5 Seriously Useful Ways to Say ‘Keep the change’ in Spanish

Yeah, I know … maybe the phrase ‘keep the change’ isn’t the first that springs to mind when you´re deciding what to learn before your next Mexican beach holiday or adventure into the lush Costa Rican rainforests, but I can assure you that it’s really going to come in handy!

I remember when I first started out on my Spanish speaking journey, this particular phrase was a real stumbling block for me!

The memory that most stands out is when I first stepped foot in a Mexican convenience store (the ubiquitous OXXO!) and was owed a peso and a half change. I just couldn’t for the life of me communicate to the cashier that she could keep the change …

… I ended up leaving not only with my change, but also with a decidedly red face!

In this article I’m going to teach you six ways to say this useful little phrase AND explore the situations in which they’re used, in the hope that you’ll be able to avoid leaving a store with the proverbial egg on your face (unlike yours truly)!

Anyway, that’s enough jibber-jabber from me, let’s get into it!




(Es) para ti

Para ti‘ literally translates to ‘for you’ and it can be used in both restaurants and stores alike.

This one’s great if you´re a bit shaky on your Spanish speaking feet and are just looking to quickly communicate the fact that you´re willing to part with the change in question!

Erika’s note – just remember that ‘para’ in Spanish is ‘for’ in the context of giving something to someone.

It doesn’t matter if you´re giving an Xmas gift to your husband/wife, a bag of seed to a hungry parrot or your loose change to someone living on the street, ‘para’ should always be your go-to when referring to the person/thing actually receiving the item*.

Let’s look at some examples –

Juan está en un restaurant y quiere dar una propina a su mesero

Juan (dándole la propina al mesero) – Para ti. ¡Muchas gracias!

Mesero – ¡Gracias a usted!



John is in a restaurant and wants to leave his waiter a tip

John (handing the waiter the tip) – This is for you. Thanks a lot!

Waiter – Thank you!


This phrase can also be used with ‘es’ (third person singular of the verb ‘ser’) to mean something along the lines of ‘this is for you’ –

Ernesto está pagando el plomero y le da cincuenta pesos demás

Plomero – Tu cambio.

Ernesto – Sabes que, es para ti.

Plomero – Muchas gracias. ¡Que tengas muy buen día!

Ernesto – Igualmente.



Ernest is paying his plumber and gives him fifty pesos too many

Plumber – Your change.

Ernesto – You know what, it´s for you.

Cashier – Thanks a lot. Have a great day!

Ernest – You too.

*Erika’s top tip – por’ (the other Spanish translation of the English ‘for’ … confusing, huh!) is used when EXCHANGING one item for another.


Quédese (con) el cambio

Quédese (con) el cambio’ is the literal translation of ‘keep the change’ and it’s the perfect phrase to use both in stores and at the taco stand!

You can either whip this one out as you’re handing over the payment to let the person serving you know that you don’t expect change OR when the waiter, ‘taquero’ (a ‘taquero‘ is man who makes tacos … yes, it’s a pretty cool word!), etc. is handing the change back to you.

It can also be used in restaurants if you don’t expect any change from the amount paid (i.e., you don´t want the waiter/waitress to return with your change).

Just remember that ‘quédese con el cambio’ shouldn’t be your phrase of choice if you’re paying with large denomination bills and don’t want the person serving you to keep ALL the change.

Examples ahoy!

Camila le da 120 pesos al taquero por 115 pesos de tacos

Camila – Aquí tienes, quédese con el cambio.

Taquero – Gracias, buen día.



Camilla gives 120 pesos to the “taquero” for tacos worth 115 pesos

Camilla – Here we go, keep the change.

Taco seller – Thanks, have a nice day.


The phrase ‘quédese (con) el cambio’ is in the more formal “usted” form.

If you want to opt for a slightly less formal alternative, just replace the ‘se’ with a ‘te’ (‘’ form), the end result being ‘quédate con el cambio’ (notice that the ‘e’ also changes to ‘a’ as it´s no longer a subjunctive).

