How to Split the Check | Reader's Digest

How to Split the Check

Why let dinner with friends take an awkward turn as soon as the check comes? Here are the basic rules for divvying up the bill and saving face.

By Reader's Digest Editors from Reader's Digest Magazine, | June/July 2011

You and your group of 12 have had your fill of food and wine. Now comes the fun part: paying the check. Neel Shah of theawl.com has a few suggestions.

If you’re under 25:
“You are probably poor,” he writes. So it’s okay for each diner to figure out what he owes and add a percentage for the tax and tip. (In Chicago, for instance, that’s 30 percent extra.) Do not forget to pony up for tax and tip, Shah says. “People notice! Don’t be that person. Everyone hates that person. (Why is it always the same person?)”

If you’re over 25:

Divide the check equally, no matter who had what. Yes, this favors the people who have expensive tastes and drink like sailors. Order up a storm if you feel slighted, but don’t whine about it, counsels Shah. “It evens out over time.”

More helpful restaurant etiquette advice:
7 Tips for Finding Restaurant Wine Value
13 Ways Your Restaurant May Be Using Technology to Woo You
Understanding the Restaurant Rating Guides: Michelin and Zagat

  • Your Comments

    • Debra Aldred

        There is a Reason restuarants wont split bills. especially for large groups,  Ask your wait person  if he or  she will right your name next to what you ordered and for that docket to come out with the bill so that who ever booked the table or nominate one person to be table captain and is in charge of splitting the bill and what everyone had. 
      your Iphone has a calculator its real easy. and it stops people from ordering up to big, or bottles of wine and you don’t drink if they realize they will have to pay for it all at the end.I personally look after my friends who are not as financial as me by shouting them and entree or there drinks  Be a good friend ! Theres and old saying to have a friend You need to be One Cheers 

    • guest

      big groups should dine at a place that is more family style. If people like to drink, order a few bottles of wine for people to share. At the end, everyone owes the same amount. Bringing cash (without needing change back) is the easiest way to deal with a check belonging to a large group. The reason why servers do not like to divide checks more than 2 to 3 ways is because in large groups ( people with kids, couples who don’t sit together, people who drink like a fish, ETC) it becomes extremely difficult to divide it correctly. someone always claims, “but I never ordered this!” when they actually did ( it was their partner who ordered it)… or there are 15 people asking for seperate checks, 10 0f them need change… 4 of them are on credit cards… and then all of a sudden…1 check isnt paid for because that person left while you were busy breaking down 10
       50 dollar bills. most restaurants don’t have a register to pay at. Your server is your cashier. That one server cannot pay attention to everyone’s needs while they are trying to divide up a bunch of checks. It compromises the service. On top of it, the guests try to rush you when you are trying to close them out. It literally becomes a zoo. Either bring cash ( broken down in smaller bills to make your payment legit and complete), one person pays and everyone pays them back, divide the check evenly, or go somewhere where there is a register to pay at. Simple as that. If you are that worried about having to pay maybe an extra 5 bucks because the check was divided evenly, you probably shouldnt be dining out. I never understood the concept of people going out, wine and dining… and being all petty over the check. If you don’t have the money to dine out, order take out or cook at home. 

    • guest

      big groups should dine at a place that is more family style. If people like to drink, order a few bottles of wine for people to share. At the end, everyone owes the same amount. Bringing cash (without needing change back) is the easiest way to deal with a check belonging to a large group. The reason why servers do not like to divide checks more than 2 to 3 ways is because in large groups ( people with kids, couples who don’t sit together, people who drink like a fish, ETC) it becomes extremely difficult to divide it correctly. someone always claims, “but I never ordered this!” when they actually did ( it was their partner who ordered it)… or there are 15 people asking for seperate checks, 10 0f them need change… 4 of them are on credit cards… and then all of a sudden…1 check isnt paid for because that person left while you were busy breaking down 10
       50 dollar bills. most restaurants don’t have a register to pay at. Your server is your cashier. That one server cannot pay attention to everyone’s needs while they are trying to divide up a bunch of checks. It compromises the service. On top of it, the guests try to rush you when you are trying to close them out. It literally becomes a zoo. Either bring cash ( broken down in smaller bills to make your payment legit and complete), one person pays and everyone pays them back, divide the check evenly, or go somewhere where there is a register to pay at. Simple as that. If you are that worried about having to pay maybe an extra 5 bucks because the check was divided evenly, you probably shouldnt be dining out. I never understood the concept of people going out, wine and dining… and being all petty over the check. If you don’t have the money to dine out, order take out or cook at home. 

    • guest

      big groups should dine at a place that is more family style. If people like to drink, order a few bottles of wine for people to share. At the end, everyone owes the same amount. Bringing cash (without needing change back) is the easiest way to deal with a check belonging to a large group. The reason why servers do not like to divide checks more than 2 to 3 ways is because in large groups ( people with kids, couples who don’t sit together, people who drink like a fish, ETC) it becomes extremely difficult to divide it correctly. someone always claims, “but I never ordered this!” when they actually did ( it was their partner who ordered it)… or there are 15 people asking for seperate checks, 10 0f them need change… 4 of them are on credit cards… and then all of a sudden…1 check isnt paid for because that person left while you were busy breaking down 10
       50 dollar bills. most restaurants don’t have a register to pay at. Your server is your cashier. That one server cannot pay attention to everyone’s needs while they are trying to divide up a bunch of checks. It compromises the service. On top of it, the guests try to rush you when you are trying to close them out. It literally becomes a zoo. Either bring cash ( broken down in smaller bills to make your payment legit and complete), one person pays and everyone pays them back, divide the check evenly, or go somewhere where there is a register to pay at. Simple as that. If you are that worried about having to pay maybe an extra 5 bucks because the check was divided evenly, you probably shouldnt be dining out. I never understood the concept of people going out, wine and dining… and being all petty over the check. If you don’t have the money to dine out, order take out or cook at home.