The best way to Share a Restaurant Bill with others

“The fun falls through when the rent comes due”, wrote Billy Joel as part of the lyrics in his hit song “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”. Great song. One of my favorites, but the tab due when dining out doesn’t have to spoil your evening. There are a number of ways to handle the paying of a restaurant bill, and it’s always best to have this discussion prior to going out to dine with a large group of friends or family. It is very important to make sure that there is a very clear understanding between all parties as to how the bill will be paid.

If your are eating out as a special occasion for someone in the group who may be celebrating a birthday or maybe an anniversary, then the bill should be divided evenly amongst all of the other members of your party, with the guests of honor not paying anything. It’s a gift, and this is usually understood by all attending as a “given“. If there is someone in the group whom you feel may have an objection to this common arrangement, they should be approached by someone prior to going out, and if it appears that the situation may escalate into an argument, you can simply ask that the waiter or waitress write a separate check for them prior to placing your order.

If you’re dining with certain friends or relatives on a regular basis, usually the bill is shared by all evenly. If the bill is to be paid with credit cards, all of the cards being used can be given to the server and simply ask that the bill be split evenly. This is a very common practice, and is never a problem with the restaurant, and usually is the easiest way to avoid problems. As an aside, I pay most everything with a credit card, as I accumulate “points” which can be cashed in and put towards the following months bill. Not only does this give you a discount, but most cards pay three points for every dollar spent when used in a restaurant. Even credit card companies are in stiff competition with one another. The trick is to be sure to pay your bill in full each month. If you can’t do that, don’t use a card.

If handled properly, the paying of a restaurant bill with others should never become a problem if you are dealing with reasonable adults.