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I was recently out to dinner and drinks with a big group and we asked the server to split the bill among all eight of us. The server became visibly annoyed and said it was against restaurant policy to charge all eight cards. Were we wrong to ask for separate tabs?
This is a question that has come up before and I have avoided answering it in the past because, just like my advice on tipping, I am sure I am going to get many emails telling me I am wrong here! Still, in my opinion, yes, you were wrong to split the bill among that many cards. If you’re out to a meal or drinks, I think it’s totally acceptable to ask the server to split the bill between two or three cards. Any more than that becomes a bit ridiculous. It’s even ruder when you put separate, specific amounts on different cards depending on what people ordered, instead of just splitting the bill evenly.
Splitting the bill means the server has to run a multitude of cards, slowing service down for other customers and all but ensuring a mistake is going to be made, especially if you’ve gone through the painstaking process of dividing the bill unevenly. Someone’s card is definitely going to be charged incorrectly, resulting in that card having to be rerun, or a card may not be charged at all. On top of this, the restaurant has to pay a fee on every charge it swipes. It could pass that fee along to you, but then you’d complain about that, too.
So if you’re dining with a group, split the bill evenly between two or three cards at maximum. If this doesn’t work for you, there are several apps you can use that split tabs and cover the charge at the restaurant, such as Splitwise and Venmo. Put the onus of splitting a large bill among several people on yourselves, not the restaurant. It’s the right thing to do.