Infographic: Always Know Who Should Pick Up the Check


You've just had a nice dinner, great conversation, and many laughs. The server has dropped off the check, and the last bites of dessert have been consumed. The age-old dilemma arises — who picks up the check? Here is a quick infographic guide that helps you figure it out. And keep reading below for more details!

Embed this infographic:

Tradition says that if you are on a date, then the man should pick up the check and pay. That tradition began years ago when men were working and women were not. Times have certainly changed, and women are making money as well as men. Women could, and — in some cases should — be picking up the check from time to time. (See also: Do You Practice Math When You Tip?)

What do you do if you are out with friends, on a business lunch or dating someone of the same sex? Tradition doesn't always apply. Here are three situations that you may find yourself in and how to determine who should pick up the check.

Out With Friends

It might seem like this situation would be the easiest to solve. After all, these are your friends, and they should be the easiest to talk to about situations like this. However, there are times when dining out with friends can create a stressful situation. If you are with multiple friends but avoid drinks or only order a salad, it can be difficult to split the check evenly. It's hard to speak up and tell a group of people whom you care for that you think they are being unfair by splitting things down the middle.

In situations where there are only one or two friends dining out, the person who does the inviting should pick up the tab. At the very least, he or she should offer to cover the entire tab and be prepared to do so when making the invitation to get together.

If dinner is with multiple friends, it might be best to to state at the beginning of the meal that you need to keep an eye on the budget and would anyone mind doing separate checks. Servers can very easily split checks now with just the tap of a few prompts on a screen, so separate checks are almost always easy to create.

If it's a standing arrangement where your friends get together every month, rotate who pays each time. It's common for people of all ages to do this with their social groups; some actually choose to flip a coin! Have everyone flip, and any odd person out pays the bill. (See also: How to Play — and Win! — Credit Card Roulette)

When all else fails, use an app like Plates, from Splitwise.

Business-Related Dining

If you have invited a potential client or colleague out to lunch or dinner for the purpose of creating a working relationship with them, you should definitely be picking up the tab. However, if lunch has been requested by someone who wants your business or if you are dining with a boss, then it should be their bill to pay. There are other situations where you should pick up the tab as well, for instance if you have come to a mutual agreement to go to lunch together to collaborate or brainstorm. Ultimately, if the check is sitting on the table and no one is going for it, be the one to grab it and offer to pay for the meal. You never know when that gesture wins you a better working relationship with someone.


Tradition no longer holds water here. While there are still many men who feel they should always pick up the check when dating, those numbers are decreasing. More and more men are expecting women to pick up the check, and more women are demanding that they have the opportunity to do so. Women generally don't want to feel like they can't take care of themselves, so they are more likely to offer to split the bill, pay the tip, or pick up the check during the next date. (See also: Who Should Pay for the First Date?)

However, a good rule of thumb is that if you are the one initiating the date, then you should be the one to pick up the bill. This rule really fits in most situations, but especially with dating. It's never a good habit to ask someone out, plan the date, and then expect them to pick up the tab. No one wants to date "that guy/girl."

Regardless of the situation, if the person you are with has picked up the tab and you really want to see him or her again, end the meal with a comment like, "Thanks for buying dinner tonight. Let's do this again so I can return the favor." Be sure to comment with something that lets him/her know you are grateful, capable, and willing to pay yourself (and maybe most importantly, interested in more time together).

How do you divide up the check? Share your advice in comments!

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Think is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Guest's picture

"In situations where there are only one or two friends dining out..."

I'm fairly certain that one person dining out doesn't need to worry about who picks up the check.