Dining Dilemma: When to use gift certificates

by epi on October 17, 2011

Q: A question about dinner gift certificates: say I have a fifty dollar gift certificate to a restaurant where we are dining with another couple whom we always split the bill with 50-50.  My wife says the certificate should go towards the bill and the remainder should be split, I say that if the bill is 100.00, the certificate is my half of the bill.  Who’s right?

A: In the future, it is probably better to just go out to dinner with your wife and enjoy the gift certificate together so this dilemma doesn’t arise.  In a generous frame of mind, when using the certificate when dining with others if you split the bill, you would apply the gift certificate to the total and share the difference. Otherwise, it would be best to ask for separate checks so you can pay your bill with your gift certificate and not feel as compelled to have to share.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

polite punk October 17, 2011 at 9:57 am

I would put the gift certificate towards the bill and then split the difference. First off, it’s just polite. Secondly, it’s good karma. Chances are your friends are going to remember your generosity and act similarly in the future.

I often save my groupon deals for when friends come to town, so that when we decide to go out for brunch I can say “Oh, I know this great place that I have a groupon for. Want to go there?” More often than not, they offer to pay a bit more or buy me a drink later to make up for my initial groupon purchase. Pretty much everybody wins in this situation. And it makes the decision of deciding where to go a lot easier!


Zakafury October 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

What a great letter!

Buying your own gift certificates via Groupon-style sites has become fairly commonplace, but I had never really considered this question.

I would never think it rude of someone paid their share of bill with a gift certificate, and I’ve had people suggest places because of a groupon, but clearly that was to make the trip to a nice place a little lighter on their own situation. I surely wasn’t offended, and am somewhat aghast to think someone would be.

Still, the EPI advice seems great. The separate check idea seems like a good compromise. Polite Punk’s suggestion is also really good – it helps settle the debate of where to go and makes a spontaneous gift seem like less of a big deal.



Laura December 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I really like Polite Punks idea. But a separate check would solve the problem of feeling obligated to share.

If you are personally suggesting the option of a location to go because you have a groupon or gift certificate wouldn’t it be just as polite to acknowledge the hefty tab for your friend and throw out another less pricey option if you don’t intend to share?


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