A guide to tipping in South Africa


Those working for tips may not do the most glamorous jobs but they are the backbone of the tourism industry. South African businesses often employ people from poorer communities. These people therefore rely heavily on any additional income like the tips they receive.

Many people find themselves in the position of not knowing how much or even when to tip. In some situations you risk offending the person by giving him/her a tip and often the tip is already included in your bill, so just check before you double tip.

Imagine there was no one to bring your food to you in restaurants. We’d all have to fetch our food from the kitchen ourselves! With the high crime rate, imagine what will happen to your car if there was no one watching it while you are in the supermarket.

Here is some general tipping tips you can apply to show your appreciation to these overlooked individuals.

Waiters and Waitresses

A server can make or break your dining experience. If you are being served by a chipper server then this will have a positive impact on the diners. The standard tipping rate is between 10% and 20% of the final bill patrons have spent at the restaurant. However, sometimes the services tip is included in your bill. If you still feel you want to give a little extra, then you are welcome.

Petrol station attendants

Unlike in other countries, South African’s have attendants who fill up our cars with petrol, check the oil, pumps our tyres and they are kind enough to throw in a quick window wash. None of us have a clue how to fill up our tanks so petrol attendants are very valuable. Petrol prices may be high, I admit, but nothing stops us from giving the attendant a tip for his trouble. This would normally be R2 or R5.

Accommodation Tipping

Once you check out, you can pay a tip of 10% of your final bill. This tip would normally be distributed between all the staff that has contributed in making your stay comfortable. Again, just check if the tip isn’t automatically included in your final as this can turn out to be a rather hefty tip.

Car guards

Due to the high crime rate in South Africa, we rely heavily on car guards to keep an eye on our vehicles. We don’t want to leave our car for a minute lest someone steals it. Car guards keep a watchful eye on your vehicle while you are at the mall or supermarket.

They often have to stand long hours in the sun so tips are a good way to reward them for their service. You can tip them R2 or R5. But you have to be sure the guard was hired by the supermarket and is legit. Some scammers take tips from the other honest guards and said scammer may end up watching your car from their own driveway after having stolen it.

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