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How Much Do You Tip a Massage Therapist?

Shemiah Williams, eHow contributor Jun 5, 2013

How Much Do You Tip a Massage Therapist?

By Shemiah Williams, eHow Contributor

 Massages are a wonderful way to treat your body.

Whether it's truly a treat or a preventive step for your muscles, massages are a wonderful way to treat your body. With an increase in popularity, spas and salons have gone above and beyond to offer a variety of massages and body treatments as well as providing an unforgettable experience in a calm, relaxing environment. Because a massage therapist is providing a service in a spa setting, as a courtesy, you should tip them in addition to the cost of your service. Does this Spark an idea?

  1. Standard Rate for Hospitality
  • One option for determining how to tip a message therapist is to use the standard hospitality rate of 15 to 20 percent. Some people use this figure across the board at restaurants, bars, spas and salons. With a price range of $50 to $100 for a massage, this would equate to a tip of $7.50 to $15 at 15 percent and $10 to $20 at 20 percent. You can tip more or less depending on how pleased you were with the service. Remember, at a spa, you're paying the spa for the service you receive from the massage therapist or an aesthetician. While he or she receives a portion of your payment, the therapist is not being paid directly. Your tip helps to cover the overhead that is deducted by the business from his or her payment. If you are unsure of what to tip, ask what the average tip for his or her services are.

Develop Your Own Rating Scale

  • With all of the instances in which tipping is appropriate, it is often difficult to discern who gets how much and when. Take some of the guesswork out of it by developing your own rating scale to use in any potential tipping situation. Assign flat dollar amounts to each level of service. For example, a rating of excellent could equal a $25 tip, good could be $20 and acceptable could be $15. If you are not satisfied, you could ask for another massage. 

Keep It a Little Simpler

  • At the end of the day, you will need to balance your checkbook or bank account so do it with a nice round number. Plan to build an additional budgeting amount to cover tips. For example, plan ahead to include a tip into your budget.

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Read more: How Much Do You Tip a Massage Therapist? | eHow

Share your thoughts, leave a comment!

Comments (41)

Mike on Nov 16, 2014
Leave a $20 tip thats fair for someone thats phyically working on you for 50 mins or more Too high? You try giving
Someone a massage and see how exhausting it can be

Emma Pierson on Dec 23, 2015
I disagree with your post. Across the board it is 20% not a standard of 15%. This is the first thing that pops up when someone searches "How Much to Tip Massage Therapist". Please put it at the real standard as many people may use this and tip incorrectly.

15% may have been the norm, but is no longer the norm in 2015/16

Please refer to other sources,d.bGQ

"percentage of your total bill as follows: 10% usually means you aren't totally happy, 15% usually means all was acceptable, 20% for excellent, over 20% for outstanding. 15-20 percent is considered standard in most communities. "

Alex on Jan 13, 2016
<i>Too high? You try giving
Someone a massage and see how exhausting it can be</i>

This is a meaningless argument. If you think you make too little in a particular job/field, switch jobs/fields. I'm not interested in hearing you complaing about how hard you work, implying that somehow you're special and that others who work hard for the money they earn are lucky that you do your job, thus should just hand over a lot of the money they earned by working hard at their job.

You're not special. You're not working harder than everyone else. Stop pretending you are special and are an especially hard worker.

Stephanie on Jan 18, 2016
I agree. I can't believe this even pops up first on Google. $20 is very fair

Vee. on Feb 01, 2016
For an hour massage $20 and up is what's considered fair, but any amount is taken as kind gesture of appreciation :).

Of course it depends on the work you receive. If you go to the mall and get your massage there (the not very private ones) you probably shouldn't tip more than its cost. But I don't recommend mall massages to anyone who is in pain and/or really needs bodywork.

No disrespect to people who work in restaurants or bars, work is good... But the work they do does NOT equal the work a Massage Therapist gives for their client. Massage therapy is indeed exhausting, but it is a calling. It is work of healers. It is physically, energetically and at many times, emotionally taxing. It is an exchange of trust and love between client and therapist. Anyone who doesn't understand why an MT deserves a tip is not a therapist themselves, has never actually given someone bodywork, and most likely have never received a proper massage.

