For some years my wife and I dined regularly  with another couple.   When it came time to pay, both men in the group slapped their credit cards and each payed half.  This, despite the fact that the other three each had a glass of wine.  I do not drink.  But I never a thought to the fact that I got dinged a bit more.  After all, we  were out for a good time, not to get into a financial discussion.

The man in the other couple has died.  We still go out regularly with his widow.  Now when we go out for dinner, I ask for two bills.  One for my wife and myself, the other for the widow.  I must say I feel a little uncomfortable with this arrangement, but it seems to be the fairest outcome.

To split the bill or not is one of the thorniest issues of financial etiquette.

A recent survey showed that 33 per cent of the public, when friends go out to dinner, someone  is always unhappy with how the check is divided.  One of the big sticking points is alcohol.  Why should the non-drinkers subsidize the drinkers? To add to the problem, most people fume silently rather than speak up and protest.

Does culture have something to do with this?  In Germany they divide restaurant bill to the last penny.  In Israel, doing that is considered bad manners.

Which is more fair, splitting the cheque or separate checks?

What do you think?


  1. 1
    Barbara Says:

    Separate checks. It avoids pain and preserves friendship.

  2. 2
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Separate checks is the only way to go.

  3. 3
    Neil McKenty Says:

    What’s the matter with splitting the bill? No fuss, no muss and mathematically sound.

  4. 4
    Barbara Says:

    It only works in limited circumstances, i.e. a very level playing field. People may not say anything at the time (it is Canada, after all), but resentment will burrow down deep. Not everyone has the funds to support someone else’s indulgences.

  5. 5

    I actually have one of those handy-dandy books that describes cultural etiquettes around the world, and it suggests that everyone in a culturally mixed group decide beforehand how this will be done in order to prevent an awkward ending to a pleasant meal.

    It’s really up to the individuals in the group. And, in the case of a tie vote, it is suggested that everyone in the group be issued with individual bills at the end of the meal, including two separate bills for a husband and wife team. One of them can take responsibility for both bills, if they wish, but they should be issued separately.

    And…as a former waitress…PLEASE tell your server about this arrangement before you do anything else!!! It will SO screw him up if he has to do everything all over because you forgot to mention it at the beginning.

  6. 6

    We don’t hesitate to tell the waiter, when she’s taking the order which ones are on our bill. There seems to be a collective sigh of relief.
    I don’t order soft drinks, coffee, or iced tea (unless they are included). We also split our lunches i.e: 1/2 a club is plenty for lunch. We try not to over eat, & portions are huge now.
    We’re not cheap, in fact we are taking our friends out for dinner soon, wine & beer included for 22 people. If they want cocktails, they can handle that! And if they choose to chip in for the tip, that’s okay too, but not necessary.
    Yes, it’s true we are Canadians, but we can find diplomatic ways to explain how we would like to use our money, without making a federal case out of it. 🙂

  7. 7
    Charlotte Says:

    It’s about time somneoe wrote about this.

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