I Don’t Know What to Tip the Commissary Baggers


I was reminded by a recent magazine article to not forget my helper-people during all of my holiday gift giving. You know the ones I’m talking about. The mail man. The garbage guy. My kid’s teacher. And, although the article didn’t specifically mention them … the commissary baggers.

Ah, yes! The baggers! The spirit of Christmas, at the least, means I should give them a little something extra around the holidays. Even as I do my yearly reading of “A Christmas Carol” Charles Dickens seems to be speaking just to me. “Amy, you cheap MilSpouse, give these poor people an extra dollar or two.”

He’s right. I should. But my problem doesn’t end there. Because the truth is that I never know what to tip the baggers to start with.

I’ll never forget the first time I shopped at the commissary. I had grown-up shopping in Safeway where baggers are store employees and aren’t even permitted to accept tips. I had no idea that I was expected to have a few dollar bills for the bagger. So I didn’t. And boy did I feel like a jerk when I realized that I was their meal ticket.

Before writing this I made a phone call over the Defense Commissary Agency’s public affairs office. I wanted to know what, if any, data they had on just how much baggers commonly make. I wanted them to hear “your measly $2 tip is below the national average.”

But they didn’t say that. Instead they repeated the “baggers are not commissary employees and work for tips only” line (necessitated by a 1997 lawsuit in which baggers sued DeCA for minimum wage because, according to this story). They said they have no information. They said they don’t know what baggers usually make.

So I did some extraordinarily informal polling on the subject. I asked every military spouse I ran across for a few days how much they tip their baggers both in general and around the holidays.

What I found lined-up with what the author of this article said – it looks like, in general, shoppers tip somewhere between $2 and $5, with many being much closer to $5 side during the holiday season. One friend said she tips $10 a trip (whoa!!), another said she tips around $.25 a bag (a system that would require me paying attention to one more thing on top of the two children I’m already trying to shepherd).

I admit it. I’m closer to the $2 side.

Maybe I’m going to cheap military spouse hell. Or maybe no one out there actually knows what to tip the commissary baggers, either – holidays or not. You tell me.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

157 Comments on "I Don’t Know What to Tip the Commissary Baggers"

  1. I tip $1 and then take it to the car myself. One time I had too many items for self-checkout and I asked to bag for myself. That seemed to work just fine. I still can't figure out why I would want to pay for something I can do myself.

  2. The real question is, "What do you tip the crazy ones?" I will not soon forget the bagger who cheerfully informed us on the way out to the car that "the devil is everywhere," then narrowly missed slamming trunk lid on my arm. I think the few dollars we gave her were more to ensure that she went away than to thank her for her assistance with the groceries.

  3. I hardly even go to the commissary due to where we live in relation to the base but when I do, I use the self checkout. When I have used the commissary more regularly, I usually tip .25 a bag. One time I went, I wasn't completely together and thought I gave the bagger a $5. and she started to say something and then stopped. When I went to the next errand and proceeded to pay, I realized that I've mistakenly given her a $20. and also realized that that's what she had started to say something about and then stopped. I have to say, I was pretty angry about that and perhaps that's why, along with not currently being close, I don't shop at the commissary if at all possible.

    A friend quite a while ago pointed out that baggers, if they can carry out bags for 10 people and receive an average of $2. per trip, will be making $20.00 an hour. That's more than I've ever made in my life. I do realize that there are ebbs and flows in traffic but it was a little surprising if one thought it that way.

  4. I usually tip $1 if they just bag, $2 if they bag and carry out and more if it's a HUGE shopping trip.

  5. What bothers me is that I am a 26 Infantryman, fully capable of taking my bags to my vehicle myself, yet every time I go to the checkout I have to argue with a 70+ year old woman just to get her to let me take my own bags. Its embarassing. For that reason, I always go to the self checkout.

  6. I tip $3 and usually spend about $130ish. I always have the baggers push it out to my car too. I've often wondered if this was too little as well. One of my students is a bagger and indicated that this was a pretty common tip, so I'm assuming I'm OK.

  7. I spend anywhere between $300-$400 when I go shopping so I tip $4 or $5. They are earning a living just like everyone else who has a job and I don't have issues with this service, in fact, I appreciate it. If people don't like it, they can either use the self-checkout or go somewhere else.

  8. I give them 5 dollars every time!

  9. When we first married and didnt buy a lot we did 25 cents a bag and averaged 4 bags that lasted 2 to 3 weeks. Now we are feeding 2 teenagers & buying 4 to 6 bags a week, so I generally tip 5 dollars a trip. However if its raining or I had to park a long distance I will sometimes do 6 or 7. Every time we PCS hubby and I do a major stock up that is probably 10 to 12 bags.. this is when we are filling the freezer & cabinets.. and then he will give them a 10 as its a lot.

    Generally I use self check though as I like to bag my own stuff. I grew up with grocery stores that had a cashier & then you went to the end of the belt & self bagged. Or the ones that you had the cashier place the items into a 2nd cart & you took that cart to a bagging area & did your own.

  10. Jeez! These people are cleaning up. How do I get a job bagging? #noseriously

  11. I guess military pay has not raised very much since I retired in 1976; however, I tip 20 percent minimum in restaurants and today I sent $25 to my mail carrier, and two newspaper boys for Christmas. I remember when I used the commissary about 5 years ago, that I always gave $4 or $5. If you are too cheap to tip, don't use the service.

  12. I think I was more willing to tip the baggers before I realized that the commissary charges a surcharge. Forever I thought the commissary was tax free, but sure enough they add a few dollars on each transaction. I have asked what it was for and received vague replies.

  13. When I have cash on me, I will tip $2. However, I almost never have cash on me. Counter intuitive, I know, to Dave Ramsey's advise, but if I have cash on me, I spend it. And I am thrifty by nature, so I'd rather not have the cash to burn. When I am at the commissary, I always tell them ahead of time that I will take it out myself, as I refuse to make them do it and then not pay them. However, even when I say I will take it out myself, I have gotten sighs, head shaking and semi-dirty looks. I get that they work for tips, which is why I choose NOT to make them work and bring it out to my car. The whole reason I shop at the commissary in the first place is to save money on groceries, and I am fully capable of handling my own groceries. Maybe I'm the cheap one, but that's ok with me.

