How Much Should You Be Tipping For Massages?

Knowing what to tip in various situations can be a lesson in flexibility. When you're dealing with restaurant workers, plumbers, painters, and hotel employees, you'll often want to tip the person for their exceptional work. At other times, the service may not be great, but you still want to offer a little something because you know the person's pay mostly consists of gratuities.

But how much should you give? Between facials, manicures, and pedicures, nothing confuses the average customer about how much to tip more than the beauty industry. We all want to give a decent amount to the technicians who serve us, particularly when they do an outstanding job, but many people just don't know what is expected. Given all the various types of massages, it can be even more confusing when it comes time to tip your masseuse — sometimes, it's not even clear whether or not you should.

Is it right to tip a masseuse?

Massage therapists work in various environments. Some provide their services in medical facilities, while others use their own studios. A good rule of thumb about whether to tip your masseuse is that, if you're using health insurance to pay for the visit, you probably don't tip the massage therapist, much as you don't tip a nurse or other medical professional. 

"The thought there is you wouldn't tip your doctor; you wouldn't tip your physical therapist, so why would you tip your massage therapist?" Allison Denney, owner of  Rebel Massage, tells U.S. News & World Report.

However, when talking about non-medical settings, like a spa or beauty salon, tips are very important. "Money is not an easy thing for massage therapists to come by. Tips can double or triple their income," Denney explains. "When in doubt, tip your massage therapist unless they very specifically say otherwise."

This is much you should tip your massage therapist

For non-medical massages, the standard tip is 20% of the bill. "You should always tip something after a massage—it's rude not to," says licensed massage therapist Beth Rose tells Reader's Digest. "We are providing a service. Plus, massage is hard physical work! A good tip gives us an incentive to serve you better the next time."

If you're stuck at the salon and aren't sure how to calculate the tip, simply take the cost of the massage and multiply it by 0.20 or divide it by five. While 20% is normal for a decent massage, if you received poor service, you can tip less. On the flip side, if you received exceptional service, you can absolutely tip more.

Though most transactions are now done on credit cards and many people don't carry cash, the best way to tip is to grab some hard currency before you go to the salon. "Most massage therapists prefer to be tipped in cash," Rose explains. "Cash is immediate, so you don't have to wait for your paycheck, and they don't take taxes out."