How Much Do Locksmiths Charge and When Should You Hire One?
AAA alone reports getting calls from more than four million motorists every year because they’ve locked themselves out of their car. If you’ve locked yourself out of your vehicle, these numbers let you know you aren’t alone. It isn’t just cars, either. Plenty of people lock themselves out of their home or place of business, too and are left wondering “How much do locksmiths charge?”
When you’re in a lockout situation, you probably wonder if you should call a locksmith. Many people don’t realize the full extent of what locksmith companies do. They have a lot of questions.
Continue reading to find the answer to what locksmiths charge and much more.
What Does a Locksmith Do?
A locksmith, like their name suggests, works with locks. Most locksmith companies can handle any job dealing with locks or keys. They do this in residential, commercial, and automotive situations.
The work a locksmith does isn’t as easy as breaking out a window in your car or hoping you can crack a window when you lock your keys in the house. These professionals are (usually) able to unlock a door without causing permanent damage.
Hollywood might make picking a lock look easy, but it isn’t. To pick a lock, you need a lot of working knowledge on how locks are built on the inside. If you don’t know, then you’ll just end up frustrated.
Types of Locksmith Services
Locksmiths offer a wide range of services. These can generally be broken down into three categories – residential, commercial, and automotive. Let’s look at the type of locksmith services that fall under each of these categories.
Residential locksmith services refer to working with the locks around your home. Besides the obvious front or back door locks, it might also include working with safes. The most common residential services offered by locksmiths are listed below.
- Unlocking front or back doors
- Unlocking sliding glass doors or other alternative entryways
- Unlocking a safe
- Rekeying door locks
- Creating copies of house keys
- Installing locks and accompanying hardware
- Fixing residential door locks and accompanying hardware
Commercial locksmith services are like residential locksmiths, with many of the same options available. The difference is that commercial locksmith services are done on your place of business versus your home. The most common commercial locksmith services offered are listed below.
- Unlocking company doors
- Unlocking a safe
- Creating copies of business keys
- Installing basic locks and accompanying hardware
- Fixing basic locks and accompanying hardware
- Installing commercial-grade locks and hardware
- Fixing commercial-grade locks and hardware
- Rekeying door locks
Automotive locksmith services are different from their commercial and residential counterparts. This is because the service deals with vehicles instead of buildings. Some of the most commonly offered automotive locksmith services offered are listed below.
- Unlocking the car door or trunk
- Replacing the ignition cylinder
- Rekeying the ignition
- Creating copies of car keys
How Much Do Locksmiths Charge?
There is a wide range in the average charge rates of locksmiths. If you want to hire one, however, the question of “how much do locksmiths charge” is an important one.
Although it varies from one provider to the next, Home Advisor has compiled a listing of average price ranges.
These are just average ranges you might expect to pay. There are a lot of considerations when it comes to locksmith pricing. We’ll discuss key considerations in the next section.
According to Home Advisor, you can expect to pay the following when you hire a locksmith:
- Between $96 and $210 for a general project hire
- Minimum trip charges range between $50 and $100
- Emergency after-hours calls usually fall between $150 and $250
- Lock rekeying services vary between $50 and $100
- Car lockout services range between $50 and $100
Again, these prices are just average reported cost ranges. You might pay more or less for your locksmith service. A lot of factors go into determining how much it will cost to have a locksmith assist you.
Considerations in Locksmith Pricing
You know the general average price ranges, but those rates might change based on many factors. Let’s look at some of the considerations locksmiths make when determining how much to charge.
If you need a set of copy keys and go into an office yourself, this isn’t going to factor into your costs. Most locksmith services are done on an emergency basis at an outside location, however.
A locksmith company will generally serve a specific area. How far they’re willing to travel to assist their customers will depend on a lot of things. A quick phone call can let you know if a certain company serves your area.
Within their service area, locksmiths will typically set designated trip costs. This accounts for gas costs and traveling time. If you’re five miles from the company’s physical location, you’ll be charged less than if a locksmith has to drive fifty miles.
Complexity of Job
You now know locksmiths handle a lot of different jobs. How difficult a job is will determine the general pay scale.
Installing a new lock on your front door is going to be different from getting your keys out of your car. Likewise, installing a commercial-grade lock is different from installing a residential.
When you call the locksmith and explain what you need them to do, they’ll offer you an estimate. Keep in mind this estimate can go up if the job proves more difficult than originally thought.
