Splitting costs with a couple
May 2, 2007 2:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm organising the hiring of a car for myself and 2 other people who are a couple. I'll be paying for the car upfront - should I ask them for half of the amount or two-thirds?

Obviously mathematically and logically I should ask for 66% of the cost, and if it was 3 unattached (to each other) people I would split the cost in 3. But as they're a couple it seems a bit weird, obsessive and cheap to ask for two thirds. What would you do in this situation?
posted by jontyjago to Human Relations (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tell them "The car came to $xx total."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:31 AM on May 2, 2007

You could say "the car was $x which works out to x/3 each"

I don't think it seems that weird.
posted by aubilenon at 2:36 AM on May 2, 2007

It's fair for them to each pay two-thirds, unless it's a two-seat car and they're going to be sitting on each otherr's laps the whole time.

If you think they might think it is weird then just get it approved before you make the booking. "It's going to cost around $300. That's $100 per person. Does that sound like an okay deal to y'all?" If they then say that they should only pay half, then maybe they're the weird, obsessive, and cheap ones.
posted by grouse at 2:42 AM on May 2, 2007

I wouldn't tell them how much the total was, and just ask for 2/3 ("Your share came to $xx). What they don't know won't kill them, and 2/3 IS fair to you.
posted by messylissa at 2:50 AM on May 2, 2007

2/3 is fair in my opinion.

However, the following logic has worked for me before. 1/2 is too little, since there are two of them and one of you. 2/3 is too much, since they're a couple. Therefore, choose a split halfway between 1/2 and 2/3, i.e. they pay 7/12 and you pay 5/12.

Since they are only paying 1/12 more than half, they won't feel they're overpaying. Since you're only paying 1/12 more than a third, you won't either. Everyone will be happy.
posted by beniamino at 3:19 AM on May 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

A couple takes twice more seats as a single guy/gal, eats twice much food, and also have (potentially) twice the income. You should not feel bad about having them pay for 2/3 or the cost, that's perfectly appropriate.
posted by V-Turn at 3:19 AM on May 2, 2007

I always find it bizarre when people expect me to pay less than my share because I'm married, as though I am only my husband's appendage and not a separate person. (I know this is an uncharitable interpretation of their thinking, but it's still what I always think.)

Of course, some couples act like they really were made one flesh, so YMMV, but I'd say suggest splitting into thirds and see what they say.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:24 AM on May 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

TheOnlyCoolTim nailed it on the first post. If they only pay half, send them a link to this post. That'll learn 'em.
posted by gregoryc at 3:31 AM on May 2, 2007

I love this stuff!

2/3rds all the way...
posted by tomw at 3:52 AM on May 2, 2007

If you all hired a taxi from A to B, wouldn't the fair thing be to split the fare three ways? Same deal here, 2/3rds is fine and fair.
posted by Elmore at 4:02 AM on May 2, 2007

I like the first suggestion. The only issue with gregoryc's amendment is if these comments turn to favor 1/2.

A couple takes twice more seats as a single guy/gal, eats twice much food, and also have (potentially) twice the income. You should not feel bad about having them pay for 2/3 or the cost, that's perfectly appropriate.

The problem is that, if the same class of car would be hired anyway, their contribution is gravy. The point about ability to pay is potentially relevant, but it could be that the OP's income vastly exceeds theirs. S/he did spring for a MeFi membership, after all.

P.S. Avoid heartache and make sure everyone is covered.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:15 AM on May 2, 2007

For Chrissake, make them pay 2/3. If I were a member of the couple I would be extremely put off if you expected us to pay only half. They're still two separate people, not a "four-armed, four-legged kid-spewing polyform", as someone so eloquently put it in a different thread.
posted by schroedinger at 5:05 AM on May 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Although I certainly would pay 2/3 if I were the couple there is at least another way to think about it. If you and the couple each hired a seperate car, the cost would be 2X the cost of hiring one car. Splitting the total cost of hiring two cars would mean you and the couple would each pay half the cost of hiring one car.
posted by sexymofo at 5:28 AM on May 2, 2007

Sexymofo, taking your thinking to the extreme suggests the situation where all three people hire separate cars...split it three ways.
posted by notsnot at 5:31 AM on May 2, 2007

Actually, I think sexymofo has a point. There are some instances where couples do act more like a unit than others. Three people eating out together (two of whom are a couple) should arguably each pay for what they themselves ate; it's incidental that the money paying for two of those people (may be) is coming out of a single pot.

