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Tuesday, May 21, 2024   

Survey Results: Splitting the bill
by Scott Bilker
Scott Bilker is the author of the best-selling books, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt, Credit Card and Debt Management, and How to be more Credit Card and Debt Smart. He's also the founder of DebtSmart.com. More about and DebtSmart can be found in the online media kit.
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Scott Bilker This survey originally ran in the 9/10/03 DebtSmart Email Newsletter.
To take the survey click here.

How frequently do you go to dinner with friends?

44.23% of respondents said "Once a month"
36.54% of respondents said "Once a week"
17.31% of respondents said "Once a year"

When you do go out with your friends do you: 

36.54% of respondents said "Split the bill"
30.77% of respondents said "Use separate tabs"
19.23% of respondents said "One tab but only pay for what you order"
11.54% of respondents said "One of you pays the entire bill"

If you split the bill in some manner, do you:

38.46% of respondents said "Everyone puts cash on the table"
21.15% of respondents said "All parties give their credit cards to the waiter/waitress"
19.23% of respondents said "One pays cash to other and the other charges the entire bill on a credit card"

Your income?

28.85% of respondents said "$70,001+"
21.15% of respondents said "$50,001 - $70,000"
19.23% of respondents said "$40,001 - $50,000"
15.38% of respondents said "$20,001 - $40,000"
5.77% of respondents said "0 - $20,000"

Your comments about dining out with friends or splitting the bill:

"I hate splitting charges with certain friends because they eat or drink more expensively than we do. Not that its by choice but I'm not a steak eater and I certainly don't want to pay for someone else's unless its my choice."

"Some of the answers should allow for multiple choices. There are times where one person pays, others when each puts cash, and still others where one pays with credit and takes the cash from others. I have not heard of splitting the bill via giving all cards to the wait-staff. I have done the split on my Charlie Brown's handshake card. But that was splitting points that build to get coupons."

"Its hard to hand the credit card to a waitress if you have a big party. In that case, one pays the bill with the credit card and the others pay that person back."

"If the amount I owe is close to what everyone else is spent, the bill is divided by the number of people, otherwise we pay toward the total for what we ate."

"Generally, we let the waitress know up front that the bill is split. Some restaurants don't allow this, and we never make a fuss. Everyone just tallies up their amount and we give separate funds the the waitress. Those giving cash leave it straight for her. Sometimes, we just split it evenly, regardless of how much we ordered and then if someone got dessert or a really expensive meal, they pay the tip. It really depends on the crowd, the waitress, and how much time we have. However, if it isn't separated fairly - eventually, you don't enjoy going out with those friends. If you keep the money straight, you always have a nice evening and want to do it again."

"When the bill is split evenly among everyone in the group, the people who have had the budget dinner, purposely ordered less, end up being overcharged and are usually too embarrassed to say anything. Telling the waitress ahead of time that you plan to be on separate bills and sitting next to your spouse or whoever you will share a bill with, will help the server keep everyone straight from the get go. Also, putting it on my card and accepting cash means I often get left with the tip because there is always one person who will pay strictly for his dinner and not include gratuity. As an ex-server, I liked the charge-each-card-equally route, but as a sometimes "budget eater" I need the separate checks to be in control of my own spending. Too many dinners where one couple or one person feels financially cheated will fracture a friendship just as money woes can hurt a marriage."

"It is easiest to split the bill in half including the tip. We never worry about the possibility of being a couple of pennies off."

"It usually works out ok, unless one person didn't eat as much...then everyone feels awkward."

"I always ask for separate checks. I have been caught too many times left holding the bill! In most restaurants they have the capabilities to ring up separate totals at their till--most restaurants would expect people to want separate bills."

"One way to save a friendship would be to request separate bills prior to ordering. "

"I have a pal who gets frequent cruising (ship) miles, so this is a real benefit for her. She will frequently 'treat' me back in meals, and this year shared her miles with me so I could join her on a cruise to Alaska!"

"I manage an upscale martini bar& restaurant. I must say that with the current computer systems most restaurants have now, it is very easy to split a bill however the customer would like. I would like to add that if your server is extremely busy and has a party of 12 who want to pay separately, please be patient! many math errors can occur, or a card could accidentally get run through twice the best thing to do is to let the server know that you will be splitting the bill when you first sit and let them know who is on which check."

"When this has happened we usually end up paying more."

"Like you, I did not know about this option. (All parties on the tab simply hand in their credit card and the waitress divides the total by the number of credit cards and charges each by that that amount. I never knew about this.)"

"We've done it all ways. Some restaurants won't split the bill on cards because of the hassle, but some will. We have the best luck with pricey casual restaurants ($15-20 entree) and places we go all the time."

"The way we split the bill usually depends on what we all order. If we all order something that is just about equal, then we split it because it's easier. If someone orders a few drinks or gets an unusually expensive meal, we each pay for our own."

"I prefer to have separate checks. It seems like when we "split the bill" I always end up paying for more than I ordered. (I always order water, for instance)Plus I generally do not order appetizers or dessert. So if we "split the bill" (evenly) it is not really fair."

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