What do you say if you want to tip a specific amount when paying in cash?

Say I've had a small meal for $8 and want to tip $2 on top of that. If I have a $10 bill, I'd say "keep the change" (By the way, should that be "keep the change, please"? Or "you can keep the change"?)

But what if I only have a $20 bill? Would I say "give me back $10, please"? That could quickly get tedious with larger amounts. Or something like "and a $2 tip"? "Two of those are for you"?

I'm sure I'd get the point across, but anything I can think of sounds convoluted or patronizing. When I hear "this is for you" I think of my grandmother giving me some money behind my parents' back...

  • 2
    Why not just accept all the change and leave the tip on the table, or hand it to the server? Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 12:55
  • That's an interesting point. I don't think I've ever done that when paying in cash. That might be because I'm from a "tipping optional" culture. I usually try to tip in a way that lets the server have less work calculating your change. But when tips go in the tens and twenties I guess tipping after you get your change is fine.
    – erzet
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 13:00
  • 3
    What's wrong with "Give me ten dollars back, please"? That's what I usually say. I'm not sure what you mean by "could quickly get tedious with larger amounts".
    – stangdon
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 13:01
  • I was thinking about a situation where you'd ask for 65 back on a bill of 300 or something. But I guess "and I'd like to tip 32,25"(or something) would be a lot worse in that situation... If it's idiomatic, go ahead and make that an answer, I'd accept it :)
    – erzet
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 13:07
  • The only time this has happened to me is in a taxi, and I say "Take ten", or whatever is appropriate.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 20:04

3 Answers 3


What I often say, when paying with cash, is something like,

Just five dollars back, please.

It is usually obvious from context that the server or delivery person is supposed to keep the rest. This would get tiresome if you had to say something like "Just twenty-three dollars and thirty-seven cents back, please"! - but that's easily avoided by just rounding the tip up to the nearest amount that's easy to calculate and say, which seems to be what most of us do.


The easy solution, and what I almost always do if I pay cash, is to accept the change, and then leave the tip on the table. That way you avoid any confusion or complexity.

In the past I have said, "take out $X". Like if the bill is $8 and I want to leave a $2 tip, I hand the waitress a twenty dollar bill and say "take out ten".

I've also said, "please give me back $X".


This answer is similar to the others, but I've said:

I only need ten back.

Or maybe:

Just the ten back is fine, thanks.

In the setting, the meaning is pretty obvious. I've never had anyone ask for clarification.

If your bill was, say, $7.88, and you didn't care who got the 12 cents, you could also use something like:

If I could get $10 back, that would be great. You can keep the rest.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .