Tipping people for services rendered is a practice that is deeply ingrained in Mexican culture.
In Mexico, as in most countries, the people who work in leisure, tourism and catering earn a basic wage and depend upon your tips to supplement their income.
The practice of tipping goes far beyond the restaurant table here. As our guide to tipping etiquette explains, there are many situations in Mexico where a small tip is appropriate, and keeping change on-hand, in the form of small denomination coins, is essential for this purpose when you are visiting or living in the country.
There are three situations which are worth a particular mention as they are often overlooked by visitors and residents new to Mexican culture:
Chamber Maids: The first relates to the unsung heroines (they are invariably women) of the hotel industry: chamber maids. They will often travel a considerable distance to reach your hotel and spend the day cleaning and keeping guest rooms in good order, so that when you get back to your room, it’s waiting for you clean, fresh, and tidy. It’s appropriate to leave a small tip and leave it each day because work schedules change, and the maid who cleaned your room initially may not be on duty the day you check-out. The amount of the tip should vary depending upon the category of hotel: a sum in Mexican pesos, left in cash on the side table (next to the maid’s greeting card if one is present), equivalent to between US$1 (for economy hotels) and US$5 (for luxury hotels) per day is suggested and will be sincerely appreciated.
Supermarket Bag Packers: The second concerns students and retired folks working at supermarkets across the country to pack bags at the checkout counters. For students, the money they earn contributes to the funding of their education; for retired folks, the money they earn supplements their pension. These people are not salaried and work entirely on tips.
All-Inclusive Hotels: The third situation relates to “all inclusive” hotels and travel packages. A small few packages stipulate that ‘tips are included’ and in this case no further tipping is required. However in most cases, guides, porters, the concierge, table staff, and the chamber maids (see above) will appreciate a tip—even if, for example, the price of your meals (or just breakfast) is included in the room rate. For local guides, a reasonable tip commensurate with the amount of time and knowledge they shared with you is appropriate. One US dollar (equivalent in Mexican pesos) per bag for porters; a dollar or two left on the table after each meal or round of drinks at the bar; and a tip for the chamber maids (see above) will be very much valued.
Why you need to tip in Mexican pesos, and not in foreign currency
The rules and regulations for exchanging foreign currency have been tightened up. For example, currency exchange houses now routinely demand to see a passport to change even small amounts of money, and not everyone here has a passport. Foreign coins are non-exchangeable and should never be left as tips. Always tip in cash, using Mexican pesos.
For detailed advice about local tipping etiquette, take a few minutes to read our guide to tipping in Mexico which contains a comprehensive list of situations and suggested amounts you may consider tipping in specific circumstances.
See Also: Social and Business Etiquette in Mexico