Markets and Trade, Money

Mexico’s Tipping Culture

Pile of Mexican Peso coins

Tipping is woven into the fabric of Mexican social culture.  The tipping ritual is so commonplace that it is also plays a significant role in Mexico’s informal, cash-driven economy.

Most people working in Mexico’s service industries including porters at the airport, the waitress at the café/diner, the attendant in the rest-room and the service personnel at your hotel, earn modest wages and rely upon tips (in Mexico referred to as “La propina”) to augment their weekly take-home pay.

In Mexico, La propina is employed in all kinds of everyday situations.

Car parks in Mexico’s bigger towns and cities are often times kept under vigil by men (and it is almost always men) who ‘patrol’ the car park, helping drivers to find a free space, keeping an eye on the cars, and helping drivers to reverse out when they leave.   It’s optional, but customary, to pay 1 or 2 pesos as you depart.

Arriving at one of the four intercity bus stations in Mexico’s capital and proceeding – as many passengers do – to the taxi kiosk for an authorized taxi fare, a line of waiting ‘porters’ will offer to carry your luggage, walk you to the rank, and hail the next cab for you.  They will open the taxi’s door and place your baggage in the car’s trunk: it’s customary to tip the porter, up to 10 pesos is reasonable.

Some restaurants – including some of the most well-to-do establishments – have an attendant working in the restroom, keeping it clean and tidy.   As you wash your hands, they will politely hand you a towel to dry them.   Alongside the wash-basin, you may see a small box with a few coins sprinkled inside.  If you are dining at a restaurant, have a few pesos change at the ready, as it’s customary to leave a small gratuity for the attendant as you leave.

Other ‘informal’ situations where a tip is customary include the porter at the hotel who carried your bags or arranged a taxi for you; the concierge for booking a table at a local restaurant; the person who washed your windscreen at the stop-light; and even the person packing your groceries at the local supermarket.

Many people leave their hotel’s room maid a small tip of between US$1 and US$5 (equivalent in Mexican pesos), for each night’s stay spent at the hotel. If you’re staying more than one night, it’s a good idea to leave the tip daily as chamber maids work on a rota.

Ironically, despite the constant need to pay tips, small change seems to be a real difficulty to get hold of in Mexico when you need it most and appears in abundance when you don’t need any – see this related article – and build a cache of small change whenever you can.

Frequent tipping is a routine that takes getting used to, especially if you live in a country where tipping is not commonplace (certain countries in Europe, for example) or where tipping is practiced but only in certain, specific circumstances.

Mexico’s tipping culture is impromptu and often spontaneous.  Tipping is always optional although the people serving you will appreciate the small token of your appreciation in exchange for good service.

See Also: Our guide to Tipping and Bargaining in Mexico for guidance about whom, where, when, and how much to tip in Mexico.  The Guide to Social & Business Etiquette in Mexico is a comprehensive manual to help you navigate social and business customs in Mexico.


  1. Mary says

    Do the wait staff always get the “propina”? We had almost MXN$ 200 added as propina in a restaurant but the waiter said he does not get the money and that it goes to the restaurant. We added another MXN$ 200 for him. Is that correct?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Mary,

      It’s unusual for restaurants in Mexico to add the tip automatically to a bill except for large groups and the automatic group service charge is usually stated somewhere on the menu; however, sometimes this does happen and if you received poor service or the tip added to the bill is more than you intended to pay, you should ask to talk with the manager and have the amount altered or removed.

      Further, you should not add more (unless you intended to pay more than what was automatically added). Anything that is labelled as a tip, in Spanish, “propina” or “servicio”, is just that and you should not be coaxed into paying double.

  2. Barbara Macintire says

    When we vacationed in Puerto Vallarta recently we were told not to tip the taxi drivers. I sometimes did anyway. I probably over tipped in general but I always tip 20% in restaurants here and figured they make less in Mexico.

  3. Mexperience says

    Hi First Last and B. Buckman — thank you for comments. The 10 pesos per bag should have read ‘up to 10 pesos’ — we have updated that. As with all tipping situations, the precise amount you tip may also depend on other factors such as whether you were exceptionally well served at a restaurant or the porter went beyond the call of duty to help in some way, etc. Over time living in Mexico you can begin to gauge these elastic situations and get a natural feel for the right level of tip to offer — as demonstrated by the comments left here by people with experience in this area. Thank you again for sharing your insights.

  4. B.Buckman says

    I agree with John’s wife. A ten percent tip in a restaurant is normal. However, my wife, also a Mexican national, gives me ‘the look’ if I don’t up it closer to fifteen percent. As far as the “pase, pases” in the parking lots go a peso is acceptable. Windshield cleaners are paid by some and not by others. I usually give a couple of pesos.

    Also, First Last Word is correct, ten pesos per bag would be excessive although I cannot speak for D.F. it being the NYC of Mexico.

  5. First Last says

    “Arriving at one of the four intercity bus stations in Mexico’s capital and proceeding – as many passengers do – to the taxi kiosk for an authorized taxi fare, a line of waiting ‘porters’ will offer to carry your luggage, walk you to the rank, and hail the next cab for you. They will open the taxi’s door and place your luggage in the car’s trunk. It’s customary to tip the porter about 10 pesos per bag.”

    I certainly would not tip 10 pesos per bag!! Ten pesos total. But I always tip cab drivers 5 pesos if they have not tried to overcharge me.

  6. john says

    My Mexican wife says a tip in a restaurant should not be more than 10%. Many do not tip at all even with a group.
    For just about any other type of tip, from the baggers in a grocery store to the guy in a parking lot that ‘helps’ you back out to the guys that wash your windshield at traffic lights. A 5 peso tip is generous.
    Of course we gringos usually over tip.

    • Crystal says

      5 pesos is less than $1 US dollar people.
      If there is no service charge already added to the bill, standard gratuity is at the very least 15%.
      Unless your total meal equals less than $6 US dollars, you should not be tipping that low.
      Keep in mind the work & time required to serve you and the minimum daily wage they make.
      Also please educate yourself with currency exchange rates before you travel. It will make your stay much more enjoyable when you tip accordingly!

  7. Rachel says

    very helpful, thank you! I hired a shuttle service to drive us from the airport to our room, do I tip the driver and if so how much?

Add a New Comment on this article


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *