March is Spring Break month here in Puerto Peñasco … the beach, the sun, the margaritas … the friendly and exceptional service of the resort staff, servers at the restaurants, the guy who helps you find a parking space and keeps your car safe while you shop, etc. 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? If you’re a good tipper in the U.S., you’re probably already a good tipper 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.
Most service people in Mexico, as in the U.S., rely on “La Propina”, or tipping to supplement their minimal wages. Keep in mind that the minimum wage is $123.22 Pesos per day, which is less than $1USD per hour. At restaurants, tipping 10-20% 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 20-40 Pesos ($1-2) per drink as a tip and if you’re running a tab, 15% of the tab as a minimum. Many restaurants now accept debit or credit cards, however outside of the resorts you will usually have to tip in cash.
Bellhop 25–50 Pesos ($1 or more) per bag depending on how many and how heavy the bags. Hotel housekeeping 20-50 Pesos ($1-3) per night per bedroom, depending on how messy you leave your room. Spa services 15-20% of the bill. Bathroom attendants leave some change in the tip jar. Gas station service round up to the nearest peso or dollar if they do something extra like wash your windshield. Window washers, street musicians or performers is at your discretion. However, be sure 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 10-20% of the cost of the tour. Use your judgment based on the cost of the trip and the service provided. Give it to the boat captain or lead tour guide to disperse.
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 teens or seniors who will pack and/or 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 have no value, use your collection of Mexican coins or small bills, or even $1USD.
Pro-Tip: Paying in pesos will save you some money. You can exchange dollars to pesos at most US banks or take money out of an ATM in Mexico. Or, if you want to avoid bank fees, pay with $20 bills at OXXO’s or other stores and you will get change in Pesos. 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, the coins actually come in handy. Or, save it for your next trip down.