Who Pays For Dinner With Friends? Different Situations Explained

Who pays for dinner when going out with friends is not as straightforward as it seems, so I will talk about different situations and ways to pay the bill.

It’s a very important topic that often is a fight reason in a friendship, or it can lead to an awkward situation where you will not want to go out with those friends anymore.

I don’t pretend that what I say is the best solution for everybody, It is a case-by-case decision, and it is very personal, so you have to decide what is best for you. However, I will do my best to touch on more situations and explain to you why and how I would do it in that situation.

Before going to the main topic, I will let you know that I always prefer to split the bill with my friends, and this is what works best for us, but there are situations when this is not the best way to do it.

friends dinner

Who pays for dinner with friends?

The best way to pay for dinner when going out with friends is for everybody to pay for what they consume. However, this is not how it happens in most cases.

The rule of thumb for most people going out with their friends is that those who invite their friends to dinner are the ones that should pay the bill. Is this the best way of doing it?

Most probably not, but it is how most of the time it happens.

This situation is not as white and black as it seems. It might have a few gray nuances.

For example, if you talked in the past(preferably not so long ago) about going out for dinner but you haven’t planned a specific date and time, and you are the one who calls to set the date, it is not like only you wanted to go out, and you are supposed to pay the bill.

If you invite your friends to dinner without talking about it in advance, it would be nice of you to offer to pay the bill, they can refuse it, but since you were the one that wanted to go out, most people will expect that from you.

Of course, it depends on the money situation everybody has. If it is not a problem going out and a spontaneous invitation doesn’t bankrupt your friends, you can expect everybody to pay the bill without talking about it. It also depends on how you are used to sharing the bill with your friends. It is different when you go out with very close friends compared to going out with casual friends.

The biggest downside

When the person who invites their friends to dinner has to pay the check, you can expect that your friends will not be so happy to call first to invite you to dinner.

Who wants to pay the entire bill when going out with friends? Also, this method of doing things can lead to some of your friends taking advantage of the fact that someone else is paying, and you can end up with friends who all of a sudden prefer seafood with champagne rather than crispy chicken with a beer.

So I would pay for my friends when going out only if I’m desperate to go out and they don’t have any money.

Read Also: Hanging Out With Friends While In A Relationship

You can get the bill next time.

There is another common way of doing things that work best when you go for drinks but don’t work so well when you go for dinner.

The method of paying for the next round of drinks works because usually, you drink the same drink the second time and your friends know what to expect, but when it comes to food and dinner, one dinner can be $50, and another can be $200, which can lead to some bad feelings.

However, if you invited some friends to dinner and you don’t know what to do about the check, you can say, “you can get the next bill time” and see how they react. This way of doing things can work with friends that you are not going out often but you would like to do it again.

Read Also: Who Pays for a Bachelorette Party?

Figured out who pays for dinner before going out

Of course, communication is always the key. Figuring out who will pay for the dinner before going out is what works the best, but this will work only with friends that you are regularly going out with or with friends that you feel very comfortable with.

I can’t see a discussion with a new friend about who will pay when you go out without being awkward.

Figuring out who will pay and how you pay for dinner with friends should not be a discussion every time you go out but rather a once-in-a-lifetime thing where you let them know how you see those things and how you will prefer to handle the check going forward.

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dinner with friends

Be prepared to pay your part when going out for dinner.

If you weren’t the one who came up with the dinner idea, you should be prepared to pay your part even if we talk about dinner with family, not only friends.

Also, having cash or an easy way to transfer money to your friends will help avoid the awkward situation where they pay, and you promise that you will transfer the money later, and you forget.

If you consider that everybody paying for what they consume is the best way of doing it, you should always offer to pay for your part no matter who invited you. This way, your friends will be less likely to expect you to pay for their part when you invite them.

Of course, inviting someone for a birthday dinner is different or for other celebrating reasons that are only yours.

Read Also: How Often Do You Hang Out With Friends?


Paying for what you consume when going out for dinner with friends is the best way to do it and has minimal chances of leading to misunderstandings and awkward situations with your friends.

However, this is not what most people do and expect, so you should do your best to talk with your friends about how they usually pay when going out, preferably in other circumstances, not when you are already at the restaurant, to avoid an awkward situation.