed, tires or oil checked, then you should tip them another $5 pesos on top.
Hotel staff – This depends on where you’re staying, if you’re on vacation at a quality hotel or all inclusive, tipping the bell boy who takes your bags and shows you to your room can be around $10-30 pesos per bag. Tipping the maids who clean your room is optional, but can be between $30-50 pesos a night.
Bars – In most bars you will receive table service. Some will charge you per round, but usually they will bill you at the end. Your tip should be around 10-15% of the bill. Or $5-10 pesos per round. If you are buying your drinks at the bar, a couple pesos per beer is optional.
Stop lights – Around the bigger towns/cities, you will find guys offering to clean your windscreen, If you dont want it doing waggle your finger sideways in a ‘no’ direction early so they don’t start washing, sometimes they will wash it anyway if it’s dirty. You can tip these guys some loose change, up to $5 pesos. You will also find some brilliant (and sometimes terrible) street entertainers. You will see plenty of juggling, unicycles, acrobats, crystal ball manoeuvres, they can be very imaginative! Tip these guys loose change up to $5 pesos if you would like to. It’s optional.