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How much to tip a valet

Updated on October 8, 2014

Valet parking, warm and friendly, just like grandma!

All the fears you have about parking your vehicle with a valet are about to be put in reverse, no pun intended. The following is a guide to all things valet, including tipping, vernacular and common myths about leaving your vehicle in the hands of a total stranger.

Note: I type these words as a valet for special events, hotels and restaurants over the past few years.

The Myths

One day, long ago, a valet put a small scratch on a man's brand new Porsche, and ruined the reputation of ALL valets that would follow. While there have been dents put in vehicles, money stolen from the center console, radio stations changed and engines raced, these are NOT common occurrences. Take a look and notice that most valets you will park with are guys. Guys are typically car enthusiasts and respect the value of most anything that pulls up to their spot. I work events where it isn't uncommon to get several Bentleys throughout the day and $100K vehicles are a regular sight. If I baby my $30K truck, you can imagine the care I take with such autos. Fact is, your vehicle is safer parked with a valet, than somewhere on a street or in an alley because there is usually a designated area where the valet is parking.

Helpful Hint One: If you pull up and are sociable and friendly with the valet, your vehicle will be taken better care of than if you are a jackass, and think you and your vehicle are the best thing on the planet.


With the high price of gas and housing, especially in California where I am from, "extra" cash is not particularly in abundance these days. Trust me, I am so broke, I cannot pay attention. But I digress. To the point, if you can regularly spend $5 on a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks, you can afford to drop a valet $3 on the rare occasion you might happen to valet your ride. The average tip at the events I do is $2.

The events I work are free of charge for the guests, and we rarely charge. Meaning, the service provided to the guests is free, provides a safe environment to arrive and depart from, and is time saving. Yet a small percentage of people still do not tip.

If you do not tip when being charged for parking, such as at a restaurant or hotel, that is one thing. If you do not tip at an event you are not being charged for parking, you are cheap. Saying "thank you" does not pay the bills, and 9.9 times out of 10, the valet you just stiffed1 is making minimum wage, usually working his second or third job of the day. If you are against tipping, simply find your own spot.

The clientele I work for are usually on the upper end of the tax bracket, and is used to a different style of living and being catered to. That does not mean, however, that the guests arriving at their functions are as well versed in dealing with someone who is providing a service for them, such as the valet service. The guy in the beat up Ford truck will always tip better than the guy driving the Maserati. A valet will know the price of your vehicle, and will know how cheap you are being with your tips.

If you normally tip your pizza guy, your hairdresser, your bartender, your taxi get the picture. Doubling the tax on your dinner bill? What's another few dollars for the guy who is running for cars all night, and saving you both the time and aggravation of trying to find a spot?

Preferential treatment has been known to fall upon pretty women, the coolest cars and drivers who tip on the way in. If you would like your vehicle to float2 all night, there are definitely ways to make that happen.

Helpful Hint Two: A valet with dark glasses is standing in a particular spot next to a female passenger's door for a particular reason and is looking to spot a particular piece of clothing.


EVERY joke about your car that you could possibly think of has already been told, time and time again. The first time someone tells an original joke, I will give them their tip back.

If you are thinking of using the following jokes, please stop and bow your head in shame as you hand over your vehicle claim ticket:

  • "It's the red Ferrari, Lamborghini, (insert sports car reference here)!" You can be assured, if you pulled up in any of the aforementioned rides, I will know and remember exactly who you are.
  • "Mine's the Honda, but I'll take that Bentley right over there." The $2 tip you have in your hand will get you the car you arrived in, and nothing more.
  • "There's a quarter of a tank left, and 43,412 miles on it, so if you go racing around I'll know." If you say this joke in a minivan, truck or anything other than a sports car, your joke telling privileges should just be revoked.
  • "Why didn't you wash/wax/paint it?" I wash mine maybe 3 times a year.

The best joke I have heard, for the record, was from an old Polish gentleman: "My wife says, "why do you never take me anywhere expensive", so next day I took her to gas station."

Another classic: Q: What is the difference between a porcupine and a Corvette? A: On a porcupine, the pricks are on the outside.


Scenes like those from the movies Casino Royale and XXX should teach us a valuable lesson about valeting your vehicle: never toss your keys to a valet, never leave your vehicle with someone you think is a valet and always wear your seatbelt. Please share your best and worst valet stories, and your thoughts on tipping.

- 1: stiffed - rudely denying a tip after services rendered. - 2: float/floating - vehicle being kept up front, watched closely by the valets; easily accessed at the end of the night when you are ready to leave.

No Parking Zone

Have you ever had a negative experience from leaving your car with a valet?

See results

Do NOT let any of these guys park your car

Image is everything and these guys miss the mark
Image is everything and these guys miss the mark

These guys only have it half right

© 2008 Digihead


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    • profile image

      Valet4life 3 years ago

      I work at a casino as a valet and i just wanted to put out there that it's not my fault that you lost all your money and in no way shape or form by you loosing does it do anything for the casinos staff so you can save your smart comments like: well the electric bill will be pid this month. Or that we will be getting a raise soon.

    • profile image

      fsghjfdbd 3 years ago

      When are customers ever going to quit telling us "Ok, this car is keyless, do you know how this works?" Guess what, push start/keyless ignition had been out since 2003! (Infinity FX and BMW 745). They all think they are the only person who has one and that there is no way a valet parker could ever own one. Sorry you old fart, your car is not special like you thought it was!

    • profile image

      angry valet 3 years ago

      Worked a party last night where 75% of the guests needed this article. Event was at "The Breakers" (google it, historic mansion, big money fundraiser event) by the time I brought up my 5th car at the end of party I had $1 in tips. The 6th car gave me $2. To the lady in the mini cooper s convertible, I'm taking it for a spin next time I see you :P

    • profile image

      Wayne 3 years ago

      Pet peeve of mine- if we have sanctioned off lots don't park in them especially if they are CLEARLY MARKED VALET AT BOTH ENDS

    • profile image

      Dave 4 years ago

      I don't tip the valet I am not his employer

    • profile image

      Mike valet 4 years ago

      Possibly the rudest thing I have ever experienced was someone asking for gas money after I brought up their car. The girl picking up her "beater" aka rusted Honda passport with Wendy's trash filling up her car says, "you owe me gas money because you drove my car" as she holds out her hand. Dead serious. I respond "NO. have a nice day". It's one thing getting stiffed but never ask a valet for money. We work hard for every dollar, and every stiff, unfortunately. I will always politely make change. It's not insulting unless you ask to make change for a 20 and then give me a dollar or forget to tip!

    • Carl8033 profile image

      Alexander Okelo 4 years ago

      Great tips, you have just made me better at tipping valets now :) Great hub.

    • profile image

      Da 5 years ago

      Im a valet and this article is kinda funny and completely true. The worst thing you can do to a valet is to not tip him. One time I brought up a decent looking Mercedes to a guy leaving an event, I ended up getting nothing but a hand shake from guy.

    • profile image

      Josh 5 years ago

      I disagree with tipping in AND out. Unless you want your car to stay close in a good spot it is customary to tip on the way out only. You are tipping the valet that just ran to get your car in a timely fashion. I have worked in both hotel and restaurant valet positions.

    • profile image

      Keri 5 years ago

      Hi guys,

      Found this thread while researching my column last week, it helped to hear you guys confirm what I suspected, and wanted to say thanks.

      Here's the article, hope it helps, because you guys get taken advantage of and it's dumb.

    • profile image

      meme 5 years ago

      My husband (who is 79 yrs. old) always says '47 Ford two-toned green. We never thought that possibly the valet doesn't find it funny. Of course, we are the two oldie but goodies who have had a cocktail and a good meal while the valet is outside in the cold. I'll tell him but I doubt that he will stop his "one liner" at this late date.

    • profile image

      cloud9ine 5 years ago

      I went to a wedding, and the valet had to float my car coz the alarm kept going off. When I came to pick my car, it was right upfront. I had no cash on me, so said thanks and drove off, but it didn't feel right, so I got some cash and came back to tip the guy. I could tell that I had just restored this guy's faith in humanity.

