In my first week in Chile, my debit card was confiscated by an ATM. I desperately asked for help, but I didn’t know how how to say credit card or ATM in Spanish!

Today we’re going to practice key financial vocabulary so that if this ever happens to you in English, you won’t be panicked like me!

Obviously, financial vocabulary is important in stressful situations like mine, but we use financial vocabulary all the time. It’s useful for travel, day-to-day situations, and our professional lives.

Financial vocabulary and slang varies widely from country to country. For example, a “luca” here in Chile is a “buck” when we’re talking about US dollars. It’s important to remember that learning formal and informal vocabulary is necessary to communicate well in another language.

At the ATM

ATM - el cajero automático

Example: When I arrive to a new country, I always go to the ATM in the airport to take out money.

Card - la tarjeta

Example: To take out money at an ATM, you start by inserting your card.

Account - la cuenta

Take out money - sacar dinero

Example: I need to stop at the ATM to take out money.

To get money - sacar/obtener dinero

Example: I need to get money from the ATM before we go on our tour today.

Withdraw - retirar

Example: I need to withdraw money from my account in order to pay my rent.

Withdrawal - el retiro

Example: My debit card has a $300 daily withdrawal limit.

Deposit - el depósito

Example: I’ll deposit this month’s rent in your account on September 1st!

Receipt - el recibo

Example: I always ask for the receipt of my ATM transaction.

Transaction- la transacción

Example: The ATM always says at the end: “Would you like another transaction?”

Out of order - fuera de servicio

Example: I went to the ATM, but unfortunately I couldn’t take out money because it was out of service.

Withdrawal limit exceeded - el límite de retirada excedido

Example: The ATM said, “withdrawal limit exceeded” when I tried to do two big withdrawals in one day.

Secret pin number - la clave

Example: It’s important to choose a secret pin number that’s easy to remember!

Cash - efectivo

Example: Let’s stop and get some cash at the ATM.

At a Restaurant

Tip - la propina

Example: It’s typical to leave a 15% tip in the United States.

Gratuity - la propina

Example: In Chile, gratuity is often included in the bill.

The check/the bill - la cuenta

Example: I’ll pay the bill for the whole table.

Split the check/bill - dividir la cuenta

Example: Is it possible to split the check in three?

At the Store

How much is...?  - cuánto cuesta…?

Example: How much is that shirt? How much is this pair of pants?

Change - el cambio, el sencillo

Example: Do you have change? I can’t pay the exact amount.

Cash register - la caja

Example: Please check out at the cash register.

Price - el precio

Example: Do you know what the price of that sweater is?

Deal/Bargain - la ganga

Example: I got my new shoes for a great deal! They were 50% off!

Sale - la oferta

Example: There’s a sale on Androids this week, so I’m hoping to buy a new phone at a good price!


Loan - el préstamo

Example: In order to buy the house, we need a big loan.

Debt - la deuda

Example: Many university students have debt because education is very expensive.

Payment - el pago

Example: My rent payment is due on the first of each month.

Pay back - pagar, devolver

Example: Please pay me back at the end of the month!

Lend - prestar

Example: Banks lend people money for big purchases, like a house or a car.

Borrow - pedir un préstamo (no tiene una traducción exacta en español)

Example: Can I borrow $100? I need to buy a new laptop, and I don’t have enough money this month.


Expensive - caro

Example: I can’t buy that television! It’s too expensive!

Cheap - barato

Example: My favorite restaurant is the perfect combination - cheap and delicious!

Affordable - razonable, asequible, costeable

Example: It’s a good idea to buy a used car because they’re more affordable than new cars.

Rich - rico

Example: In the United States, there is significant inequality between rich people and poor people.

Well-off: rico, pero formal

Example: His parents both earn good salaries, so his family is very well-off.

Poor - pobre

Example: When he lost his job, his family was quite poor. It was a difficult time.

Stingy -  tacaño

Example: He has a great salary, but she’s stingy and never shares her money with anybody.

Generous - generoso

Example: She’s very generous and always gives to charitable causes.

Slang and Idioms

Buck - un billete, en el contexto de los Estados Unidos

Example: Can you lend me a couple bucks?

Bill - el billete, en el contexto de los Estados Unidos

Example: Do you have change? I only have a ten dollar bill.

Broke - sin un peso, andar pato

Example: I’m sorry, I can’t go out to eat tonight. I’m totally broke!

Dirt cheap - muy, muy barato

Example: The hotel we stayed in didn’t have great service, but it was dirty cheap, so we really couldn’t complain.

Easy money - dinero fácil

Example: I’m doing editing jobs a couple hours a week because it’s easy money.


Written by Mariah Wika

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