How Much Should You Tip For A Massage?

For those who live where tipping is standard practice, the etiquette around the concept can be confusing at times. Tipping 20% of the cost of your meal is generally viewed as the standard when dining at a restaurant in the United States, per Eater. But when those eateries aren't full-service, sit-down locations, it can be difficult to know if you should tip at all, and if you do, to whom and how much.

Tipping can become even more complicated when it comes to services you receive from other people, such as haircuts, or beauty services like manicures and pedicures. According to NerdWallet, using a 15% to 20% tip as a guide will work in most cases, but what about massages which are generally already pretty costly? Should you continue to follow the expectation of tipping your massage therapist on top of the cost of your massage, or is it best to go with a different amount altogether? Here's what we've found to clear up the matter.

You should tip your massage therapist under most circumstances

According to NerdWallet, unless there was an issue with the service (which you hopefully would have brought up at the time), massage therapists also should receive a 15% to 20% tip. Massage therapist Lizbeth Romo explained, "Most people think that if you're paying $65 for a massage, that the therapist is getting $65. But they're not — they're only getting a percentage of that."

Speaking to Reader's Digest, etiquette expert Valerie Sokolosky suggested the slightly higher end of the range, with a 20% tip given for massages. "Trust that the massage therapist or their boss will adjust charges based on the services rendered and the time, so you don't need to calculate anything extra beyond the flat percentage," she said.

Massage therapist Beth Rose told Reader's Digest that massage therapists also tend to prefer tips that are given to them in cash when possible. "Cash is immediate, so you don't have to wait for your paycheck, and they don't take taxes out," she said.

There are some cases in which tipping isn't required

Although tipping is generally expected, NerdWallet points out that some locations where you receive a massage might expect a larger tip — or no tip at all. Massage therapists at spas, for example, would likely expect a tip, whereas medical massage providers (such as in the case of physical therapy) would not expect to receive any tip at all. "I kind of look at it as: You wouldn't tip your doctor," licensed massage therapist Taelour Wagler said.

Meanwhile, Today suggests that tipping should also extend to those providing massage services outside the context of a salon or larger clinic, such as those who are self-employed. This would only differ at locations where no-tipping policies are in place.

In short, it's a good idea to be aware of proper etiquette when it comes to tipping. If in doubt, check with your massage therapist about which rules apply in the location you're receiving your massage. It's better to ask than to come across as rude.