Restaurant Tipping in Costa Rica – Why You Can Put the Colónes Away

Posted by Sep21, 2013 Comments (0)

tipTipping in Costa Rica is an interesting subject to discuss with visitors. Americans find it strange how the process works since the US is perhaps the only country where it’s common to pay an extra 20 per cent just for the waiters. Costa Rican culture works a tad differently, and it’s good to integrate yourself with this culture if you want to avoid any quizzical looks.

Look at the Bill

So, you’ve finished eating your hearty meal at your favourite restaurant serving delicious local cuisine. Your bill is on its way over to you and there are all sorts of numbers on it. You’ll see the food and drink at the top of the bill and the tax at the bottom of the bill. In the middle of these there will be an extra 10 per cent charge. This is the service charge and it accounts for the waiters.

Unlike the US, the waiters may well receive a fraction of this charge from their employer, although this differs from restaurant to restaurant.

Firstly, if you’re a staunch tipper and you’re going to tip them whether they like it or not make sure you take into account you’ve already paid 10 per cent as part of the bill.

Is Tipping Normal?

Tipping the waiter isn’t common in Costa Rica and it’s unlikely your local friends will do it. They accept the service charge and run with it. Life isn’t as hard for waiters in this country due to the culture.

In the US, as much as we wouldn’t like to admit it, we see waiters as people who’re either students or those who’ve failed to succeed in life. We pity them with our 20 per cent tips because we believe we need to top up their criminally low wages.

In Costa Rica, everyone is seen as equal. There’s no such snobbery and there’s no stigma attached to being a waiter. Everyone looks at it as a normal job which doesn’t require any special treatment through huge tips.

You can tip if you like (they do love dollar bills), but don’t feel like you absolutely have to. It’s not a social duty.

How Much Should You Tip?

To avoid those strange stares, tip low and don’t try to impress anyone with a wad of cash. Slip them a dollar or two and this will be fine. Don’t worry about working out the math. It doesn’t matter if you give them 10 per cent extra or 20 per cent extra. The effort will be much appreciated, though.

Ticos tend to never leave tips so you’ll never be given any sort of bad look because you gave a low tip. Even an extra Colón will receive a warm thank you. Of course, tipping in Costa Rica works like any other country. If the service is terrible you don’t have to leave a thing!

Do you have a favourite place to eat in Costa Rica? Share your experiences with us on Facebook!

Image: By Scott Sanchez at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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Categories : Costa Rica Interest

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