Everyone needs to charge their electronic devices at some point, and when they do, the USB cable is a common wire to use.
USB cables perform many functions from charging devices to transmitting data.
Buying a USB cable, however, isn’t always cheap due to a few factors.
Why Are USB Cables So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of a USB cable is around $10 with some even costing over $20.
USB cables are expensive because of the cost of manufacturing them based on their type, length, brand name, certification costs, and quality.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Type Of USB Cable
Here’s the deal with USB cables.
There are a few different types that can determine how expensive they are.
The “type” of USB cable you need usually depends on its shape.
The shape of the USB cable is about the connector.
It fits into a port on a device as long as the port also matches the shape of the USB cable connector.
For example, a USB-A type, which is one of the most common types, fits into ports with the USB-A shape.
It’s square in shape and has a few connector pins inside.
The USB-C cable, on the other hand, has a very different shape to it.
Instead of being a rectangle, the USB-C connector is more oval in shape.
It also has far more connector pins.
Likewise, a port for a USB-C cable is also going to be oval in shape with several connector ports.
The type of USB cable you have can impact the price because some shapes are a bit more expensive than others to manufacture.
A geometric shape like a square or rectangle is a bit easier to produce than an oval.
As such, USB-A cables tend to be a bit cheaper than USB-C cables.
USB-A cables are also very common.
Since many devices have a USB-A port, USB-A cables are in high supply.
As such, they come at slightly cheaper prices.
USB-C cables aren’t as common, though that is on the rise.
While they certainly have specific uses, they’re not as widespread as USB-A yet.
As such, manufacturers don’t make them in as large of batches as USB-A cables.
Since supply isn’t as high, the price of USB-C cables is higher.
USB cables are expensive because some types are more expensive to manufacture and in lower supply than other types.
2. Cable Length
USB cables also come in different lengths.
Some cables might only be a few feet while others may be several meters.
The length of the cable can greatly influence its price.
Longer cables require more materials in their production chains.
In order to make more of something, you need more materials.
Depending on the type of materials that a company is using, it might face high manufacturing costs for producing long USB cables.
With higher manufacturing costs, the company has to sell the product at higher prices to offset those higher costs.
There’s also a matter of perceived value.
A consumer might see a long USB cable as more valuable than a short one.
A longer USB cable allows them to have a bit more freedom in how they decorate or situate their living rooms, for example.
A short USB cable might require them to move certain devices closer together even though it ruins the flow of the room.
A longer USB cable allows them to spread things out without worrying about whether the cable can reach different devices.
Since that’s more convenient for them, they’re willing to spend more money on a longer cable.
USB cables are expensive because longer cables cost more to make and have more value to certain consumers.
3. Brand Name
You might be wondering why a USB cable that comes from a well-known brand tends to be more expensive than a generic brand selling the same type of cable.
It all has to do with the brand tax.
While this isn’t an actual tax that the brand adds to the price, it does influence it.
A well-known brand name has earned a certain amount of respect and trust in the market.
It’s taken the time to build its reputation for providing high-quality products.
That sort of trust is something that a lot of people are willing to pay more money for.
To some consumers, it’s worth paying a few dollars extra for a well-known brand because they know they’re getting a solid product in return.
To them, it’s seen as less risky than paying for a product, albeit a cheaper one, from a generic brand that they know nothing about.
Several well-known brands produce USB cables and other types of cables.
Some of those brands include the following:
These are brands that have continuously produced high-quality products that consumers have enjoyed.
Since the trust is there, the company can place a higher price tag on its products.
Depending on how high the company wants the markup percentage to be, you could end up with a very expensive USB cable compared to a generic brand.
USB cables are expensive because big-name brands tend to come with high markup percentages.
4. Number Of Wires
Most USB cables have four wires.
Two of those wires provide power.
The other two wires are for transmitting data.
While this is standard for any basic USB cable, some cables might add more wires.
Typically, some USB cables also provide an additional service.
For example, one USB cable might also act as an Ethernet cable.
The cable might have different types of wires than is standard for a USB cable or it might use more wires.
Other cables might provide other features or services.
To provide that service, it typically needs more wires.
High-quality USB cables might also have more wires to perform better.
Instead of having two data wires, for example, it might have four.
These types of USB cables are more expensive because they have more materials.
The more wires a cable has, the more the manufacturer spent to make them.
This is especially true if the wires are of a material that is expensive to source.
Like with cable length, USB cables that provide another service also have a higher perceived value.