Locksmiths often provide the parts necessary to fix or install things that have been broken. Many companies have residential and commercial door locks for sale. They also create key copies, which requires the materials and machines to do as much.
If you need parts with your service, that’s going to cost you more. If it’s a basic lockout service, however, you don’t usually have to worry about part charges.
Cost of Labor
The locksmith company you call has to pay its employees. Otherwise, there’d be nobody to help you get back into your house when you locked the keys inside.
For this reason, all charges are going to take into consideration the costs of labor. This is typically an hourly rate. The costs of labor will be lower for a quick fix than it would a job that takes two or more hours.
You can expect to be charged a little more from a company that’s been around a long time. A startup locksmith will charge less in exchange for building a reputation. Years of experience, however, will allow a locksmith company to raise its rates slightly.
A locksmith is typically available around the clock. People don’t only lock themselves out of their homes or businesses during normal operating hours, after all. In fact, it often seems like that’s the only time people don’t lock themselves out.
If you call during normal business hours, you’ll get a normal rate on your job. If you call after hours, there is likely to be an extra service fee. This is the basic cost of convenience.
Where a locksmith’s service area is located can be a big factor, too. Everything costs differently if you travel far enough. Costs in the south likely don’t compare to the Midwest and vice versa.
The type of service area will factor into costs, also. A locksmith company located in a big city might charge less than a rural company. Or, the rural company might charge less than one in a big city.
Competition factors heavily in determining the costs of locksmith services. An area with a lot of locksmith companies will likely have lower costs. This is because companies are competing for the same clients and clients like lower prices.
If there is no competition, prices might go higher. A locksmith company with no nearby competition can charge more because there is nobody else to call.
When To Hire a Locksmith
The answer to “how much do locksmiths charge” has been answered. But when do you need to hire one? You might want to hire a locksmith if:
- You’ve locked yourself out of your home, business, or vehicle
- You need your door locks replaced
- You need your door locks fixed
- You need a lock rekeyed
- You’ve broken your key off in your door lock
- Your vehicle’s ignition cylinder needs to be fixed or replaced
- You need a new set of keys made
Basically, if the job has to do with locks or keys, you should call a locksmith. But what happens if you don’t call a locksmith and try to do the job yourself?
Do You Really Need A Locksmith?
Some people think they can do the jobs a locksmith does. Some probably actually can. For most people, however, they aren’t qualified for the job.
While the movies make lock picking look easy, it isn’t. Locksmiths have to understand the different types of locks and how they work on the inside. If you don’t know this, your chances of hearing that click are nearly impossible.
During the process of trying to pick a lock, many things can go wrong. The tool you’re using might break off in the lock, which prevents you from using it at all. You might damage the internal workings of a lock and make it easier for someone to break into later.
If you end up breaking the lock on your door, car, or place of business, you’ll end up having to call a locksmith anyway. It’s better to just save yourself the frustration and call one at first.
What To Know Before Calling a Locksmith
A locksmith can help you in desperate situations. But, there are some things you need to know before calling one.
The locksmith you call is likely going to need some proof you had access to a lock in the first place.
It sounds frustrating, right? Who keeps identifying paperwork on them when they accidentally lock their keys inside the house at night? But there is a good cause for this.
If a locksmith didn’t ask for information before picking locks, someone could use them to break into somewhere they don’t belong. Criminals could make their work easier by simply calling a professional locksmith company.
By requiring valid proof, locksmiths are keeping your property safe from potential crime. It also keeps the locksmith company itself safe from being involved in criminal activity.
Small Risk of Damage
Another thing it’s important to know is there is always a small chance of damage when a locksmith works on your building or vehicle. The risk of damage is significantly lower than if you did the work yourself, but there are a lot of factors at play.
If the lock was already damaged, unlocking it could result in making it worse. This might happen if a lock was tampered with by you or another person before you called the locksmith company.
Older locks are more prone to damage. Time naturally weakens the materials used to create door locks. The added pressure of being forcefully unlocked can cause things to break.
Most locksmith companies will have you sign a waiver stating they aren’t responsible for this type of damage. On that same note, companies will usually take responsibility if the damage was done because of an obvious error on behalf of one of their employees.
Do you still have questions about what locksmiths do? Would you like more specific answers to the question of “how much do locksmiths charge”?
Check out this great pricing resource and learn more about how much locksmiths charge for specific services.