Try to tip servers with cash when possible


Though most people carry debit and credit cards these days, try to tip servers in cash where possible, else they be cheated of the fruits of their labors. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

It used to be that everyone paid with cash, or possibly a check, for everything, everywhere. However, we now live in the credit and debit card age and are heading for mobile payments, but one should always try to tip servers with cash wherever possible.

Swipe fees among reasons to tip servers with cash

Cash as we know it may well pass away. Most people use credit or debit cards and there is an increasing amount of people making mobile payments, where account transactions are facilitated via a smartphone. The days of the paper dollar and metal coin indeed seem numbered. Well, unless we go back to a gold standard, which would result in a field day for the tinfoil hat lobby.

In using said plastic, restaurants and bars and so forth include a portion on the merchant copy and customer copy of the receipt for the tip. However, according to USA Today, this practice is a bit of a faux pas, as one should try to tip servers in cash where possible. One of the reasons is that swipe fees still apply, which takes away from the tip the server receives.

May not get full amount

Swipe fees take a chunk out of debit or credit card tips. Last year, a brouhaha caught national attention when a small restaurant conglomerate in St. Paul, Minnesota, Parasole, allocated 2 percent of server tips on credit or debit cards toward swipe fees. Servers themselves had mixed reactions, according to CBS Minnesota, as some knew the total wouldn’t be much. A $20 tip would result in a deduction of 40 cents.

One reason to tip servers in cash, according to USA Today, is that cash goes in their pocket right away. With credit or debit tips, they have to wait until the end of the night to get them, which they might not.

Part of the risk, is that some, but not all, restaurants aren’t always exactly honest with their waitstaff. Some will outright steal tips, a literal case of robbing Peter to pay for Paul. Sometimes, its done to give a cash kickback, under the table, to kitchen or other non-server staff, or to pay other employees to keep them off the books. Other times its just to take money from people.

Vulnerable segment of workforce

The point of a gratuity is to reward a person for their effort. Some people think that they’re getting a wage already, which is usually minimum and in some states less, but tips are how restaurant and bar servers are able to, mostly barely at all, keep from utter poverty.

Another thing to bear in mind is that not all waitstaff receive minimum wage. In fact, according to the Department of Labor, only seven states and the territory of Guam mandate servers and so forth receive a wage plus tips. Tipping in general is how servers can make a living and keep from having to resort to short term loans just to pay their bills. Tipping a server in cash can make quite a difference, in the right circumstances.


USA Today

CBS Minnesota


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