A Guide to Tipping Etiquette for Valet Parking: How Much is Just Right?

Valet parking can be a convenient and stress-free option when you’re out and about, but it often leaves people wondering about the appropriate tip. Tipping at valet parking isn’t just a matter of generosity; it’s a show of appreciation for the service provided. In this article, we’ll help you navigate the often-confusing waters of valet tipping etiquette so you can confidently decide how much to tip.

How much should I tip for valet parking?

Understand the Basics:

Before delving into specific amounts, it’s essential to understand the basics of valet tipping etiquette. Valet attendants rely on tips as a significant part of their income, and they work hard to ensure your vehicle is safe and accessible. As a general rule, always budget for a tip when using valet services.

Consider the Location:
Tipping norms can vary by location. In some cities, like New York or Los Angeles, a higher cost of living may necessitate larger tips. Research the local customs and consider the location’s cost of living when deciding on an appropriate tip.

Standard Tipping Rates:
A common guideline is to tip valet attendants $2 to $5 when you drop off your car and again when you pick it up. This equates to a total tip of $4 to $10 for the entire valet service. If you receive exceptional service or if the parking situation is particularly challenging, consider tipping at the higher end of this range.

Be Mindful of Extra Services:
Sometimes, valet attendants may go above and beyond, providing additional services such as loading your luggage or offering information about local attractions. In such cases, it’s courteous to tip extra to show your appreciation.

Assess the Situation:
The appropriate tip can also depend on the circumstances. If you’re attending an upscale event or staying at a luxury hotel, you may want to tip on the higher side of the standard range. Conversely, at more casual establishments, you can tip toward the lower end of the range.

valet parking sign

What is valet etiquette?

Valet etiquette encompasses a set of courteous and respectful behaviors that you should follow when using valet parking services. By adhering to these guidelines, you not only make the experience smoother for yourself but also ensure a positive interaction with the valet attendants.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Arrival and Departure: When you arrive at a venue offering valet parking, approach the valet stand or designated area. Turn off your engine and have your keys ready. When departing, wait for your vehicle in the designated waiting area, and be ready to receive your keys promptly.

  2. Tip Appropriately: As discussed earlier, tipping is a crucial part of valet etiquette. Be prepared to tip valet attendants when you drop off and pick up your vehicle. Always carry some cash for this purpose.

  3. Clear Personal Belongings: Before handing over your keys, remove any personal items from the car, such as valuables, electronics, and important documents. This ensures the safety of your belongings and makes the valet’s job easier.

  4. Communication: Clearly communicate any special instructions or requests to the valet attendant. For example, if you have a preferred parking spot or need assistance with luggage, let them know in a friendly and courteous manner.

  5. Respect the Valet Area: Avoid lingering in the valet area after dropping off your car. This space is often busy, and loitering can cause congestion. Head to your destination promptly.

  6. Patience is Key: Valet attendants may be handling multiple vehicles at once, especially during peak hours. Exercise patience and wait your turn when dropping off or picking up your car. Avoid honking or displaying impatience.

  7. Vehicle Information: Be ready to provide the valet with essential information about your car, such as the make, model, and color. This helps prevent mix-ups and ensures a smooth experience.

  8. Collect Personal Items: Upon receiving your vehicle, check that all your personal items are back in the car. Attend to any forgotten items before leaving the valet area.

  9. Feedback: If you receive exceptional service or encounter any issues, consider providing feedback to the establishment. Positive feedback can motivate attendants, and constructive criticism can help improve the valet service.

  10. Courtesy and Respect: Treat valet attendants with the same respect and courtesy you would expect in any customer service interaction. A friendly greeting and a simple “thank you” go a long way.

  11. Security and Safety: Trust the valet service to handle your vehicle responsibly. Most reputable valet services have insurance coverage in case of accidents, but it’s still a good idea to check for any visible damage when you pick up your car.

Remember that valet attendants are there to make your parking experience more convenient and secure. Following valet etiquette not only ensures a positive experience for you but also fosters a pleasant working environment for the attendants who rely on tips as part of their income.


Digital tips with the Oobeo valet app can increase your valet hourly wage by up to $5! For more information please contact us.

What’s the biggest tip ever left to a valet parking attendant?

The largest tip ever left to a valet parking attendant is difficult to determine definitively, as such instances are often anecdotal and not always well-documented. However, there have been instances where extremely generous tips were reportedly given.

One famous example is the story of David Lee Roth, the lead singer of the rock band Van Halen. According to urban legend, Roth once tipped a Las Vegas valet parking attendant $1,000. This story has been widely circulated, but its authenticity remains unverified.

Additionally, there have been reports of celebrities like David Beckham and Ben Affleck leaving sizable tips for valet parking attendants, sometimes in the hundreds of dollars. However, specific amounts and instances can vary widely, and it’s challenging to pinpoint a definitive “biggest” tip, as it often depends on individual circumstances, generosity, and personal preferences.

It’s important to remember that tipping practices can vary by location and personal choice, and what might be considered a substantial tip to one person may not be the same for another.

David Lee Roth
David Lee Roth. Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

How much can tips vary in valet parking?