My experience with tips have been $15 the least and $60 the most for an hour massage, I've been in practice for a little under 2 years.

George on May 01, 2016
Where we live, most massage therapists are for the most part independent operators. They rent shared spaces, or a room for a certain number of hours a week while others rent the same space for the remaining hours of the week. As independents, should you tip the same as one would to a therapist that is a salaried employee of a spa?

Massage Therapist on May 17, 2016

Leave a $20 tip thats fair for someone thats phyically working on you for 50 mins or more Too high? You try giving
Someone a massage and see how exhausting it can be

Agree- 18%-20%, $15-$20 is the correct amount- please fix this as this is what is first that comes up on Google. Truly upsetting. Agreed with posts below:
Emma Pierson on Dec 23, 2015
I disagree with your post. Across the board it is 20% not a standard of 15%. This is the first thing that pops up when someone searches "How Much to Tip Massage Therapist". Please put it at the real standard as many people may use this and tip incorrectly

Jennifer on May 28, 2016
I just came from my elements massage in my area. I am a member and got an hour massage. While I was leaving, I noticed the tip sign. One smile face was $20, two was $27 and 3 was $35. I gave $24, but $35 tip seems really high to me. Also, just because I don't/can't afford a $35 tip does not mean that I don't think the masseuse did a good job. Does your office follow this tip guide, it doesn't appear so from what is written on this page.

Jen mitchel on May 28, 2016
For an hour massage, if you were happy and left feeling better $20 minimum tip. 90minute session $35 minimum. Massage therapy is a very hard profession, none of them are able to do 40 hours of massage in a week. So they rely on their tips to make up and have somewhat of a fair wage. Full time for massage therapist is 25 hours a week because of how physical the job is using their fingers, hands, wrists, bodies, energy, ect to help YOU (the client feel better). Also, I ALWAYS make sure to give my massage therapist their tip in cash personally otherwise if you use your debit or creditcard to leave their tip because then they don't get it until they get their paycheck which means it's taxed just like their wages. So if you do leave the tip on your card make sure to give more to make up for the amount that will be taken out in taxes. Thus, please tip your therapist in cash! They will go above and beyond for you, watch and see for yourself! Massage therapists are similar to waiters in the aspect that they rely on their tips for a huge part of their income. Although you can't say their the same because massage therapist is 25 hours per week is considered full time, for waitresses that's only part time work. So please keep that in mind. I have many friends who are therapist in WASHINGTON State so that's how I know all this information. One last thing, massage is like their own art, every person has their own skills and abilities. So when you get a "bad" massage remember that it wasn't "bad" it was just not a good fit for you as the customer. So don't take it out on the therapist and say they have you a terrible job, just remember that's what their abilities were as a therapist and then go on and try someone else but don't tip any less than normal. They rely on that tip as part of their income. Always tip cash, minimum for an n hour is $20 to answer this question.

Michelle on Jun 13, 2016
I am a massage therapist, and believe tips are given based on effort and skill. Guidelines are just that...I frequently get $20's or more for 50 min massages. My clients appreciate the effort I put forth... detailed therapy , giving them the therapeutic relief they desired and needed!! Anything less would surely bring disappointment..and ....tip reflective of unsatisfied service!

Carol on Jun 22, 2016
I always tip but not always happy about it, if I pay $75 for an hr massage. The therapist is making $75 an hour, I have never made $75 an hour. Or anything near that.

Mark on Jun 28, 2016
"So if you do leave the tip on your card make sure to give more to make up for the amount that will be taken out in taxes."

Um, the law says you have to pay taxes on income. Even if you pay in cash, they need to report that tip as income. So pay taxes now, or later, it makes no difference.

