Tipping culture in South Africa

  • 08 July 2015 | Daphney Mngomeni
Image courtesy of Lea Latumahina

Tipping is a great way to reward service providers such as porters, drivers, game rangers and housekeeping staff, to name a few, for providing great service and doing it with a smile.

Tipping guidelines differ across the world, and from industry to industry, but the practice is commonplace in South Africa.

In South Africa, the currency is in rands but some establishments also accept tips in dollars, which can be exchanged for rands at the numerous foreign exchange centres around the country.

Here is a short guide to tipping in South Africa, to share with your guests and alleviate any confusion they may have.

Accommodation

When it comes to hotels that have a housekeeping service, it is customary to leave R50 per day for the housekeeping staff.

If a porter assists you with luggage it is acceptable to give them a tip of between R15 to R20 for each piece of luggage, or each trip they make to take your luggage to your room.

If you’re staying at a smaller establishment, such as a bed-and-breakfast, it’s advisable to check at the front desk what their in-house policy is for tipping.

Restaurants

At restaurants it’s acceptable to tip your waitron anything between 10 and 20 percent of your total bill.

If the number of guests at a table exceeds six, a 10% service charge is automatically calculated into the bill.

Parking

All around South Africa, you will either find formal or unofficial car guards wherever there is parking. Car guards who work in the parking lots of shopping malls or shopping centres usually earn a minimum wage salary, but can be tipped for minding your car and helping you park or reverse safely out of a parking bay.

You are not obliged to tip unofficial car guards unless you feel they have offered a valuable service in watching your car. Anything between R1 and R5 is an acceptable tip for car guards.

Central business districts around the country either have parking meters or parking marshalls carrying a handheld meter, who approach you as soon as you've parked and ask how long you intend to stay. You are able to pay in advance by the half-hour, and if you stay longer than expected, you can always pay the balance before you leave.