  14. I almost never used the commissary stateside (way to crowded) and I try to shop n the economy while overseas (fresher), but I def tip more overseas (5-10) as I figure it’s harder for teenagers to find jobs over here than it is back in the states. I always feel uncomfortable having adults help me out – it seems like a great alternative to babysitting for teens!

  15. Because I have two toddlers to get into the car, it is a huge convenience to me. I also only shop twice a month so my haul is larger. I tip a minimum of $3. If the weather is bad, my haul is larger, or the bagger goes above and beyond I tip more. My largest tip was probably $10 in the pouring rain on a freezing cold night. I usually average $5-$6.

  16. I usually give $3 under $100, $5 for $100-$200, and $10 for $200+.

  17. When in doubt, be generous.

  18. We'd usually have a large order when our kids were little (sometimes $200-350 at times) and usually gave them about $5.

  19. ColdWarVet75 | December 12, 2012 at 9:24 pm |

    Here's my tip. Do well in school so you are not bagging when you are in your 30's.

  20. I used to tip $5 (spent around 150) but realized that was $20-40 per month that I could easily save. So I started bagging myself. Yes, you CAN do that! I prefer the way I bag anyways. I load everything onto the belt and as the cashier is doing his/her thing I bag into big, reusable bags. Then I put them back into the same cart I came in with (because my kid is sitting in that cart along with our things) and pay with my debit card. Super easy and saves me money. After we unload the groceries in our car, we walk the cart back inside then head home.

    You are completely allowed to bag your own groceries in a normal checkout line. Simply tell the cashier that you'd prefer to bag yourself. I am typically done by the time the cashier scans the last item so I'm not actually taking any more time than a for-tips bagger.

  21. Over 50 years ago , when I started at A&P, I was the highest paid retail clerk in the store, and I was a bagger.. If you bagged the groceries right, and hustled, you made great tips. Enough that you made more in tips, than anyone else did in hourly wage. In adverse weather they even tipped better.

  22. I tip based on how long it takes them to bag and take it to the car. I figure out it takes them about 15 minutes at most to do that and then they might have to wait in line to get their next fare! So if you think of it that way and base it on minimum wage, I give about $3 to $4.

  23. Thomas Waters | December 13, 2012 at 9:04 am |

    Under $100 purchase is $3.00. Over $100 is $5.00.

  24. Jesse Meerdink | December 13, 2012 at 9:16 am |

    I Bagging Groceries during my last three years in high school 1968-1971 on average we got anything from 5 cents to 25 cents per bag that was 40 + years ago so 25 cents a bag in 40 years I would say the price hasn’t changed much. There were the families that we knew would not tip because that did not have the money then there was the families that made sure they tipped extra so it all averaged out we knew who the good tippers were and we knew who would stiff ya. It was not a living but it helped I was a Military Brat and there were 5 of us with 2 in collage so Bagging Groceries put spending monies in my pocket until I enlisted into the military myself.

  25. I am 6'4", bench press over 300 pounds, swim miles, run miles, am 54 and I let the 70+ little old lady take my groceries out the car and load them, and I pay her a $10 bill. I always have from the first time I used a bagger when I came back from Navy dive school. Get a grip…. these people are working in America, stop being so damned cheap.

  26. higher the grade the lower the tip

  27. I can't believe that this is an issue with so many who use the commissary! WOW! Such CHEAPSKATES! Service in the military is an AMERICAN PRIVLEDGE! You are on the base property, using a service that saves you a LOT of money, and you are gonna b!^c$ about tipping the bagger? How many other aspects of your life do you analyze so carefully where you WASTE money? Gone to the mall lately? Bought makeup? Bought dessert? Drove around on a day off that spent a little extra gas? The very people who have been given a lifestyle that others struggle for, are complaining about tipping and then those who do… well… they are so cheap! If you don't give the bagger at least $10 per trip, you are CHEAP!

  28. I have forgotten just how much was expected of us to pay the bagger per bag. So, I sort of judge the cost of bagging on how much my order is. Since I go about once a month and buy for the month, I usually give a $5 tip and no more. At the checkout, I use coupons, which never seem to cover the surcharge. My order is somewhere around $400….then I've got to tip the bagger. Some how, the saving some money idea goes out the door.

  29. I do shop at the commissary frequently, but I try to use the self check out line because like everyone else I am trying to save money by shopping there. If I buy enough to use the regular check out I usually tip between 2 and 4 dollars depending on how much I buy.

  30. Most of these baggers are kids and are appreciative. It is when the 40 something lady looks at me after I give her $3 and sighs "huhhh", that I seem agitated. Great article. I have been asking about this for years and received the same "whatever you feel is appropirate" response. I usually purchase $250-350 in groceries and gave $5 last time which I felt appropriate.

  31. Time yourself the next time you go to the commissary, I'm sure you'll find it takes a lot longer than 6 minutes to bag your items, walk to the car, load them and walk back to the store — and remember that many, if not most, commissary customers have large loads. If you consider the occassional slow volumn and 5 minute break I think you'll realize that the average is much closer to 4/5 trips an hour over the course of a day (keep in mind the job has zero benefits and constant movement).
    If you can't afford to pay, or would just rather not, then bag and carry yourself — that simple.

  32. Depends on the amount we buy. We tip good if the bagging is done correct and they have great attitudes. 2 to 4 bucks on a normal grocery day. 4 to 7 if we shopped heavy.

    Same goes with tipping eating out. If they go the extra mile, they will be tipped very well.

  33. I give them one dollar for every hundred dollars of groceries. I usually spend between 200 and 300 dollars every two to three weeks. I feel that is enough, however during the Christmas season I give them an exttra dollar or two.