Jen lewis on Jul 07, 2016
Minimum tip for an hour massage is $20.00 and then for 90minute sessions is $35.00 minimum. I enjoy getting massage myself. I get one at least once per month. Massage therapy is a specific healing job and very physically demanding. I can always appreciate it when my therapist is really going above and beyond to do a treatment specific for my needs and that's when I tip above the average $20 for an hour session.

Steve on Jul 21, 2016
Carol, that's not how massage therapists work. They make a small percentage of the amount that you paid for your massage after "chair fees," similar to a hair stylist or tattoo artist. Please educate yourself before getting upset about the amount you pay someone to help you feel better.

JR on Sep 10, 2016
Everyone forgets it is gratuity. Tip what you want. Whatever you feel is appropriate for the service you recieve and naturally what is affordable. Don't be cheap if you can afford more but if all you can afford is $10% then so be it. This world is so ass backwards.

Ben Burdick on Sep 13, 2016
I find it interesting that massage therapists are the only "therapists" that receive tips. If they tout themselves as being part of the medical profession then I don't think tipping is appropriate. Would you tip a physical therapist? An occupational therapist? Hmm...

Ben Burdick on Sep 13, 2016
Another thought - Though I typically tip 20% in the service industry, there is no 20% standard as others have argued. The original standard was 15% and as inflation occurs, the $ amount of a tip, being percentage based, goes up proportionately with inflation. If you take the time to search the internet you will find that many people have discussed this issue. For some reason the U.S. is a tipping culture. There are many other parts of the world where tipping just doesn't occur at all.

Donna thompson on Sep 25, 2016
I would never tip less than $30.00. And that would be for a bad experience which I have never had.

Erin on Nov 16, 2016
This is a ridiculously low recommendation and needs to be edited..
15% or under if it wasn't amazing
25% and up if it was just mind boggling how amazing it was.
It seems a lot of people tip $20 for an hour massage even if it is very inexpensive.
This is really unfair to massage therapists everywhere that your low ball opinion pops up first as if it is fact. PLEASE CHANGE THIS- I am a massage therapist and I work in a very expensive spa-
and I would say that 95% of my clients tip 20% or much higher. It is rare to get a 15% tip and even rarer to get 10%... it makes the client look cheap and dissatisfied with the service.

Jack on Nov 18, 2016
How about you bake the gratuities in your service prices so customers don't have to worry about it? One price, one service. No speculation needed.

Bee on Nov 29, 2016
Carol, a massage therapist does "make $75 an hour". If they are independent or work for someone a very large chunk goes to overhead. Also, they do not work 40 hours hands on per week and 99.9% physically couldn't. There are many other things that go into the work than giving sessions (laundry, legal paperwork, so on).
Ben, "other therapist" are often included under the insurance umbrella. If you are in a part of the world that has massage therapy in office with a doctor, you don't tip. That occupational therapist is charging upwards of $180-400 a session to get cut to half or less of whatever they billed. So even at $60-70 and a $10 tip, you're getting a great value.
Jen M, thank you.

SG on Dec 08, 2016
emma. its steven

Jeffry on Jan 05, 2017
I'm a nurse and I don't get tips. You don't hear me complaining about it.

Tony on Jan 13, 2017
Wow, tip the massage therapist that I'm paying 100 an hour? I'm a contractor and no one tips me when I finish their kitchen or paint their room or so their landscape! Tipping over
Tipping over priced service personnel is a joke!!

Kate on Apr 27, 2017
I don't get very many luxuries in my life. Getting a massage is something that I can afford only because I have a copay of $25. I usually cannot afford to pay a $20 tip after getting a massage. If I am stressed out the whole time getting my massage because I feel like my massuse will be angry and not want to give me a massage again because I can only afford a $5 tip...Then I feel like it's totally not worth it. Do you want people to get massages that need them---or do you want to just make money. I think pressuring people to give tips is pretty low, plus it only caters to rich people that are able to afford spas, nails, hair, eyelash extenstions. etc. Give us poor folks a break.

