Why Chipped Keys So Expensive

Nowadays, modern cars are fashioned with various layers of security to ensure that your vehicle is as safe as it can be. One of these new security innovations is the chipped or transponder key.

A chipped key serves as an added layer of security protection for your vehicle. However, they are actually known to be quite pricey. Have you ever wondered why that is so?

In this article, we’ll be talking about what chipped keys are in the first place and why they can be quite expensive.

What Is A Chipped Key?

A chipped or transponder key is considered to be a highly effective tool when it comes to modern automobile security. Back then, car keys would simply be metal blanks; however, nowadays we have been able to incorporate various features to increase security.

As in the name itself, chipped keys contain a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip. When the key is inserted into the car’s ignition (provided the car has an immobiliser system), the RFID chip is programmed into the car. The immobiliser stops the ignition from starting if the key is not recognised by the car.

When the key is plugged into the ignition, this is when the Engine Control Unit (ECU) will send the key a coded message. If the key is the right one, it will respond back to the ECU. Once this message is authenticated by the car, then your car will start.

Transponder keys do not have a battery, only an embedded chip. This chip is powered by the radio signals that are sent by your car. These signals have low strength but can activate the chip if the key is near the dashboard or is pushed into the ignition. 

Essentially, a chipped key is programmed to your vehicle, which cannot be accessed unless it can recognise the chipped key. 

Why Chipped Keys So Expensive

Why Are Chipped Keys Expensive?

There are a number of reasons why chipped keys are expensive. This can be attributed to three main reasons: the programming, the key blank price, and actually cutting the key.

1). Programming Chipped Keys

Programming chipped keys is not cheap. For starters, it will require special but pricey equipment that drives the price of the key up.

The components of the chipped keys are also something to consider. Chipped keys are fashioned with electrical components like circuitry and a battery which costs more for a locksmith to keep them in stock. Any mistake made with them can be much more costly than a standard metal blank.

However, more importantly, the car’s computer also has to be programmed in order to recognise the new key as a valid chip. As such, you are not only programming the key itself but the car as well.

2). Key Blank Price

Key blank prices wildly vary depending on the type of chipped key you are looking for. Older transponder blanks can be a little more affordable, but for more modern keys that have features such as the Remote Keyless Entry fob in the key, it can be much more expensive.

Smart keys or proximity keys for push-button ignitions are recognised as the most expensive type of chipped key. Evidently, there are not only various types of chipped keys but various prices that come with them as well. This is important to consider when it comes to chipped keys. 

Why Chipped Keys So Expensive

3). Cutting The Key

Cutting the key also requires specialised and costly key machines. Traditionally, every key would be cut on the edges, which made it easy for locksmiths, hardware stores, and car dealerships to have a key machine that can duplicate 99% of keys.

However, the breakthrough of high security “sidewinder” and “laser” cut keys means that traditional key cutting equipment needed a serious upgrade. And, of course, this means that they become pricier. These new machines are also known to take a bit longer than traditional machines. 


Chipped keys are a considerable breakthrough in both the automobile and locksmith industry. They are especially reliable if you want to ensure that your vehicle is properly secure.

They can be quite expensive due to its programming, various types of key blanks, and the process of cutting the key. However, this price is an important investment that can help elevate the security of your automobile.

At Solid Lock Locksmiths, we have adjusted the way we do business to adapt to the new normal. Just like the quality of our service, we make sure that your health takes top priority.

For a fast, reliable auto locksmith in your area, please call us today on 0401 073 756 or contact us through our website.