Auto Locksmiths blog

How Much it Costs to Hire an Automotive Locksmith in the US

By December 12, 2022 June 6th, 2023 No Comments

It’s normally under less than ideal circumstances that you actually need to call an automotive locksmith, but the good news is that there are many reputable car locksmiths working 24/7 across the United States to help get you out of a bind.

One worry that many drivers have, however, is how much it’ll cost once it’s all said and done. On the one hand, you certainly don’t want to be price gouged. On the other hand, you want to get good, dependable service – especially if it’s an emergency and you’re locked out of your car.

Average cost of automotive locksmith services in the US

A good place to start understanding how much automotive locksmith services cost in the United States is with some average cost breakdowns. On average, the national average cost of automotive locksmithing is about $129 in 2022, ranging from about $85 on the low end up to around $175 on the higher end, according to HomeGuide.

Naturally, there are many factors that can affect the total price you can expect to pay for an automotive locksmith, which we’ll explore later on in this guide. For now, let’s take a look at some of the average prices for typical services offered by automotive locksmiths.

Average cost of automotive locksmith services in the US

Unlocking a car tends to be relatively inexpensive compared to some of the other services, which can go up to $250 (sometimes more) for certain types of key replacement, for example. Vehicle lockouts tend to be one of the most frequent reasons for a call-out, so expect to pay around $85 at most for this service, all other things being held equal.

Factors that contribute to automotive locksmithing costs

As mentioned above, there are many factors that can influence the cost you can be expected to pay for a car locksmith. That’s why the average prices are a reasonable ‘rule of thumb’ but they aren’t written in stone. Some of the important factors that can reduce or add to the total cost include:

Insurance coverage

First and foremost, if your auto insurance policy covers automotive locksmithing services such as emergency lockouts, you might end up paying nothing at all since your insurance provider will process your claim according to your policy.

That’s why it’s important to look at your insurance policy or look at memberships like AAA to see if they’ll cover you, and if so, you can call an auto locksmith near you through Auto Locksmiths.

Emergency situations

If you’ve locked yourself out of your car and you fear for your personal safety, you may wish to call 911 instead of calling a car locksmith directly. This also applies if you’ve locked a baby in your vehicle. The police will call out an automotive locksmith and get you out of a bad situation quickly.

If you need an automotive locksmith outside of normal business hours and/or if you’re stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, expect to pay an additional $20 or so for emergency services. Some car locksmiths don’t charge for emergency call-outs at all. Just make sure that they operate 24/7 and can arrive quickly.


If you’re located far away from the nearest locksmith, they may charge around $10 or more to get to your location as well as mileage fees. For this reason, it’s important to find nearby locksmiths that can help you out, no matter where your vehicle is located, with a service such as Auto Locksmiths.

Furthermore, the cost of an automotive locksmith might be much higher in high-cost-of-living areas like New York City or Chicago than in smaller, more rural areas with lower costs of living.

Hourly labor

Most automotive locksmiths charge for parts and labor, with the latter generally costing around $75-$95 per hour. Keep in mind that most have a minimum fee of around $30-$85. The average job takes around 25-30 minutes to complete, although more complex jobs can take longer.

Service type

Some car locksmith services are more expensive than others, depending on the type of service required. The variations in price can be seen in the above graph.

Make & model of vehicle

Most non-luxury vehicles, especially older cars, tend to be fairly straightforward work for a car locksmith and as such the cost of key cutting and various other services tends to be much lower than for newer and/or luxury vehicles.

Situational variables

Fairly often, locksmiths end up having to do extra work because the customer forgot to mention a few important details. This means you’ll often end up paying more than anticipated, so try to explain the problem to the locksmith in as much detail as possible and provide them with the make and model of your vehicle, whether or not you’ve got keys locked inside the vehicle, and so on. This will help keep their prices as accurately aligned with your quote as possible.

Locksmith reputation

Many states have strict licensing requirements for automotive locksmiths, others do not. This means that, depending on your state, you might have the additional worry of dealing with a rogue ‘locksmith’ that is preying on your vulnerability. This is where the unfortunate stereotype of price gouging locksmiths comes from – a few bad apples that spoil the bunch.

One important qualification that many locksmiths have (whether or not they require a license to operate) is membership and accreditation with the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA). Certified members and businesses with good reviews tend to provide reliable services.

It’s always important to have the reassurance that you’re dealing with legitimate, qualified automotive locksmiths. Auto Locksmiths member partners have all been thoroughly vetted and approved for exactly this reason.

DIY vs calling a professional

If you have the technical know-how to regain access to your vehicle, you’re welcome to try. In many cases, however, this might only end up damaging your vehicle’s door mechanism, break the window, or damage the locks even further. This is quite common when a key breaks inside of the lock; turning it just a little more can end up with the key breaking inside of the lock mechanism.

For those that need effective and rapid solutions, there’s simply no alternative to calling a professional. Naturally, you’ll have to pay for their services (or have them help you file an insurance claim if you’re covered), but you’ll have the peace of mind of being back in your vehicle safe and sound.

How to get better prices for automotive locksmith services

When it comes to choosing a car locksmith, price is an important factor that you’re surely considering. The last thing you probably want is to end up paying way more than anticipated. For this reason, it’s worth spending a few minutes to browse some of the profiles of our member partners here on Auto Locksmiths and to request a no-obligation quote before having them come over to service your vehicle.

All of our members provide free quotes and will try their best to provide dependable, reliable services for your vehicle. Just try to explain to them the problem, tell them the make and model of your vehicle, provide your VIN, and let them know where the vehicle is located. This is all important on their end so that they have the proper tools and techniques to help resolve the problem, and it also helps keep the total price in line with the quoted amount.