How Much Does Cremation Cost?

21 answers | Last updated: Jan 19, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

How much does cremation cost?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The cost of cremation typically ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 if arranged through a funeral home and from $1,500 to $3,000 if arranged directly through a crematory. Although the cost of cremation differs depending on locale, it's almost always substantially less than the cost of a full body burial -- which is one of the reasons cited for cremation's growing acceptance and popularity.

However, in addition to the cost of the basic cremation service -- processing a body into the ash-and-bones mixtures called "cremains" -- a number of other charges may be added for related paperwork, goods, and services, including:

  • Getting an original death certificate and copies.

  • Obtaining a certificate releasing the body for cremation, usually issued by a medical examiner or coroner.

  • Transporting the body from the place of death to the place of cremation.

  • Disposing of the cremains by burying or scattering them.

  • Removing a pacemaker.

  • Handling charges paid to funeral industry personnel (if involved).

  • Purchasing or renting a casket or container.

Although these incidental charges can add a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to the cost of cremation, the item that's potentially the priciest is a casket, which can range from $500 for a simple wooden version to $35,000 or more for an ornate style. Many people who choose cremation opt not to purchase a casket, but some prefer to have one during a funeral or memorial service at which the body will be present -- before cremation occurs.

Community Answers

Rebekah peoples answered...

There is no set answer to this question due to the many factors involved. Most cremation plans fit into three main categories:

  • having the body present for visiting hours and a funeral with cremation afterward
  • having the body cremated first with visiting hours and a funeral afterward (with or without the "ashes" present)
  • having the body cremated first and then arranging for any services on your own.

All of these need to be considered for many reasons, not just cost. You can get information on these "packages" and their prices from any reputable funeral director over the phone.

Be careful though. Prices can vary a lot. For example, in some areas one of the above options is called "direct cremation," meaning that the funeral home will have the body cremated without any arrangement for visiting hours or any type of service. Prices in many parts of the country can range from $495 at one funeral home to $2595 or higher at others. Be sure you're comparing apples with apples, but the most important thing is to ask what is included in the price you are given. Ask the person for details, not just prices. What is included in the $495 or the $2595 price? With such a big price difference, there is probably also a big difference in what you're getting. Notice not only if your question is answered, but the tone and the degree of helpfulness you receive. If the person with the low price tries to tell you that they do the same thing as the guy with the higher price, be careful. We've all heard "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Even if you choose to have visiting hours and services followed by cremation, it is still less expensive than burial for a couple of reasons:

  • a casket will be necessary; however most funeral homes offer wooden caskets made specifically for cremation, which are less expensive than those used for burial. This is usually because there are no metal handles or other hardware (for obvious reasons) on the outside. Also almost all funeral homes offer a casket that you can rent, and

  • there are different costs depending on what will be done with the "ashes" or cremated remains. If they will be buried at a cemetery, the grave will cost less than for a full-size burial, the burial vault will also cost less and in many cases will not even be required. If they will not be buried, there will be no cemetery costs.

Also, keep in mind when you arrange for any type of services with a funeral director, that not all of the charges involved are those of only the funeral home. Most funeral homes include the charges from outside vendors on their bill for your convenience so you won't be overwhelmed with getting a bill from each of them. This includes items like the crematory's fee, the newspaper notice, certified copies of the death certificate, and even flowers and the fee for a speaker, minister, or church.

Most funeral directors will work with you to help you decide what kinds of services are appropriate and meaningful for you and your family, and the really good ones will work within your budget.

A fellow caregiver answered...

To be direct. Dad was $1240.00 for the entire cremation here in Salinas, CA. This was 240 more than her had thought. Her as well as us, felt it was still best to shop around. We took the lowest price. He felt once he passed it was just a body to dispose of.

Bless you!

Ed markin answered...

In a survey of Cremation Costs last year, in a Texas community near Dallas, we found the charge for a direct cremation ranged from $710 to a high of $3820, depending on which funeral home one used. What makes these numbers even more amazing is; all these funeral homes use the SAME CREMATORY and pay the same fee!

For the best price on cremations I suggest you contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance (, get the number to your nearest chapter, and ask for the nearest CREMATION SOCIETY to you. Here in Virginia, for instance, a direct cremation ranges from a low of $1145 to a high of $2995 through a funeral home, but through our Cremation Society the cost is $595 and includes all the transport (within the city) and paperwork required. The ashes (called Cremains) are returned to the family for final disposition in a sealed bag inside a plastic box. Lifetime membership in the Society cost $25 for the entire family and, should one of us die elsewhere, many of the societies have reciprocal agreements.

Ronjay answered...

just needed to know if their is payment plans available prior to passing. This would aliminate others having financial responsibilities to deal with. Thanks for suggestions don't need a bunch of liberal get rich after I'm dead proposals, Thanks

Rebekah peoples answered...