  34. We tend to tip an average of $2 if they carry our bags out and help us load the car….usually $1 of they just bag; I seem fully capable of taking my own groceries out when shopping at a civilian supermarket and there are times when I tell them to just put the bags back in my shopping cart and do it myself. At the commissary I use, one of the baggers made the very great mistake of hassling the base CO over the size of her tip…..the result being they will now politely thank you if you drop two pennies in the box.

  35. The whole idea behind the military commissaries is to give the service personnel a break from the regular prices in civilian markets; in most cases that's only pennies saved on the items, so tipping at 2 or 3 dollars effectively negates the reason for shopping there in the first place. Tipping is just another way of shoving operating cost onto the customers. The same applies to waiters and waitresses; when you tip them you're just subsidizing the owners who are too damn cheap to pay their help a living wage. Tipping is for suckers.
    The entire American consumer public is being played for suckers and they put up with it because they feel sorry for the workers who aren't being paid enough by the greedy owners. Now it's been institutionalized to the point where they have certain amounts they deem appropriate like 15 % or 20% and you're considered a scrounge if you don't meet up to that arbitrary setting.

  36. Dont be a Scrouge the baggers have been around for ever tip them accordingly to how many bags they fill and load in your car. If thats a problem tell the cashier you will do your own bagging.

  37. Lots of cheap folks here. We usually tip at least 3 and up to 5 depending on the size of the trip. Our December trip will likely be double that at 7 to 10. We tend to go once or twice a month so the number of bags can be up to a dozen. These days we use the cloth reusable 'green' bags because they have handles and don't rip, otherwise paper and almost never plastic which some baggers find extra work as they don't come off the easy pick rack like plastic bags. Also, my old back doesn't like lifting and some of these folks are older. Doing this for several hours, especially in bad weather is tough. Have a heart.

  38. I used to give them $1 a bag. But due to where i retired to i haven't been to a commissary in years.

    Now it's Costco or Walmart for groceries.

  39. Lou Gutierrez | December 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm |

    E-6 and above should tip at least 5 dollars for at least 5 bags of merchandise. less than that 2 dollars should be enough

  40. John Crawford | December 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm |

    My wife is a bagger at the Millington commissary. She averages a tip every other customer. She estimates that her average is $2 per tip, due to not being tipped by the flashy dresser/cadillac escalade crowd. Mostly, she gets $1, but there are enough $5 and $10 tippers that it evens out to about $2, maybe 3.
    Semper fi

  41. While in Germany in 1971 my husband gave a bagger (she waws an adult german lady who did not speak English) at a commissary $2 for 5 bags. She got angry at him and gave him the money back indicating by sign language that is was not enough. Back in those days 25 cents per bag was the going rate and when my son bagged in the states around 1974 is was still 25 cents per bag going rate.

  42. I had similsr issues in europe with baggers in Germany I was at the commissary for the first time and had 6 bags so I tipped the lady 6 dollars, sounds easy enough but the lady got up set because I was parked way out in the lot and expected a larger tip. I tried to say I am sorry that I am new to the area and I gave her a 8 dollar tip, she took it mumbeling something as she walked off. That was the first and last time I allowed that bagger to bag my groceries. I was told by a chshier a dollar a bag was more than enough.

  43. Back in the 60’s as a teenager I used to bag on week-ends and it was a understanding that we got 10 cents a paper bag & we took them out to the car. We all knew who wouldn’t gives us the dime and you can bet that the bread end up in the bottom of the bag full of can goods. But times have changed . It cost us 25 cents to go to the base movie back then.

  44. It's so interesting that people have had bad responses from baggers, because in all of my days of (as it turns out) under tipping (oops!) no one has ever said anything. If they had I would've known sooner!

  45. I tip $1.00 a hundred with a min of 3 bucks. If holidays they might get $10. If it goes to the next hundred they get another dollar. If it's nasty outside they get more. If they go far to the car they get more. More is $1.00. I only shop every other time at commissary. It's 90 miles away. Walmart is closer and about the same $$$.

  46. My wife once bagged for a number of months. She said blacks and officer wives were cheap and unappreciative even if they didn't tip ya.

  47. I am very grateful for the self checkout. I am always very uncomfortable when I have to deal with a bagger. When necessary I tip the bagger and then take the groceries to the car myself. Why doesn't the cashier bag the groceries as she goes along? Most would really prefer to take their own groceries to the car by themselves.

  48. I do $2 if my groceries are less than $50. $4/$5 if they are over. Holidays $5 and graduation time when the dependents that are bagging are graduating $5-$10.

  49. I tip $20. But bear in mind I only go to the commissary once every 4 months and I am doing a major freezer and pantry stock up. Since I live 100 miles away from the closest mil post I seriously plan for the trip and since I am filling a Suburbans entire tail gate and third row I use the bagging and car service. But I also help load it into the car because I know I have a 100 mile drive to get it home and into a freezer and I want to get there without wasting time!

  50. We had no idea you were supposed to tip when we first lived on base. So the first trip was him digging for his wallet after he put it away. After about 3 trips we quit going – just because they were rude and had poor customer service. Especially if you tried to put your own bags in your cart just to speed up the process. We would rather drive out the gate and go to walmart just for less of a hassle. We usually gave 5$ max. We live a whole town away now and we have alot more peace and quiet than when we lived on base.

  51. I personally have a difficult time tipping baggers. I have waited tables for many years to get some extra cash. Waitresses may as well not be paid either as hourly pay is $2.13/hour. At many places the average tip is $5 and you are spending 30 mins to an hour busting your butt working for that tip. All they are doing is putting my groceries in bags and maybe walking it to my car, it’s not like it is alphabetical or color coordinated. I had a bad experience with an older commissary bagger. It was my first trip, I had no clue you had to tip and he was so rude and blurted out ” baggers work for tips you know!” Shaking his head and walking away.

