Tipping Etiquette: How Much to Tip for a Massage

Massage tipping etiquette

Saying “thank you” is an act of good manners. It’s an unwritten rule of underlying ethical code – the etiquette.

Massage therapists often receive compliments from their clients. But sometimes you want to do more than a compliment. You want to leave a tip.

The general tipping rule is “tips are never expected, but always appreciated”. It’s a “thank you for a good service” gratuity.

Now, do you have to always leave tips? No, you don’t.

If you don’t want to feel completely lost, when it comes to tipping for a massage.

You better follow the massage tipping etiquette.

When and how much to tip for a massage

The average tip for massage is 15-20% from the price for a massage. You can tip less or more depending on how good the massage was.

The tipping etiquette differs depending on the place and the goal of your massage. Let’s dive into each separate circumstance.

1. Having your massage in a spa

If you’re going to have a massage in a spa, you need to know that tips are expected.

The spa world is a service industry. They spend a lot of money to create that perfect ambiance for your better experience.

The massage therapist does his best to give you a relaxing massage, but they never get the full price for their service. They usually get about ½ or 1/3 of the price only and the rest goes to the spa.

So, if you enjoyed your massage experiences, tipping 15-20% of the cost of your massage is much appreciated.

2. When the therapist sets the charge for their practice

If your massage therapist quit the spa where she used to work for, and now is taking clients in her home. How much to tip when the therapist gets 100% of the fee? Is a tip necessary?

When the massage therapist takes clients in home, all the expenses are supported by the therapist. Some of the expenses are: supplies, bills, advertising, repairing equipment, linen, oils and many more.

Some people say that you never tip a therapist at their practice, because they’re charging what they believe their work is worth.

Professional massage therapist might feel weird to take more pay than they have agreed to.

Figure out what the therapist’s tipping policy is and definitely respect it.

3. Having a massage in a doctor/chiropractors office

If you are receiving massage for medical purposes, than it’s typically done on a repeat basis and more out of “need” than “want”.

It isn’t expected to tip a doctor working in a medical environment.

In these cases you have to make a distinction between a massage prescribed by a physician and a massage for “personal” pleasure. There are certainly different roles that a massage therapist can fulfill.

Tipping is a right, not an obligation

Professional massage therapists are well mannered and usually make their tipping policy very clear. They never ask for tips or give hints about tipping.

Tipping should be your own preference, when it comes to how much to tip for a massage.

You should never feel pressure when it comes to tipping. It should be your own will. Otherwise, you can pay the tips and never come back again.

Feedback is always appreciated

Tipping is the right thing to do. It’s about showing respect for the work of a massage therapist.

Even if you are not able to pay tips, you can always compliment the therapist. It’s also appreciated.

No matter how your feedback is expressed, it’s a way to remark your willingness to come back for another massage.

And remember.

Tips are not expected, but good manners are always appreciated.

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  1. Coming from BC, it seemed very strange to have tips associated with a medical/health service. As soon as tips are standard practice for physical therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists, they should be for massage therapists. Our professional rate is the total (you can just tell people that the “tip is included”) and people getting better and sending others to us for relief is all the tip I need.

    • I agree, Anthony! I consider myself to be a health professional and tipping is inappropriate. I have a written policy that I don’t accept tips. Some clients insist on it anyway, so I let them know that the money goes into a fund to help cover the overhead costs of my pro bono community service work.

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