The worst part of any group dinner or activity is splitting the bill.
The perennial question of who pays what when dining with friends has been asked and answered many times over. It can be a minefield of complicated math and hurt feelings: Do you split the bill evenly among 6 friends, one of whom got the $65 hangar steak while everyone else got $25 entrees? Should you pay as much as your friends if you drank tap water and they ordered 2 pitchers of sangria?
Luckily, there are a handful of tools designed to take the confusion and frustration out of sharing expenses. None of these apps connect to your bank account, but they can help clarify who owes what; then you can settle up by using PayPal, Venmo or good old-fashioned cash.
One of my favorites is Splitwise, a free app that lets you split any expense with your friends, including rent, household bills, groceries and meals. To use, simply input the amount of the bill and then add the friends you want to split it with (your friends need to be signed up on the app too). They’ll get a notification, so you don’t have to have an awkward conversation demanding money. I recently used it on a trip with a friend, where we took turns paying for hotel stays, transportation and excursions. Splitwise kept a running total of who paid for what, and at the end of the trip, we could easily see who was owed money.
When it’s time to pay, you click on “Settle up” and select your payment method from a list of options. You can select Venmo or PayPal if those apps are downloaded on your mobile device, or you can each other back pay in cash.
If your main concern is splitting the bill at a restaurant, Splitwise also has a free app called Plates, which is basically a spruced up tip calculator that also lets you split the bill. You can divvy up shared items like appetizers for up to 10 people, and share the results via text or email.
While getting separate checks is the preferred way to pay at a group dinner, it’s not always an option. In these situations you might want to try Divvy, an interactive app that takes a tech-forward approach to splitting the bill. When you get the check, you take a photo of it, confirm the tax and total, and then drag each item over to the person who ordered it.
Next, you can add the tip or even drag people to the same bill if they are paying together. Divvy is available for $1.99, but it can be worth the small investment to simplify your dining experience – especially if you eat out a lot with friends.
Splittr, which is a lot like Splitwise, where you can divide up everything from dinner to household expenses. But the interfaces are very different, so you’ll have to choose the one that works best for you. One of the best features about Splittr is that it makes it really easy to switch back and forth between different currencies, so if you’re traveling internationally, it won’t affect your running tally. To settle up, simply print or forward the PDF from the app to your friends.
Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.