But here, is the issue how many seats are being taken up (2 vs. 1) or the number of cars that would be rented if the trip participants didn't share a car (1 vs 1)? The car's rental rate is not based on the number of passengers, but rather on the total number of cars being rented. 50/50 seems like a fair split.
posted by MsElaineous at 5:48 AM on May 2, 2007

Thirding sexymofo and the cleverly-named MsElaineous.

I would think that most of my friends, single or married, would assume that half was the appropriate amount. If I were single, I would ask for half. If you think about it, you are asking them to pay double the amount you are (conversely, you are asking to pay only half of what they do), even though you get the same benefit that they do from the car. I understand that there's two of them and one of you, but really you are getting from point A to point B, and they are getting from point A to point B.

Should they pay for double the gas too? The tolls? Parking charges? Obviously each person should be on their own for food, but for costs that are fixed without regard to the number of persons participating, I think you are a unit and they are a unit.

All that said, if a friend asked me to pay 2/3 I would do it to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
posted by AgentRocket at 6:18 AM on May 2, 2007

If you invited him, and he invited her, then you pay 1/3. If you invited them, then you pay 1/3. You have some relationship with one or both of them. Just because one of them also has a relationship with the other, shouldn't mean they pay less of the share.

Suppose they invited their great aunt. You don't have a relationship with her. How much should she pay? Add a complete stranger or a hitchhiker. How much should he pay?

The presence of other relationships shouldn't affect the cost.
posted by cmiller at 6:25 AM on May 2, 2007

My SO and I, in a similar situtation, would pay 2/3. However, people are often surprised when we are willing to do this.

Ask to split it in thirds. If they balk, offer beniamino's excellent compromise.

Rule of human nature: Everyone always feels as if they are the one investing more money or effort than the others. Work to avoid situations were anyone winds up being either petty or a doormat.
posted by desuetude at 6:26 AM on May 2, 2007

I agree with the people who say each person should pay 1/3 but what we think is less important than what the three of you think. Before finalizing the car deal, let them know what the cost will be and if they are unhappy with the cost you can work out a mutually agreeable deal ahead of time (cheaper car, other transportation, split it other than halves or thirds or whatever).
posted by TedW at 6:26 AM on May 2, 2007

If you think about it, you are asking them to pay double the amount you are

No. He's asking each one to pay the same amount he is.

really you are getting from point A to point B, and they are getting from point A to point B

In almost any other form of transportation from point A to point B, people are paid for individually rather than as couples.
posted by grouse at 6:28 AM on May 2, 2007

Definitely 2/3
posted by WizKid at 6:33 AM on May 2, 2007

I would think of it this way... if you were charged with buying plane fare for three individuals, two which were joined by some sort of union, I have to believe you would say, "The plane fare is $500 per person."

I think it is fair to assume that in your situation you would state what each passenger is responsible for...

"The car fare is $150 per person."

The fact that it is a car instead of a plane doesn't matter and I could not find any rules etiquette that state otherwise. An ass is an ass. They do not combine to become one ass if they are in a relationship.
posted by bkeene12 at 6:37 AM on May 2, 2007

Half is nonsense. They each pay their 1/3rd share.

Thought experiment for the 'halfers': I recently went on a trip with three other friends (none of which composed a couple). I rented a car that all four of us rode around in. If two of them had started dating halfway through the trip, how would I split the bill? What if they were dating but didn't tell me?
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:41 AM on May 2, 2007

OxCAF, as to your thought experiment: the time honored principle is that if the new couple want to move from 1/4 apiece to 1/3 in combination, they would need to disclose their relationship and the base to which it had progressed. They could move further, to 1/4 in combination, only if they demonstrated.

