Tip jar

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A tip jar in a New Jersey restaurant Jar for tips at a restaurant in New Jersey.JPG
A tip jar in a New Jersey restaurant

A tip jar, also known as a tip cup is a container, commonly a glass jar, into which customers can put a gratuity. A tip jar is usually situated at the point-of-sale at many businesses. Although common in many countries around the world, tip jars in food and drink establishments are ubiquitous in the United States.


The tip jar has become a source of controversy. Customers may feel discouraged from patronizing establishments using them. They may also feel that tip jars are inappropriate at certain types of establishments such as movie-theater concession counters, dry cleaners, take-out restaurants, gym locker rooms or grocery bagger's work stations. Many feel social pressure to use them, [1] or that they are paying too high a total price when purchasing a simple item. [2]


The tip jar may have originated hundreds of years ago. A 1946 editorial in Life claimed that English taverns used prominently displayed urns for tips that were labelled 'To Insure Promptitude'. However, there is no historical evidence to support this. [3] [4] [5]


Usually, the accumulated tips are divided among all of the workers during the shift. [6] In one case, a court case resulted when supervisors and assistant managers claimed that they were entitled to a share at a Starbucks coffee outlet in New York. [7]

At piano bars

A pianist at a piano bar may earn tips from a tip jar to supplementing the normally small salary. This may be a basket, jar, or oversized brandy snifter placed on or near the piano. Tips may be given by customers who have been played a song that was requested by being written on a napkin. [8]

Digital tip jar

This allows customers to swipe their credit card in a simulated tip jar. The card reader is set to charge a certain amount, normally one dollar. Customer wishing to tip more can swipe the card numerous times. [9] [10]

Payment kiosks operated with software and hardware from companies like Block, Inc. (formerly and still commonly known as Square), also act as a digital tip jar, encouraging people to click a tip button. However, Square has been criticized in the past for encouraging customers to leave gratuity out of guilt. These "tip screens" have also been blamed for accelerating tipflation in the United States. [11] [12]

New kiosk-less methods of digital tipping are making their way into our ever growing cashless society. Rather than use a bulky card reader or a pre-defined tip button, new companies like Tip Buddy are making digital tipping available through the use of QR codes that open an interface on the tippers mobile device. Secure payment options like Apple Pay and Google Pay are making the experience easy and fast for the tipper.

See also

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Starbucks</span> American multinational coffeehouse chain

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Interactive kiosk</span> Computer terminal that provides access to information, communication, commerce etc.

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Mandatory tipping is a tip which is added automatically to the customer's bill, without the customer determining the amount or being asked. It may be implemented in several ways, such as applying a fixed percentage to all customer's bills, or to large groups, or on a customer-by-customer basis. Economists have varied opinions on the issue of mandatory tipping. Arguments against mandatory tipping include higher food price at the restaurant to make up for wages and loss of control of dining experience.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tipflation</span> Phenomenon of increasing amounts and presence of gratuity in the US economy

Tipflation and tip creep are terms to describe the United States' recent widespread expansion of gratuity to more industries, as opposed to being traditionally only prevalent in full-service restaurants. Tipflation's origins are likely the COVID-19 pandemic and the inflation surge which began in 2021. Touch-screen digital payment systems run by companies like Clover and Square include gratuity prompts that are often visible to nearby members of the public and the service worker. The social pressure created from such systems is often separately mentioned as guilt-tipping, and tipflation has also been seen as causing tipping fatigue, which is the resentment that American consumers generally feel from tipping culture.


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  2. Susannah Cahalan (2010-04-11). "Tip-jar madness takes city | New York Post". Nypost.com. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  3. "Kitchen Shrink: Counter Culture: The tip jar and you". Del Mar Times. 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  4. http://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1267&context=jbl&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bing.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3DTO%2BINSURE%2BPROMPTITUDE%2Bsite%253Aedu%26go%3DSubmit%26qs%3Dds%26form%3DQBRE%26filt%3Dall#search=%22INSURE%20PROMPTITUDE%20site%3Aedu%22 [ bare URL PDF ]
  5. "Online Etymology Dictionary". Etymonline.com. 1946-07-15. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  6. "Tip jars: The new counter culture - News - The State Journal-Register - Springfield, IL". Sj-r.com. 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  7. "Starbucks tip jar at the center of NY high court case (+video)". CSMonitor.com. 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  8. Swenson, John. "Pat O'Brien's: The Song Remains the Same", offbeat.com, August 20, 2012
  9. 9/04/12 5:20pm 9/04/12 5:20pm (4 September 2012). "Digital Tip Jar Lets You Leave a Dollar With Your Credit Card". Gizmodo.com. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  10. Funaro, Kaitlin (2014-06-06). "The tip jar gets a digital makeover". Marketplace.org. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  11. Chen, Brian X. (2023-03-01). "Tech Is Allowing Businesses to Overcharge You in Tips". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2023-04-05.
  12. "Digital Tip Jars: New tipping trend has customers sweating it out at checkout counter". ABC7 New York. 2022-12-17. Retrieved 2023-04-05.