Valet parking takes all the stress out of finding a parking spot, but it can make things stressful in a different way. After all, how much are you supposed to tip the valet? Should you do it before, or after they park? And what if the service is free? We’ll answer these questions and more in this handy guide.
In general, a good tip for a valet will be between $2 and $5. Of course, these prices can vary depending on a number of factors, including the tier of the hotel and the quality of the valet experience.
How valet parking works
The process itself is simple. All you have to do is drive up, pay for the service (if it isn’t complimentary), and allow the valet to take your car. Whenever you need your car, the valet will get it for you.
Before you park
There are a few things it’s recommend you do before handing over your car:
- Grab anything important. If you have valuables lying about, make sure to take them with you or hide them somewhere out of sight.
- Clean the car. You don’t need to give your car a deep clean, but picking up any trash or other items that are lying about is a nice courtesy.
- Make sure you have cash. You’ll need a few dollars in cash to tip the valet, so make sure you have some on hand.
After you park
After you’ve handed over your car, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Depending on the event or tier of the hotel, the valet might approach you or open your door for you.
- Your valet might give you a claim ticket to help you when you need to retrieve your car.
- While it’s more common to tip the valet who returns your car to you, in some cases you can tip the valet who parks it for you. We’ll talk more about tipping below.
How much should you tip?
Recommended tips can vary depending on quality of service, parking prices, and so on, but generally a tip between $2 and $5 is perfect.
Do you tip before or after?
You’ll usually tip after, meaning your tip will go to the valet who returns your car to you. Tipping before is optional, but can result in upgraded service, like a better parking spot.
Should you tip your valet at the hotel?
The answer is yes, absolutely. Your valet should be treated just like the other hotel staff — if you’ve received a service, send them a tip.
How much do you tip a complimentary valet?
Whether or not a valet service is complimentary won’t impact your tip amount — you’ll still tip around $2 to $5 dollars — but it does mean a tip is pretty much required.
Do you tip the valet when dropping off?
It’s more common to tip the valet when picking up, though it’s a nice courtesy to tip when dropping off as well — especially if a different valet is taking and returning your car.
When to tip extra
Here are some good reasons to send a little more cash the valet’s way:
- The price of parking itself is higher, or you’re staying at a luxury hotel.
- The service itself was exceptional, or the valet went above and beyond your expectations.
- You’re returning and retrieving your car multiple times per day, or asking for special services.
Using a valet service is simple and straightforward, and while tipping will depend on context, you can’t go wrong with a tip between $2 and $5.