Money & Career

How to split the bill when eating out

©iStockphoto.com/Skynesher Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/Skynesher

Money & Career

How to split the bill when eating out

When the server presents the bill at a restaurant, and you realize you've forgotten to ask for separate cheques, what is the proper etiquette to split the bill between a group of people?

In every group of friends, there are generally two different types of people: Those who insist that everyone split the bill evenly, and those who believe that everybody should only pay for what they ordered.

Whichever type of person you are, there are flaws to both of these payment methods. Here's why. When you split the bill evenly, the people who ordered cheaper meals get upset because they will end up paying for more than they ordered -- and also potentially more than they can afford.

However, if everyone only pays for what they ordered, it's inevitable that people will forget how many drinks they had, and there are always miscalculations when it comes to dividing up tax and tip.

Here are five ways to split the bill and avoid awkward situations with friends:

1. Ask for separate cheques
Some restaurants won't separate the bill if there are a certain number of people in the party, but most are willing to accommodate this request. Asking for separate cheques is the fairest way to split the bill because each person is only paying for what they ordered. The downside to this method is that it might take a long time for the server to separate the orders and process each payment.

2. Take turns paying

If you and your friends always go to a certain restaurant when you get together, consider having each person take turns paying the entire bill. Not only does this makes the payment process quick and simple, but you might be more likely to keep in touch with friends that you don't see on a regular basis, because "owing" somebody a meal is a convenient way to make sure you will see them again.
3. Only bring cash


If you're on a budget, you might already be leaving your credit and debit cards at home. Paying with cash instead of plastic makes it easier to say that you only have a certain amount of money on you, so you will only be able to cover your own meal.

4. Use an app
Try using a smartphone app that will help you split the bill between each person in the group. Using PayPal's Bump feature, you can “bump” your phone with another friend's phone in order to instantly transfer money from one PayPal account to another.

PayPal also has a Split Bill feature, which factors in tip and tax, and then helps you divide the bill and request money from up to 20 different people.

5. Order within the same price range
Before the waiter comes to take your order, try seeing what your friends are ordering, then find something that you like within that price range. If you are with a group of friends that likes to split the bill evenly at the end of the night, this ensures that you aren't over or underpaying for your portion of the bill.

If you always find yourself paying for more than what you ordered, it might be time to speak up; other people might feel the same way as you!

However, money can be a touchy subject for a lot of people. So if the cost difference is always reasonably small (within a few dollars), decide whether or not it's worth bringing up.
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Money & Career

How to split the bill when eating out

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