SD cards are a popular form of memory storage in phones, cameras, and other portable devices.
However, they don’t always have a long lifespan.
If you’re finding yourself in need of a new SD card, then you may have realized how expensive they are.
Why Are SD Cards So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of an SD card is around $100, but you can find some for as low as $10 and some as high as $300.
SD cards are expensive due to the brand name, the size of the card, its storage, and the extra manufacturing costs used to protect the card.
Let’s look at these factors and some others in more detail.
1. Brand Name
The SD card’s brand name can add a bit of money to its final price tag.
If the card comes from a well-known and reliable brand, there’s a good chance that the card is going to be a bit expensive.
That’s especially true when compared to generic brands or brands that haven’t had the time to establish their reputations yet.
Brand names can get away with higher prices because they’ve taken the time to establish themselves as authorities in the market.
They’ve produced enough SD cards that the general public knows that the company produces high-quality products.
This positive reputation makes it more likely that customers are going to buy from that brand rather than an unknown brand.
It’s a less risky investment since the customer knows what they’re getting.
Some of the top brand names that produce high-quality SD cards include the following:
These brands have a strong presence in the SD card market.
They tend to make expensive cards with certain features like waterproof casings or backward compatibility with certain hardware or software.
If you want a cheap SD card, then you might need to look for a generic brand.
If you want a card that’s likely reliable, you might need to pay the extra price that comes with a well-known brand.
SD cards are expensive when they come from well-known brand names.
2. SD Card Size
The size of the SD card can also impact its price.
There are microSD cards, standard sizes, and even large SD cards.
Each size usually serves a particular purpose.
MicroSD cards, for example, tend to go inside smartphones.
While every phone has internal memory space, you can insert a microSD card to increase the space on many phones.
That’s ideal for people who make a lot of videos on their phones or take lots of pictures.
Standard SD cards tend to partner with cameras used in professional photography.
Photographers will use them to store their photos.
Professional photographers might even use larger SD cards since they might offer more space.
The reason size matters is that bigger SD cards require more materials.
Since it’s using more materials in its manufacture, it’s going to cost more to make.
As a result, the manufacturer has to sell the SD cards at higher prices.
It offsets the company’s costs and allows the company to make a profit.
Larger SD cards also tend to come with more features, and those aspects add to the cost as well.
SD cards are expensive when they’re quite large.
3. Fast Download And Upload Speed
One of the most important aspects of an SD card is its read and write speed.
You might also call that its read or write speed.
SD cards that have read and write speeds tend to be more expensive.
For one, those cards are more valuable.
They’re convenient for photographers.
Photographers tend to take tons of pictures when at a photoshoot, wedding, or outdoors.
They then have to transfer all those photos to their computer.
That can be a lengthy process if the card doesn’t have a decent read speed.
SD cards that read fast have value because it gives the photographer more time to edit.
The faster they can start editing, the faster they can receive payment or begin working on their next project.
Write speed is also important.
If an SD card doesn’t have a decent write speed, then it can take the camera a few moments before it can take another picture.
The SD card is too busy writing the previous frame.
This might make a photographer lose a fraction of a second which might result in them missing the perfect shot.
As such, SD cards with high write speeds are also valuable.
Achieving high speeds means the card usually needs high-quality materials.
That also adds cost to the manufacturing process.
SD cards are expensive when they have fast read/write processes.
4. Storage Size
Another big factor of SD cards that can influence their pricing is the storage size.
You’ll often see SD cards with a specific amount of memory on them.
Some have a few GBs of memory.
Others even have TBs of memory.
The more memory an SD card has, the more expensive it is.
For one, there’s more value in a card that has a lot of space.
That makes it more convenient to use.
Photographers don’t have to worry about carrying different SD cards with them.
A single SD card with a ton of memory might be enough for a shoot.
Making an SD card with a lot of memory is also more expensive than making one with a small memory capacity.
It might require more engineering, more parts, or simply better parts.
Either way, it adds to the cost of manufacturing the card.
Since the costs are higher, the price of the card is also going to be higher.
