How Much to Tip for A Massage

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    Self-care is essential for finding ways to recharge in today’s busy world. When budgeting for self-care items, like pedicures, facials, and massage therapy, it’s necessary to make sure we’re leaving enough room for a tip. Let’s talk about how much to tip for massage and the best ways to do so.

    Should You Tip for a Massage?

    Most of the time, yes, tipping in the United States is proper etiquette when getting a massage. There are a few exceptions where it makes sense not to:

    1. Their workplace has a no-tipping policies.
    2. If the massage is billed through insurance, you generally do not tip for medical work. 
    3. It’s an all-inclusive resort where gratuity is included in the overall standard hospitality rate. These resorts will inform you that additional tipping is not allowed. 

    If you’re not sure what’s allowed or what your therapist is comfortable with, ask. Ask the therapist directly or the front desk when you book your appointment on the proper massage etiquette. 

    How much do you tip for a 60-minute massage?

    woman's face being massaged

    Across the board, 20% is a good tip and the industry standard for a massage or body treatment. Often, massage therapists who work at massage studios like Massage Envy, Elements Massage, or The Woodhouse Day Spa appreciate tips. Whether 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or more, you want to take the final cost and base your tip on that amount.

    Examples: 

    For a 30-minute massage that is $50, a 20% tip would be $10.

    For a one-hour massage that is $80, a 20% tip would be $16.

    For a 90-minute massage that is $150, a 20% tip would be $30.

    Considering how much work the therapist is doing, a 20% monetary tip isn’t that much money. Plus, it’ll help supplement their hourly rate.

    Do you tip a massage therapist covered by insurance?

    Meagan Brennecke, a licensed massage therapist in Denver, Colorado, says that “tipping a massage therapist covered by insurance will depend on the agency they work for. Most companies that deal with insurance or Medicaid do not want to deal with the additional complication of massage tipping, so they request that you don’t tip.”

    Brennecke also suggests that if you aren’t 100% sure in any situation whether to tip or not, ask beforehand. Therapists appreciate the direct communication and are happy to answer your common questions, including any definite rules on tipping.

    Do you tip for a medical or therapuetic massage, like at the chiropractor?

    As mentioned earlier, tipping at a medical service facility will vary depending on the agency. However, you generally don’t tip your chiropractor, nurse, physical therapist, or doctor, so tipping your masseuse is much less common in this medical setting. 

    Do you tip a private massage therapist?

    Again, ask if they accept tips when booking the appointment. Often, private massage therapists factor in tips when setting their prices because they’re small business owners with their own private practice, and are responsible for every aspect of their income. 

    How much do you tip a massage therapist at a spa?

    If they are allowed to accept tips, 20% is acceptable. If the spa is at an all-inclusive resort, then the tip is most likely worked into the cost. Ask the employee when you book your services to be sure.

    How much do you tip if you’re using a Groupon or coupon?

    When using a discount, gift certificate, Groupon, or coupon, you’ll want to tip on the original price, not the discounted price. Their work wasn’t less because of the voucher, so you’ll want to make sure that you let them know how much you appreciate their effort with the entire tip on the total price.

    When and how to tip for a massage?

    There are several ways that you can tip your massage therapist. First, paying cash is better. If you give a cash tip, they’ll have it to spend immediately and won’t have to wait for it to be added to their paycheck, and then cashed out.

    If you put your tip on your credit card, not only do they have to wait to receive it, but they also have a chunk taken out for processing fees and taxes. Your tip goes further for both them and you when you decide to pay cash.

    Use a small envelope.

    Most spas will give you a small cash envelope if you pay cash for your tip. You can usually find these in the massage room or at the front desk when you pay. You’ll write your therapist’s name on the envelope, along with yours. Feel free to add a little note of thanks for the good service (if you want), and slip the cash inside. 

    You can then hand this envelope directly to the therapist or leave it with the front desk.

    Hand them cash directly.

    Another option is to hand them the cash directly. After your massage, and you’ve had a chance to get dressed, you can hand them the money along with your thanks after they walk you to the front door. 

    Don’t try and passively hand it off.

    Some people suggest slipping the tip into the robe you wear before/after the massage, with the assumption that the massage therapist will be the one doing the laundry. 

    Tucking the money into a robe pocket is a horrible idea. Your therapist might not be the one to find it, but it could also easily fall out and end up in someone else’s pocket. Stick with being direct and handing to your therapist.

    Use an app like Venmo or Cash App.

    Lastly, massage therapists will happily accept tips via apps like Cash App, PayPal, or Venmo.

    Is it rude not to tip a massage therapist?

    In the U.S., it’s common to tip massage therapists, hairdressers, barbers, painters, waiters/waitresses, and other similar service providers. In some countries in Europe, tipping is considered unnecessary and over the top. 

    Do you still tip if you’re dissatisfied with the session?

    Yes, you would still tip if you’re dissatisfied with your massage appointment, though it’s acceptable to tip a lower percent tip, such as 10%.

    More importantly, if your massage isn’t going the way you want (such as the wrong amount of pressure or a deep tissue massage vs a Swedish massage), speak up. While it can be challenging to say what you want sometimes, it’s essential to communicate with your massage therapist to give them feedback. You’ll both be much happier if you communicate openly with them. 

    If they still can’t follow your requests, you can speak with the manager after the massage session. You’ll want to talk to them and discuss if and how your therapist did or did not check in with you during your session and what could have been handled differently.

    What if you can’t afford to tip?

    If you can’t afford to tip your therapist, be honest with them. Many therapists offer a sliding scale for payment for repeat customers. Start a dialog and express your needs, and your therapist can decide if they want to work with you. 

    And don’t forget – a couple of bucks is better than nothing when it comes to a tip. Not everyone can give 20% every time, but you can probably still give something.

    The bottom line is, at the end of the day, being a massage therapist is physically strenuous work, and it’s hard on their bodies. They work long hours on their feet, helping people regain mobility, release tension, and let go of stress built up in their bodies. They deserve a great tip, and if you see them on a regular basis, a lovely Christmas gift as well.  Check out 15 of the best gifts for massage therapists here.

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    A forty-ish web designer/developer by day, a budget & financial fanatic by night. I’m a mom, wife, avid reader, and DIY enthusiast who’s tracking our journey to debt freedom. Read More

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