Listen to Episode 17 of "Coffee with Gringos" here or on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

Download the Episode 17 Transcript here!

Paige and Mariah are back this week with money on our minds. Listen in, and practice key vocabulary related to tipping, ATMs, and other general financial terms!


Paige: You’re listening to Coffee with Gringos, I’m Paige Sutherland.

Mariah: And I’m Mariah Wika. Welcome back, everybody! This week, the theme of our episode is money. It’s important, we have to talk about it, and there’s also loads of crucial English vocabulary related to this theme. So, tune in, and remember, if you get lost along the way, the vocabulary guide and transcript for this episode are on our website.

Paige: So, to start off, we’re gonna talk about tipping.

Mariah: Yeahhhh. This is important because it’s really different from culture to culture.

Paige: When I came here, I wasn’t quite sure - whenever you travel - you’re always, one of your big questions is you’re gonna go out to dinner, you’re gonna hopefully leave a tip at the restaurant you’re at. And it’s always kind of… what is kosher here?

Mariah: Yeah, I always feel a little bit uncomfortable… it’s one of those things with travel that makes me most uncomfortable is when I haven’t quite figured out the tipping norms yet because if you get it wrong, it can be pretty disrespectful.

Paige: Here though, you can’t really get it wrong because it’s so different. The server will come to you you, if… say you want to pay with credit card. They will come to you with the credit card machine. You will put the credit card in, and they’ll say: “Do you want to add the tip?”

Mariah: Right.

Paige: In the US, that would never be asked. It’s always kind of a secret, discreet, you add whatever tip you want and then the server sees it after you’re gone.

Mariah: Right, so let’s tell our listeners what the process is in the US for tipping, just to give people an idea of how different it is. So, you go to a restaurant, you eat your food - hopefully you have a great meal, and the waitress or waiter - the server is the neutral term - brings your bill… puts it on the table, you look at it, and usually they leave for a little while, so you can decide whether to pay with cash or with credit card. Usually, people choose credit card or debit card because I feel like the US runs on plastic.

Paige: Absolutely.

Mariah: And, you look at the bill, and you get to decide how much you tip. You add that amount, you put your credit card in, the server runs your card, and then they bring your card back, and you leave.

Paige: And usually the transaction is that you really don’t know as a server what your table left you until they’re already gone, so there’s really not that interaction. Where here, it’s very face to face, where I give you the money and say, “Yes, I want to give you a tip” or I give you the card and say “Please add tip.”

Mariah: Exactly.

Paige: And what’s so different is here they set the tip. It’s always 10%. So, do you want to add 10%? Where, in the US, you could leave anything from 0-50%. Any number you want.

Mariah: Any number. And I would say in the US that 15% is a polite tip, and if you pay less than 15%, sometimes there’s a doubt as to whether you had good service.

Paige: It’s like a taboo. No one speaks about it, but everyone knows that 15% is the bare minimum. 20% is usually to show the server: you did a good job, I appreciate the service. But you always kind of know you should leave 15%.

Mariah: Yeah, I would say 15% is polite, and 20% is like a grateful tip.

Paige: I think it’s different culture-wise too, besides in Chile, in other countries is that in the US is that as a server, their job relies on tips, so they get paid very very little, so when you don’t tip, to them, it’s like they’re not getting paid for their work.

Mariah: It’s not just offensive, it’s bad for their livelihood. It’s a really different norm. And I think that one thing to add to this is that a lot of times people pay here in cash, so of course, you’re tipping in cash. And that’s totally different from the United States. I visited the United States a few months ago to see my family, and I didn’t take money out of the ATM one time. Not once! I spent two weeks going to restaurants, doing different activities, buying things at the gas station… doing all of these normal life things, and I never had to go to the ATM! Not once!

Paige: I never carried cash when I was in the US. You just don’t need it! I mean everything you do, if I take an uber, it’s on my phone… if I share something with my friends.

Mariah: If you take a taxi, you can pay with card! Usually the taxis have card machines on the back of the seat. You swipe your card, you go. But, here, and it’s not a problem, but  sometimes it stresses me out where I’ll realize I don’t have cash, and I feel stressed. I’m like… “Oh god, how am I going to recharge my metro card?!” How am I going to… like if I want to buy a snack on my way home from work, I have to buy that in cash. A lot of restaurants only accept cash, or even the corner stores, some of the Almacens, only accept cash as well. That is so different!

