With so many rules, regulations, and high-tech options being made, it can be tough to get a replacement key made. And it gets even harder if you bought a vehicle that has a push-button to start or some kind of keyless entry.

The newer keys are indeed moving into the new area of technology. The only downside to the original key fobs is that they can be expensive to replace. The car key programming cost can be pretty steep.

To replace a key fob, you have to understand the process it takes and the types of keys that are out there. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know!

Types of Keys Determine the Car Key Programming Cost

We break this down below.

Basic Key

A basic key locks and unlocks all the car doors and has a security chip feature. Think of the car key that has a simple lock and unlock picture on it along with a red button that signals the alarm.

The key is one of the most essential parts of the car—it is also known as a remote or a transmitter. The average cost to replace a key that has stopped working or is lost is around $50-$100+.

This depends on the car model as well as the design of the key itself. Keys need to be programmed before they are ready to use. And depending on the dealer, you could get it done for free or have to pay a small fee for the service. 

Make sure to check your manual before taking it to a dealership. Some manuals have instructions on how to reprogram your key fob.

Transponder Key 

A transponder chip can be found in the head of the car key.

The way the chip work is it sends a signal to the ignition to start the car and has to be used before the vehicle can be turned on. If you use the wrong key, the car will not start.

The difference between a transponder and a basic key is the chip inside the key. The chip is the factor between the car starting or not. For some vehicles, the key and the fob come all in one. Which raises the replacement prices of the key. A replacement key can cost upward of $160, and the additional fob could be around $75.

If you go to a locksmith to have your key replaced, you should expect to be charged $20-$30 less than at a dealer.

Laser Cut Key

The shank of a laser-cut key is going to be thicker than a basic key.

It will also feature fewer grooves on the key design. The machine that is used to cut a laser-cut key is expensive and gives the key it’s side-winding grooves that it is typical for.

This type of key has a built-in transponder and has t be programmed before it can be used. To replace your key, you would need to visit your local dealer, and that would cost you between $150-$250 to replace and reprogram the new key.

Switchblade Key

The switchblade gets its name because you can fold the key into the fob when you are not using it.

When you are ready to use the key again, simply press the button, and the key will pop out, like a switchblade. You can purchase all of the pieces you need to create a switchblade key separately.

The shank of this key can be replaced for around $60-$80 dollars, which is cheaper than most. But, to replace the key and the fob will cost around $200-$300 in total. Switchblade keys overtime will be worn down due to the constant opening and closing of the key.

And every now and then you may find yourself opening and closing the key without thinking about it. The hinge can become worn down and break without a moment’s notice. Which means the key and the outer shell will need to be replaced.

Keyless Entry Remote

This type of key is known as a smart key.

The key can be inserted in the dash or can be kept in the glove compartment or near your phone. If you have the key, you can get into your vehicle and start the car. All you have to do is press the start button in the car.

With the keyless remote, you can use a rolling security code for safety measures. The way that the key works are that it comes up with a random code that makes it hard for hackers to steal the code and break-in.

The code that the key puts off will be picked up by the car, and the code verifies so that the vehicle can start. The cost to replace this key is more expensive than the other keys that we have talked about in this article. It will cost you $220-$500 depending on the model and ear of your vehicle.

When to Go to a Dealer

If your car was built in the last five or so years, then the best option you have is to visit your local car dealer.

We recommend this because it takes equipment that is on the expensive side to program your key. Some cars are designed so that you have to get your replacement key or a fob from where you bought it from.

In the newer model cars, the security chip within the fob is vital to your car use. The time that it takes to program a key fob takes between 15-30 minutes. This includes everything from cutting the key to programming the key.

Again we recommend that you check your car manual before going to the dealer. Some manuals will include instructions on how to reprogram your key without outside help.

Low-Cost Key Fob Options

For those of you that have a car that is over 10 years old, there are some other options that you can look into when replacing your key.


Using a locksmith to replace and reprogram your fob will help you to save money in the long run.

Most locksmiths will offer to perform their services and drive to your house to do so, and they are available 24 hours a day. Locksmiths charge less than a dealer to replace your key because they are competing for business.

Think about it when people get better deals in once place they are more likely to recommend that place to their friends and family when they need a key replaced. The other reason a locksmith is the better way to go is because they will test the key out before you leave.

Some places will do the work, charge you, ad obtain payment only for you to realize that the key and fob you just paid major money for does not work. Doing business with a locksmith will not only save you time it will also save you money.

Outer Shell Replacement

There are times when your key still works, but the outer shell of the key has been damaged or worn down due to use.

All you need to do is take the original and place it in a new shell. To switch the circuitry to another shell, you will need a screwdriver to pop the shell open. After you have moved all of the wires into the new fob shell, then you need to pop the new case together and test it to make sure it works.

Key Fob Replacement Information

There are some things that people should remember when it comes to replacing their key fobs and reprogramming them:

  • Ensure that you have more than one key in case one of them breaks. If one key becomes damaged and can’t be used, order a new as soon as possible
  • Before paying for a replacement key or replacement fob check your car’s warranty, your car insurance policy, any of your auto club membership, extended car warranties, and partial key reimbursement
  • If you visit a new car dealership you will be charged a base-level amount for their key-programming services. This will help you save money long-term by having multiple keys programmed at the same time
  • Read the small print about whether you can reprogram your car key and your fob by yourself. If you can’t reprogram your keys by yourself then there will be an extra charge to have it done somewhere else
  • Call your local mechanic and local locksmith before heading to the car dealership. It may be the difference between a low or high key replacement cost

What Increases Car Key Prices

There are a couple of factors that increase the price it takes to replace your car key and your key fob.

You are taking the right first step in trying to find ways to reduce the cost of replacing your key or key fob. There are a few things that can make purchasing a reprogramming a new key or key fob more expensive.

Parts You Need

The parts that you need to replace when fixing your key will be a factor that can increase or decrease the parts of your replacement. Take not that key fobs are not the same as a traditional car key. There is a difference in replacing a transponder key and reprogramming a transponder key.

The things that need to be replaced the most when it comes to your key are:

  • The key casing
  • Internal wiring systems
  • The batteries required to power your key fob
  • The cost of each item will depend on the make, model, and year of your vehicle

Type of Key Replacement

The other factor that can increase the key price depends on the kind of car that needs the new key replacement. Keys are made differently depending on the type of car that they are required for. Replacing the car key and replacing the battery in the key are two different things.

Take a moment and compare the keys of a car ten years old and a car that is less than five years old. One key is more modern than the other and more involved in its technology make-up.

Key Fob Time Replacement

The time that it will take or your key to be replaced will be bundled in with the rest of the costs for the service to be performed. If your key has a complex wiring system then it may take additional time to reprogram the key properly. The additional work hires will be attached to your bill.

Also, if you attempt to do it by yourself you could cost yourself more time trying to figure out what to do, which can create a larger mess for the person that has to fix the key and reprogram it after you. While you should check your manual for reprogramming help it is always better, in the end, to save yourself time and frustrations by letting a professional do it.

Ready to Get Your Key Reprogrammed?

We understand that we have given you a lot of information to take in during this short time, but all of it is valuable information.

There are so many things that make keys work and overtime those parts can be worn down. Remember that when your key stops working, needs to be replaced, or needs to be programmed then seek professional help.

We want you to call on us when you are in need of a new key and can give you a reasonable car key programming cost that will beat out all of our competitors.

Check out our list of services, then contact us an let the best in the business get the job done for you!