  52. How much do you tip the person who makes your coffee drink? How much are they making an hour, at least minimum wage. How long are they working on your order? How heavy is it? Will they carry it to the car and put it in the drink holder for you? Think about that one next time you decide even $1 dollar is too much. Most baggers are working for a living and they even claim it as income so they end up paying taxes. I know…I am a military spouse…I bagged groceries for awhile after I lost my regular job and couldn’t find another. Pouring rain, freezing cold, and dealing with people who think they are better than you because you bag groceries to help support your family…let me take this opportunity to say thank you to all those wonderful people who didn’t think a tip was too much, you helped me pay my bills when I was struggling. God bless you.

  53. How much do you tip the person who makes your coffee drink? How much are they making an hour, at least minimum wage. How long are they working on your order? How heavy is it? Will they carry it to the car and put it in the drink holder for you? Think about that one next time you decide even $1 dollar is too much. Most baggers are working for a living and they even claim it as income so they end up paying taxes. I know…I am a military spouse…I bagged groceries for awhile after I lost my regular job and couldn’t find another. Pouring rain, freezing cold, and dealing with people who think they are better than you because you bag groceries to help support your family…let me take this opportunity to say thank you to all those wonderful people who didn’t think a tip was too much, you helped me pay my bills when I was struggling. God bless you.

  54. I politely ask them to put my bags in my cart so I can take them to the car myself. If they are willing and don't have an attitude, I give them $2. It pays to be nice.

  55. I never leave a tip. There are 40+ yr old folks at the commissary bagging groceries. I always show them my receipt and show them the sur-charge and inform them their tips in the bill.

  56. I guess inflation doesn't count. I haven't routinely shopped at a commissary for more than 30 years (widow of disabled vet), and back then I tipped $0.25 per bag!

  57. I tip at 2%, rounded to the nearest dollar, with a minimum of $1, usually in the express lane, where I'm just buying a couple of items and carrying it out to the car myself. So that comes out to $1 up to $75, $2 from $75 to $125, etc. Generally corresponds to somewhat near the $.25 per bag other people have described, I think, but I find it a lot easier to calculate than counting the number of bags.

  58. commissary is a rip off..by the time you have to tip baggers and pay the surcharge you aren't saving anything!

  59. When I got back from the Korean War I went to college. On vacations, I worked as a commissary bagger and carry out to the car guy. In those days we did not get paid and the tips were our only income. Some wives still stiffed us with nothing for bagging and carrying the bundles to their car.

  60. OK — that lady is crazy.

  61. Just in case you didn't know, all the baggers that work.for Deca are either dependents or retirees..you can't get the job unless you r one…so.they are getting money every month someway….

  62. Angi Tichenor | December 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  63. I tip 2-5 depending on how much I buy, if I don't have them take it out I leave a Euro (we are overseas)

    There have been times I haven't tipped, we have a few older ladies (locals) who when I was heavily pregnant and by myself would not take my bags out and would pack to much in for me to carry.

    I tend to tip the teenagers more as they are more polite and don't have other opportunities for making money.

  64. I actually tip $20 because I buy a lot of food when I go. If it's smaller then I tip $10.

  65. When I was a kid on Guam in1949 I bagged at the MARBO Army Commissary I w ould get 25 cents to 50 cents a trip. Navy Chiefs were the best tippers but they were few at an Army Commissary. Sometimes I would get a greenback but it would be from a Chief! Women, including my Mom, tipped the least but they usually managed the budgets.


  67. At Ft. Jackson, they use to have a self checkout line where you could checkout any amount of items…..they have changed it to a "40" item or less checkout line…..if you have 41 items you have to go to the regular line and be forced to pay the bagger. I think that that is not fair to do that to customers. I go to self checkout so I don't have to pay a bagger to bag my groceries because I'm capable of doing it myself. Since they have forced me to do that, I don't shop at the commissary anymore. Besides, they commissary doesn't save me any money. Their prices, well at Ft. Jackson, SC, are outrageously high. A Family size box of Frosted Flakes(about 25 oz.) at Walmart costs $3.88 while at that commissary, it costs almost $4.00 for a 12 oz box of Frosted Flakes. Everything is high in that store. Except for the vegetables. But half the time their vegetables look horrible. Public and Bi-lo has better looking produce then the commissary at Ft. Jackson. The commissary here does the military no justice in helping to save a little money.

  68. SCPO, USN (Ret) | December 19, 2012 at 8:48 am |

    Back in the 60's when I was a married E-4 with a one-year old, talking home $110 every two weeks, living on the local economy in Hawaii because I was too junior to be "Command Sponsored," we always tipped the baggers $2. So, everyone here is telling me after 46-years, you still only give the bagger $2.00??? I've heard of cheap, but this is pathetic. Your bagger works FAR harder than any waiter or waitress, and you would never be that cheap with them! Plus they receive a basic wage from their employer on top of it. You should ALL be ashamed of yourselves. And NO ~ just for the record, I am NOT nor have I ever been a bagger. If you cannot give your bagger a decent tip, be honorable and use the self-checkout aisle.

  69. I live 150 miles away. I don't shop that often at the comissary I don't buy meat&dairy product but I tip $2 don't metter what. even I can do my self just for thank you. where I go to comissary they don't have self check out.I do like to use self check out

  70. It's sad that a trip to the commissary is more like a "guilt trip!" We go to the commissary to save money..and we always tip the baggers but really…if thats what they do for their "livelihood," it sounds like they to do something more guaranteed. But if they average $20+ an hour..maybe I should rethink it!

  71. i normaly only go 1 time every few months now that we moved, the one closer to us is not that big so more of a pain, so i drive 3 towns away, i realized today the ser charge was 6% that is ALOT for Tax free, when our food tax here is 2.5% and sales tax is 5% so i am getting a surcharge over the TAX rate, alot of things are not cheeper, i do stock up on meat, and sales that i can match with a coupon, normaly they wont let me bag or bring it otu to the car my self, normaly i get some one that does not speak english or if they do not much, and are very rude, i try to give $1-$3 there have been times a kid or husband has taken money out of my wallet and i did not know until i went to tip, and the bagger got really rude with me, today how ever i had a wonderful young man, we talked about it, as i wanted to lean on the cart and push because i needed it for balance as i did not bring my cain in, he said he knows right before the 1st and 15th people are tight on money and as long as they are nice he understands, but when you get the rude want you to orginize and make room in there packed car to make room for grocerys while they sit in the car and wait, then no tip bothers them. i hate that they are not paid atleast what waitress's make, as some times i realize i dont have cash or as much as i wanted to tip and feel rude.