Paige: No, I’ve used cash more here than I have in my whole life. It’s just very different. In the US, we, you know, pay with our phones. Like at home, I have a Starbucks card, and it’s through my Starbucks app, so when I get a coffee, I can just show em’ my phone, and they scan it. And that’s it! That’s how I pay. I tried to do that here, and it did not go well. They were like, “ummm, why are you giving me your cell phone?” I was like, “My Starbucks card!” So, no, it’s very different, everything you can pay electronically in the US. There’s this app called Venmo, which is a life-saver for me and my friends. If we want to split the bill, and instead of having the server split seven different credit cards, I can just pay with my credit card, and all of my friends can electronically send me money through an app. And it’s in a second!

Mariah: Exactly, yeah. What Venmo is, is an electronic transfer system! It was designed with the idea of making a situation like splitting the tab so much easier. Because here, we’re able to work, but you sit there and you’re passing like five luca, four luca...everybody’s passing money around the table, trying to figure out how to resolve the bill. And it’s so nice with Venmo because you enter the amount… the app is connected to your account, to everybody’s account. And then you can just transfer money in an instant. You enter the amount, you send money. Settled.

Paige: And there’s no fee! So, it’s literally just me sending you money, no fee charged, and it goes right into your bank account.

Mariah: You can pay rent that way, you can pay utilities that way, you can pay your friend who you’re sharing your netflix account with. You can also charge people on Venmo. So, if you have a forgetful friend who hasn’t paid you back for that taxi ride, you can request the money they owe you! It’s amazing!

Paige: Yeah, you were telling me earlier that they’re starting to maybe develop an up-and-coming app that might be something like Venmo.

Mariah: Right, yeah, I think that that potential definitely exists. One of my friends was talking about a very Venmo-esque app that’s on the rise, but it doesn’t really seem to have caught fire yet. It doesn’t seem to be ubiquitous.

Paige: While I think going back to what you were saying, is that the economy is very cash-driven, you know? A lot of people don’t have credit cards here, and that’s just the norm here. Where in the US, the norm is to not have cash, to always pay with your credit card.

Mariah: Right, for example, if you are a foreigner living here, it’s very, very difficult to get a credit card. Almost none of my friends who are foreigners have credit cards. Most of us have debit cards, we have our CuentRUT.

Paige: Very, very basic. And we get charged 300 pesos per ATM and per bank transfer.

Mariah: Right, but that’s not so bad because if you try to extract money from an ATM with your US debit card, it’s… I think you get charged 4-6 luca with every withdrawal.

Paige: No, it’s incredible.

Mariah: Can you imagine?! That’s 10 US dollars!

Paige: Before I got my RUT, I obviously couldn’t open a bank account, and so I had to use my credit card from the US, and there were times where I wanted to buy something online. And here it’s so different, where I couldn’t. Like, I had to have a bank account that was registered within Chile in order to buy anything. I was very confused because my credit card was one of the world’s largest banks, and I was like, “Why can’t I use my credit card here?!”

Mariah: Right. Because the fee was so high to take money out, when I first got here, I would extract a pretty decent amount every time I went to the ATM. And I felt like an old woman with money under her mattress, you know? I felt like I was hoarding money in different parts of my room.

Paige: Where were you hiding that? Are you going to be home later tonight?

Mariah: You did not hear that from me, everybody.

Paige: Going back to tipping too, I actually just learned a couple weeks ago, what’s very different from the US, is that when you go to the grocery store, that the bag workers are not really paid by the store… they’re working basically on tips. So that when you bring your groceries through, and they bag them, you’re supposed to give them a tip… which I didn’t find out until very recently. So, I apologize to anybody that has bagged my groceries that I have not tipped you!

Mariah: Thankfully I had someone to show me the ropes on that one, but yeah, it’s so true. And in the US, if somebody is bagging your groceries, they’re getting paid to bag your groceries. I’ve never tipped anybody in the US for bagging my groceries.

Paige: I think it would probably be offensive! If you tip them, they’d be like, “Excuse me, what are you doing?” Have you ever said no when a server asks you: “Do you want to include the tip?”

Mariah: No, I’ve never said no. I think that it’s culturally respectful to include the tip here, and I also take very seriously the fact that I’m from another country, and everywhere you go, you need to keep in mind that you are in some way a cultural ambassador of your culture. And so if I were to be this gringa sitting in a coffee shop and I were to be like, “No… don’t include the tip.” I think it speaks badly of my behavior, but it also could send a bad message about people from the United States. Have you done it?!

Paige: No, no, it makes me so uncomfortable when they ask.

Mariah: Even just the thought of not doing it makes me uncomfortable.