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      Alex 5 years ago

      I can't stress enough how tired I am of hearing the jokes

    • profile image

      5 years ago

      I'm a valet as well, the waxing/washing joke makes me want to kill myself!

    • Digihead profile image

      Digihead 6 years ago from San Diego, Ca

      Jill, unfortunately the $30 is going to the hotel and the valet will never see a penny of it. if you know how long you're going to be there, find out how many guys total might be working during your stay, and tip $5-6 for a few guys that will be working the morning shift. For a business hotel, the busiest times are in the morning, when everyone shuffles off to conferences and meetings. Otherwise, 10-15% total for your stay is more than ample.

    • Digihead profile image

      Digihead 6 years ago from San Diego, Ca

      Lisa, if you company is paying for anything, try to get a few giftcards from Starbucks and the local breakfast place. That way the guys in the morning shift who are getting your car are fed or coffeed up (which they will remember and appreciate) and if the receipt from the giftcards isn't itemized, you might be able to right it off as business expense. And a cash tip will be spent much quicker than a giftcard, so the sentiment will last longer.

    • Digihead profile image

      Digihead 6 years ago from San Diego, Ca

      Sorry it takes me so long to get back to these comments. Thank you all for reading. Feel free to send me messages here if you have any questions.

    • profile image

      andy 6 years ago

      Ha I work at a 5 star 5 diamond hotel and see this everyday! love this

    • profile image

      Miami Ekt09 6 years ago

      I work in a golf country club, I usually spot the good and not the so good players, usually a good player takes 3hrs and 30 minutes,to finish his/her round, plus 10 minutes to come back and get his/her car. a not so good player takes about 4hrs and 20 minutes to finish his round plus 10 minutes to get his/her car. I always remember the good tipers and the non good tipers as well, so when i know they are ready to pick up their car I always have it ready by the ramp, under the shade, windows down "because of the heat" and with a bottle of water inside the car, sometimes I even leave a botle of Gatorate "for a good tipper".

      I one time got 48.00 dollars, extra tip "all they had left in their pockets" 'lol' from a foursome just because they could not believe that their car was already waiting for them, A.C was on, the golfbags were already inside the van, and there were 4 bottle of gatorate waiting for them, it was on summer, they were real thirsty. lol And I did this because the tip me 20 when they first came in. "that was their first time at this country club" they were pleased.

    • profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago

      I'm staying at a hotel with my company for 3 days and need to take the car out every morning. Not sure how I should be tipping (everyday or in one go at the end of my stay) and how much. Help?

    • profile image

      Jill 6 years ago

      If we're charged 30 a day for valet at a hotel (its mandatory, there is not other parking available) do we tip 10% in and 10% out? Its an expensive hotel but we just stumbled on a deal and otherwise we wouldn't be there. I don't want to be cheap but I also need to watch the budget. Thoughts?

    • Digihead profile image

      Digihead 6 years ago from San Diego, Ca

      Maris: depending on the event or place you are valeting, tipping on the way in will ensure that the valet knows who you are and what you drive. On the way out is good, but knowing that $10 is in the pool before running for the car will make a valet run a bit quicker than not knowing if a tip is coming or not.

      kac2009: $250 is quite a fee, and I hope that the valets get a piece of that, and not just the owner of the lot. I say if you want to tip, do it once every couple weeks, leave it with the supervisor and find out how many guys he has working. That way you build a relationship with them, your car is better taken care of, and you will usually get out of there quicker.

    • profile image

      Claybreaker2 6 years ago

      I know for a fact (from a customers perspective) that YES a nice tip will protect your car and earn you a little respect from a dude who can use a little cash thrown his/her wife and myself are on vacation and decided this time, F buying the crap we don't need, let's tip big and help the peeps out who run around getting shit done! Thank you Valet! :D

    • profile image

      keith 6 years ago

      Love this post and great comments by my valet brothers one joke we get at the casino I work at is when someone goes "what did you do to my car?" And points to the pre existing dent scratch etc. Does anyone else get that? And kudos on the change thing. I'm in charge of counting the tips at the end of the night (we pool ours) and change is a slap in the face! Might be just me since I count it all. Also I like the floaters term I'm going to start using that at work and see if it catches on! Thanks again for the great post its all true no matter where your from

    • profile image

      DWR 6 years ago


      It's always a good idea to tip when you arrive and when you leave, but a hefty tip up front insures that your valet attendant will put your your car in the best possible spot. Likewise Kac2009 your tip is appreciated, but is a little below average: Usually people tip $3 in and another $3 out....a lot depends on your own priorities.

