Most Awkward Money Moment? Credit Card Declined

Whether it’s splitting a dinner bill or turning down a co-worker for a donation for his child’s school, awkward money moments abound in today’s world. According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive for, having a credit card declined tops the list of worst money-related situations.

While getting a credit card declined is the most awkward money moment for 40 percent of U.S. adults, a variety of other sticky money situations made the list:

  • Feeling pressured to donate to a charity on behalf of a co-worker, family member or friend – 34 percent
  • Saying no to giving money to a panhandler or beggar – 30 percent
  • Feeling pressured to chip in on a group gift at work, like for a baby shower or wedding shower – 26 percent
  • Sharing salary/wage amounts with co-workers – 25 percent
  • Splitting a dinner bill or check with a large group of people – 17 percent
  • Figuring out a gift to get a partner for special occasions, like a first anniversary or a first birthday together – 13 percent

“It’s inevitable that some financial situations can be tinged with tension, but honesty is always the best policy,” says Jackie Warrick, president and chief savings officer at “Respect your budget and trust your gut to make the right decision. Don’t feel pressured to spend money on something or share something you’d rather not, and expect others to do the same.”

Staying open is key to defusing awkward money moments, but they’re likely to still happen in some social situations. When asked to describe their specific most awkward money moments, U.S. adults from a random sample reported the following:

  • Knowing someone owes me money, but not being sure how to go about reminding him or her
  • Reaching a tollbooth and realizing you don’t have cash to pay the toll
  • Attempting to pay for a company dinner and having credit card declined
  • Splitting a dinner bill when after only having salad and water, while the other party had filet mignon, a large appetizer and wine


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