SD cards are expensive because cards with a big memory cost more to make.
When it comes to smartphones, SD cards aren’t always necessary.
They’re more of a product of convenience than anything.
Unless you’re an influencer or photographer, there’s a good chance that you don’t use a lot of memory on your phone.
As such, if you want to purchase an SD card, then it’d be more to make using your phone a bit more convenient.
SD cards aren’t always essential.
To some people, SD cards are expensive because they don’t have an immediate need for them.
They’re just something extra that can make taking photos or videos on their phones a bit more convenient.
To professionals, having an SD card is mandatory.
It makes their job easier and more convenient, too.
Instead of having to switch rolls of film, they can fill up an SD card, then simply switch it out and put in a new one.
They’re valuable in that sense.
SD cards are expensive because some see them as purchases for convenience while others have their professional lives improved by them.
6. Short Lifespan
An unfortunate aspect of some SD cards is that they don’t always have a long lifespan.
When used normally, you can sometimes get 10 years out of a single card.
However, if you have an SD card, then it’s probably because you use it professionally.
In that case, you’re likely using your SD card more than just normal.
You’re using it a lot.
Each use of the SD card essentially wears it down a little more.
If you’re using your SD card a lot, then it’s going to degrade at a faster rate.
Your card might only last for five years.
This makes SD cards expensive because it means you have to keep buying them.
It’s also possible to damage them.
Cheaper SD cards don’t always have waterproofing.
If you leave it out and the rain gets to it, it might ruin the components inside.
If you have it buried at the bottom of your backpack, certain items could crush it or chip it.
Either way, you’re going to need to buy a new SD card.
SD cards aren’t the cheapest purchases, so if you’re going through a lot of them in a given time, then your expenses become quite high.
SD cards are expensive because they don’t always last a long time which requires you to buy more.
7. Gold-Plated Connection Pins
Inside an SD card are a few precious metals.
One precious metal is gold.
Although used in small amounts, each SD card has gold-plated connection pins.
The price of gold, even in its plate form, can be quite expensive.
The manufacturer has to buy the gold which usually comes at a high price.
Then they need to pass that cost onto the consumer.
That’s also why larger SD cards tend to be more expensive.
It might have more connection pins, which means it needs more gold.
Since the manufacturing costs are high, the price of buying the card is also going to be high.
SD cards are expensive because of their gold-plated connection pins.
8. Research And Development Costs
SD cards have come a long way from their previous models.
It used to be that SD cards were quite slow in reading and writing.
They also couldn’t always hold that much data on them.
That is no longer the case.
You can find SD cards with memory capacities over a terabyte.
Some of them have other features that are relatively new to the space as well.
The ability of a company to release new features or more advanced SD cards comes down to its research and development team.
The team has to come up with new ideas, prototype them, test them, and determine whether their results match their goals or not.
It takes money to fund a research and development team.
The high prices on SD cards allow those companies to keep researching new ideas.
SD cards are expensive because companies spend a good amount of money on researching and developing new ideas.
9. Waterproof Case
Some expensive SD cards also feature waterproof casings.
This is important for photographers who do underwater photography or any type of photography that could face exposure to water.
While SD cards sit inside the camera, there’s always a chance that water might leak into the camera.
There’s also always a chance that someone might leave their card in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Companies that make waterproof casings do so to keep SD cards safe.
However, making something waterproof usually requires certain materials.
Those materials aren’t always cheap.
Since the cost of manufacturing is higher, the SD card will be more expensive.
It also adds value to the card.
Some photographers might believe that the extra protection is worth the extra price.
SD cards are expensive when they have waterproof cases.
10. Shockproof Costs
While some photographers might worry about water exposure, others might worry about an electrical malfunction.
A short can occur at any time in an electrical device.
When a short does occur, there’s always a chance that it might fry anything connected to the circuit.
SD cards could lose all the data stored on them.
To avoid that, some companies make shockproof cases.
This protects the SD card from becoming fried.
Since such a casing costs more to make, the card is more expensive.
SD cards are expensive when they have shockproof cases.