      If you drive an expensive car and you want to make sure your car is as safe as possible, $10 in and $10 out is a good tip. Keep in mind that nobody works 24 hours a day, so if you arrive early and leave late, the guy who delivers your car is NOT the same guy who parked it, so that's why its best to tip (whatever you tip) both in and out.

      It's also a good idea to hand the tip directly to the valet attendant, and don't put it in a tip jar. You can ask if your attendat splits tips or if he/she keeps their own tips, and decide for yourself how you wish to bestow your tip.

      It is NOT cool to tip a handful of pocket change. And don't bother asking for the best parking unless you tip big up front; valet attendants will always save the best parking for the big tippers.

    • profile image

      kac2009 6 years ago

      So, at my new job the parking garage is an underground ramp that is 100% valet. The monthly rate is $250. It's not a curb-side valet, I pull into the the underground ramp there are two long staging lanes where you leave your car for the attendants. Then at the end of the day I go to the ramp office and depending on where my car is parked the attendant either pulls it up by the ramp office or if it's on the edge they just give me my keys. I've been tipping a couple of bucks each time I drop off and pick up (Even then I've been worried that $2 is low). I've been trying to watch other people and haven't witnessed anyone else tipping yet, but the attendants always take my tips. I guess I'm not sure how this works, is this one of those situations where since there isn't a self-park option the attendants are paid a higher wage? I don't want to stiff anyone, just want to know what is expected.

    • profile image

      Greg 6 years ago

      some previous poster says "the valet couldn't get my x5 into gear so i got in it and parked somewhere else". here's the thing, your BMW is by far the most common car that comes in after lexus....AND he was probably new. nothing will beat the time i had to teach a guy how to drive his 7 series after he just got that x5 driver can shut his grill and go park in save-a-lot (self parking) LOL

    • profile image

      Maris 6 years ago

      do i tip only when leaving or upon arriving too?

    • profile image

      Tom 6 years ago

      I'm a valet, our service is free and there is plenty of self-parking available at our site for those who don't want to valet. I love the stiff's excuse "Sorry I don't have any cash on me." I always want to yell "Then why the fuck would you valet!?"

    • profile image

      val 6 years ago

      I just got stiffed by a maserati I kept up front, and 2 of my trucks tipped me $5... Guess I should have kept the trucks floating, lol!

    • profile image

      DWR 6 years ago

      As a Valet Supervisor may I offer a few ideas to valet parking attendants and other parking supervisors?

      Invest in a handheld video camera, and do a walk around of every car, and zoom in on any dings etc. It will protect you if a car has arrived damaged, and it protects your customers if a car was actually damaged on your possession.

      If your valet ticket doesn't have a spot for the license ploate number, at least make a mental note of the state, and use that to start up a conversation. "Oh, you are from Kansas?, I've never been there buy my aunt Louise lives in St. Louis" or "I hope you are enjoying your visit here" etc.

      Look for any little thing a customer says that you can identify with as an ice breaker. Don't stare at a woman's tits or other anatomy when she exits a car, that's just rude, and may cost you a tip.

      If someone is obviously unfamiliar with the area, and if you have time, ask them if they need any directions or ideas of places they might want to see. (especially if you valet for a hotel).

      Keep a bucket of water with a hint of soap in it with a window squeegee, and offer to clean the windshield if it is especially dirty, especially for customers who you already know are tippers, or who just gave you $20..they might just hand you more, or at the least give you some repeat business.

      If you live in a cold an snowy place, keep good window scrapers and brushes handy, and don't let somebody drive away with a windshield which you wouldn't want to drive with yourself.

