San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

To Tip or Not to Tip?

For some diners, the question of how much — or whether — to tip is often contemplated with hand over bill and toothpick firmly wedged in teeth.

Costa Ricans, however, rarely strike that pose. They leave the restaurant without dropping a centavo in their wake. That is not because they are cheap. They just know the law and customs.

Take a look at the bottom of that bill next time. A 10 percent service charge and a 13 percent sales tax are automatically included.

Many tourists do not know this and toss change onto the table like they do in their home country. Or, if paying with a credit card, they add a little extra cash on the line provided for tips.

Here’s what Ticos and Gringos had to say about tipping:

Martha Eugenia Sánchez, 31

“It’s not our custom to give a tip. The standard of living is very low (in Costa Rica).”

In the United States, people can give their server a dollar as a tip without any problem. But here, she said, “That’s a carton of milk.”

Ronald Hernández, 53

“The tip is included.” People who come to Costa Rica do not know that. “In the United States, they are used to (giving a tip).”

Todd Warren, 36, U.S. citizen

Warren has left “a little bit” for his server before, although he saw the service charge was included. “It’s what we do in the United States.”

Greg Schell, 42, U.S. citizen

“Usually, restaurants don’t pay people too much, so they have to rely on tips.” He did not know a service charge was already added to his bill.

Aluxe Can, 22

Giving a tip is not necessary. “(The tip) is already included in the taxes.”

Zoran Ninkovic,  46, U.S. citizen

He lives part of the year in Jacó and knows a service charge is included in a restaurant bill.

“I usually do (tip) because that’s what you do in the States.”


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