How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Car Key?

Last Updated on May 16, 2023

Do You Need to Replace a Duplicate Key or Have You Lost All Car Keys?

Who You Use is Just One Factor That Determines the Cost for Duplicate Keys

The main factor of car key replacement cost is whether or not you have an existing key. Are you replacing a lost spare key or are you replacing the last key (you’ve lost all car keys)? It always cost less to duplicate a key than it does to replace lost car keys when you’ve lost the last key (a key origination).

After that, the key technology is the main cost factor. In the 1990’s, auto manufacturers started adding computer chips to their keys (called transponder keys) for additional security.

Car key replacement costs can 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 $600. The total replacement cost typically includes the key/FOB, cutting, and programming (if necessary). If all keys are lost, expect an additional $125-$175 to be added.

Car Key Replacement Cost Summary Table

Type of Car KeyCost of the Key or FobAdditional Cost for Key / FOB ProgrammingTotal Cost of Key, Cutting & Programming
Duplicate basic key$ 7-25$0$ 7 – 25
Duplicate Transponder Key / Chip Key$ 10 – 80$ 60 – 150$ 70 – 230
Duplicate Laser Cut Car Key including cutting$ 50 – 150$ 50 – 150$ 100 – 300
Duplicate Proximity FOBs
$ 75 – 400$ 50 – 200$ 125 – $600
Additional Cost to Get a Key Made When All Keys are Lost (Key Origination)$ 125 – 175
in addition to above
Table: Cost to Replace Keys and Fobs by Key Type
Shop for car keys and remotes online

Jump to:

Replacement Car Key Price Factors

There are many factors in the cost of a car key replacement. Some include:

  • Key type – is it a mechanical, transponder key, or laser cut key?
  • 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?
  • Is it just a key, a key fob or a remote head key? This mainly impacts the cost of the key itself.
  • And, do you have a current, working car key or have you lost all the keys? Lost car key replacement cost is higher. There are more charges involved to originate a car key when no current key is available.

We will focus, on the cost for a duplicate car key (when you need an extra car key). The costs to replace a spare car key still apply if you have lost all the keys, there would just be some additional charges.

Types of Car Keys

We discuss types of car keys in our article on where to get keys made, you can also view our YouTube video.

The types of car keys.
Types of Car keys
The Common Car keys

Shop for car keys and remotes online

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 it is to originate one. 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!


Where You Get Car Keys Made

In some cases (older vehicles only), you can get duplicate keys made at a hardware store or box stores.

Auto Locksmiths are a Great Price Option for Duplicate Car Keys

For most vehicles, locksmiths and some independent auto repair shops will have the equipment and credentials to make and program car keys. Auto Locksmiths are usually your low-cost option.

Dealership Key Replacement Cost

Dealership car key replacement cost can be up to 2X higher than a locksmith. Locksmiths are competing for business against dealers and mechanics, so they keep prices low to attract business. This is especially true if you’ve lost ALL car keys. A dealer requires the vehicle be towed to them, while a locksmith will go to your location.

There are some instances where a dealer can beat the local locksmith price. Locksmiths generally use one price for all vehicles they support, but since a dealer is only supporting their cars, they may have cost saving measures in place that a locksmith doesn’t, and if your auto dealer participates in the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) key copies should be will still be reasonably priced.

NASTF is a cooperative effort from the auto service industry to ensure vehicle owners have the ability to swiftly and properly repair and service vehicles. There are rules and procedures in the US that most auto manufacturers abide by, allowing things like key programming to be accomplished by locksmiths and mechanics.

It is our recommendation that for key duplication, you call both the dealer and a locksmith to be sure to get the best price.

German Car Manufacturers Are Some of the Most Expensive Car Keys

But a few European manufacturers do not participate in NASTF. There are financial penalties to this these manufacturers, but they pay them to keep their information proprietary. Meaning, if you need a or replacement key fob, you have no choice but to go to the actual dealer.

