If you’ve never used a valet parking service before, you may not know the process. Does it cost money? How much should you tip your valet? When do you pay?
Valet parking can be a huge windfall, especially if you are trying to find parking in a busy downtown area. While utilizing valet parking can be a little intimidating at first, after a time or two, you’ll become a pro with these tips. Here are a few rules to follow when it comes to using and tipping a valet service.
How Valet Services Work
Valet parking is pretty simple. As you arrive at your destination, you may see a few parking attendants standing out front. You can simply pull up, put your vehicle in park, and give the valet attendant your keys. The valet may provide you with a ticket for you to retrieve your car when you’re ready.
Once you are ready to leave, walk up to the valet attendants and give them your ticket. They will retrieve your vehicle for you. Once they come back with your car, you may be able to pay or tip your valet.
Sometimes, valet service is free, but sometimes, the venue may charge you a fee that does not include typing. You should see a sign about any associated costs before you arrive. If you’re not sure about the cost associated with valet parking, simply ask the attendants.
Regardless of the cost of parking, it is typically expected to tip the actual valet driver who assisted you. Here’s a few guidelines on how much to tip your valet driver.
1) Tip for Quality Service
The typical tip for a valet is anywhere from $2 to $5, according to Parking Access. That being said, you should treat it like any other type of tip, and tip more for good service.
If your valet attendant surpassed all of your expectations, feel free to tip them more. Perhaps they helped you with your luggage, they were friendly, or they helped you when you needed directions. If your valet provided excellent service, there is no limit to how much you can tip them. It goes a long way to show your appreciation for their service.
2) Tip More if You Have Luggage
If you arrive somewhere with your luggage, such as a hotel, be sure to factor that into how much you tip your valet.
Luggage is heavy, bulky, and awkward. If the valet helps you load or unload your luggage, they really are going above and beyond.
3) Bring Cash
Nothing is more awkward than not tipping simply because you don’t have cash.
Do your future self a favor and leave a few extra bucks in your glove compartment. That way, you are always prepared for periodic tips.
If you don’t have cash, don’t use that as an excuse to not tip your valet. If you find your wallet empty, explain that you’d like to tip them, but you need to visit an ATM first. Ask your valet how late he or she works, and explain that you will be back with an additional tip.
Sure, it might be slightly awkward, but it’s better than not tipping at all!
4) You May Want to Tip Twice
One major question is if you should tip when you drop off the car, or when you pick up the car.
Many people tip only when they come to pick up the car. While that may make sense, then you never end up tipping the person who parked your car if they were two separate valets.
To be on the safe side, why not tip both upon drop off and pick up? That way, you don’t miss showing your appreciation for anyone who safely cares for your vehicle.
5) Tip More If You Forgot Something
Did you forget something in the car after it was already parked?
If you need to grab something out of your vehicle, the valet attendant will have to fetch your car for you again. Retrieving a car twice can mess with their systems and processes, and be an overall pain for them.
So, if you have to retrieve an item you forgot, it’s best etiquette to leave a generous tip for the inconvenience.
6) Unhappy With the Service?
If you were unhappy with the service you received, should you tip your valet?
Think of tipping your valet like tipping a waiter or waitress in a restaurant. If the service was awful, you aren’t under any obligation to tip. However, not tipping your valet is uncommon and should only be used in really terrible situations.
While you don’t have to tip if you were unhappy with the service, it’s important to note that if the valet damaged your car in any way, you should ask to speak with a manager before you leave the site.
7) When You Don’t Have to Tip
If you are staying at a hotel and coming and going multiple times a day, there is no need to tip during each interaction. Instead, you can leave a larger tip at the front desk and ask them to split it among all of the valets. Chances are, you’ll interact with most, if not all of the parking attendants during your stay, so that makes it easier on everyone.
Overall, valet parking can be well worth the cost, especially if parking is difficult to find. Using the valet is easy – just be sure to tip appropriately. Avoid committing a faux pas by making sure you always have a few extra bucks on hand to tip your valet.
Rachel Slifka is a freelance writer and human resources professional. She is passionate about helping fellow millennials find success with their finances and careers. Read more by checking out her website at RachelSlifka.com.