Copying Your Car Key Doesn't Have To Cost a Fortune. Here's How To Do It for Cheap

Your new car key


Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Hand of young repairman giving alarm system remote control to male client

Clever Car Hacks

Have you ever experienced that heart-stopping panic when you realize you've misplaced your car keys? Or worse yet, lost them and had to spend an arm and a leg to get your car towed to a dealership to have a new key made? I have, and it's the worst. But brace yourself for this groundbreaking revelation: Making a car key copy doesn't always have to be as expensive as a gourmet meal in a five-star restaurant. 

According to these thrifty Redditors, there are a few ways to do it for cheap — plus a handful of tips you should keep in mind to save you time and money in case you misplace it. 

Related: Cars That Everyone Hated

Car Keys and Remote on White with Clipping Path

Buy a Blank Key and Have a Locksmith Program It

One cost-effective way to have a new car key made is by buying a blank car key from an online marketplace, such as eBay, and then have it programmed by a locksmith — or learn how to do it yourself. "Get a blank key fob online or eBay and get it programmed by a locksmith," says one Redditor. "I bought one from eBay and programmed it myself, then got it cut at Ace Hardware. All in for $120." 

Related: Electric Cars Cheaper Than a Tesla

A shopping cart by a store shelf in a hardware store

Go to a Hardware Store

If you have a newer car model that has a smartchip in it, you can go to an ACE hardware store to have a copy made for cheap, says one Redditor. "Ace hardware can copy a smartchip, I had it done on a 2009 Subaru Legacy," writes the user, adding, "[It was] $80 if I remember correctly." That's way cheaper than having a key made at your car's dealership. "The Chevy dealer charges $400+!" warns another user. 

For more great money-saving tips and advice on how to live well, please sign up for our free newsletters.

Car key on white background

Always Keep a Backup Key Somewhere Safe

Keeping a spare key somewhere safe can save you from the major headache and inconvenience of being locked out of your car should you lose your main key. "Get a back up key made. That is the moral of the story," writes one user, adding, "When my wife travels and takes my car, I make sure she takes both key fobs. I remind her to take one out of her purse and leave it at the house as a back up." Smart move, dude. 

Road assistance worker helping young woman to change a car wheel on the highway

Consider Investing in AAA

Investing in AAA can provide you with peace of mind in the event of accidents, flat tires, or being locked out of your car. With AAA, you can have access to roadside assistance, including towing services, jump-starts, tire changes, and lockout assistance. "Always pay for AAA," writes one Redditor. "It’s $60-100 a year and gets you four tows. [This is] especially true if you own an older car and are poor or homeless."

Rearview of parked cars

Attach the Spare to the Bottom of Your Car

Prepare to have your mind blown by this ingenious tip. "I got this magnetic box with a spare key that you stick to the bottom of the car just in case," writes one Redditor. This way you won't have to rush back home to fetch your spare key and trek back to where you parked your car. Thanks to this nifty trick, you'll always have easy access to your vehicle in case of a misplaced or lost key. 

Silver Push Button Start

Invest in a Keyless Remote

I was today years old when I learned about the remote keyless system (RKS), or remote central locking. Using an electronic remote control, which can be operated via a handheld device, the system enables you to unlock your car without a physical key, and they range from around $20 to $60 on Amazon. The only caveat? To activate them, you have to use the original remote or key fob. "If you don't, you will have to go through the dealer and it will cost you hundreds to replace," writes one user. 

Hand of car mechanic with wrench. Auto repair garage. mechanic works on the engine of the car in the garage. Repair service. Concept of car inspection service and car repair service.
Kunakorn Rassadornyindee/istockphoto

DIY Car Key Hack

If you're handy, you can save yourself even more money by following this pro tip: "Get an extra key made for your car. Drill a hole through the top of the key. Find a bolt underneath your car that’s within hiding but also easy access to reach. Find a wingnut that will fit that bolt and put that key tight on the car," writes one Redditor, adding, "This has saved me [when] I’ve lost my key. It’s the best 20 bucks I’ve ever spent."