How Much Should You Really Tip for a Massage? (Plus Simple Calculator)

Picture of a woman thinking about how much to tip for a massage

One of the more awkward situations we can be in is not knowing how much to tip for a massage. You’re relaxed, you’re ready to go, and then you realize you just don’t know what the etiquette standards are. Don’t worry! There are clear-cut standards.

So, how much to tip your massage therapist?

The standard amount your massage therapist expects is a 20% tip. This number applies to different massage experiences and is based on the original price of the massage, so if you had a discount, remember to add that into your tipping considerations.

Of course, there can be a lot more questions surrounding the etiquette here, including resort standards, how to hand over the tip, whether you need to tip in cash, and how to handle a bad massage experience, so this article is going to take a deeper dive into all of your questions so you never have to feel unsure while tipping for a massage again.

How Much To Tip Your Massage Therapist

The standard tipping rate for a massage in the United States is 20%.

This standard is set industry-wide and is referenced in many etiquette guides, so there isn’t much wiggle room. There is a range of “acceptable” that goes from 10% to 20%, but 20% is still the expected standard.

A tip of 10% would indicate that you were very unhappy and is as low as the tip should ever go, even if you’re upset about how things went.

Of course, you can always leave a tip over 20% if you are more than happy with your massage. That is totally up to you, and while it is a great gesture, it is in no way expected.

Massage Tip Calculator

It can sometimes be tricky to calculate your tip, especially when you are so relaxed after a great massage. Don’t worry. We’ve put together a simple yet powerful massage tip calculator for you!

Frequently Asked Questions: Tipping Your Massage Therapist

Tipping can be an emotional and awkward experience if you’re unsure about what’s normal, so below, we’re going to cover some of the most common questions.

You can get a massage from a self-employed masseuse, at a spa, or at a resort, so we’re going to take those different scenarios into account in these questions since you may run into different experiences depending on where you are.

Should I Tip Cash Or Handle It On A Card?

Picture of a woman leaving a tip with a credit card after a massage

In most scenarios, cash is the preferred method of tipping for your massage therapist. This won’t matter much to a self-employed masseuse, but at a spa or a resort, it matters a fair amount.

Your massage therapist at a spa or resort will get paid out their tips when they get their biweekly check from their employer. If you tip them in cash, they get the tip right now.

However, if you don’t have cash on you, paying the tip with the rest of your bill is still entirely acceptable. Cash is just a nice touch for your massage therapist.

How Do I Hand Over the Tip?

If you are one of the people who is fine with tipping, but feels awkward about the etiquette for actually handing over the money, don’t worry. I’ve got your back. You can plan for this. No need to tense up after your long massage, this will be fine.

Sometimes in the massage room, while you’re getting dressed, you’ll see an envelope you can place your tip in. This is the easiest method when it’s available.

However, if you have a cash tip and don’t see an envelope, you have two options. One, you can simply handle the cash to the massage therapist. When you do so, simply hold out the money, smile, and say, “Thank you.” They will understand that you’re tipping them.

The second option is to slide the tip into the pocket of your robe and hand the robe directly to the massage therapist. They have to do the laundry, so they will find the tip. It’s preferable to do the first option, but if you feel too uncomfortable, the robe trick is there for you.

Alternatively, when you pay at the front desk, you can ask the front person to give your tip to your massage therapist for you.

What Do I Tip When I Have a Coupon or Membership?

Sometimes, being a member at a spa will give you a discount. You can also purchase a massage through a coupon service like Groupon, or sometimes get a discount through a deal directly on the spa’s website. This is a great way to save money.

However, when you’re calculating your 20% tipping rate, it is standard to tip 20% of the original price for the massage.

Should I Tip More for a Longer Massage?

The duration of a massage can vary widely. So, how much should we tip for a 30-minute massage? And for a 90-minute massage?

Since longer massages are generally more expensive than shorter massages, just applying the standard 20% tip should be enough. Your massage therapist won’t be expecting a higher tip for a longer massage.

How Should I Handle Tips for a Couples Massage?

Photo of a young couple enjoying a couples massage

The standard tip for a couples massage is 20% of the total price, such as for individual massages.

Typically, a couples massage is performed by two massage therapists. To make things easier for your masseuses, each member of the couple should tip their own masseuse 10% of the total price.

Of course, change can sometimes be a problem, and giving the whole 20% to one of the masseuses is totally fine. To avoid any misunderstandings, just clearly say to your massage therapist, “Thank you! This is for the two of you.” It most likely won’t be their first time. To be extra cautious, ask your partner to explain to their masseuse that you will be leaving a tip for both of you.

Alternatively, if you had your massage at a spa or a resort, you can leave your tip with the desk person and ask them to give it to both massage therapists.

How Much to Tip for a Terrible Massage?

Photo of a woman dissatisfied after a massage

Okay, so, how much to tip your massage therapist if you really hated the experience? While some people feel that not tipping at all is acceptable in this situation, most etiquette guides disagree. In this case, tipping 10% is still considered a requirement.

Instead of cutting the tip, asking to speak to a manager after your massage is the standard way to really do something about a terrible experience.

Is There Ever a Time I Shouldn’t Tip?

There are instances where there may be a “no tipping” policy. You may want to watch for this with a self-employed massage therapist and at all-inclusive resorts.

If a self-employed massage therapist has a no-tipping policy, they will tell you ahead of time. You won’t be expected to know this on your own without them telling you, so you’ll be taken care of. No need for you to do anything. Assume you tip them unless they tell you not to.

With an all-inclusive resort, you should ask the front desk about tipping policies when you arrive. Specifically, ask about the massage therapists. You’ll likely need cash to tip massage therapists in this situation, so it’s much easier to have some on hand for this scenario.

Understanding Why We Tip Massage Therapists

When you’re looking at how much to tip for a massage, you might be thinking that this all seems fairly expensive. With the hourly rate you paid, aren’t they already making a great deal of money? However, when you pay for your massage, you’re also paying for the space the massage took place, the tools used in your massage, lotions, the marketing, front desk people, and other expenses related to running a massage business.

At a spa, a massage therapist is hired at an hourly rate as a service job. They have to pay for training to become a massage therapist. They expect to make a 20% tip on their services because this has become standard.

Massage therapists rely on tip money when considering their hourly rate and what a living wage may be for them.

Enjoy Your Massage By Planning Ahead

Photo of a woman enjoying a massage

If you’re having one of your first massage experiences and weren’t aware of the tipping etiquette, it can be an uncomfortable surprise. Knowing these guidelines ahead of time can help you plan your budget and better enjoy the experience.

When you’re setting a budget for your regular massages, make a practice of adding the tip into your budget so you won’t find yourself surprised when you pay the regular bill.