The Art of Fighting Over The Check

Some relatives were visiting us for the weekend, which was nice. Of course, this inevitably led to fighting over who would pay for the check when we dined out. Over the years, I have observed this mostly from the kid’s point of view, but now as a full wage-earner I must also assume the duties of this time-honored tradtion. Foremost rule: always grab the check first. This may require a keen eye and a swift hand.

If you don’t grab the check first, here are the various levels of fighting, from easy-going to serious, that I’ve discerned so far:

1. Nice/Half-hearted – this method rarely works.

You: I’ve got it.
Friend/Relative: No, I’ve got it.
You: No, really, it’s ok.
Friend/Relative: I insist!
You: Ok, but I get to pay next time/tomorrow/later today.

2. Snatch method – whenever the person let’s go of the check for any reason, such as looking in their purse for a credit card, you must snatch the check away and pay yourself. This works best if you have your credit card at the ready.

3. Reverse-psychology Switch – Use method #1 to begin, and pretend to relent and let them pay. Then, after they’ve put their cash/card in the black check-holder, wait for them to avert their attention or go to the bathroom. Then sneakily switch their payment for yours. Return your friend’s money when the receipt mysteriously gets returned to you by the waitperson.

4. Pre-emptive strike – About 15 minutes before people are done with their main course, excuse yourself to the bathroom. On the way, hunt down your waiter and give him/her your credit card (and if convenient, review the bill). Return nonchalantly, and await victory as the check arrives.

Of course, there is a delicate balance of not always paying, as this may offend your relatives. Adjust due to age, host/visitor status, and sometimes even who’s more well-off (students can get off). You must always put up some sort of fight though, if only method #1. Beware of counter-strikes. It’s crazy out there!


  1. You should see the way Asian people fight for the bill. Sometimes it can really get out of hand and they start pulling and tugging each other’s hand or body. It was fun to watch when I was a kid, and when it got violent, I would hide under the table. Many people would wonder what is the big deal and be happy to have a free meal, but, in Asian culture, the person that doesn’t pay (or don’t fight for it) will have no “face.”

  2. here’s another second for how crazy asians get. oh man, its ridiculous.

    just split the bill.

    this even happens amongst my close friends, but we’re fairly good about it. we do rotate the checks/bills.

    problem is, we all pretty much know how much we each make.. so i dont even know why we’re fighting about it, especially since we’re so darn poor.

    I certainly dont fight for it. tehehe.

  3. Most of my friends are pretty good at splitting the bills with me, it’s mostly relatives and the such that I have to go through the motions. With friends that fight, I just rotate as much as possible.

  4. Yeah, it’s usually the relatives and family members that we have to deal with fighting over the bill. With my buddies, we push the bill around and (playfully) force the others to pay. I think deep inside, we all should have a balance. If someone pay for you last time, you should pay for the next one.

  5. Susannah says:

    We just split the bill with my parents. My MIL lives with my husband’s grandmother, and she’s a millionaire who really would like to spend some of her money on family before she dies and everyone starts haggling over it, so we don’t argue with his grandmother paying the bill, she genuinely would feel let down to not get to do that for us. She’s such a sweet woman in so many ways, I’m really hoping this doesn’t sound like we take advantage of her, because we don’t.


  1. […] the author of MyMoneyBlog, recognizes the art of fighting over the check. When dining out, it is important to grab the check first. Even if you don’t make the first […]

  2. The “art” of fighting for the check : Brian says:

    […] (just found it, going to have to read it more often) has a post titled "The Art of Fighting for the Check". A funny read, especially considering how, just this weekend, I successfully picked up the check […]

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