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Should You Tip an Independent Massage Therapist?

Tipping, or giving gratuity, can be confusing. We all know we should tip servers, bartenders, and valets. But should you tip for beauty services? Particularly, should you tip an independent massage therapist?

While there are no hard and fast rules, here are some guidelines to keep in mind when getting a massage from an independent therapist.


When You Should Tip

Typically, if you get a massage at a spa, you should always tip. Why? Because the massage therapist doesn’t get all of the money you pay him or her for your service. The spa gets to take it’s own cut. So, if you received exceptional service at a spa, you should always tip.

But an independent massage therapist is working alone. They don’t work for a spa who would take a cut of their earnings. So, in theory, an independent massage therapist gets to keep a majority of what he or she is charging you for the service.

However, that doesn’t mean an independent massage therapist pockets all the cash you pay. They still have to pay for overhead business expenses, such as marketing, rent, products, and more.

While you certainly won’t be scorned if you forgo a tip, it is generally appreciated. Particularly, if the therapist went above and beyond your expectations, a tip is always a good idea. Plus, remember they are small business owners. The tip goes a long way to show them your appreciation.


When You Shouldn’t Tip

That being said, there are formal rules about tipping.

If you didn’t enjoy your experience, then certainly don’t feel obliged to leave a tip. Secondly, if the tip was already included in the bill, then you do not have to leave an additional tip.

Further, tipping can be a touchy subject among massage therapists. Some feel they shouldn’t accept tips because they consider themselves to be healthcare providers. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t want to offend them by trying to leave a tip. If you are uncertain, you can always ask “Do you accept tips for exceptional service?” If they say no, then don’t try to push it.


How Much Should You Tip?

If you feel so inclined to leave a tip, you may now be wondering how much to give.

Truthfully, how much you tip is up to you. Again, it should be reflective of the quality of service. Generally, tips are anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the cost of service. So, if you were really impressed, you can leave closer to 20 percent.

Another important note is whether to leave a cash tip, or charge it to a card. Ideally, you leave a cash tip so the massage therapist doesn’t have to pay fees on the credit card charge. However, if you are without cash, don’t hesitate to add it on to the bill and pay with your card. After all, any tip is better than no tip.

1 Comment

  • My wife is looking for a massage therapist that can help relieve some of the pain that is coming from a strained muscle in her back. It really stood out to me when you explained that you should ideally leave a cash tip so that they don’t have to pay fees on it. I will have to share this information with my wife so that she can know to bring some cash with her to tip with.

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