  72. freeamericausa | December 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm |

    Instead of asking WHAT TO TIP a bagger. How bout IMAGINING what YOU would consider a fair tip if YOU were a bagger, going out in all kinds of weather, hot, cold, wet, dry, windy.

    Better yet. Imagine what the Bagger thinks of you if you don't give them a tip at all. Around Christmas. Remember…."There but for the grace of GOD go….YOU…if you were a bagger!"

  73. My 17 year old son is a bagger at the Air Force Academy commissary. His daily take depends on: how busy it is, how many other baggers are working, and the amount of the tip. His tips usually fall into the range of $0-5. Yes, he gets stiffed quite often during his four hour shift. He averages about 3 customers an hour during the week and 4 customers on the weekends. Often he will have a customer that requires two carts of groceries and takes about :30 from the start of bagging to delivering at the customer's car. Therefore, anything less than $4 for two carts is being cheap. Anything less than $2 is being cheap for one cart. My son works hard during his four hour shift and earning $8-10 an hour seems appropriate. Therefore, $3 to $5 a tip depending on the amount of groceries, distance to vehicle, weather conditions and over-all time spent seems right in my estimate. On slow days, his earnings barely cover the cost of gas to get him to work and home.

  74. I tip $2 because they bag my groceries and carry it to my van but I rather save my own money and bag my self. I just wish there was a line for 30 or more items. I'm sure most people would rather bag there self and save the money.

  75. James Beegle | December 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  76. Grumpy_Retiree | December 19, 2012 at 9:51 pm |

    Average fast food wage around here (MA) is $10/hr. I usually just go to commissary once a month and do a massive purchase ($500) Using the average fast food wage as a guideline, the bagger usually works on my order for about 15minutes ( 25% of $10=$2.50) S/He bags about 30 bags and hauls them to my car. At .25 a bag, that works out to a $7.50. So in total for his/her labor, I give $10.

  77. I ask for them to be put back in my cart and I take them out myself. This might sound awful but I don't tip them if I do that. I only tip if they take it to my car. I do $5 for those trips and $10 if the weather really sucks.

  78. Andy Branigan | December 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm |

    When I was junior enlisted in the 70's I used to work the Frankfurt commissary to suppliment my princely wages. It was usually good for about a hundred a day on paydays and 50 to 80 other days.
    Now I never tip less than $5. Too many people (dependant family members) rely on it as primary income.
    In the old days the only people allowed to bag were on-base dependants. I have no idea who is allowed to do it now days but it seems to be run by a primarily oriental group.
    At Luke there are two or three ladies I remember from when I was active and F-15's were new. Quite a career considering there are no benefits or retirement. . .

  79. Since I do my shopping monthly I decided that $1 per $100 cost of groceries was fair. I normally round up to the next even hundred. My tip typically runs $3.

  80. I watch and do sloppy mental math as we go. I figured the "job" is "worth" something around $15/hr, but not much more than that. Our volume contributes to has fast or slow a bagger gets back to the next customer. The volume of shoppers in the store dictates how many trips to the front of the line an aggressive bagger gets in an hour. Their listening to instructions from the "shopper" (my CinC-House), counts for something. Unless it is the "express lane" and we carry the bag or two ourselves, the tip is generally closer to the $5 mark based upon the above considerations.

  81. I tip $5.00 every time we shop. Most of the baggers are young wives, and some kids. I have no problem tipping them for a job well done. I also get the car and bring it up close to the door in the winter, while my wife finishes the check out. They are very appreciative of this. I was a young Airman, married and with a baby when worked part time in an NCO club overseas. I remember the tips and how the extra money helped provide for my family. The $5.00 tip is less then a latte at Starbucks, what is the big deal?

  82. We always tip $3-5 each trip regardless of how much we spend. Yes we could bag our own but we also recognize this is a job for the baggers – so many are elderly ones – and one never knows we may be in that same position one day. It may be the only job available for us. Many are foreigners who have no other job options. Why so many negative comments I do not understand. Wonder what people tip cabbies, wait staff, others who make llife a little easier for us. To the original question – $3-5 is what I would recommend that would be fair.

  83. As my husband rose in rank over the 38 years he was in, I started giving baggers more. I am so fortunate to be able to do this. If the bagger makes an effort to engage me or be pleasant, their tip will go up. During holiday seasons, I tip more. What is a few more dollars to me could make a huge difference to their household. Come on, friends. They are lugging heavy things out in all kinds of weather, many of them older than I am. Isn't supporting working people with a few dollars more better than them sitting home on welfare?

  84. Honestly I would rather have them get paid hourly than to pay a tip. I am an guy age 32, but I hate getting an old Asian lady to pack my groceries. They never pack my groceries properly, they hardly talk to you as your walking out, they have an attitude, or they just seem disgruntled. That is not customer service.
    You all say to use the self checkout, but you have an item limit. I would love to check my whole cart of groceries. I have bills to pay and to pay a tip just peEz me off, especially when I get a crappy bagger. We still have to pay the surcharge so you are basically paying tax. I shop there for convienve only. I will admit that I will never pay these people more than 3 dollars and to me that is over payment. $10 people…really, you are crazy! If it is a student, and you know them, that is different. Go buy your spouse some flowers. That is where that $10 is going, or it is buying my kids a toy.

  85. I usually go to the bank and get several $2 bills which I use for tips. It may be below the average, but the bagger is usually pleased with it. That, and half dollars, too.

