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Should you tip your massage therapist?

Tip Jar by Dave Dugdale (
cc Dave Dugdale

You have just had an amazing massage that put you into a deep state of relaxation. Expert hands have turned you limp and hard to manage. Now it is time to settle up the bill, and the question arises: should you leave a tip? The awkwardness of this situation for some can undo the hard work your therapist just put in!

The answer: It depends.

How to Tip
Many therapists and spas have the option on their credit card processing. Often offices and spas will have small envelopes for cash available to leave for your therapist at the receptionist desk or in the office itself.

How Much
It is customary to tip between 15-20%. Massages can run anywhere from $45 - $90 depending on the clinic, spa or practice. Massage therapists report receiving tips in the $10-30 range.

Most spas in Seattle allow tipping. And unless the spa you go to specifically states otherwise, expect to tip between 15-20%.

Private Practice
Most massage therapists in private practice do a combination of massages that are billed to insurance companies and those that are paid for directly by the client. In these cases therapists set their own rates. They also pay rent on their space and a number of all business expenses. In these cases tipping is always appreciated but generally not expected.

Medical Clinics
Many clinics feel that it is inappropriate to tip for a medical service. And they are not required for medical services. However, some allow it. If you want to leave a tip and you are not feeling comfortable about asking the massage therapist directly, you can always ask the receptionist. From there you can decide for yourself. In most cases, these tips might need to be in cash as they may not have the option to add a tip on to a credit card charge.

Just to make things more confusing there a number of spas in the Seattle Area that combine medical procedures in a spa-like setting. In those cases, it is always best to ask the receptionist about their tipping policies if they are not otherwise posted.

Hopefully this guide will allow you to feel confident the next time you are deciding if you should tip your massage therapist.

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