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Explicit Cost vs. Implicit Cost: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 4, 2023
Explicit Cost is a direct monetary expense in business operations, while Implicit Cost represents the opportunity costs of resources without direct monetary payment.

Key Differences

Explicit Cost refers to the tangible expenses that a business incurs during its operations. This cost can be easily identified and measured as it involves an actual outflow of money. For example, salaries to employees, rent for office space, and purchase of raw materials are all explicit costs. These are costs that a company can directly account for in its financial statements.
Implicit Cost, on the other hand, does not involve a direct cash outflow. Instead, it represents the opportunity cost associated with using a company's internal resources without any explicit reimbursement. This could include the potential income forgone by not investing money elsewhere or the cost of a business owner's time when they choose to work on their business rather than taking a salaried job elsewhere.
While both Explicit Cost and Implicit Cost are integral to understanding the true expenses associated with business operations, they are accounted for differently. Explicit costs are clearly recorded in financial statements, whereas implicit costs are more conceptual and are often used in managerial decision-making to assess the full range of costs associated with a particular action.
In essence, while Explicit Cost captures the direct financial expenses of doing business, Implicit Cost offers a broader view, incorporating non-monetary costs that can still have a significant impact on a company's profitability and decision-making.

Comparison Chart


Direct monetary expense.
Opportunity cost without monetary payment.


Actual cash outflow.
Cost of foregone opportunities.

Financial Statements

Recorded and visible.
Not directly recorded.


Salaries, rent, utilities.
Owner's time, potential income from alternative uses.

Role in Decision-Making

Directly affects profitability and cash flow.
Affects broader understanding of total business costs.

Explicit Cost and Implicit Cost Definitions

Explicit Cost

Tangible costs that can be seen and measured.
Utility bills are an Explicit Cost every business needs to account for.

Implicit Cost

Costs that represent the value of benefits foregone.
The decision to use company funds for expansion creates an Implicit Cost of potential alternative investments.

Explicit Cost

Cash payments made by businesses for goods or services.
Buying raw materials is an Explicit Cost essential for production.

Implicit Cost

Non-monetary expenses associated with using internal resources.
The time spent by the business owner managing operations is an Implicit Cost.

Explicit Cost

Costs that are recorded in financial statements.
The annual report showed an increase in Explicit Cost due to higher advertising expenses.

Implicit Cost

Opportunity costs that don't involve direct monetary payments.
Choosing to manufacture in-house leads to an Implicit Cost by not outsourcing.

Explicit Cost

Monetary outlay made by a business for operations.
The company's Explicit Cost for renting the building amounted to $10,000 monthly.

Implicit Cost

Unrecorded expenses associated with the use of non-purchased inputs.
Using the company's property for office space represents an Implicit Cost in forgone lease income.

Explicit Cost

Direct financial expense incurred in business activities.
The salary of the employees represents a major Explicit Cost for the firm.

Implicit Cost

The cost of opportunities forgone when resources are utilized for one purpose over another.
By not renting out his own building, the owner incurs an Implicit Cost in lost rental income.


Are Explicit Costs recorded in financial statements?

Yes, Explicit Costs are directly recorded in financial statements.

What is an Explicit Cost?

Explicit Cost is a direct monetary expense incurred during business operations.

What's a typical Implicit Cost in a business?

The time a business owner dedicates to their own business instead of working elsewhere is an Implicit Cost.

Can you give an example of an Explicit Cost?

Rent paid for office space is an example of Explicit Cost.

Is the value of an owner's time an Implicit Cost?

Yes, the potential earnings forgone by the owner working in their business instead of elsewhere is an Implicit Cost.

Are utility bills considered Explicit Cost?

Yes, utility bills are a direct financial expense and thus an Explicit Cost.

How does Implicit Cost impact decision-making?

Implicit Costs offer a broader view of total business costs, influencing choices about resource allocation.

Do Explicit Costs play a role in pricing decisions?

Yes, Explicit Costs directly affect the cost structure, influencing pricing decisions.

How is Implicit Cost different from Explicit Cost?

Implicit Cost is the opportunity cost of using resources without a direct monetary payment, unlike Explicit Cost which involves actual cash outflow.

Do Implicit Costs affect a company's profitability?

Yes, while not recorded, Implicit Costs can influence managerial decisions and overall profitability.

Is the decision to use personal savings in business an Implicit Cost?

Yes, the potential interest or investment returns forgone from using personal savings in business is an Implicit Cost.

Can Explicit Costs vary over time?

Yes, Explicit Costs can fluctuate based on business needs and market conditions.

Are Explicit Costs always tangible?

Yes, Explicit Costs are tangible and can be clearly identified and measured.

Is loan interest an Explicit Cost?

Yes, interest paid on a loan is a direct monetary expense and is an Explicit Cost.

Is the potential profit from not launching a new product an Implicit Cost?

Yes, forgone profits from decisions not taken represent an Implicit Cost.

Do Implicit Costs involve cash outflows?

No, Implicit Costs do not involve direct cash payments.

Is lost rental income from using your own building an Implicit Cost?

Yes, the forgone opportunity to earn rental income is an Implicit Cost.

Can Implicit Costs be avoided in a business?

No, every business has Implicit Costs related to decisions on resource allocation.

Is purchasing equipment an Explicit Cost?

Yes, purchasing equipment involves a direct monetary expense, making it an Explicit Cost.

Are salaries paid to employees an Explicit Cost?

Yes, salaries are a direct financial expense and are considered an Explicit Cost.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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