  86. I shop at an air force base and my average tip is $4.00. At checkout I have observed quite a number of baggers waiting in line for their turn to bag. How often they bag depends on the number of check stands open. So, on the way to the car I asked my bagger how often they get to bag and the reply was, "Usually about three times an hour." Based on the earlier comments they are lucky if they make $10.00 an hour. Not much of a living wage. Be generous, you are saving 22% plus any coupons yhou use.

  87. I used to tip $.25 per bag… then I realized that the bagger was only putting in one or two items in each bag. Now I tip $1 for every $50 I spend.

  88. I usually tip $4 for my standard load (about $250). For a small load, it's $3. If my daughter is the bagger, it's $5. Just a note on how it works – if they carry out to the car, they go to the end of the line, no matter the size of the load. If they just bag a self-carry load, they are still up.

  89. I know my husband and his squadron once rented a check out lane for a fundraiser, which made me think that maybe the baggers rent their lanes? I tip $2-3 depending on how many bags, and $5 in bad weather.

  90. I usually tip $1 per every hundred I spend, rounding up if I go each hundred. For example, if I spend $240, then I give $3, someone had given me this advice years ago.

  91. I know based on the previous comments that I'm going to start cutting back on my tip. I always tip $1 per $20 of groceries. I was told to do this by a friend whose mother had told her this rule (they are and were both military wives). So now that groceries have gone up, I end up tipping $8 on a bill of $160… but not anymore!

  92. I was a bagger long ago when I was an Air Force brat so I have a little different perspective on what's reasonable. I usually give about 2% which usually comes out to about $4~6, a little more during the holidays. Thanks for bring up the topic. Most commissary shoppers don't have a clue about what to give.

  93. I tip between $2.00 and $5.00 according to size off order. I also tip if bagger bags only one item, I am proud to see that the work ethic is not lost with most of the baggers at my commisary being senior citizens.

  94. A Christmas tip for the GARBAGE MAN??? You must be joking.

  95. When I joined the Navy in 1977 I was told then that 2% of the bill was reasonable.

  96. No matter how small the size is, I give $5 minimum. It's the same as tipping in the restaurant. It could be you and you would want someone to be generous to you. That's what my late husband always said.

  97. Back in '68-you young folks don't remember that date but a bagger I sued to know told me that they got an average of 25 cents per bag and times and salaries have changed somewhat so go figure.

  98. We fit the category of retired, so if they close the state side commissaries, we wouldn't get additional BAS; however, whether they close the commissaries or not, here's something to think about: we live in a state where there is no sales tax on food, just on non-food items like paper products. When I decide whether to shop local or go to the Commissary, I look at the sales ads versus the price at the Commissary (I sometimes even take the ads along), plus their 7% surcharge, plus the gas for the trip, plus the bagger's tip if I don't do self-check-out!. In a month's time, using the sale ads, I frequently find it cheaper to shop locally with no doubt on who is going to do the free bagging and carry-out. :)

  99. I watch how the bagger/s put the groceries into the bags. If they dump them where cans can get bend or other items smashed, that determines my amount of tip. I tip according to how many items that I have in the cart, not how many bags the bagger uses. Some will not fill the bag, so that they use more bags thinking they will get larger tip. Then I use coupons, how many, how much do I get taken off my bill, that also depends on how much I tip. Majority of the time it's $3 or $4. Holidays don't matter to me.

  100. When I lived near a commisary I got to know the baggers I always gave a smile and chatted with them. I tipped well $5-$7 They were always happy to see me and always bagged my groceries how I asked. At christmas I tipped $20 right before the holiday. It is not to much for a years worth of smiles and knowing I made someones holidays a little nicer. And on the off chance I didnt have much money on one of my many trips through the year to the commisary the baggers know i would make up for it on another trip. ANd no grumbles! MOst baggers are great!

  101. I see these "baggers" (most of them are NOT retired soldiers, rather anyone from a kid with no military connection to older individuals most of whom are not related to any service connection) just waiting to intimidate commissary customers about taking their groceries out to a car. If I take my own bags out, (which I do when I shop at a regular grocery store), I hear comments about being cheap or worse. I wonder how many of them declare the tips and wads of cash they rake in daily to the IRS? As long as I am healthy, I will continue to carry my own stuff.

  102. I have over 20 years of service and another 20 as a dependant. Baggers have historically worked for tips only and originally or at least as far back as I can remember, been retired personnel or their dependants/spouses – supplementing their income or just staying busy/active. I have to say, that I have been a bit miffed as of late when moving to larger metropolitan areas and seeing non retirees, as well as non-military personnel/dependants bagging. For some reason I had always believed this to be a form of the "miitary taking care of its own" so to speak.

  103. As for tips, generally, $2-3 if < $150 and $4-6 if > $150;rarely do I go over $250; single and 1 trip per month; they bag, they deliver to vehicle and always a little more during the holidays. The more pleasant they are, the more I tip (reverse psychology on their part, works!). No cash! raid the ash tray – yes I've actually tips $3 in change! I've never had anyone be rude to me, but have observed unprofessional behavior between the baggers and can see where it might be coming from due to the change in personnel demographics. If they are rude, It should be reported. We don't tolerate unprofessionalism in the military, why should we at the commissary. And if a bagger is talking strangely about the devil, that should definitely be reported as there is likely a mental condition lurking in the shadows that none of us wants to be near when it comes full term.

  104. My wife usually shops once a month at the commissary and tips between $10 and $20.

  105. 90% of the baggers in my commissary are spouses, or retired military. They are not bagging to make a living, but to have something to do. Tips are supposed to be taxed, but most do not enter them on their tax returns. Also, baggers are required to give the head bagger a percentage of their tips. As someone said, they are not commissary employees, and the head bagger , if I remember, is a independent contractor or something of that sort.
    I usually tip $3, unless I go to self checkout.

