Last Updated on September 8, 2023
The main factor of car key replacement cost is whether or not you have an existing key. This article is focusing on the cost to duplicate a car key, meaning you have one working key. If you’ve lost all keys, check out The Cost to Replace Lost Car Keys.
Car key duplication costs vary depending on the type of key. Basic all-metal key copies can start as low as $10, while modern key FOBs may reach up to $400. The total duplication cost includes the key or FOB, cutting, and programming (if necessary).
Key Duplication Price Factors
There are two main factors that go into the total cost of a car key duplication:
- Key type – is it a standard mechanical key, transponder key, laser cut key or a car key FOB?
- Key programming – does it need to be programmed, can you program it yourself, or will you have to go to a dealer to get it programmed?
The Cost to Duplicate a Standard Car Key
A standard car key is a traditional, mechanical key used to unlock and start a vehicle. It is typically made of metal, though some have plastic head. Standard car keys need to be inserted into the vehicle’s ignition and turned to start the car. These keys do not have any electronic components.
Duplicating a standard car key is one of the most budget-friendly options. Typically, duplicating a mechanical key costs around $10 to $20. The final cost varies by factors such as the manufacturer of the key and specific pricing in your area.
Cost to Duplicate a Laser Cut Car Keys (High Security)
Duplicating a laser cut car key is more expensive than duplicating a standard key. Rather than just a few-dollars, laser key duplication typically ranges from $50 to $75, varying by geographical area. This elevated cost reflects the specialized milling machines and the additional time required for precise cutting.
Newer keys are not made with the traditional cuts along the side of the blade (the shaft). Instead the cuts are routed into the edges of the key – but not all the way through. Or, the cuts may be routed into the center of the shaft.
These are called laser cut keys or high-security keys. Laser keys require more expensive cutting machines and take longer to cut.
Car Key Programming Cost
Keys with transponder chips in them, sometimes called chip keys, will need to be programmed to the car so that the car recognizes the key and starts.
The cost to program car keys or FOBs generally falls within the range of $60 to $100. Several factors contribute to this cost, including the manufacturer of your vehicle. Notably, Chryslers are among the more expensive. The car needs to be present for programming.
Transponder car keys is a little more expensive, and there are additional service cost to program they key or FOB.
Transponder keys are the reason why most box stores don’t make new car keys (although that is starting to change). They do not usually have the equipment or the knowledge to program transponder chip keys.
Cost to Duplicate a Car Key Fob
Car FOBs have electronic features such as push to start, remote entry, remote start, and more.
The cost to duplicate a car key FOB typically ranges from $50 to $400. This cost variation is influenced many by the price of the FOB itself (ranging from $50 to $300) and whether or not the FOB requires programming to the car. If there is an emergency, key cutting fees will also be added to the cost.
All FOBs will need to be programmed to the vehicle in order for the car to run. However, in some cases this programming can be down by the owner when the FOB is “on board programmable” not requiring a locksmith or the dealer to be at the vehicle.
Even though you may not see the key, most FOBs have hidden keys that slide into the case of the FOB and that key will need to be cut for emergency access to the car and, often, to program the remote.
Q & A
How Much Does Car Key Cutting Cost?
If you buy a car key online and take it to a locksmith shop for cutting, you’ll find the cost for duplicating a standard key to be between $6 to $10. High security are more expensive to cut. You’ll find high security key cutting varies between $50 to $75.
Where Can I Duplicate Car Keys?
For older vehicles, hardware stores or box stores often offer key duplication services. Newer vehicles requiring key programming can be duplicated by locksmiths, independent auto repair shops, and dealerships. Auto locksmiths are frequently the lost-cost option when it comes to key duplication.
Can I Program My Own Car Key to Save Money
Some manufacturers, allow you to program your own car keys but some don’t. Your car Owner’s Manual will provide the instructions if available.
You can also check if you can program your own key by searching for the year, make, and model of your vehicle at our online car key replacement portal. We highlight how to get that information in our YouTube video.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you only have one working key for your vehicle, the time to get a copy is now. The reason is simple: the cost to replace a key, remote, or FOB is far cheaper than the cost to originate a car key. While you may balk at these duplication costs, it can be 2X – 10X more expensive to originate a key when you’ve lost that last one!
One final note on getting a duplicate key for your vehicle:
Be sure to bring all current and new operating keys AND fobs with you when you are adding keys or fobs to your vehicle.
Some vehicles will ‘drop’ keys that are not present at the time of programming, rendering them at least temporarily unusable (they can, of course, be re-added later for an additional car key programming cost).
By bringing all your current and new equipment, you can make sure that everything still works with the vehicle, avoiding unnecessary inconveniences.
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