Paige: But I have a friend that is from Portugal, and he work in hospitality, and he’s very very prideful of service… like he wants the best service. And so, when we’re out with him and he doesn’t get good service, he’s like: “Well, they don’t deserve the tip.” And I’m like, “Please no, please include it!” This is very uncomfortable! Where in the US, say you did get really awful service, you can make that decision, but it’s in private. It’s something where we don’t have to have this kind of interaction where you know that I didn’t like your service and I’m not tipping you.

Mariah: Right, and I do like that in the United States, you have the option of… Okay, service wasn’t great, but I understand you’re a person doing your best and so I’m still going to give you 10%.

Paige: Yeah, 10% is so little… It would have to be so terrible for you to not leave any tip.

Mariah: Right, exactly. So, just do it. It’s a good way to be respectful.

Paige: So, we’ve gotta leave the 10%, and we’ve got to tip people who bag our groceries. That is the lesson today.

Mariah: And always carry cash!

Paige: And always carry cash.

Mariah: And that is what we have learned here. Thanks for listening everybody. We hope that you learned something today and enjoyed the show. Next week, we’re chatting politics… so, a couple of hard-hitting topics these past couple weeks on Coffee with Gringos. We hope you’ll tune in! Thanks for listening, and we’ll talk to you soon.


Loads of (slang) - a lot of, a large amount

Example: There is load of English vocabulary related to the topic of money.

Crucial (adjective) - very important, essential

Example: Money vocabulary is a crucial topic for English language learners.

Gonna (slang) - going to

Example: We’re gonna start this episode by talking about tipping.

Tip (verb) - to leave a percentage of your bill for your server

Example: It’s typical to leave a 15% tip in the United States.

Kosher (slang) - legitimate and acceptable

Example: When you’re travelling, it’s important to find out which tipping customs are kosher.

Figure out (phrasal verb) - to try to understand or find a solution

Example: It’s necessary to figure out the respectful rules for tipping in each country.

Norm (noun) - something that is normal, typical, or standard

Example: Every country has different tipping norms.

Discreet (adjective) - careful, quiet, confidential

Example: Tipping in the United States is a more discreet process. Usually, the waiter doesn’t see the tip you’ve added until after you’ve left the restaurant!

Waitress - the person who serves you at a restaurant, female

Example: Our waitress was great, so we left her a generous tip!

Waiter - the person who serves you at a restaurant, male

Example: We asked the waiter if he could take a family photo.

Server - gender neutral term for the person who serves you at a restaurant

Example: Servers in the US often rely on tips for an important percentage of their pay.

Runs on plastic (slang) - functions on credit card

Example: Usually people pay with credit or debit card because I feel like the US runs on plastic.

Bill (noun) - a printed statement that shows the money that needs to be paid for a good or service

Example: In the United States, the server usually leaves the bill at the table.

Bare minimum (noun) - the minimum quantity that is acceptable

Example: It’s generally understood in the US that 15% is the bare minimum for tipping.

Livelihood (noun) - the work you do to sustain your life

Example: If you don’t tip a server, it’s not only offensive, it’s also bad for their livelihood.

Cash (noun) - paper money

Example: In Chile, it’s a lot more common to use cash!

ATM (noun) - the machine where you get cash

Example: Some

Venmo (noun) - a digital money transfer app that’s very popular in the United States

Example: Venmo is a great system because you can pay your rent, utilities, or other expenses with electronic transfer!

Split the tab/bill (phrase) - to divide the expenses between two or more people

Example: Venmo was designed to make splitting the tab much easier.

Up-and-coming (adjective) - making progress, potentially successful

Example: They’re starting to maybe develop an up-and-coming app in Chile that might be something like Venmo.

Caught fire (idiom) - to gain rapid popularity

Example: The app that’s like Venmo in Chile hasn’t quite caught fire yet.

Ubiquitous (adjective) - present everywhere

Example: No, the app isn’t ubiquitous yet.

Fee (noun) - additional payment for a service

Example: Sometimes the fee to take out money at an ATM is very high!

Show me the ropes (idiom) - to teach somebody the basics

Example: Fortunately, somebody showed me the ropes about money norms when I got to Chile.

Grocery store (noun) - supermarket

Example: Tipping the people that work at the grocery store is a different custom in Chile than in the US.

Groceries (noun) - the things you buy at the supermarket

Example: Paige just recently learned that you’re supposed to tip the people who bag your groceries.

Hard-hitting (adjective) - direct and honest, important

Example: Money and politics are hard-hitting topics.

Download the Episode 17 Transcript here!