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How to Request a Separate Bill When Dining in Groups

Last week I was out to sushi with a large group of people. When my friend suggested that we share a bunch of rolls and equally split the bill at the end of the meal, I hungrily agreed. The majority of the table was in, but the lovely couple seated to my right preferred to order on a separate bill. While this can lead to an awkward meal, the duo knew exactly how to handle the situation. To check out their advice to elegantly get out of the group order,


  • Upon arrival at the restaurant, tell the hostess or waiter you want a separate bill. Splitting bills at the start of the meal, instead of the end, is much easier on the waitstaff.
  • Don't feel the need to reveal your reasons for a personal bill to the group. No one wants to hear about your acid-reflux problem, disgust for mushrooms, financial instabilities, or loss of appetite.
  • Take part in the group conversation. Speaking with only the person you are sharing the bill with will further isolate you from the group.
  • Tip the waitstaff well. They took the time to accommodate your needs as a customer so reward their kindness with generosity.

Did I forget something? Share your tips for gracefully requesting a separate bill below! Or simply get that group-dinner-bill-nightmare off your chest in the comments below.


Join The Conversation
murdock99tx murdock99tx 9 years
I used to wait tables, and it was never a big deal to do separate bills, esp. if they told me at the beginning. It's just like having a separate table, what's the big deal. There is no big deal. Most of my girlfriends & I normally get separate checks, esp. if it's three of us or more. But: this one gf & I usually do one check for the both of us since we generally eat the same amount together - which is: A LOT! lol We do love us some sushi!
sarahhoerst sarahhoerst 9 years
i Completely agree about telling the wait staff at the beginning of the meal. But then after that drop it. Nothing makes a meal more uncomfortable than someone explaining to you about way they need the bill split. Wouldn't you rather spend your time catching with people, than explaining that you'd love to split the check but you can't afford it.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
what's with the tip "make sure you talk to everyone not just the person you're sharing the bill with"?? isn't this pretty self-explanatory? you don't hate the other people just because you don't want to have sushi with them!
cnlew cnlew 9 years
We have 2 restaurants, Dolce and Kethcup, that have a 3 credit card limit per table. You better remember your cash and group your check together. Most other restaurants, we split the tab for individuals/couples unless someone has declared "I'm treating".
356UIK 356UIK 9 years
I hate asking for a separate bill. It makes me feel bad. I've never been a server so I have no idea how hard or easy it is. I just end up overpaying for everyone. I hate math. :)
indieglam indieglam 9 years
I don't understand this splitting the bill nonsense... pay for what you ordered and tip accordingly. I refuse to pay for someone else's side dish or dessert or drinks; it's ridiculous and unfair. And it definitely makes it easier on everyone to tell the waitstaff at the beginning that you want separate bills.
Advah Advah 9 years
Ooh excellent tips, thanks! :) Yeah a couple of weeks ago I went to a friend's leaving do in a restaurant that was already expensive. And at the end they decided to split the bill - I'd ordered a $20 dish (the least expensive I could find) and ended up having to pay $40 because people had ordered side dishes + desserts as well! I was livid!
lms lms 9 years
When we go out in large groups one or two people normally pay the bill, or we get cash in advance and just put in our amount.
yellowbanana yellowbanana 9 years
I know a lot of restaurants don't like doing lots of separate checks for a big group because a lot of the time people will not leave a sufficient tip. You'll probably get better service anyhow if you're straightforward with your server.
LuvLeoDiCaprio LuvLeoDiCaprio 9 years
Those are good tips, it's awkward sometime to request separate bills. But I work hard for money and spend it the way I want to, others just have to deal with it.
LilGlamDiva LilGlamDiva 9 years
I've been screwed over by people so many times (the infamous, "Oh I'll get it next time.") I just politely say "This will be separate tabs." when we begin ordering. Simple enough. I hate when paying for meals turns into a huge ordeal, it takes the fun out of going out...
sfbutterfly24 sfbutterfly24 9 years
i HATE HATE HATE when people want to split the bill at the end of a meal. It leaves the worst taste in the air after what (hopefully) was a good meal. With my friends one of us throws downs a card and then we just give the money to that person instead of messing with the waiter.
Food Food 9 years
Thanks for the tip, Party. It's brills!
foxie foxie 9 years
I was a waitress, and it always seemed like common sense to me that if 6 adults are out to eat together, they probably would like to be split up. I mean, what's hard about at least asking before you ring it all up on one check anyways?
Spectra Spectra 9 years
What we usually do is just get one tab, but everyone pays for what they ate. The people I eat with never usually get appetizers, so it works pretty well. Then we just usually all chip in on the tip (which is usually pretty generous if there's a lot of us).
Bksuga Bksuga 9 years
I never though about doing this before till now and To know that to do this is not frowned upon or bad manners is a relif to me.
mlen mlen 9 years
i either tell them ahead or do what one person said below and we split it ourselves and then just write down put so much $$ on the blue card and so much $$ on the black one, etc.
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 9 years
I just make other people pay for me. Duh. :P
dcfashionista dcfashionista 9 years
I prefer my own check in a large setting but if it's 2-4 diners we will just split it equally.
missyd missyd 9 years
i hate this as well. I go and have 1 drink and a small meal, everyone else boozes her up and eats alot. So my drink and fajitas just cost me $65.00 Not fair.
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 9 years
If I want to have a seperate bill, I follow the guidelines listed above. I can't stand for someone to want to split after the fact or pull out their check/credit card as if I have a portable machine waiting in my purse... if and when that happens I just foot the bill and make them pay for mine the next time.
bittersweet128 bittersweet128 9 years
My friends and I always just split the bill ourselves and write out who owes what on the back of the check like put this much on credit card A and this much on credit card B... that way the server doesn't need to keep track of who had what since each person is figuring out for themselves what they should owe. It's fairing than just splitting the bill evenly and easier on the server since they just input the charge amounts into the system
nv27 nv27 9 years
All this talk about drinks and appetizers is making me hungry. I hate sharing one big bill because I always eat less than everybody else and I rarely drink. Seperate check for me, please.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
Ugh, I went out this past weekend with 5 friends and we completely forgot to split the bill 3 ways...needless to say the servers were NOT pleased. Normally we remember but we really failed in that instance.
jessie jessie 9 years
in a big group, which is usually family, one usually pays the bill, and the one good with math figures out who owes the one whos pays. but when we go out with friends,(which is no more then 4 of us) we take turns paying. one time we pay, the other they pay.
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