    • profile image

      No myth 6 years ago

      I love to valet my car, and I tip min $5. Disappointed when I had my iPhone stolen. $600 replacement but moreover felt cheated for being an advocate to valet's. (also tipped the guy !).

      FYI it was "ki restaurant" in Toronto

    • profile image

      Mike the cheap accountant 6 years ago

      thanks for the humorous article. I came here looking for help on protocol... the hotel I'm staying at is way ritzier then where I usually go. PS - Sure you're hoping to spot a particular piece of clothing.

    • profile image

      Eric 7 years ago

      What in the world does this mean?

      "Helpful Hint Two: A valet with dark glasses is standing in a particular spot next to a female passenger's door for a particular reason and is looking to spot a particular piece of clothing."

    • profile image

      Dan 7 years ago

      I must say this is funny being a valet myself. I consider myself lucky, however, because the country club I work at, we have alot of very good regular-tippers. It may be that people in my area are more friendly than others, or that they just value good service. I could honestly say my average tip is at least $5. Ive gotten stiffed plenty of times, but then again it isn't uncommon to receive a $20 or something extra nice as well. I love where I work. Its even funny when i work a double shift and wait tables inside...its very amusing to have someone say "didn't you park our car 30 mins ago" when taking an order lol

    • profile image

      Eric Coombs 7 years ago


      Every private event and every account that I have.Every single day at least one person says "You still got my Ferrari (Insert car) in the back" as he nods his head and smirks while looking at his friend with him. Are you kidding me, THAT IS NOT FUNNY. Please be original. But, I understand why people say that, and I'm not mad, but I do appreciate creative people.

    • profile image

      DavidLivingston 7 years ago

      Thanks a lot for this. Keep posting more

    • profile image

      Antoine 7 years ago

      When staying at a hotel, tip when you come in and leave, the morning crew is different than the night crew, so don't forget about the valets who actually park your car. It doesn't matter if you have the new Corvette, if you do not tip when you arrive, the guy with the rental Hyundai tipping a $5 will get the better spot.

      Whenever you forget something in your car(phone, purse, etc.) give the guy a tip when he brings it up for you. That guy went out of his way to get something you forgot, so a simple "Appreciate It" gives you a bad rep and the whole crew will surely know who yo are when you come back.

      Never assume the valet cannot drive your car. A 1990 Tercel driver asks if I can drive standard, If I couldn't, why would I work there? Same goes for Hybrid, keyless ignition, and Saabs.

      The guy whose parking your car is likely trying to make a living, whether it be supporting a family or paying for college, every tip is appreciated. Just don't assume that because the car is nice, no tip is needed.

    • profile image

      Pat 7 years ago


      $1 OR LESS TIP = NO CLASS!!!

    • profile image

      Danny in Colorado 7 years ago

      Here are a few more ideas:

      Hang on to your claim ticket, if you lose it and some dishonest person finds it, they might claim your car! We know most of our regulars, but we may need to see your drivers license to verify you are the owner of the car.

      Please don't empty your car ashtray, your half empty soda, etc at the valet station. Nobody wants to walk in your sticky stinky mess.

      If you are drunk when you arrive we will park your car, but if you are drunk when you wish to leave, we won't let you drive drunk.

      Don't leave children or pets in your car and think we will park it. In most states it is a felony to leave animals and children unattended in a car.

      When you arrive or leave, get off of your cell phone, or excuse yourself. It is rude to the valet and others who may need the attendant to keep everyone standing there while you talk. We know who the fake VIPs who pretend to be on the phone to avoid tipping...that is a really crappy way to act toward someone who has your second most valuable posession after your home.

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      Danny in Colorado 7 years ago

      A few more ideas, if I may:

      Don't tell a valet how your factory key remote works, he already knows. He also knows your headlights on your Caddy go off by themselves.

      If you are 3 feet tall, and your valet attendant is 6'2" you cannot be surprised that he had to move the seat back to even enter your car, let alone operate it.