  106. Jerry Hutcheon | December 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

    I feel that the ones who are receiving a large monthly check and the amount of bags should be $1.00 per bag.during the holiday season maybe 3.00 extra .MERRY CHRISTMAS ,HAPPY NEW YEAR

  107. Many comments smack of one-upmanship. I note that no one mentions their rank. Who are the $10 big shots? If a bagger makes $1 every minute, he's making $60/hr. Not bad. Probably more than you make, regardless of rank. How much do you think a bagger makes in a civilian store? The service is the same. Why pay for a service I can get for free (I know – hidden charges) at an outside store?

  108. You might want to look at your receipt, they charge 5 to 10% for service charge. on top of that they are rent free business and most everything you purchase is = or more that you pay at stores off base/post. Yes there are a few things less but my last visit did not seem worth it. CSM Ret.

  109. Does anyone know what the average income of a bagger actually is? How many trips outside does the average bagger make per hour? How much more would it cost to pay baggers an hourly wage with benefits?

  110. What they do is kinda rude. My husband told the bagger not to do it, she faked not knowing English and kept doing it, and then followed him out to the car where I was waiting with my kids because they were being roudy. I smiled and said hello, and she just glared with malice. We don't carry cash, and he told her not to do it.

    So if you are a bagger reading this, don't force yourself on people. It's obnoxious and rude. Find a better job that makes you happy so your not moping around rubbing your bad mood on everyone. I'd happily over-tip if we needed help. I typically like to give overly generous tips, at restaurants I like to give 25-30% when the standard where I come from is 15%.

  111. When I used to bag at the commissary as a part time job while on active duty, Officer wives would tip $1 or $2 while the enlisted wives would tip much higher.

  112. Around the holidays I usually tip about 2 dollars every time I go. But any other time, if i only have a few bags then im guilty of not tipping at all. However, if i have enough for two carts full then i tip 5 dollars for the extra help taking it to the car. I know they work for tips, but if you think about it this way if ten people an hour gave the bagger a dollar each, he's making 10 bucks an hour! That's probably more then the cashier makes and he doesn't have to pay taxes or share his tips!!

  113. 5% to 10% no matter what
    I am comfortable; they should be, also
    Makes me feel good, too

  114. $1 to $2 depending on how much I bought. More than that? No way. Even at $2.00 a trip, they might do 5 trips an hour, thats $10.00 tax free. They probably make more due to the $5 people. Anyway, $10 an hour to bag groceries is excessive. I say pay them minimum wage, keep their hours less than 30 and no health care. Or, get a real job. I see recent retirees bagging who could very easily work real jobs but don't for whatever reason. No sympathy from me.

  115. I always tip $5.00 every time ,they work hard for there money.

  116. at mcas miramar the commissary charges 5% to the grocery bill for baggers, and the still want u to tip them

  117. I worked at the commissary in Vilseck Germany over the summer as a bagger at the Commissary. Most of the baggers who work all the time get to learn the regular faces and try to personalize their bagging habits to what specific MilSpouses, single soldiers, or families prefer. On average I use to get a dollar here Then mostly customers who I became a favorite for gave me 5$ or sometimes people were just feeling particularly generous. Usually around payday I made the most money (euro too) does add up nicely when put aside and saved.

  118. Cat Hernandez | January 1, 2013 at 11:52 pm |

    My whole thing is just trying to figure out if I am saving money by going to the commissary. I too live far from base. My husband thinks it is worth the trip in savings to drive all the way to base. I often agree, but by the time we are done paying the service fee, and the tip, plus the gas to get there, I am wondering if we saved.

  119. My husband can't stand the way the baggers bag our groceries; they double bag EVERYTHING! we get home and have a million plastic bags by the time we are done unloading. We are also new to the military and have shopped at the commisary a few times since we live on post, and yes I feel like a huge jerk because no one ever told me that you are supposed to tip the baggers, i noticed people doing it after a couple trips. Back home you either do it yourself or the baggers get paid by the store. We always take our groceries out to the car ourselves, We are in our mod twenties so why would we have some little 70-80 year old lady do it for us?

  120. breeannahope | January 9, 2013 at 10:04 am |

    When I first got to Aviano, I was surprised that they work for tips only! What kind of place is this?!?! I got mad at my husband first, thinking he was wasting money giving these teenagers EXTRA money! But then I felt bad after finding out… now after reading this, I think under $5 is good! We never have them take it to our car but it makes me angry when the toss around your husband's Monsters or cram eggs and bread upright…. ;)


  121. Harold Williams | January 9, 2013 at 9:01 pm |

    I go with the old rule for tipping: the greater of 10% or $2.00 Of course the quality of service and attitude does affect my tipping. I don't give much of a tip to someone who does a lousy job of bagging or has a crappy attitude. Same for waiters, valets, etc.

  122. There is nothing wrong with tipping a 1 or 2 dollars. Overtipping is a mistake that many good-hearted Americans make. Giving someone more than they deserve for their efforts consistently over time breeds an expectation that it will continue.

    These folks make a minimum of 5 trips an hour, easily, even when it's slow. At 1.50 to 2.00 per trip they are making 6-10 bucks an hour.

    Don't overtip – you just create the snotty attitude that I've called more than one bagger out on.

  123. I guess I go with kind of a generous old rule I learned from my family – 20% of the bill if the service was awesome, 10% if it was adequate, verbal if nonexistent.

    However, I do use self service more often than not – I can get through the line much more quickly and get on with my day in an expedited fashion. Time off the ship is very limited, and I like to enjoy that in the comfort of my home with my family rather than grocery shopping. :)

  124. As a bagger, I get tips between $2 and $5. Usually someone who carries their own groceries out will tip $1 or whatever change they have. Usually someone who has a lot of stuff tips $5. And so forth in between. Not everyone tips, but I don't get upset because not everyone can afford to tip, and I understand that. Especially since tips is what gets me by.

  125. I'm currently a bagger, I usually get tipped $1's, $2's, $5's if I'm lucky $10+. With a big order of 6 or more carts its usually a five or under. I've been a bagger for 10 months and I really don't like it but its a job I need. Most customers are rude and some do have a heart and care. People have felt bad cause I'm small and I'm just a kid. I've had some bad experience with rude customers not cool at all. I have been reported 3xs. Being a bagger is tough its hard labor, I only have to pay my head bagger $3. I work at the commissary at Offutt AFB.