Lisa on Apr 30, 2017
THIS INFORMATION IS WRONG AND MUST BE DOCTORED BY THIS FRANCHISE COMPANY! Any company who would advocate for 10% tip when their therapist is most likely making a mere 15% on the massage must not care much about their employees. The article they are claiming this information came from and linking to below says nothing of the sort. The standard ANYWHERE is 15 to 20%. Just like a restaurant. Therapists depend on their tips that work in spas. Just like waiters and waitresses. Anyone who has issue with this should consider not going to a spa and seeing a massage therapist in a medical setting. A therapist in a medical setting is probably making more on the hour. I have worked in physical therapy and acupuncture and was paid a higher rate. In these settings I don't expect tips. But in a spa setting I do, and I bank on them. Just like a wait staff. I would suggest if a client has issue with this consider seeing going to medical setting. Don't get angry about etiquette and penalize the massage therapist who is working very hard at a spa and making, most likely, less then 20% of the service fee.

MJ on May 07, 2017
Honestly, tipping is a ridiculous thing. Businesses should simply pay people a living wage and everyone should have pride in their job and do a good job. This insane system of business owner's basically offloading their labor costs onto the customer is stupid.

LMT78 on May 16, 2017
Here Massage is kind of a joke, More of a novelty. Franchises and small businesses that put out groupons rule the market. I am completely burned out. So yeah, if you pay $35 for an $80 service I expect a decent tip. I don't feel that that is unfair at all. I used to hate being like that but I can't give bad service, it goes against my principles. Unfortunately people think $7 (20% of $35) is generous.

I hate myself for being a doormat. This too shall pass.

Matt on Jun 21, 2017
Y'all are crazy on these tip amounts and percentages. You don't tip a Chiroprctor or a Physical Therapist, so why tip a massage therapist with mearily a certificate of training? I bet they don't have the student loans of the previously mentioned occupations! I bet they don't have NEARLY the amount of education and sacrifice to become a massage therapist.

If they aren't happy with the pay or profession, then the answer is simple. GO BACK TO SCHOOL!

I'm a licensed practitioner, and I wonder how professional it would be for me to put a tip jar in my patient treatment rooms?

Stop whining masseuses and go back to school if you don't like it. Life is hard, get a helmet!

Blain on Jul 02, 2017
Good massage is like 'Total Bliss', why be stingy I give at least 30%, and believe me you get remembered!

David on Jul 15, 2017
I have been getting massages for almost 20 years now. When I first started, massage rates were relatively cheap (and therefore) left more room for the extra expense of tipping.

As of late, most massages are in the $70-$80/hr in my area and if your lucky enough to find somewhere that actually offers 90-120 minute the rate proportionately increases with time. I understand it's a physically demanding profession but all I ever had my entire life has been manual labor jobs and I base my perception off of my professional work history. I think it's fair for every 30minutes figure on a $5 tip... so 30 minute massage $5 tip, 60 minute massage $10 tip and so on.

One problem I tend to see more of are these franchise establishments. Not only is some of the money going to the therapist but some is going to the employer too. Essentially it's like paying two service providers. I understand there's costs to run the business but I will always prefer to see independent massage therapists for the simple fact that someone else isn't profiting off of me.

jean on Aug 07, 2017
Massages are out of my budget, at any price. I am a senior living on a very small fixed income and was just given a gift certificate for a 1 hr massage and don't want to use it because even the tip is more than I can afford. The person who gave me the certificate meant well and doesn't know my budget. Do I 'forget' to use the gift? Do I tell the giver I can't afford the tip, which will embarrass them and me as well? Do I go and give a Very Small tip because that's all I can afford, but which will make me look cheap?

