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Posted by BajaInsider on July 26, 2021
  • Proper Tipping in Mexico - Don't be Codo
    Proper Tipping in Mexico - Don't be Codo
  • Proper Tipping in Mexico - Don't be Codo
    Proper Tipping in Mexico - Don't be Codo

On January 1, 2021 Mexico raised its minimum wage to $141.70 Mexican pesos per day. At the current exchange rate of roughly 20:1 that's about $7.08 a day. When this article was initially authored in 2017 the minimum wage was $88.36 pesos per day, equivalent to $4.71USD. In effect, the Mexican minimum wage has risen 50% in spending power in just 4 years.

So, many professions count on tipping (propina), which is inflicted on the Mexican customers as well as us gringos. In restaurants, you will find 15% still a valued tip. 20% is anticipated in the more upscale/touristy joints, but is a hefty reward in most places. I have found tipping for a haircut, particularly if they own the establishment, surprised them. Here are some additional places visitors to Mexico might not expect to tip:

The gas station attendant: Your attendant should handle all the pump work, clean your windshield, promptly handle you change and factura information, if required. $10 (pesos or fifty cents) on fill seems appreciated. If they handle gas cans, clean them up and place them back in your car, you should throw down a little heavier.

Tipping the Chamber Maid is expected in Mexico, but often overlooked in the states. Here, the propina makes up a much more significant portion of their wage.

Parking lot security: Many of the larger supermarkets have lot attendants to prevent theft and accidents. This is particularly helpful if you shop the same place often and toss them $5 or $10 pesos. (fifty cents to a dollar) At first I thought this was a parking lot scam until I checked with the management of Soriana's. Most of these guys you see out there in the 100° heat are pensioners who don't qualify for the minimums. I drop a few coins to these guys when I shop and the other day one of my 'amigos' saw me struggling with my bags, ran over, took my keys and opened my car for me. So far I have yet to get a cart ding in that lot which puts me ahead about $100 USD!

Bag boys (persons) It's a common after school job for kids and for seniors, and their income is 100% tips only. We used to gauge it on pesos per bag, but since plastic bags aren't available in stores anymore, base it on 1%-3% of your bill.  These kids are working to pay for school uniforms, books and even to support their family at an age when American kids only worry about Playstation and cartoons. Be generous, these kids (or seniors) aren't out spending it on crack! But be subtle and not over generous, as the bagger may be earning more than the person actually ringing up the groceries who can not accept tips and is charged against their wages for any shortfalls in the cash drawer. 

Wait persons, doormen, bartenders all anticipate and should work for your tip. But don't reward bad service, either. Leaving a few pesos rather than none after a meal is still the international sign of disdain for bad service, as it is in the states. However, if you employ this heavy-handed tactic, you might want to back out of the restaurant.

By the way, "codo" means elbow. When used in this context, it is often accompanied by tapping the left elbow three times with the right hand. It translates to: "One has to be hit three times on the elbow to let loose of the money."


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