  126. As a bagger, I generally spend 15 to 20 minutes with a carryout customer.
    I always take care as if the groceries were my own.
    The cashier will scan as quickly as you place on the belt.
    If you place your fragile items first it is likely I will not be able to keep pace and some of your items may be smashed.
    Watch the cashier as we as baggers are not permitted to say anything.
    We do our best and sometimes get zero for our efforts.
    Here is a tip from me…..place your heavy items first…..put them on the belt slowly (the cashier is an hourly worker)
    Hope this helps clarify.
    Gary (Grafenwoer Germany)

    Read more: http://paycheck-chronicles.military.com/2010/08/2
    The Paycheck Chronicles

  127. I HATE tipping the beggers *cough* I mean baggers.

    I am a 26 y/o Navy SEAL and I have to fight with them to take my own bags as they all stare me down. I like the idea of no TAX on base as a way to help the troops and their families. Tipping 10% to the bagger kinda defeats that purpose. I would rather shop off base.

    tip for walking my bags out to the car while I walk next to them??! Whats next, I tip them to bend over and tie my shoes? Other stores provide that service for free anyway.

    If giving money to beggers make you feel better about yourself, have fun, but I hate that our troops are bothered and made to feel obligated to give up money to the people for no reason.

  128. convenience and inconvenience. Those are deciding factors. Everyone has opinions about the baggers..especially the asian one's. I worked at 2 commissaries as a cashier. Sure some might be pushy but seriously…a lot of that has to do with their culture. It's just part a bit part of their mannerism's. I'm pretty sure they aren't doing it just to piss you off. You can simply ask the cashier before unloading your cart that you do not wish to have them bag your stuff and or to not bring it out. Sure you may get one that eye balls you for it but who cares if saving that extra chump change will make you happy in the end. It is an option.

    I tip according to how much I buy. My max is usually $5 for my regular payday shopping. If it's the holiday's i'll give a bit more. A job is a job. Some waitresses don't get on my good side either but I still tip them, maybe a little less on behavior but we all work to make an income. The baggers there do not have a waged salary. It is all based on tips. The baggers at your other grocery stores that do it for 'free' make some sort of wage from that store.

  129. Some people are under the impression that baggers make a ton of money. The truth is far from that. What they make depends on how many people show up and what the shopping crowd is like. There are some days where my teenager only brings in $5 for several hours of work. They baggers follow a system. It is not a free for all the harder you work, the more you make. An average 9-5 Saturday for my son yields about $40-$60..barely minimum wage. This si my son's first job, a way to earn some experience. It also serves as his gas money.

  130. As a bagger some people are selfish and some dont give a f*. I'm on average I don't care how much you give me unless it's trash like I have gotten as a tip then it would've been a stiff. Some people! Bagging in the winter sucks cause going up the ramps are a pain especially with 3+ carts and no one wanting to help even though I ask. On average people tip $1-5 rarely $10-30 maybe a $50 if I have change. If we bag your items we'd appreciate if you said thank you or tipped a buck at the end instead of just walking away.

  131. He worst tip I've ever gotten would be the box of raisins the lady showed me her cash a lot indeed like $1-20 but she said I won't be getting tipped in money, she gave me a box of raisins and I hate raisins.

  132. I just wishes they would ask first if I even want my things bagged. I would say no. I can do it myself and like to. I'm the type of person that wants to left alone. The whole bagging thing is uncomfortable to me. And it's not so much about the money.

  133. It depends on the naggers. We have shopped in commissaries where it was overrun by women who made it hard for the high school students to work. They would even go so far as to insult the customer if they did not get to bag the groceries for the tip. I have even been cussed at by these ladies when I did not give them a big tip. I think shoppers should help put a stop to this type of discrimination. Only one commissary that I have shopped in did the manager do anything to stop it and he made it a rule that high school students got first choice on weekends. We need more managers like this and shoppers should wake up and smell the roses

  134. Because I shop once a month and my purchases are large in quanity I tip $5.00. I have the bagger take the cart to the car, usually 2 carts. My spouse brings the vehicle up to the entry as close as possible so that the bagger does not have to manhandle those big carts in the parking lot. I feel this is a fair trade to all on my shopping trips to the commissary.

  135. Five is my average and 7-10 around the Holidays.


  136. I bagged groceries from my sophomore year in high school and during the summers for college, so thank you kind service men and women who helped me make it through college. Books are expensive!

    First I'd like to point out that while yes a bagger spend on average around 6-12min at the register bagging your order, but that does not include the time they waited for you to come to the register nor the time they spend doing other tasks (moving carts, cleaning registers, loading carts). There are very busy days where all we would do is rush from one order to the next! Those were the money days, but they only happen a couple times a week. Most days are much slower. I've had days were I sat in the bagger line waiting an hour+ for an order. So take that in consideration when you try to calculate how much a bagger makes annually.
    Second, I feel like a $2 tip is fair for anything under $50 and $3 for anything up to $100 and a $5 for anything above that.
    I have had orders that were well over $300 and would fill three carts that I would push out myself to the car and only get $1 for. Those were the people who taught me the most about generosity.
    Now every time I go to the Commissary I tip my bagger $5. I know how it feels to have a bad day at that place, so I try to make it better for them.

  137. 2-5$ is the average tip. That I get as a bagger I'm 19years old and plan on going to the military so that I can pay for my education … as long as it's between 2-5 we'd be ok.. but not tipping us at all hurts us really,at least when you let us carry out your groceries to your car and say"oh I forgot to ask for cash back,I Got you next time" or "i didn't know you guys work for tips pnly" after reading my badge.. save us the pain and just take the cart and say"ill take it out myself" because instead of wasting my time while I could've had a customer that tipped me,I had a customer that doesn't. And in some commissaries there's a lot of older Asian descent women that work there they literally live off the tips so it hurts to see people do it to them

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