With very few exceptions only dealers will be able to make post-2000, VW, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Saab and Volvo keys.

If you are lucky enough to drive one of these cars, you are unlucky in that they will be the most expensive backup car keys and FOBs you will ever buy.

Cost for a Basic Car Key?

Standard, All Metal Car Key

Basic keys are good, old fashioned, mechanical, all-metal keys. They are the least expensive keys to have copied. You can pay as little as $9-10 for these keys, and most are around $10.

Very rare keys (think out-of-production classic cars) can go as high as $25.

Vats keys
VATs Key

There is one exception, VATS keys. A VATS (Vehicle Anti-Theft System) key is a mechanical key, but it has a little resistor in it. The resistor value is set to the car, as a anti-theft measure. They do not require programming. A duplicate key will have to match the proper resistor value. VATS keys cost around $20-$45. But if you’ve lost the only key, it can cost a couple of hundred dollars determining which is the correct key to use.

The Cost to Program Keys and FOBs

Automotive Transponder Key
Automotive Transponder Key

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 car key is a little more expensive, and there will is the additional service cost to programming 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.

The cost to program car keys or FOBs is between $60 and $150. There are some variables at play. When programming a car, your service provider is charged a fee that varies by manufacturer. Chryslers are currently the most expensive, because they require a special, expensive code to complete the programming.

Can You Program Your Car Key Yourself to Save Money?

Key Programming Directions

Key Programming Directions Available on Our Website

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.

If your vehicle offers self programming, you’ll find a tab after selecting your car key or FOB labeled “Programming.”

Read the instructions carefully. Some manufacturers will let you self-program additional keys, but ONLY if you already have 2 operating keys in your possession.

BE ADVISED: If you have a key and a remote in one unit, the programming directions may only work for the remote portion, not the key. The key may still need to be programmed by a locksmith to run the vehicle even if the remote can be self-programmed.


Laser Cut High Security Sidewinder Keys
Laser Cut High Security Keys

Why Laser Cut Car Keys Cost More

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.

C your primary key, but you won’t need to spend the extra money on the combo unit until necessary.

How Can You Save Money on Car Keys?

If you’re feeling a little “sticker shock”, there are some options that may help make it less expensive, or that may help you reduce costs if you lose your last operating key and need a key originated.

Car Keys with Remotes Attached?

Auto Key Remote Combo
Remote Key Combo
Honda Key Shell

Car/Remote combo keys are keys that have the remote as part of the key head. In some cases, the cost is only incremental and minor, but in others it can add significant expense.

In most cases, you can save money on a spare keys by buying the key-only portion without the remote. This will allow you to still drive the vehicle should you ever lose

If the ring clip has broken, you can also just buy the shell for the key. A locksmith will cut it and then transfer the guts over to the new shell so you can avoid programming charges.

Don’t Program the Backup Key

One option to save is to have a key cut for your transponder-equipped car and not have it programmed. This key won’t start your vehicle, but if you do lose your primary key you will save money because:

  1. It will at unlock the door and you won’t need lockout service.
  2. By having this key you have the cuts required to turn your ignition thus eliminating the expense of determining those cuts.
  3. This backup can simply be programmed to the car and the car will now run. You only paying for the programming should you need it at a future point.

Locksmith Tip

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.

Quick Q&A

The good old fashion basic, all metal keys are the cheapest, often running under $10 for a replacement key. Once your key has a plastic head, it is possible that it is a chip key and that adds cost. This article covers pricing of all types of keys.
It varies by vendor. Dealers are typically the most expensive. Locksmiths are less. Price will land somewhere between $60 - $150. Some locksmiths, and almost all dealers, will not program a key that they didn't sell. We do.
In almost all cases, a 3rd party, such as your local auto locksmith, can make your replacement car key duplicates for less money. The one big exception is cars manufactured in Germany. We tell you why in this article.

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