Just last month, I had to deal with a minor crisis – I lost my keys. My wife and I searched high and low for them. We looked under every couch cushion, and inside every nook and cranny. But to no avail.

To this day, we don’t know what happened to them.

Whatever it was that caused them to disappear, we strongly suspect that our 1-year-old son played a major role.

I fought admirably to delay the inevitable. But eventually, I had to admit that the keys were not going to turn up. And I was going to need to shell out the cash to get replacements made.

Whether you lose your keys like me. Or you only want to make copies of keys so that you have some extras on hand. Everyone needs to have keys made from time to time.

But what places offer key making services? And more importantly, how can you save money on getting keys made?

We’ll answer both of those questions throughout this article.

Stores That Offer Key Making Services

Below, you’ll find a list of 24 different places, sorted alphabetically, to get cheap keys made near you.

For your convenience, we’ve also included the following information:

  • The types of keys each store can duplicate
  • The kind of key making service each individual store offers (kiosk or full-service desk)
  • A link to where you can find the closest store to you

Please keep in mind that just because a business is on the list below, it does not guarantee that your local store participates.

To save on gas, time and avoid wasted trips, we recommend calling your local branch to confirm the information below.

1. 7-Eleven

2. Ace Hardware

  • Service offered: Employee-managed desk
  • Types of keys: Should be able to handle nearly all standard keys (home, office, and padlock) and car keys.
  • Find the closest Ace Hardware to you.

3. Albertsons

4. Advance Auto Parts

5. Bed, Bath, and Beyond

6. Fred Meyer

7. Giant Eagle

8. H-E-B

  • Service offered: Self-service kiosk (MinuteKey)
  • Types of keys: Standard (home, office and padlock), custom design and UltraLite keys
  • Find the closest H-E-B to you.

9. Home Depot

10. Kmart

11. Kroger

  • Service offered: Self-service kiosk (MinuteKey)
  • Types of keys: Standard (home, office and padlock), custom design and UltraLite keys
  • Find the closest Kroger to you.

12. Menards

  • Service offered: Self-service kiosk (MinuteKey)
  • Types of keys: Standard (home, office and padlock), custom design and UltraLite keys
  • Find the closest Menards to you.

13. NAPA Auto Parts

14. O’Reilly Auto Parts

15. Lowes

  • Service offered: Self-service kiosk (MinuteKey) and many also offer employee-managed key desks.
  • Types of keys: Varies by store, but should be able to handle most types of keys.
  • Find the closest Lowes to you.

16. Pep Boys

17. Ralphs

18. Rite Aid

19. Safeway

20. Sears

21. Tom Thumb

22. Vons

23. Walmart

  • Service offered: Self-service kiosk (MinuteKey) and some also provide employee-managed key desks.
  • Types of keys: Varies significantly by store.
  • Find the closest Walmart to you.

24. WinCo Foods

Types of Keys

It’s important to understand the different types of keys, and why some cost more than others.

Certain types of keys are a lot more expensive to replace than others because of the technology inside of them (mostly car keys). So you’ll want to shop around before replacing these pricier, high-tech keys.

You can replace other keys, like your basic house key, just about anywhere. And all stores will typically price them competitively.

Home, Office and Padlock keys

Most home, office and padlock keys are standard brass keys. You can copy standard brass keys at virtually any of the stores on our list.

Mechanical Car Keys

Some keys from very old cars are considered “mechanical” car keys. This simply means that they have no “chip” or RFID tag.

Technologically, they are just as basic as the home and office keys discussed above. And you can copy them at nearly all of the stores we’ve listed.

Car Keys With Built-in Transponder (Chip Keys)

Years ago, car manufacturers began to realize that mechanical car keys were far too easy to duplicate. And they were a liability.

Plus the types of car engines that used mechanical car keys were very easy to hotwire.

To solve this problem, car makers started putting transponders (“chips”) inside their keys. These transponders send a radio signal to the car engine.

  • If the engine receives the radio signal that it has been programmed to accept, the car will start.
  • If not, you better call Uber, because the vehicle is NOT going to start.

Car Key Fobs

Cars with keyless ignitions are becoming more and more popular. With these cars, rather than inserting a key into the ignition, you simply press a button to start your vehicle.

For these cars to work, they need to sense that the car’s unique key fob is within proximity.

These key fobs are so powerful and accurate that most of the cars that use them know whether they are inside or outside of the vehicle.

  • If the key fob is outside the vehicle, the car won’t start.
  • If the key fob is left inside of the vehicle, many will not allow the doors to be locked.

Key fobs are a great innovation in key technology but are even more expensive to replace than chip keys.

If you need to copy a chip key or key fob, the one thing you want to avoid is having to use the car dealership.

  • Dealerships charge astronomical prices for key cutting.
  • It’s not unusual for a dealership to quote a price for over $200 to have a chip key made. And over $500 for a key fob.

Shop around to see what store can give you the best deal.