Honestly, it's like you've never been on a road trip before.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:54 AM on May 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

The fact that it is a car instead of a plane doesn't matter and I could not find any rules etiquette that state otherwise. An ass is an ass.

A plane ticket is sold "per ass." A car is not.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:24 AM on May 2, 2007


What if they broke up in the middle of the trip? Then you'd have to ask for more money since they've paid 25% each.

Couples only get a discount on taxes, nothing else.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:52 AM on May 2, 2007

I think that it should be 1/3 per person, *unless* the context dictates otherwise, e.g.:

"Hey, Karen -- are you and Michael planning on driving to Tom and Jason's wedding?" "Yes, we were going to rent a car." "Oh, me, too -- do you want to drive together and split the cost?" [1/2 and 1/2 is likely expected -- two car units are becoming one]


"Hey, Karen, the Wingnuts are playing Reno, can you believe it? You and Michael love that band." "Cool -- Let's get tickets and rent a car." [1/3 each person]
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:00 AM on May 2, 2007

I don't think it matters, but if you're really concerned about politeness (and not concerned about money) the best choice is to simply state the total. (And don't forget the gas.)

Otherwise, there are plenty of reasonable ways to ask for either 1/2 or 2/3.

That said, the plane comparisons are silly, unless your alternative plan involved piloting a motorcycle or sports car.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:09 AM on May 2, 2007

If you were buying plane tickets, it is obvious that you would each pay for your own ticket. If you were splitting a hotel suite with 2 bedrooms, I think you would probably split it 50/50. The car rental seems to be a situation in the middle. I think it's closer to the hotel suite side of the continuum, but obviously reasonable minds could (and do) differ. If you are renting a larger car than you might otherwise because of the number of people, it might swing back towards the plane ticket side. The way in which the sharing arrangement arose might also swing things in one direction or the other, per ClaudiaCenter's contribution.
posted by probablysteve at 8:27 AM on May 2, 2007

"Honestly, it's like you've never been on a road trip before."

Every road trip I've been on where a couple was involved (once I was part of the couple, a few times where I was odd man out), each person put the same amount into the community pool, which paid for gas, "per car" admittance fees to national parks, and meals which were served in bulk (stew). Dine-in meals, single-serve food, and drinks were paid for individually.
posted by notsnot at 8:28 AM on May 2, 2007

Suppose the couple splits the cost of all their shared activites 50/50 between themselves. Couple rents a car with a single person. If the single person pays 50% of the cost of the car, each half of the couple pays 25% each, leading to one person spending twice as much on the car rental. If the single person pays 33%, each person pays the same.

Interesting cases to consider for those who feel the couple should pay 50% of the cost: the couple has x number of childeren; instead of a couple, there is a single person sharing the car with a polyamorous triad.

Jontyjago, if it were me I would go thirdses in most cases, but it really depends on the individual situation. There are cases I can imagine where I would pay the whole amount, say if we were all going to something "important" and they would have trouble affording it. Reaching a solution that is acceptable to everyone will probably have a much greater effect on your enjoyment of the road trip than how much you pay for the car.
posted by yohko at 11:42 AM on May 2, 2007

I'm liking ClaudiaCenter's argument. It's all about context. If the original plan was to rent two cars, then you'd be proposing to join forces and cut costs, yet you want to reap 2/3rds of the benefit. That doesn't seem fair, and in that case it should be 50/50 (or maybe you should pay 2/3rds, so everyone saves 1/3rd the total cost?).

That being said, if my wife and I were to split a car with someone, I'd expect to pay 2/3rds.
posted by Crash at 11:50 AM on May 2, 2007

They are separate people. They pay twp-thirds. Anything else is cheap and crass.
posted by dame at 12:57 PM on May 2, 2007

2/3, definitely.

A few weeks ago, we (as a group) bought a birthday present. Everybody chipped in 10 euro. The couples of the group only paid 10 euro per couple, ie. 5 euros each. Was I ever pissed.. The birthday boy was friends with all the partners of all the couples, they all were invited, they all drank as much "free drinks" as everybody else, but they only paid half because they had a regular partner? Hell, they should pay more for that privilege.
posted by lodev at 4:38 AM on May 3, 2007

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