Say what?! Hyundai Digital Key is free

In a world filled with subscription overload, Hyundai has done something novel. It’s giving its customers something for free. Yep, the Hyundai Digital Key is free – as are all its BlueLink connected services for safety, maintenance and convenience. Even though Hyundai execs said it during the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe press preview, we were curious if they mean free, free or “free.”

Turns out, as far as we can tell, it’s free, free. Let’s dig into the details.

What is the Hyundai Digital Key?

We’ve done a deep dive on Hyundai’s previous-generation Digital Key, which used near-field technology to open the door. That meant you had to take your phone out of your purse or pocket and tap it to the chiclet on the door in order for it to unlock. We got a lot of questions about what happens if your phone dies or gets wet or hacked (all answered in the deep dive), but generally we found this tech to be pretty cool and solid.

Now, the new Santa Fe gets the 2.0 version of Digital Key, which makes use of Ultra-Wide Band Bluetooth tech, and that means you can leave your phone in your purse or pocket, and it will act like a key fob and open the door passively as you walk up to it. You can also use your Apple Watch as the Hyundai Digital Key, which I love as a runner. No need to carry extra weight when you head out on your run? Yes, please!

All you have to do is activate Bluelink, and set up the Digital key through prompts in the app while inside the vehicle. You can then share up to three additional keys and set limits on vehicle access and control to those who hold the key.

The Hyundai Digital Key 2 is available at the SEL trim of the Santa Fe on up.

The definition of free

In an unusual move, Hyundai makes its connected services via BlueLink free. So, roadside assistance, remote start, maintenance schedules, etc., that you would get through the app are free. This includes the Hyundai Digital Key.

As Hyundai said during the press preview, this is free without expiration. Kind of. There are a couple of caveats. It’s free for the first owner. And it will work as long as LTE network is alive. And, I guess, it stands to reason, as long as your phone is still using the LTE network to operate.

But for all intents and purposes, it’s free, free.

The bottom line

We’ve dug into subscription fees from other automakers, and it drives us a bit batty. We’re already paying a pound of flesh to purchase a new car, and now you want a pint of blood every month, too. Boo.

We like Hyundai’s approach and hope other automakers are paying attention.

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