Dining Etiquette: Paying the Bill

Paying the Bill

At a business meal, it’s the responsibility of the host to reach for the bill. It is not appropriate to split the bill with your guest. As a host, you might show up early and give your credit card in advance to the maitre d’; he will have the check and card returned to you on a plate.

Another option is to tell your server (when you’re seated) that the bill should be given to you at the end of the meal. Avoid a struggle with your guest(s) about who takes and pays the bill. Good planning in this area should make paying the bill discreet, and short.

Dining Etiquette: Paying the Bill

Regardless of gender, whoever initiates the meeting or whoever is in a senior capacity should pick up the tab. If you are a female hostess, when the bill is presented to your male guest who is uncomfortable letting a woman pay for a meal, ask him to pass it on to you. Don’t say: “It’s mine” or “I’m paying for it” or “I’m delighted to take you out, please let me pay.”

The best way to handle this awkward situation is to depersonalize it. Tell him: “Our company would like you to be our guest.” By letting him know that this is the company’s treat, you should curtail his reluctance.

If you organized the meal on behalf of your boss, if he/she does not reach for the bill, you should pay it without any fuzz, and if appropriate, claim it later on expenses.

If when the bill arrives, you find that there is a mistake on the charges, do not take out a calculator, or try to argue about the bill with the server. Go to the head server’s station and resolve the problem with the bill.


At a restaurant, always leave a tip. Tips can vary from 15% to 25%. Server: 15% to 20% of the bill; 25% for extraordinary service.

Remember that the amount you tip reflects the total price before any coupons, gift certificates, etc. You can leave the tip for the server on the table, if you prefer, or include it in the credit card. Say ‘thank you” when you give the money.