Here’s an example –

Ivonne está pagando ciento siete pesos de verduras

Ivonne – Mira, te doy un billete de dos cientos. Quédate con el cambio.

Vendedor – Gracias.



Yvonne is paying for one hundred and seven pesos of vegetables

Yvonne – Look, here´s a two-hundred peso bill. Keep the change.

Seller – Thanks.

Quédeselo

Quédeselo’ is the Spanish equivalent of ‘keep it’, so it can obviously be used in non-change related situations too!

This one’s a bit more limited than a full-blown ‘quédese con el cambio’ as it’s normally said when actually being handed change.

Just remember that if you want to use the informal ‘’ form, you need to say ‘quédatelo’ instead!

For example –

El vendedor está a punto de dar su cambio a Evelia

Evelia – No se preocupe, quédeselo.

Vendedor – Gracias!



The shop assistant is about to give Evelia her change

Evelia – Don´t worry, you can keep it.

Shop assistant – Thanks!


David está en McDonalds

David – Buenas tardes. ¿Cuánto cuesta* el Big Mac?

Empleado – Cuesta noventa y siete pesos.

David – Ok, me voy a llevar dos.

Empleado – Van a ser noventa y siete pesos por favor.

David le da un billete de cien al emplado

Empleado – Gracias, aquí está tu cambio.

David – Está bien, quédatelo.

Empleado – Gracias, qué amable.




David is in McDonalds

David – Good afternoon. How much is a Big Mac?

Employee – Ninety-seven pesos.

David – Ok, I´ll have two.

Employee – Ninety-seven pesos, please.

David hands over a hundred peso bill

Employee – Thanks, here´s your change.

David – It´s ok, you can keep it.

Employee – Thanks, that´s very kind.


*Erika’s note – looking to stray away from ‘cuánto cuesta’? Well, make sure to give our article on all the different ways to ask how much something costs in Spanish a quick once over!




Es una propina

If you want to tell your server that the money left over is a tip, ‘es tu propina’ (the Spanish equivalent of ‘it’s your tip’) should be your go-to.

This little gem of a phrase can obviously be used in restaurants or other establishments in which leaving a tip is expected, but it’s also useful when the recipient wasn’t actually expecting a tip … when your ‘taxista’ (taxi driver) in bustling Mexico City gets you to your destination particularly quickly, for example!

Just remember that ‘propina’ is tip in Spanish and you’ll be gold!

María está en un taxi y le da 20 pesos demás al taxista

Taxista – Tu cambio.

María – Es una propina, llegamos súper rápido!

Taxista – Gracias!



María is in a taxi and she gives the driver 20 pesos too many

Taxi driver – Your change.

Maria – It’s your tip, we arrived really quickly!

Taxi driver – Thanks!

Así está bien

Así está bien’ is another really versatile phrase that can be used in a similar way to ‘quédese con el cambio’.

It literally means ‘like that is ok’ and you can use it in situations in which you don’t expect the person you´re conversing with to have to do anything else (in this instance, giving you back your change).

Here are some examples –

Vendedor – Van a ser tres cientos quince por favor.

Cliente – Aquí tienes.

El cliente le da tres cientos veinte pesos al vendedor

Cliente – Así está bien.

Vendedor – ¡Gracias!




Shop assistant – Three hundred and fifteen pesos, please.

Customer – Here you go.

The customer hands three hundred and twenty pesos to the shop assistant

Customer – You can keep the change.

Shop assistant – Thanks a lot!


Final thoughts

Hopefully you now won’t turn into a floundering mess the next time you want to tell someone to ‘keep the change’ in Spanish … and you may even impress the locals in the process!

If you think you’d also like some help with paying the check in Spanish, don’t forget to check out my comprehensive guide on the topic … trust me you won’t regret it!

¡Hasta luego!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

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