La Propina, or Tipping in Mexico

Jun 26, 2016 by Stephanie Wood

You’re on a fabulous vacation in Puerto Peñasco…the beach, the sun, the friendly and exceptional service of the resort staff, the servers at the restaurant, the guy who helps you find a parking space and keeps your car safe while you shop. What a wonderful culture. So how do you tip all of these lovely people so willing to help with all the day-to-day needs of your perfect vacation? You’re probably tipping properly if you’re a good tipper in the US, tipping is basically equivalent in Mexico. However, there are a lot more opportunities to tip and it’s helpful to know what is customary. It’s also helpful to know what to do with all of the loose change you acquire, or pesos you get in exchange for dollars while shopping. This article is not all inclusive of every tipping situation, but you’ll get the gist…

Most service people in Mexico, as in the US, rely on “La Propina”, or tipping to supplement their minimal wages. At restaurants, tipping 10-15% of the total bill inclusive of IVA (tax) is customary. If the IVA is broken out on the bill (16%) you can use that amount for the tip. Of course if you’ve had exceptional service you can always tip more. If you’re at Happy Hour, remember to tip on the full price. If you’re paying by the drink, leave $1-2 per drink as a tip and if you’re running a tab, 15% of the tab as a minimum. Also, if the establishment accepts credit cards, be sure to ask in advance if you need to leave a cash tip.

Bellboys/Porters – $1-5 per bag depending on how many and how heavy the bags. Spa services 10-20% of the bill. Hotel maids $1-5 per night per bedroom, depending on how messy you leave your room. Bathroom attendants, leave some change in the tip jar. Gas station service, you can round up to the nearest peso or dollar, or give an extra dollar, especially if they do something extra like wash your windshield. Street musicians or performers is at your discretion, however, we’ve learned to ask the Mariachi band if they charge a set fee before they start playing. Same with the car washers.

Tours or fishing crews, typically give 15-20% of the cost of the tour. Give it to the boat captain or lead tour guide to disperse. Also use your judgment based on the cost of the trip and the service provided.

It is not customary to tip taxi drivers, just pay the agreed upon rate. However, if you feel it’s appropriate you can round up the fare for a tip.

Car parks are the guys at the grocery store, or fish market who help you find a free space and often help you navigate into or out of that space and keep an eye on your car while you eat or shop. It’s customary to give $1-2 Pesos as you leave. At the grocery stores there are often kids who will pack and carry your bags to the car for you, it’s not mandatory, but a small tip is very appreciated, they are working and not paid any wages. Please don’t tip with US coins, as they really have no value, use your collection of Mexican coins, small bills, or even $1USD. Side note: if you’re out and about in town when you pay with USD, you’re likely to get change in Pesos. Often as a tourist if you pay with a larger bill, say $20, you may get change with a lot of coins instead of bills. This can be frustrating because what the heck are you supposed to do with coins you can’t make heads or tails (ha-ha) of? The answer of course, is to use it for tips. Or, keep it for your next trip down. We probably have a hundreds dollars in Peso coins floating around our house – I keep checking on the Coinstar website hoping they’ll eventually get to Mexico…

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