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How to Split the Bill

The check just arrived; now what? Whether you sipped tap water all night or ordered a rare bottle of wine, we have an answer.


  • Step 1: Ask for a separate check Don't be shy about asking for a separate check – especially if you're fearful of getting stuck paying for everyone else's extravagance. Just be sure to do it at the beginning of the evening.
  • TIP: Allay the awkwardness by suggesting separate checks for everyone, unless you're in such a large group that it would be a huge imposition on the server.
  • Step 2: Be gracious If the group has agreed to split the bill evenly and everyone's share is in the same ballpark, don't insist on breaking down the bill to the last penny.
  • Step 3: Pay your fair share Offer to pay your fair share if you ordered more lavishly than anyone else. If, on the other hand, you were the person who just had a salad, announce, "here's my share," plop down what you owe, including money for the tip, and don't feel bad about it.
  • TIP: If you are estimating your share, always err on the side of overpaying.
  • Step 4: Don't penalize singles Don't penalize singles. If three couples are dining with a solo, the check should not be split four ways – it should be divided based on seven people.
  • Step 5: Do account for children Do take children into account. Childless dining companions shouldn't pay for your kids just because they order from the children's menu and don't drink booze.
  • Step 6: Man up If you’ve invited someone out to dinner on a first date, expect to pay, especially if you’re a man. After that, you can split checks or take turns picking up the tab.
  • Step 7: Treat people right Don't treat anyone to their meal if you can't afford to treat everyone.
  • Step 8: Give them the business If it's a business meal, pick up the check if you extended the invitation – unless the other person is trying to get your business. In that case, it's appropriate for that person to pay.
  • FACT: Seventy-five percent of survey respondents think that a man should pay for dinner if he has invited a woman out on a date; eight percent think the couple should split the check; and two percent think the person who earns the most money should pay.

You Will Need

  • Separate checks
  • Common sense
  • Courtesy

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