Duplicating a key is oftentimes necessary for your convenience and protection. In cases of a lost key, you know you have a spare. Or in case of door keys, getting multiple keys means convenience for the whole family as you don’t have to rely on a key or two for entrance purposes of every member of the family.
Copying a key is basically an easy thing. This involves the use of a machine to copy the outline of the original key and cut a pattern onto a key blank. However, some modern keys today are harder to duplicate because an entirely new key must be made based on recorded information. There are even some that requires a special key blank that has an electronic key for safety reasons, especially because theft is very much common these days. However, this modern means of key duplication has made copying a key a lot more expensive.
The Cost Of Copying A Key
The usual cost of copying a key is $1.25 to $4 per piece.
This price includes copying a standard key using a machine through a local hardware store or a local locksmith. The cost involves the labor, the key blank, and the copied key.
Factors Affecting The Cost Of Copying A Key
Key. The type of key to be copied greatly affects costs here. A basic door and car key cost the cheapest to duplicate, with prices ranging from $1.25 to $4. On the other hand, a luggage key costs $5 to $7 to duplicate and a safe or skeleton key costs about the same. There are, however, high-security locks that cost a lot higher to duplicate. Key duplication costs from $8 to $20 per piece. Lastly, keys of most new cars today are embedded with electronic chips, which means that duplicating them is more expensive. This costs $20 to $100.
Number of copies. The more copies of keys you request, the lower the cost of the duplicate is per piece.
Store. Where you bring the key for copying can tell prices as well. Local hardware stores that do basic door and car key duplicates usually charge the cheapest. You can get a basic key copied there for around $1.25 to $2 only. Getting the same kind of key to a local locksmith can make the key copy slightly more expensive with prices from $1.50 to $4. One great advantage of choosing a locksmith to do the key duplication for you over a local hardware store is that a locksmith has a larger inventory of key blanks and he usually is well-trained in terms of copying keys.
Location. Hardware stores and locksmiths charge differently depending on location. Local competition may have a big impact as well on the cost of their key duplicating services.
If you want a standard key copied on a distinctive key blank, expect to spend $3 to $6 for it. You can choose from a variety of prints including cartoon characters, sports logos, flowers, and so much more.
Car keys that are embedded with electronic chips require to be activated when copied. Activation is an additional charge of $30 to $75.
Tips Before You Decide To Copy A Key
Always deal with an efficient locksmith to do the key copying for you. Take note that there are some untrained locksmiths out there who cannot even tell a good copy from a bad one.
Remember that locksmiths will not copy keys that are stamped with “Do Not Duplicate.”
Call a locksmith ahead of time to check if the store can copy your key. Tell the store what kind of key you have and what brand it is. This will save you time from going to a store only to find out that they do not have a key blank compatible with your key or they are not equipped to program a transponder chip key.
Once you have the copied key, test it to the lock. Return the key if it does not open the lock easily as it is supposed to be.
If you’ve lost your car keys, it is possible to have them duplicated even if you don’t have an original key to be copied. You simply have to locate the Vehicle Identification Number of your car. You can provide this information to an auto dealership or locksmith to get you a duplicate of the key.
Know When You Have A Bad Copy
A lot of people have to deal with the fact that after getting a key copied, they end up with a bad copy that is of no use to them. This usually wastes their money and time, especially that they have to go back to the locksmith to return the key and have it reworked. To save you time, money, and effort, here are some things you have to know to see whether or not you have a good key copy:
- One of the easiest ways to know whether a key is good or not is through the grooves and shoulders. If it does not line with the grooves and shoulders of your original key, chances are you have a bad copy.
- Check the front end or shoulder of your key. You’ll see there a number that must be compatible with the key blank being used to copy the key on.
- There are some keys that cannot be copied by regular locksmiths. If a locksmith try to copy these keys, there is a good chance that they’ll do a bad job out of it since these keys are not meant to be copied normally in the first place.
- If the locksmith did not ask you for the make and model of your car when duplicating your car keys, it is possible that they have copied the key on a wrong key blank. Hence, the key copy will not work.
- If the original key is worn from use, there can be slight changes in the original key that will make the copy a failure too. Remember, if the original hardly works, the same will be true for the copy. Also, if the copy is a copy of another copied key, there is a slight chance that the duplicate won’t work as well.
- Copying a key that takes no time at all or takes a very long time must be doubted for the key copy’s quality.