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EXPLAINED: When and how much should you tip in Austria?

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: When and how much should you tip in Austria?
(AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN )

Every country has its own tipping culture, which can lead to misunderstandings for people not familiar with it. Here’s what you need to know about tipping in Austria.

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The tipping culture in Austria is similar to most other Western countries (apart from North America) in that leaving a tip is at the discretion of the customer.

To put it simply, if you receive good service and want to show some appreciation then feel free to leave a tip (known as Trinkgeld in Austria).

The difficulty though is knowing what is an acceptable amount to tip and in which situations are tips expected in Austria?

Here’s what you need to know.

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What is the standard amount to tip in Austria - and how do I tip?

The unspoken rule is to tip around 10 percent, which is similar to other countries like Germany and the UK. 

Imogen Saunders, who lives in Tirol, told The Local: “I normally tip five to ten percent by rounding up. For example, if the bill is €18 then I would just hand over €20 and say, ‘Passt schon so’ [it's already fixed].”

FOR MEMBERS: Why is cash so important to Austrians?

Another way to round up and communicate it to the staff is to say “Stimmt so” when paying the bill, which basically means “keep the change”.

Not sure where to put the tip after paying? 

Either give it straight to the member of staff, ask for it to be added to the amount on the card or place it in a Trinkgeld jar, which is usually a piggy bank (or money box) conveniently placed near the till.

It's also common place to give the server a number when you order, so that they know how much you are tipping. 

If the bill comes to €12.50, and you want to 50 cents, you can simply say "mach mal Dreizehn, bitte" or even "Dreizehn", which means "make it 13" or simply "13". The server will say thanks and will know how much change to give you. 

When to tip in Austria

Even though tipping is not as embedded in the culture in Austria like in the US and Canada, there are still many situations when it is expected. 

Toni Krain, from Ireland, told The Local: “In comparison to Ireland, a tip is more expected in Austria. It doesn’t need to be a percentage but it’s more to show some appreciation. 

“In Austria I would even leave a little tip in the bakery whereas at home I would only tip if going out for dinner. I wouldn’t tip if I had bad service here though, so it’s not like in the US where you have to tip.”

READ MORE: Could coronavirus end Austria’s love affair with cash?

Newcomers to Austria might also be confused about when to tip in relation to the standard of service, which can differ to other countries.

Imogen, from Scotland, said: “I think the standard for what qualifies as acceptable service in Austria is lower than in the UK and much lower than in the US. 

“By that I mean that waiting staff in Austria generally have a hands-off approach and leave you alone unless you ask for something else. In the UK and the US there is more of a push from businesses to turn tables around and up-sell drinks and desserts.”

If in doubt, the easiest approach is to just round up to a nice even number when paying the bill. Although leaving a small tip is also a way to show disappointment.

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Tipping in cafes, bars and restaurants

Waiting staff in restaurants in Austria will expect a minimum tip of 10 percent, but it’s not unusual for people to leave up to 15 or 20 percent - especially if the food and service was good.

Tipping is also common in bars, particularly if the staff run a tab and serve several drinks.

In cafes, the 10 percent “rule” still applies, although most people just round up the bill. For example, if a coffee costs €3.70 then most people will pay €4.

Tipping in hotels and taxis 

It’s common to tip staff in hotels in Austria, such as luggage and cleaning staff.

To tip a hotel porter, give €1 for every piece of luggage carried. For room maids, consider leaving €1 for every night stayed in the hotel.

When it comes to taxis, again 10 percent is the magic number, but it’s at the discretion of the customer.

Tipping when you might least expect it

Although there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to tipping in Austria, do be prepared to see trinkgeld piggy jars in some unusual places.

Tip jars have been spotted everywhere, such as at the reception desk of a gynaecologist’s practice and it’s common for places like a mechanic’s workshop to have a tip jar near the till.

In these situations, any tips usually go towards buying coffee and cake for the staff, and there is no obligation to leave money - unless you want to.

READ ALSO: How to drink coffee like an Austrian

Theresa, a physiotherapist in Tirol, told The Local that the tipping culture in Austria often extends into more specialised services, such as physiotherapy, which is in stark contrast to her native UK.

She said: “In the UK I was once given a tip from a patient and it caused real trouble at the rehab centre where I worked. My bosses didn’t know whether I was allowed to keep the money or not.”

In Austria, a hair salon is another place where tips are expected. If someone sits for several hours while having their hair coloured, then the polite thing to do is to tip 10 percent.

A tip can even be left at the supermarket or at a clothes store in Austria by rounding up when paying with cash. 

Essential words and phrases

Can I pay please? - Kann ich bitte Zahlen?

Keep the change - Stimmt, so

The bill - Die Rechnung

How much does it cost? - Wie viel kostet das?

Separate - Getrennt (as in pay separately)

Tip - Trinkgeld

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