6 tips on splitting the dinner bill with friends


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You’re out to dinner with a group of friends and it’s been a wonderful evening. You shared stories and laughed over a delicious meal. It’s been a wonderful evening, but suddenly the sense of contentment disappears—the check has arrived.

When dining out with friends, splitting the check can be an issue. Depending on circumstances, it can get complicated and messy. But splitting the check doesn’t have to ruin your after-dinner glow.

These tips for how to split a bill with friends can help you navigate what can be a touchy subject, so you don’t have to skip dinner with friends or worry about splitting pennies when the meal is over.

Related: Are you bad with money? How to know & what to do

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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1. Picking a place where you order at the counter

You could pick a fast-casual restaurant that allows you to order at the counter on separate tabs and still enjoy your meal together. If you’re on a tight budget or have had difficulty splitting checks with friends in the past, this allows you to avoid the situation completely.

Fast-casual restaurants provide a relaxed dining experience while offering higher quality food (typically at a higher price) than fast food. These types of restaurants have exhibited strong growth over the past five years, even as other restaurant sales have been on the sluggish side.

As this style of dining grows in popularity, there are more and more options available for consumers. Places like Shake Shack and In N’ Out are immensely popular.

But fast-casual dining doesn’t stop at burgers. A quick Yelp search in your area could lead you to a soon-to-be favorite restaurant.

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2. Asking for separate checks…before you order

These days, many restaurants use digital point of sale systems that make it very easy for them to split the checks. One of our best tips for how to split the bill at a restaurant is to ask for separate checks.

If you plan on asking for separate checks, do so at the start of the meal before everything has been ordered. That way your server can track everyone’s order separately from the get go and avoid the confusion of splitting the bill after the meal has ended.

If you plan on asking for separate checks, do so at the start of the meal before everything has been ordered.

Typically, when you ask a server to split the bill at the beginning of the meal, they’ll usually do so by seat number, so resist the temptation to switch seats during the meal.

Be mindful of the extra work you are asking your server to do. Some people recommend an etiquette of limiting the number of separate checks you request to six.

So if you’re dining out in a larger group you could split the check into smaller subgroups (of, say, two or four) so that you are dividing the bill with fewer people when the check arrives.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

3. Having one person foot the bill

Another strategy is to have one person foot the bill while the other guests reimburse them with cash. This makes things easier for the server.

Be sure to discuss if you’ll be splitting everything evenly, or if the table is happy to do some quick math to divide the bill more specifically. Don’t forget to include tax and tip in your calculations—you don’t want the person footing the bill to be shorted.

Americans are relying less on cash than ever before, so if you do pick this strategy at your next meal, make sure everyone has cash to reimburse the person picking up the check.

Alternatively you could use an app to transfer money from one friend to another. That’s one benefit of a SoFi Money® cash management account.

You have instant peer-to-peer transfers to other SoFi Money members, which can simplify splitting the dinner bill. You can even transfer money to individuals outside of SoFi Money.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

4. Using an app to track your outings

There are a few apps, like WeSplit.It or Splitwise, that allow you to track and split purchases with friends. This strategy can be especially helpful if you dine out with the same group of people on a regular basis.

This allows you to easily alternate who pays for what while creating a detailed record. At the end of the month you can tally up any difference between friends in the group.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

5. Dividing the check using credit card numbers

If you were unable to request separate checks at the start of the meal but are still interested in dividing the check, you have options. Confirm the restaurant will take the number of cards you wish to pay with.

Then have everyone go through and tally up what they ordered by writing the last four digits of their credit card next to the item. If that is getting cluttered, you could use the back of the check to breakout each order, with the four digit credit card number as the heading and bullets for each of the items that should be charged to that card.

Confirm the restaurant will take the number of cards you wish to pay with.

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6. Splitting the bill evenly

In today’s dining landscape, restaurants designed around small plates are everywhere.

These menus are designed to be shared, so if you go out to eat, it may be easiest to split the bill evenly. When you’re sharing all of the food, it can make sense to split the bill evenly.

If you don’t want to split the menu or have specific dietary restrictions that prevent you from eating some items, speak up at the beginning of the meal and see if it would be possible for you to get a separate check.

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