How Much Does it Cost to Rekey a Lock? The Price of Changing the Locks

brown metal padlock and door lock

No matter what your living situation, you've likely had to get your locks re-keyed or were told to change the locks. If you're facing having it done again or for the first time, you're probably wondering how much does it cost to rekey a lock?

How Much Does It Cost to Rekey a Lock?

The cost of your project will be directly related to the size of your project and which company you choose. In general, having one lock re-keyed can range between $40-100—quite a spread. There are a few things to consider before calling a locksmith and then again before hiring one.

Think about the reasons you want your house to be re-keyed and if you are satisfied with the locks you have. Changing out a lock is something you can do yourself fairly easily, but you must pay for the new hardware. If you didn't know there was a difference between re-keying a lock and changing it, you're not alone.

Rekeying vs. Changing Your Locks

You've heard the typical advice when somebody breaks up with someone else and their friends tell them to “change your locks”. We get where they're coming from, but that isn't necessarily what needs to happen. If you have one person out there with a key, and you don't want them to have access to your place, it's more cost-effective to just have your place re-keyed.

What Is Rekeying?

When you're thinking how much does it cost to rekey a lock, let's talk first about what it is not. It will not change the way your locks look in any way. When a locksmith rekeys a lock, he changes the key you use and the inner working of the lock, but not the lock itself. The keys you have now will no longer work, but the lock will look the same.

To do this, the locksmith will take the lock apart and replace some key pins inside. The key pins fit into the weird grooves keys have—the more key pins, the higher the security. If you currently have six pins, you will still have six when the re-keying is complete. Rekeying is always easier when you have your current key because the locksmith won't have to pick your lock. It's ok if you don't: they will just tack on more labor to your bill.

So, if you're asking how much does it cost to rekey a lock, you might also wonder when you should get your locks re-keyed instead of changing them. These situations would be a good fit for a re-keyed lock:

  • You change roommates or break up with someone you no longer want to have access
  • You change service providers, like dog walkers, house sitters, or nannies
  • You don't remember how many keys you have and who might have them
  • You just bought the house and can't be sure where all the keys are
  • All your locks require different keys and you want one, master key
  • You or someone else with a copy of your key lost them
  • You've had a break-in and want to feel safer

Changing Your Locks

Changing your locks is an entirely different thing. This involves removing the actual hardware of the lock and replacing it. When you change your locks and use a locksmith, not only will you incur the initial cost of new locks, but you'll also be paying the locksmith's labor charges. This can add up quickly, particularly if you're buying high-end locks.

You don't need the help of a locksmith to choose or buy the locks you want. A trip to any hardware or big box store will give you plenty of choices. You must decide if you only want to change one, some, or all of your locks and what your budget is. You might fall in love with the way one expensive lock looks so only buy that for your front door and choose more inexpensive options for the rest of your entryways.

When you're thinking about whether to re-key or change your locks, consider these reasons you might choose to change them out:

  • You want all your locks and hardware to match
  • You have different brands of locks and want them all to work with the same key
  • You have old, rusty or defective locks and hardware
  • You want to upgrade to high security, smart or electronic locks

The Locksmith

Ask for recommendations or read reviews before calling the first locksmith you find. Like any business, there are reputable professionals in business to do a great job, provide excellent service at a reasonable price, and earn referrals. And then there are the other guys. With review sites, it's easy to see a positive or negative trend for each locksmith you're considering. Look for:

  • Someone who is licensed, insured and bonded
  • Someone who provides upfront pricing

Call more than one locksmith. Ask each one, “how much does it cost to rekey a lock?” and compare prices. Weigh the level of service, how much time it will take and when their next available appointment is. 

Emergency Services

If you're calling because it's an emergency and you want your locks re-keyed right away, you can expect to pay an emergency fee on top of what their normal costs are. Reasons for an emergency visit from the locksmith might be:

  • You lost your keys or you're locked out
  • You have an immediate need to keep someone out who has a key
  • There's a broken key lodged in the lock
  • You've just had a burglary
  • You're worried about home security

If it is an emergency and you fear for your safety, go to a safe location or call the police to be there as a peacekeeper. If you're just locked out, but it's dark out and there's no lighting in your area, stay in your car or go somewhere to wait and have the locksmith call you when he gets there. If you feel awkward dealing with a stranger alone, call a friend to be with you while the locksmith is working.

The Process

When the locksmith arrives, ask for identification. There are so many scams and scary crime rings, it shouldn't surprise him to be asked. Many states require your locksmith to carry a wallet-sized version of their license—better safe than sorry.

Before he starts work, he'll give you paperwork to sign. Make sure you can see the price he's quoting before you sign. Ask questions you have about the services he will provide and what's included. If you've already gotten an answer to how much does it cost to rekey a lock, there are still questions you should ask, like:

  • How long do you expect this to take?
  • What is included in the price?
  • How many new keys are included in the price?
  • Can you make more key copies on the spot?

Now that you have all your questions answered, let him get to work. It should only take between 10-15 minutes to do each lock, which is good news if it's an emergency and you need a quick fix.

High-Tech Locks

If you or someone in your family is constantly losing your keys or you change roommates a lot or switch housekeepers often, you might want to upgrade to a high-tech lock. These locks can use a keypad, Bluetooth or even biometrics to open. If you have a revolving door of people in and out or countless keys lost, all you have to do is change a code for your house to be secure again.

The most secure keypad is the biometric kind. With a biometric lock, you use your fingerprint to gain access to your home. Some will allow up to 100 fingerprint users to be stored but make it easy to revoke access. As with any high-tech gadget, they're expensive to repair and replace, so take that into consideration before you invest in this kind of lock system.

Smart home locks are very popular and allow you to lock and unlock your doors from your smartphone. You can see who has entered your house at a glance and disable people from being able to use their code to get in.

Conclusion

Asking “how much does it cost to rekey a lock” is just the first step in gaining the peace of mind you get from knowing you're controlling who has access to your home. Once you have the new keys, it's a good idea to write who you've given keys to so you can account for each one.

If you have different roommates, make a move-out checklist that includes collecting their keys and asking if they've had copies made, that way you can rest easy at night. If your roommate is the one who loses the key, they'll be the ones asking “how much does it cost to rekey a lock?”

Featured Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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