Tipping on credit cards – ask before swipe in many countries

Restaurants in an increasing number of countries rely on handheld card readers that the waiter swipes in front of customers. This helps reduce fraud as the card does not leave the customer’s sight. Many of these systems do not allow a tip to be added after swipe, which can be confusing for US travelers accustomed to adding the tip to the credit card slip following initial swipe. I have forgotten this several times where I have not had enough cash on hand to tip. Best practice is to ask about tipping on credit card before handing over the card, so it can be added to the total. Some waitstaff will come out and say that they won’t see the money tipped onto the card, so that is something to consider.

This weekend in Dubai a restaurant brought me the bill with a helpful explanatory line, “Tips (Credit Card)” that alerted me to the need to add the tip upfront. (And yes, I confess, I like chicken livers.)

Tip Before Credit Card Swipe

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6 Comments on "Tipping on credit cards – ask before swipe in many countries"

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Thanks for the reminder. We are leaving the country soon and I totally forgot about that.


If you like chicken livers, go to Dalton, GA, and in the pretty but dead historic downtown, amongst the closed businesses and shuttered windows you will find the Oakwood Diner. Have some chicken livers and fried okra. It almost makes me want to get in the car right now and drive for 10 hours to get some.


The countries I tend to visit don’t believe in tips. Which is the way it should be. Just pay your staff a living wage, and if necessary add a mandatory service charge to the customer’s bill. That also solves the issue you raise.

R j Brown

Also this reminds me that the practice of carrying multiple cards with at least one with an embedded chip is worthwhile…..have had to swap cards multiple times in France and having multiple cards in wallet has greatly reduced stress level…..now French toll road credit card reader is another story but in “ALL” of France I have only found “ONE” pothole outside of hoity toity Aix………the French make US infrastructure appear Third World……….

Rapid Travel Chai

@Jamie – that sounds delicious.