Michelle on Aug 11, 2017
@ Jean, I can totally relate to your comment. I'm not on a fixed income but can totally relate to your situation of having a tight budget, which is why I very rarely get massages, and usually only when it was gifted or when I needed massage as a medical treatment, not as a splurge.
I think you should go and not let the fear of tipping hold you back. Decide on what you can afford for a tip ( be as generous as you can afford) and give that to them with some appreciative words. If the therapist can't deal with not getting a huge tip on one massage, that's their problem. not yours. Obviously this is a rare treat for you, not something you will be doing all the time. And you might want to mention to your friend that while you appreciated the thought and enjoyed the massage, that you enjoy a simpler lifestyle and maybe they'll get the hint.
I think this discussion board with the "standard tip of $20 - $40" is for people who regularly get massages and frequent the same spas, and therefore 1) have more disposable income or are deeply in debt and don't care, 2) feel a bond with the massage therapists and want to support their line of work, and/or 3) want to protect their client reputation at the spa.
Hope that helps, and I hope you do decide to get the massage. : )

Nick on Aug 12, 2017
@MJ Every business offloads their labor cost onto customers. That's what a business is.

Honestly this entire comments section just reads like greed on both sides of the debate.

If you are a massage therapist then your tips are at the whim of the customer. Deal with it. Some people will pay you more, and some will pay you less. If you don't feel like you're making enough then invest in your own business and work out of your home. It's not uncommon and you can set your own price as you see fit.

And to anyone whining about the ridiculousness of tipping a masseuse in the first place, grow up. It's common practice and they count on it for their income. If you don't feel like you should tip anything then you're a cheapskate taking advantage of the system. You are a leech. No one cares that you don't get tips at your job. If you think they're making out so well then quit your own job and join them. Guess what, I sit on my butt all day long in a nice office and buy stuff on Amazon for a living and I get paid more than EMTs do. Life isn't fair and people aren't paid based on how hard they work or what they have to deal with.

sandra morris on Sep 26, 2017
stupid, stupid to even think about tipping a massage therapist

Monica Ayurveda on Sep 28, 2017
I really think tipping should be just for waiters and hotel staff. A massage is not something cheap and the massage therapist probable makes more per hour than I do. It is ridiculous that in America you have to tip for receiving a service you are paying for.

Devin on Nov 05, 2017
This is disgusting, a massage chain promoting bad tipping. You already don't pay your employees enough for the discounted service your chain provides. A massage tip for an hour session should be no less than $20.00.
Tipping should be 20-35% on the FULL PRICE- not the membership rate.
We aren't pouring your drink or bringing you a burger. We are literally destroying our bodies to make you feel better. Fix your shit elements.

Stephen on Dec 05, 2017
It's a service and the price should be the total price. The whole concept of tipping is antiquated and needs to be let go. Yes, massage is a physically demanding job, but then so are lots of other demanding jobs that don't make $85 per hour (assuming a $100 price tag+$35 tip). Tipping is part of false advertising - the $100 is actually $135? Get over yourself. Negotiate a better percentage, raise your total price, or get out and get another job, but stop complaining about making seven times minimum wage for two years of college. Jeez!

Larzo on Dec 28, 2017
It’s a tough business, but the customer is not responsible for ensuring the therapist is paid well — the therapist is.

When they accept a job with a business, they sacrifice profits for a steadier income. If they want to make more, they must go independent and take on the risk and work that their employer assumes.

A massage therapist’s opinion on how much a tip should be is irrelevant. (Their answer will always equate to “no amount is too much” or “give until it hurts.”) I get the sense that they went into the business accepting the hype that the massage school sold
Them and thought they were going to be making much more than they do. Now they expect the customer to meet someone else’s inflated promises.

Mike on Feb 09, 2018
Anyone who thinks 20% is standard is insane. 12-15% is standard for a tip. As was pointed out I nation causes the cost of food to rise not the % of tips. You want more money go get a job that pays better. A $50 1 hour massage sounds like it should get a $6 to $7.50 tip.

Steve on Feb 23, 2018
I agree with the ones that said tips are dumb. Charge me what it’s worth in the first place, overhead costs + labor + profit. Then, YOU manage your employee’s performance like everybody else does... don’t offload performance evaluation onto every single customer that comes in your door.