10 Cost-Free Ways to Say ‘Expensive’ in Spanish

If you type ‘expensive’ into your preferred translation app, the words ‘caro’ and ‘costoso’ are sure to pop up.

Perfect, so nothing else to see here, right?

Wrong! Expanding your Spanish vocabulary and knowing when to use different words / phrases is well worthwhile AND it’s sure to make you sound more fluent!

With that in mind, here are 10 different ways to say ‘expensive’ in Spanish.

Let’s dive right into it!


These are the most “common” ways of saying ‘expensive’ in Spanish –

  • caro’ = ‘expensive’ (Llegó caro el recibo de la luz = The latest electricity bill was expensive)

  • ‘costoso’ = ‘costly’ / ‘expensive(Nuestro viaje fue más costoso de lo planeado = Our trip was more costly than we’d planned)

  • ‘oneroso’ (more common in written Spanish) = ‘costly’ (Su divorcio fue un proceso oneroso = Their divorce was a costly process)

There are also some fun slang phrases, such as ‘cuesta un ojo de la cara’, which is akin to the English phrase ‘it costs an arm and a leg’.

Mi auto nuevo costó un ojo de la cara = My new car cost an arm and a leg

1 Caro – Expensive

‘Caro’ means ‘expensive’ in Spanish and it’s your definite go-to adjective to describe something that you feel is a wee bit overpriced.

En el supermercado

Andrea – ¿Quieres llevar algo de salmón para la cena?

Sabrina – Ay, no sé…Siento que está muy caro

Andrea – Es tu cumpleaños, ¡consiéntete un poco!

At the supermarket

Andrea – Do you want to bring some salmon for dinner?

Sabrina – Oh, I don’t know … it’s kinda expensive

Andrea – It’s your birthday, pamper yourself a little!

2 Carísimo – Too expensive

Ah, superlatives … if you immerse yourself in the Spanish language as spoken by native speakers, you’ll hear them at every turn!

And, well, you’ll DEFINITELY hear people use ‘carísimo’ when they deem something to be SUPER expensive.

En el mercado

Polo – ¡Qué caro está el aguacate!

Jesús – ¿Cuál caro? ¡Carísimo!

At the market

Polo – That avocado is so expensive!

Jesús – Expensive? It’s exorbitant!

A very popular Mexican expression is ‘carísimo de París’, which is just a fun way of – jokingly – saying that something is too lavish or over-priced.

For example –

Federico – ¿Qué tal está esa nueva cafetería? ¿La recomiendas?

Fabiola – ¡Uy, está carísima de París! Pero lo vale.

Federico – How’s that new coffee place? Do you recommend it?

Fabiola – Jeez, it costed me a pretty penny! But it was worth it.

3 Costoso – Costly

If you wanna say ‘costly’, its equivalent in Spanish is ‘costoso’.

Mariano – ¿Ese casco es nuevo?

Víctor – Sí…El motociclismo es un pasatiempo costoso, ¡No me juzgues!

Mariano – Is that a new helmet?

Victor – Yeah … motorcycling is a costly hobby. Don’t judge me!

4 Prohibitivo – Prohibitively expensive

If you’re searching for a synonym of ‘prohibitively expensive’ or ‘prohibitive’, just say ‘prohibitivo’.

Simple, right?

¿Ya viste el aumento al precio de la gasolina este mes? ¡Está prohibitivo!

Have you seen how much gas prices have increased this month? It’s prohibitive!

5 Inasequible – Unaffordable

A literal translation of ‘inasequible’ would be ‘unattainable’, but in the context of conversations about money or finance, it’s a synonym of ‘unaffordable’.

Hijo – Siento que nunca voy a poder costear un auto. ¡Incluso los financiamientos están inasequibles!

Madre – Ay, mijo, ¿te podemos ayudar en algo?

Padre – Podríamos ayudarte con el enganche…piénsalo.

Son – I feel like I’ll never be able to afford a car. Even with financing it’s just unaffordable!

Mother – Oh, son, can we help you with something?

Father – We could help you with the down payment … mull it over.

6 Impagable – Unaffordable

Another way of saying ‘unaffordable’ is ‘impagable’ (which would literally translate as ‘unpayable’).

Marco – ¿Ya compraste los boletos para el concierto?

Noelia – ¡Lo intenté pero están impagables! No sé si usar la tarjeta de crédito…

Marco – Did you buy the tickets for the concert?

Noelia – I tried but they’re unbelievably expensive! I don’t know whether to use the credit card …

7 Oneroso – Costly

‘Oneroso’ is a rather fancy way to say ‘costly’ or ‘expensive’.

Nowadays, few people use this word in everyday speech, but you’ll certainly find it in literature, articles, and in written texts in general.

‘Oneroso’ is also a synonym of ‘burdensome’ or ‘heavy’.

Fragmento de un artículo sobre finanzas personales

Contratar un seguro contra daños puede parecer oneroso, pero las cuentas derivadas de robos o siniestros como terremotos e inundaciones pueden resultar mucho más costosas.

A fragment of an article on personal finance

Purchasing home insurance may seem onerous, but bills caused by theft or accidents such as earthquakes and floods can be much more expensive.

8 Cariñoso (Mexican slang) – Expensive

Many words and phrases in Mexican slang are basically just plays on words (if you don’t believe me, check out our mind-boggling list of Mexican euphemisms).

Such is the case of ‘cariñoso’, which means ‘affectionate’ or ‘loving’ in English, but also shares its first few letters with ‘caro’

En un restaurante

Leticia – Ay, caray…Como que las bebidas aquí están muy cariñosas, ¿no?

Mina – Tranquila, yo te invité así que, ¡la cuenta va por mí!

In a restaurant

Leticia – Oh, gee … the drinks here are a bit pricey, aren’t they?

Mina – Relax, I invited you so it’s my treat!

9 Cuesta un ojo de la cara / Sale en un ojo de la cara (colloquial) – It costs an arm and a leg

Whilst something expensive metaphorically ‘costs an arm and a leg’ to English speakers, it costs ‘un ojo de la cara’ to those who speak Spanish.

Either way, you’re gonna be paying with body parts!

¿Ya viste la etiqueta? ¡Cuesta un ojo de la cara!

Have you seen the price tag? It costs an arm and a leg!

You may also hear it phrased as ‘sale en un ojo de la cara’

Damian – ¡Qué lindo suéter! ¿Es nuevo?

Karina – Sí, lo compré el viernes. Me salió en un ojo de la cara

Damian – What a nice sweater! Is it new?

Karina – Yes, I bought it on Friday. It cost me an arm and a leg

10 Por las nubes (colloquial) – Sky-high

Finally, when a person says that the price of something is ‘por las nubes’ (or literally ‘through the clouds’ in English), it’s akin to saying that the price is ‘sky-high’.

¿Vas a hornear? Recuerda que el precio del gas está por las nubes ahorita.

Are you going to bake something? Remember that the price of gas is sky-high at the moment.

Final thoughts

And that’s it, folks! I hope you’ll give a couple of them a try the next time you engage in conversation with your Spanish-speaking friends. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even start using ‘cariñoso’ with your Mexican pals!

Oh, and if you fancy a treat, head on over to our article on all the different ways to say rain’ in Spanish. Just don’t forget your brolly!

¡Hasta pronto!