How Much to Tip Massage Therapist

You must have been wondering whether or not to tip a massage therapist and if yes, how much?

Tipping in the context of massage therapy depends on whether you have been offered a service by a private practice therapist or one working with a massage company or spa.

A private practice massage therapist is one who is self-employed, manages their personal brand and is not under any company.

On the other hand, a massage practitioner working at a spa under a company is an employee and is paid a certain percentage of the money the client pays for a session.

The company retains the larger percentage. Many of these companies incur many expenses like advertising and others in setting up the massage sessions.

Therefore the massage therapist working in such a setting gets a small percentage as pay and relies heavily on tips to earn a living wage.


How Much Should You tip a Massage Therapist?

For the therapist at the spa, the recommended tip ranges from 10 to 20 percent. You can give 10 percent for a not-so-good service, 15 percent for a standard service and 20 percent for excellent service.


Should You tip a Private Practice Massage Therapist?

A therapist offering the service on private practice basis usually states the price they feel their service is worth, therefore fulfilling the obligation of paying the negotiated price should be good enough.

However, if you feel like tipping the therapist in this context, feel free to give them any amount you wish.


Referrals Are a Better ‘tip' For a Private Practice Therapist.

The best way to tip a therapist working under private practice is through referrals. When you recommend the therapist to your friends or write for them a recommendation review on sites like Yelp, it helps the therapist get more clients.

However, you can still give them a monetary token of appreciation. Please note that every private practice therapist has a tipping policy.

Some of them do not accept tips and this is usually accentuated on their websites or brochures.


Where Tipping is Most Appreciated.

The case of the spa is a different one. In most spas, a therapist is usually paid an hourly wage or a commission of 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the massage they have offered to a client. Therefore, they typically rely on the money they receive in tips to earn some more revenue to top up on the commission they receive from the company.

Additionally, some massage companies factor in tip revenue when deciding on the amount of money to pay the massage therapists working for the company.

Yes, it happens. We won't dive into the discussion on whether this is a mean move on the part of the company.

But we shall appreciate the fact that a tip is something important to a massage practitioner who is working under a company or spa.

As I mentioned earlier, for the therapist at the spa, the recommended tip ranges from 10 to 20 percent. You can give 10 percent for a not-so-good service, 15 percent for a standard service and 20 percent for excellent service.

That is the suggested range. However, you can always tip more depending on your wish, satisfaction with the service or any other factor that resonates to you.


Why Should You tip a Massage Therapist?

A tip is a reflection of the contentment you have received through the service. Your tipping should be on grounds that you have been offered a remarkable service and you reciprocate by appreciating the extra effort the therapist has put in by giving them a bonus.

It is not necessarily a must to think that tipping should be a reflection of the therapist's experience with you. No, it usually works the other way round.



I happened to visit a certain spa myself. This particular spa had made itself a reputation of offering lousy service and went ahead to ‘install’ tip jars in every therapy room.

I don't think they understood the basis of tipping.

A bunch of indifferent therapists lurked in the massage rooms scrolling away on their phones as they only partially attended to the clients.

As I walked through the corridor, I witnessed an infuriated client dip his hand in the tip jar and fishing out his tip.

He stormed out of the room and swore never to return to that spa. Well, I also had to run for my life. Kidding, but I cancelled the massage session.

As a customer, you deserve to get remarkable service. I don't advocate that you should withdraw your tip when you get swept over by a remorseful feeling of dissatisfaction.

Far from that. I recommend that whenever you feel appreciative, do not hesitate to tip.


Shouldn't We tip Reflexively?

Well, some folks argue that a tip is not to be taken as reflection of the massage therapist but as a reflection of you, the client.

That you should tip generously regardless of the service you have received. This line of thought could resonate with some people.

It is not wrong. The decision depends entirely on your values as a person and the parameters to base on to tip should be what you value most; the quality of the service, the consideration of generosity, obligation or a combination of the factors.

Some people will tip when they feel they have received quality service, others tip as a form of generosity, others feel they automatically have to tip at the end of the session—tipping closes off the ceremony, and others tip for many other different reasons that feel plausible to them.

The most prominent for reason for tipping for most people is appreciation for excellent service. As humans, we are emotional and tend to appreciate more the things that make us feel good or make our lives better.


Additional Factors to Consider When Tipping a Massage Therapist.

  1. A factor to put into consideration when giving tips to massage therapists is the frequency with which you visit the spa. If you go to the spa more frequently, you can consider giving a smaller tip as compared to when you visit the spa just once in a while.


  1. Another consideration you could make when deciding on how much to tip is the status of the place where you're getting the massage from. If you are in a high-end spa, you could consider tipping more than if you are in an inexpensive spa. A point worth noting is that in some high-end spas, the tip is already incorporated in the bill. If this is the setting, management definitely communicates it to you probably through their website or you are notified in some other way about this arrangement.


  1. Thirdly, if the spa therapist makes a concession for you by working outside the boundaries of the allocated time, you could consider giving them an appreciation tip. In most spas, the massage therapists are given a fixed amount of time for example fifteen minutes to take a break in between massage sessions. So, if the session encroaches on the therapist's break time, you should tip them.


  1. You can also consider tipping a massage therapist that goes above and beyond the call of duty to offer an exceptional service in a scenario that involves leaning in. In other words, a massage therapist that goes an extra mile to do more than they're paid for deserves a tip from the client. Most massage therapists will give just the bare minimum. If someone goes ahead to give more than the conventional, they deserve to receive more in addition to the expected pay.


Where tips Are not Expected at All.

Can you image there are massage therapists that do not expect a tip from you? A chiropractor or physical therapist does not expect a tip from the client.

If the massage session has been prescribed by a doctor for therapeutic purposes for example working on an injury, it is not an obligation for you to tip.

The massage therapist, too, does not expect a tip in this case. On the contrary, if the purpose of the session is relaxation, then it is customary and good for you to tip.


Where You Should Really Tip.

Some massage therapists are actually not paid by the company especially when they are undergoing training.

In some states, a massage therapist must accumulate a set number of practical training hours as a prerequisite before being awarded a license or to maintain their license.

So, some companies exploit this need to dodge paying the therapist on grounds that the company is enabling the therapist fulfil certain obligations in their career.

Therefore, it is good that you tip such a therapist when they offer you a creditworthy service.


What if You Cannot Tip?

In cases where you cannot tip probably because you're financially down at that moment, it shouldn't feel like a heavy stone hanging down your neck.

Feel free to thank the massage therapist for the remarkable service and let them know that you cannot tip at that particular time.

Since it is indeed true that you're just not in position to tip at that time, the massage therapist should be able to understand your position.

I hope you found this blog post on how much to tip massage therapist helpful.

Now I would like to hear from you.

How much do you usually tip a massage therapist?

Let me know in the comment section below.

Also don’t forget to share this article on how much to tip massage therapist with your friends and family.