Tips for valet parking attendants can vary significantly based on several factors, including location, the type of establishment, the customer’s generosity, and the overall level of service provided. Here are some key factors that can influence the variation in tips for valet parking:

  • Location: The city or region where the valet service is provided can have a substantial impact on tips. In major metropolitan areas or upscale locations, customers may be more accustomed to tipping higher amounts due to higher living costs and a culture of tipping.

  • Type of Establishment: The type of venue or establishment also plays a role. Customers at upscale restaurants, hotels, or exclusive clubs may be more inclined to leave larger tips compared to those at more casual or budget-friendly places.

  • Customer’s Discretion: Tipping is ultimately at the discretion of the customer. Some customers may be generous tippers, while others may tip minimally or not at all. Personal financial circumstances and tipping habits vary widely.

  • Service Quality: The quality of service provided by the valet parking attendants can influence tips. Prompt and courteous service, careful handling of the vehicle, and attentiveness to the customer’s needs are factors that can lead to higher tips.

  • Frequency of Use: Some customers may use valet parking frequently, such as at a hotel where they are staying for several days. In such cases, they may tip more generously as a sign of appreciation for ongoing service.

  • Special Occasions: Customers may be more likely to tip generously during special occasions, such as weddings, anniversaries, or celebrations, when they want to make the experience memorable.

  • Cash Availability: The availability of cash can also impact tips. Customers may tip less if they don’t have cash on hand and rely on credit cards for payments.

Due to these variables, tips for valet parking can range from a few dollars to much larger amounts, sometimes exceeding $20 or even $50, especially in high-end establishments or during special events. It’s important to note that tipping practices can be culturally influenced and can vary from one region or country to another. Valet parking attendants often rely on tips as a significant part of their income, so tips are greatly appreciated for the service they provide.

What's the average valet parking tip?

The average tip for valet parking can vary widely depending on several factors, including the location, the type of establishment, and individual customer preferences. However, as a general guideline, many people tend to tip valet parking attendants in the range of $2 to $5 in the United States.

Here’s a breakdown of common tipping practices for valet parking:

  • Standard Tip: In most cases, a tip of $2 to $5 is considered standard for valet parking at restaurants, hotels, or other establishments. This amount is typical for average service and is appreciated by attendants.

  • Upscale or Luxury Venues: At upscale or luxury establishments, customers may tip more generously. It’s not uncommon to see tips of $5 to $10 or even more in such settings.

  • Special Occasions: During special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, or celebrations, customers may tip higher amounts, sometimes reaching $10 or more.

  • Short Stops: If you’re using valet parking for a very brief period, such as for a quick meal, some customers opt for a smaller tip, perhaps around $2.

  • Cash Availability: The availability of cash can influence the tip amount. If customers don’t have cash on hand, they may tip less or use credit cards to leave a tip.

  • Regional Differences: Tipping practices can vary by region and culture. In some areas, customers may tip more generously, while in others, the standard tip amount may be lower.

It’s important to note that tipping is a matter of personal discretion, and customers should feel free to adjust the tip amount based on their satisfaction with the service provided. Additionally, tipping practices can change over time, so what might be considered an average tip today could be different in the future. Ultimately, the key is to express appreciation for the valet parking service provided by offering a tip that you believe is fair and reflective of the level of service received.

Do valet attendants expect a tip?

Yes, valet parking attendants typically expect to receive a tip for their services. Tipping is customary and considered a standard practice when using valet parking. Valet attendants often rely on tips as a significant part of their income, and tipping is a way for customers to show appreciation for their assistance.

While it is expected, the amount of the tip can vary based on factors like the level of service provided, the location, and the customer’s generosity. As a general guideline, many people tend to tip valet attendants in the range of $2 to $5 in the United States, but customers are free to adjust the tip based on their satisfaction with the service.

It’s important to remember that tipping is a voluntary practice, and customers should feel comfortable tipping what they believe is fair and reflective of the service received. If you receive exceptional service or have a particularly positive experience with a valet attendant, you may choose to tip more generously. Conversely, if you were dissatisfied with the service, you might opt for a lower tip or even provide feedback to the establishment.

How much do valet tips fluctuate by market?

Lets start with the average tip for valet parking in New York City

In New York City, the typical tip for valet parking tends to be on the higher end due to the city’s higher cost of living and the general culture of tipping. As a guideline, it’s common to tip valet parking attendants in the range of $4 to $10 or even more, depending on various factors

What’s the typical size tip for valet in Detroit ?

The typical tip for valet parking in Detroit, like in many other cities, can vary based on factors such as the location, the type of establishment, the quality of service, and individual preferences. However, as a general guideline, tipping valet attendants in Detroit typically falls in the range of $2 to $5.

Is $2 too small for a valet parking tip?

A $2 tip for valet parking is on the lower end of the tipping range and may be considered relatively small, especially in certain locations or for upscale establishments.

In major cities or areas with a higher cost of living, such as New York City or Los Angeles, a $2 tip might be perceived as minimal due to the higher expenses and tipping norms in those areas.

At upscale restaurants, hotels, or luxury venues, patrons often tip more generously, and a $2 tip may be considered less typical. Ultimately, the appropriateness of a $2 tip depends on the specific circumstances and your own judgment.