How Do Restaurants Process Tips on Credit Cards?

Last Updated on June 25, 2023 by Lauren Beck

Have you ever wondered how restaurants handle tips when you pay with a credit card? As someone who has spent time in the restaurant industry, I’ll shed light on the process behind credit card tips. 

Get ready to uncover the fascinating world of how restaurants process those gratuities on your plastic.

How Do Restaurants Process Tips on Credit Cards?

When you tip with a credit card at a restaurant, the process typically involves entering the tip amount on the receipt or electronic payment system. 

The restaurant adds the tip to the total bill, and at the end of the day or during their settlement process, they submit the finalized transaction to the credit card processing company. 

The credit card tips are then paid to the servers either through tip pooling or as individual tips included in their regular paycheck.

How to Tip With a Credit Card in a Restaurant?

  1. Enter the Tip Amount: After receiving your bill, you can add a tip. Most establishments provide a designated space on the credit card receipt or electronic payment system where you can input the tip amount.
  2. Choose the Tip Percentage or Custom Amount: You can opt for a predetermined tip percentage (e.g., 15%, 18%, 20%) based on the bill total or enter a custom tip amount. Some systems also allow you to select a specific dollar amount.
  3. Confirm and Sign: Once you’ve entered the desired tip amount, review the final total, sign the receipt, or approve the transaction on the electronic payment device.

Advantages of Tipping With a Card

  • Convenience: Tipping with a credit card eliminates the need for carrying cash and ensures a seamless transaction process.
  • Expense Tracking: Tipping on a credit card provides a clear record of your expenses, making tracking your spending and budget easier.
  • Security: Credit card transactions offer an added layer of security compared to carrying large amounts of cash.

How Does a Tip Get Charged to Your Credit Card?

When you tip with a credit card, the process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Authorization Hold: When you provide your credit card to pay for the meal, the restaurant may place an authorization hold on your card for the total bill amount. This temporarily reduces your available credit limit.
  2. Addition of the Tip: After you add the tip amount, the restaurant updates the transaction with the final total, including the tip.
  3. Settlement: At the end of the business day or during the restaurant’s regular settlement process, they submit the finalized transaction, which includes the original bill amount and the added tip, to the credit card processing company for settlement.

How Are Credit Card Tips Paid to Servers?

Holding a Credit Card

Restaurants have different methods for distributing credit card tips to servers, but common practices include the following:

  • Tip Pooling: In some establishments, servers contribute a portion of their tips to a pool that is then distributed among the staff, including servers, bussers, and bartenders. The allocation is often based on a predetermined formula.
  • Individual Tips: Other restaurants allow servers to keep the tips they directly receive from credit card transactions. These tips are typically paid out during the server’s regular paycheck.

How Do Restaurants Split Credit Card Tips?

When it comes to splitting credit card tips among staff, restaurants may follow various approaches [1]:

  1. Percentage Split: Tips may be divided based on a percentage allocation, where each staff member receives a predetermined percentage of the total tips earned.
  2. Hourly Split: Some restaurants split credit card tips based on the number of hours worked, ensuring that each staff member receives a fair share relative to their shift duration.
  3. Sales Split: Tips can be distributed based on each employee’s individual sales contribution. Staff members who generate higher sales may receive a larger portion of the credit card tips.


As we conclude our exploration of how restaurants process tips on credit cards, it’s clear that the process involves entering the tip amount, adding it to the total bill, and settling the transaction with the credit card processing company. 

The distribution of credit card tips to servers varies, with some establishments opting for tip pooling and others allowing individual tips. The behind-the-scenes mechanics ensure that your appreciation reaches the deserving staff who serve you. 

So, rest assured that the system will compensate those who make your dining experience memorable the next time you leave a tip with your credit card.


Lauren Beck
Latest posts by Lauren Beck (see all)

Leave a Comment