      You would never pull up to McDonald's drive through with the window rolled and think that you can order. Your valet attendant needs to talk to you, so be a good sport, roll the window down and leave it down, he will roll it up when he parks. some cars auto lock when the engine is running, a rolled down window prevents accidental lockouts.

      Don't blame a minimum wage valet for damage to your car you know is already there, he might lose his job just so you can save an insurance deductible, that's illegal and way immoral.

      When you misplace your stupid blue tooth, don't blame valet, any idiot knows a blue tooth has to pair to a phone, and who would want your waxy earpiece anyway.

      Don't wad up a one dollar bill thinking you'll fool a valet...we know what you are doing, so tip what ever you tip, so you don't look like a total jerk.

      The laws of physics and speed limits, as well as traffic may mean it takes more than 30 seconds to get your car. Some valet have to run a city block or two just to get to your car, and then drive back. This isn't Star Trek, it isn't instant, but it is convienient, especially in bad weather.

      I have a theory: the worse the weather, the worse the tip. A second theroy: the more crap somebody expects you to do, the worse the tip, if any.

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      Dennis 7 years ago

      A valet didn't know how to put my x5 in gear once. I got back in and parked somewhere else.

    • Digihead profile image

      Digihead 7 years ago from San Diego, Ca

      Redmini, tipping good on the way in almost gurantees you will get out quickly at the end.

      Erin, if you pay a daily rate, but still want to tip, do it at the end of the week, or month, and the valet should take good care of you.

    • profile image

      Erin McMahon 8 years ago

      Hi- this may sound dumb - but I was wondering whether or not tipping is appropriate when you're already paying a daily rate for your valet parking. I just don't know what the norm is, whether the valet gets and of that fee or not, etc.

    • profile image

      Nick 8 years ago

      Great Hub. As an energetic (and poor) college student, I'm very interested in getting a job in the valet business. I know a lot about cars and can handle one just as well. I understand, though, that it's hard to get a job (especially in these times) with these companies unless you have connections. Any ideas on who or where to apply in the Los Angeles Area?

    • profile image

      OhioValet 8 years ago

      Thank you for putting this out there. My biggest pet peeve is that we VIP cars (I'd never heard the term "float" until now, but it's a good term) at the end of the night. I just take the car that's been there the longest and bring it up so people don't have to wait. Then the customer comes out, see's their car right there and says "you didn't even move it!" and pockets their tip. I want to scream "people pay us EXTRA to not move it! Plus, it was parked, but I didn't want you to have to wait while I ran to get it. Sorry for conviencing you!"

    • profile image

      Redminivan 8 years ago

      Only tip at drop off? or when receiving car too? Great post, thanks!

    • profile image

      miKE 8 years ago

      GOOD POST! man some people dont get it. i cant wait someday to tell a cheap ass hey did u eat a restaurant today? if you much did you tip?

    • profile image

      Valetguy 8 years ago are a true vet! THANK YOU on behalf of the hundreds of valets I have worked with, tipped generously and worked for!

    • profile image

      Bryan V 8 years ago

      This is my 5th year at it, I valet on the weekends doing well over 100 cars a night, and this info is pretty accurate. The shi*ty cars usally tip better but once and a while a high end car will throw a 20 here n there. Biggest tip so far was 75 bucks. If you tip nice on the way in even a 5 i will keep you close with a quick exit. The jokes are all played out so i just joke back making them feel more like the jokes on them. But in all honesty talk to the customers and make them feel important and open there doors ect... This will bring in the bigger tips, half of the huslte is making the person feel good and showing there car is safe n taken care of. Your presentation is everything.

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      Dan 9 years ago

      Good post, being a valet myself this is all good accurate info. So true, I Hate when people say, "oh, it's the 'insert any car'" I always just think in my head...stfu, as I pull up there 1990 maxima...etc lol. The truth is "it is what it is" when your valeting, I've tried to predict what someone will tip, and often times I am very surprised, either higher or lower than expected.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 9 years ago from San Francisco

      Good myth-busting and useful advice!

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California


      What a funny informative Hub on Valet parking. Maybe it takes someone from Cali to understand it! lol


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