Whether you’re taking a client to dinner, grabbing lunch with a new friend, or sharing a meal with your in-laws, awkwardness can immediately settle in when the bill comes and everyone stares, silently wondering, “Who pays?”
Several potential scenarios can play out: Should you split the check evenly? Should everyone pay for their own meal? Is it expected that your father-in-law will pick up the check?
Every dining situation, from a birthday dinner to a double date, commands its own nuances when it comes to handling the check. We spoke with three experts — Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, David Weliver, founder of financial advice website Money Under 30, and Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder and president of The Etiquette School of New York — to definitively decide how to handle the bill in 10 common situations.
“Other than business meals, there are no hard and fast rules for splitting the check,” Napier-Fitzpatrick told Business Insider. “In business, it’s protocol for the person extending the invitation to pay. In terms of all other different scenarios, I would say there are certain guidelines, things one would do to make sure they didn’t feel taken advantage of and that they’re being considerate when it comes to paying for meals.”
Read on to check out who’s turn it is to pick up the bill when, and avoid those awkward “How do you wanna do this?” conversations for good.
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