“Do Not Duplicate” and “Restricted” Keys

Because of the security risk that can come from employees making copies of store keys, many businesses use keys that have a “Do Not Duplicate” label on them.

Other businesses take things a step further by using “Restricted” keys. They are special keys with duplication rights that are limited to the key’s original manufacturer.

At nearly all the stores on the above list, you will not be able to make a copy of a “Do Not Duplicate” or a “Restricted” key without proper identification and proof of authorization.

Two Types of Store Key Making Services

Now we have a basic understanding of the different types of keys you may need to have copied. Next, let’s discuss the two main types of ways that stores provide key making services to their customers.

Self-Serve Kiosks

A great number of stores rent out space in their buildings to self-service key kiosks. The two primary key kiosk companies are KeyMe and MinuteKey.

Below, we discuss both kiosk companies and what they have to offer.

KeyMe: Key Making for the Digital Age

KeyMe is a pretty amazing company that is trying to leverage technology to entirely change the way that we think about getting keys made.

Walk up to any of KeyMe’s kiosks, insert your current key, and they should be able to make you a copy quickly.

For complicated keys with custom designs or those with chip/fob technology, KeyMe will scan a copy of your key, and then ship a new one to your home in three days.

But they take things even further by allowing you to save a copy of your key scan to the cloud. If you ever need to get a new key made in the future, all you have to do is use your fingerprint for authentication.

Using the KeyMe app, you can scan a copy of your key and order another without ever leaving the confines of your home.

  • You can even use the app to send a digital copy of your key to a trusted family member or friend.
  • Using that digital copy, friends and family can order a physical key themselves from their KeyMe app or at their local KeyMe kiosk.

KeyMe can handle key fob technology and can even convert your key fob into a sticker for your phone. How cool is that!

While I do think that you could save more money by going to run-of-the-mill full-service key desks, KeyMe’s technology and logistics expertise makes them an attractive option.

MinuteKey

MinuteKey is another key kiosk company that partners with retailers, most notably Walmart.

If you have a basic home, office, or padlock key that you need copied, a MinuteKey kiosk will work just fine. But they won’t be able to handle anything more complicated than that.

They also do not offer any of the innovative perks we mentioned above that KeyMe has become known for.

Full-Service Key Desks

Some stores offer full-service key desks that employees manage.

The types of keys that these key desks can duplicate varies. But many of them (especially the ones in home improvement stores) can make key copies of virtually any type, including chip keys and key fobs.

Other Ways to Get Cheap Keys

Retail stores aren’t the only places that you can get ahold of a cheap key. For more ideas to help you save money on keys, check out the suggestions below.

Buy “Blank” Keys Online

If your car uses a chip or key fob system, there’s a good chance that you can buy a “blank” key on Amazon, eBay or another online retailer.

Just search for your car’s make, model and year to see if any blank keys are available online.

  • In general, you can purchase blank keys online for far less money than Ace Hardware, Home Depot or other retail stores would want to charge you.
  • Out of curiosity, I looked up my car and, I saw that I could buy a blank chip key on Amazon for about $20.

But you’re probably thinking “What good would a blank chip key do for me? I’d still need to get it cut.”  Yes, that’s true.

But you only make you a copy of your current key’s mechanical design, NOT the chip coding system.

  • In other words, you would be just making a key that would unlock your door, but would not start the engine.
  • A standard cut like this will at most cost you a couple of bucks.

Again, you’re probably thinking, “But, that’s not very helpful. I need to be able to start my car. And still, you’re correct.

But here’s the cool part – many vehicles have a self-programming process for blank keys. To see if your car has a self-programming key system, check your owner’s manual.

Call Your Local Locksmith

A professional, local locksmith can help with all manner of unique key situations.

For instance, if you were to get a blank chip key from Amazon as we discussed above and it was NOT able to be self-programmed, what would you do?

Correct answer: Bring it to your local locksmith to program it for you.

  • They’ll usually charge you a lot less to program a blank key than you would be charged to purchase and program one of their own keys.
  • Many retailers refuse to cut or program any keys that you didn’t purchase in their store. But locksmiths tend to be much more flexible about this.

Also, a local locksmith could save you a lot of money when you’ve lost all of your keys, and you have no original that can be used to duplicate.

  • Many people think in this situation that their only option is to have the car towed to the dealership. But this isn’t true.
  • I had this exact situation happen to me last year. I called up my local locksmith, and they confirmed they could make a chip key for my car even without an original available for duplication.
  • And they charged me less than half the price that the dealership was going to charge me.

And as a bonus, they drove to me to take care of the job. So not only did I save on the key cutting cost, but I also saved money by avoiding a tow.

Don’t underestimate the resourcefulness and capabilities of a local locksmith business. There are many situations where their expertise could save you a great deal of money.

Summary

Losing your keys is always a hassle. But getting a new key made doesn’t have to be.

And it doesn’t have to expensive either. Hopefully, you are now aware of many places near you where you could get a cheap key made today.

If you know of any other places to save money on key cutting, be sure to reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter to let us know!