Some consumers might be willing to pay more for a USB cable that can handle multiple functions.
The extra cost is worth it to them.
USB cables are expensive because some specialty cables provide other uses which can be expensive to manufacture.
5. Sheath Material
One of the most important parts of a USB cable is its sheath.
Without a high-quality sheath, your USB cable likely wouldn’t last very long.
USB cables are portable.
Certain types are more portable than others.
USB cables used to charge your phone, for example, are often carried around with you.
They see a lot of abuse as you stash them in your pocket or purse.
Other types remain where they are, like in your living room.
No matter what environment it’s in, there’s always a risk to the wires inside the cable.
That’s why sheathing is so important.
In the case of a phone charger, the sheath has to be able to protect the wires inside the cable from sharp objects, pulling, or just rough use.
That means that manufacturers have to use high-quality materials to make the sheath.
Even USB cables that mostly sit in one place at home need a decent sheath.
There’s always a chance that water might spill onto it or a pet might start to chew on it.
Manufacturers tend to use either PVC or TPE to make the sheath.
Others might use more expensive materials for certain situations or certain markets.
These materials do well in ensuring the delicate wires inside the cables remain safe.
However, since it increases manufacturing costs, the price of those cables is also higher.
USB cables are expensive because of the cost of sheathing materials.
6. Data Transfer Speed Costs
One of the most important aspects of a USB cable is how fast it can transfer data.
This might be more important for some cables versus others, but it’s a factor that can impact their prices.
A cable designed to charge a phone, for example, is still going to require data wires and perform data transfers.
You might find that a phone cable that has fast data transfer rates is more effective for your needs.
The USB data transfer rate is also important for transferring information from one device to another.
The faster a cable can transfer data, the faster it finishes the job.
It can save you time or just result in better performance.
However, being able to transmit data at a fast rate tends to come at a cost.
It usually means that the manufacturer has to use high-quality materials to achieve fast data transfers.
Since the manufacturing cost is more expensive, the price for the product is also going to be expensive.
The price has to cover those costs and ensure that the company receives enough revenue to make the effort worth it.
USB cables are expensive because providing fast data transfer usually means higher manufacturing costs.
7. Manufacturing Costs
Manufacturing costs, in general, are one of the key reasons USB cables are so expensive.
Some USB cables might contain gold, for example, or other precious metals in their production.
Precious metals are expensive to source.
As such, the company has to put higher prices on its products to offset those higher costs.
If a company also provides additional features with their cables, those can increase the price, too.
USB cables are expensive because manufacturing costs can be quite high.
8. Research And Development Costs
Because the competition in the USB market is quite fierce, companies have to spend a lot of money on research and development.
Companies need to look for new materials, methods, or other means of making their USB cables stand out from the others.
This ensures that consumers will choose their products over the competition’s cables.
Researching and developing new products, however, isn’t cheap.
It can also lead to failure which is just a waste of money.
However, without innovation, the business will be unable to scale or adapt to a changing market.
As such, most companies spend a good amount of money on research and development costs.
That results in higher prices since the company needs those funds to come from somewhere.
USB cables are expensive because of research and development costs.
9. Outdoor USB Cable Costs
While some USB cables are primarily meant for indoor use, others are specifically made for outdoor use.
These types of USB cables often have UV-resistant and water-resistant sheathing materials.
It helps keep the wires protected from deterioration from exposure to UV rays and water.
As anyone knows, water and electronics don’t mix well.
Since this type of sheathing is a bit more expensive to make, outdoor USB cables are also a bit more expensive to buy.
USB cables are expensive because manufacturing them is more expensive when they’re meant for outdoor use.
10. USB-IF Certification
A final reason USB cables are expensive is that they have to go through USB-IF certification.
In order to use USB branding and logos, a company has to submit its product to USB-IF.
They’ll then test the USB to ensure that it matches their standards for USB cables.
If it does, then the company can use the appropriate labeling in its advertising.
Without that certification, the company cannot use the labeling.
That means the company might not pull in as many customers because the customers should be looking for a logo that states it received certification from USB-IF.
The problem with certification is that it can cost a company some money.
For one, the cables have to go through the certification process, which takes time.
During that time, the company isn’t making money off its products.
The company also has to ensure that it is making its cables to the standards of USB-IF.
That usually means the company has to spend a certain amount of money to use the right materials to meet those standards.
That can drive up manufacturing costs.
Since costs are higher, the price of the cable is going to be higher.
USB cables are expensive when they have USB-IF certification.