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

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