8 Most Annoying Things Friends Do When Splitting the Bill

Make a night out easier on everyone by steering clear of these check-splitting bad habits.
Updated April 9, 2024
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Multi-ethnic friends having lunch

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Few things are more fun than a night on the town with a big group of friends.

However, the good times can turn awkward when a single check arrives at the end of a meal, leaving your group scrambling to figure out who owes what.

If you want to avoid such chaos, make sure your friends skip the bill-paying bad behaviors we list below. That way, your table can make smart money moves that are smart rather than leaving everyone with a sour taste after a fun meal.

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Suddenly insisting the group split the bill

sofiko14/Adobe multi ethnic friends eating sushi

Talking about money with friends can be uncomfortable. However, you need to overcome that discomfort before you order and ask everyone how they would like to cover the bill.

Fail to do this, and you will be left with an even more awkward conversation at the end of the meal if someone suddenly insists that everyone split the bill.

Waiting until later to tell the server you want separate tickets

Gorodenkoff/Adobe woman paying using mobile at bar

If you’re going to split the bill, the polite thing is to let your server know ahead of time that you’ll be on separate tickets. So, don’t let your friends decide at the last minute that they want to pay separately.

If you wait until later in the meal to volunteer this information, expect a look of annoyance on your server’s face when they appear with one check and are met with a request to split.

Trying to talk the waiter into an exception to a no-splitting rule

Monkey Business/Adobe attractive waitress serving multi ethnic friends

Some restaurants deal with the tricky issue of split checks by banning them.

Your friends might be tempted to try to talk their way into an exception, but help them resist the urge by politely intervening.

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Tipping too little

JackF/Adobe exhausted african american waiter with tray

One key reason some restaurants don’t allow check splitting is because it can result in a smaller tip.

It’s fine if your friends disagree with the tipping system as a whole, but don’t let them take out their annoyance on the server in the form of lost wages.

Instead, chat with friends ahead of time and agree that you will each pay at least the expected 18% on your separate bills.

Insisting on paying the smallest tip possible

mtrlin/Adobe female waitress unhappy about tips received

Some diners prefer to tip the minimum amount for every meal while others go above and beyond to pay 20% or more regardless of the quality of the service.

Whichever category you fall under, make sure to talk about it with your friends before you decide who is paying and how you are splitting the bill. Try to talk your friends out of paying the minimum tip if that makes you uncomfortable.

Asking to use mobile payments at the end of the meal

Pixel-Shot/Adobe woman paying contactless using mobile

Apps such as Venmo and PayPal make it easy for friends to quickly tally the cost of the meal and send their individual portions of the bill to the person who has been designated to cover the cost.

However, don’t let your friends wait until the end of the meal to ask the server if the restaurant accepts mobile payments.

Instead, find this out right away. That way, you will have time to find an alternative way to pay if mobile payments are not an option.

Splurging on food, then insisting on splitting the bill equally

EdNurg/Adobe female friends giving money to friend

It’s not always financially fair to suggest that everyone pay an equal portion of the bill when one person orders a cheap salad and another goes all-in on the surf and turf.

Of course, some friend groups might be OK with that type of arrangement. If so, fine.

But if not, try to gently explain to friends who ordered an expensive meal that it is not right for them to suddenly insist on splitting the bill equally once the check — and their expensive portion of it — arrives at your table.

Waiting until the bill arrives to let the group know they can’t pay

Mirko Vitali/Adobe happy friends eating sushi at restaurant

It’s embarrassing to realize you don’t have your wallet on hand when it comes time to pay. We have all been there.

Some people might feel so sheepish about this discovery that they hide their inability to pay until the bill arrives. That just creates unnecessary confusion.

Remember, these are your friends: You all have one another’s backs. So, as soon as you sit down, encourage everyone to make sure they have their wallet.

If someone has forgotten their money, the group can step up to cover the gap until their friend pays back the cash they owe.

Bottom line

Jose Calsina/Adobe woman paying using card at restaurant

Splitting the cost of a meal doesn’t have to be an awkward experience that leaves you paying more than you expected and wondering where you stand financially.

As long as you and your friends avoid the annoying habits listed above, you can enjoy the meal and leave the restaurant as even better friends than when you sat down to eat.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.

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