When traveling, you visit so many establishments and get served by many service workers that you may often forget the valet. At first glance, valet attendants do not appear to do a very challenging job. After all, it’s just driving short distances every now and then, right? Wrong. There is a lot of pressure and frustration involved in the work that valets do. In addition, there is the uncertainty in getting inside a stranger’s car.

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These employees take a considerable amount of work off your hands, so most people believe they should always be tipped. But how much are you supposed to give? Is it ever permissible not to tip? Let’s go over the answer to your burning question and add some more and valuable tips.

The Basics

Valet attendants are commonly found in hotels, restaurants, apartment and office buildings, and the like. These are employees hired specifically to park cars so you do not have to navigate unfamiliar structures, wait like an idiot behind someone you could have sworn looked like they were leaving, get frustrated about not finding a good parking spot, and find yourself wanting to go home even before your friend’s swanky wedding starts.

And this is why you tip the valet, but how much? Here are some guidelines you can follow:

- Do not tip too little or too much.

Valet attendants in the US are generally tipped $2 to $5, depending (mainly) on the quality of service. Some would say you can go as low as $1, but we advise against doing so because it will make you look cheap and insincere. At the same time, we suggest that you do not go overboard unless the situation warrants it because it might make you look like a show-off.

- Drop off or pick up?

There is no hard-and-fast rule about whether you should tip only upon drop off, pick up, or both. Valet attendants are okay with all three. However, some would advise that you tip upon drop off to make sure the attendant keeps an eye on your car more than the usual.

- The more frequent you need them, the larger your tip.

Sometimes, you need the services of the valet more frequently than normal. You may have left bags, keys, gifts, etc. inside your car, and they have to keep going back and forth because of your negligence. In such cases, always tip more to show thanks.

- Add more for added service.

The only job of the valet attendant is to park your car and return it to you when you need it back. We suggest that you tip more generously whenever they do anything outside of those core responsibilities, such as helping you with your luggage, giving directions or even recommendations, and more.

- Add more during bad weather.

This should be a rule. Always tip nicely whenever the attendant has to go out to get your car or fetch something from it during bad weather.

- Tip regardless of parking fee.

A lot of people mistakenly think that they no longer need to tip the valet attendant when they are charged for parking. Do not make the same error. The attendant’s great service remains the same regardless of whether or not you are charged for parking.

- Tip even when not satisfied.

We believe this is one of the golden rules of tipping. Always tip, even when not satisfied with the service. Tip the minimum, and let the valet attendant’s supervisor know about your complaint. Follow this guideline especially when dealing with an establishment that you frequently visit.

- No need to tip every single time.

If you live in or often visit a place with valet service, do not feel pressured to tip the attendant every time you drop off or pick up your car. You can tip every other day, for example.

- Prepare small bills.

Always have small bills in your car for tipping valet attendants. Do not be the one to cause delay by fumbling through your glove box or purse despite that you had plenty of time to prepare tip money!

The bottom-line is valet service is a service and hence must be tipped. In these guidelines, we frequently mention increasing the amount of your tip whenever the situation calls for it but do not give any specific amount. That is because it should ultimately depend on how satisfied you were by the quality of their service, as is the main rule of tipping everywhere else.