Ronjay, Yes, any firm that offers cremation services will allow you to set up a payment program. If you want to use the services of one that for some reason does not, you can go to almost any bank and set up a "funeral account" for funds that will only be used for your final expenses. This account will allow you to put in a lump sum or start with a small amount and add to it as you desire. The funds can be withdrawn with a certified copy of the death certificate when the need arises.

Bhf.nyl answered...

Ronjay- Yes, you can pay in advance for the cremation or burial. I actually help people do this. Please let me know if you'd like additional information. Good on you for having the foresight.

A fellow caregiver answered...

In Greensboro NC a direct cremation costs about $895

Threewe answered...


Fisher girl answered...

Anyone concerned about funeral expenses should visit the DFS Memorials network. They are all local, family-owned funeral businesses (Mom & Pop shops!) that can offer a simple direct cremation[] at an affordable price. In Florida and Nevada the price for a direct cremation is very competitive - around $495. However, in most other main cities across the U.S. you can expect to pay between $700 and $1,000. There are some areas, where lack of competition means that a direct cremation may cost over $1,000, but you should definitely check around carefully, as you should not expect to pay much above $1,500 for a basic cremation with no service. Otherwise you are overpaying.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Final Arrangements That could be Chosen by You

Range of Costs [See Disclaimer Below]

What Can I do? Alternative Final Arrangements if Available Have A Tip or Idea? Email: Final Arrangements Mail @ Funeral Home Service Learn More

$700 to $2,000 Have more than one Funeral Home to use and know what the charges are for services and goods you need before you need them. Look for Budget Funeral Services & Memorial Society Final Arrangements Preplanning Can Save You 50% of the Costs

Finding that Funeral Home and Director to work with you regarding your final arrangements preplanning for funeral services is so Important.

Move the Deceased Learn More

$150 to $1,000 Will be part of services from whomever you choose Memorial Society

Preparations of Deceased Learn More

$300 to $600 Eliminate by choosing cremation where it should not be necessary to perform Memorial Society

Cremation Service Learn More

$600 to $1,000 Compare services and prices from several of these sources; Memorial Society, Cremation Society, Internet Companies, Local Cremation Company Cremation is becoming the predominant final arrangements choice at death in the US.

Why Cremation Scattering services are becoming a more and more popular method of Memorialization for many Americans.

Embalming Learn More

$400 to $600 If you don't need it don't allow it Not Legally required except in cases where body is to move across state lines. Usually done by the funeral home to accommodate visitation and display of deceased or an extended period of time between death and burial.

Funeral Home Visitations Learn More

$600 to $1,200 Eliminate or reduce. Have a memorial service without body present at a church or private home rather than the funeral home Funeral Home Procession Services Learn More

$600 to $2,000
Limit size of funeral home staff and automobiles used

Cemetery; Lot, Crypt, Lawn Crypt, Mausoleum Crypt, Scatter Learn More

$500 to $20,000 Purchase from Private owner

To Buy Cemetery Property at a Really Good Price You Need to Find a Private Seller

Cemetery Property For Sale on the Internet. It Could Save You 50% of the Cost!

Cemetery and Burial Plots for Sale

Funeral Flowers, Obituary, Registry and Cards Learn More

$300 to $2,000 Buy directly and not through funeral home Eliminate or reduce any item

Caskets & Urns Learn More

$100 to $10,000 Choose and Purchase from one of the Alternatives listed here; Casket and Urn Retailer, Internet, Casket Kit, Private owner, The Cemetery Registry Caskets & Urns; Pay 50% to 70% less at a Casket Store

Caskets for Sale ¥ Cremation Urns for Sale

Burial Vaults Learn More

$200 to $8,000 Choose and Purchase from one of the Alternatives listed here; Casket Retailer or Internet, The Cemetery Burial; Save thousands if you get the right Burial Vault.

Marker, Memorial, Monument, Grave Stone Learn More

$400 to $10,000 Don't rush into this purchase. You can better handle this after the funeral. Look for an Internet Retailer, Local Monument Shop, The Cemetery. Cemetery Memorial, Monument and Headstone for Final Arrangements Preplanning; Cemetery memorials, monuments and headstones information, help and advice when preplanning final arrangements.

Grave Markers, Memorial, Monuments for Sale

Grave Marker Base Learn More

$200 to $1,000 Don't rush into this purchase. You can better handle this after the funeral Look for an Internet Retailer, Local Monument Shop, The Cemetery. Learn More about Grave Markers and Memorials

Us funerals online answered...

As Rebekah rightly points out "there is no set answer". However, consumers should be aware that a cremation CAN indeed be purchased for much less than the prices quoted by Barbara. It DOES all depend upon your locale, and whom you select as a service provider.

You should be wary of many national companies that are now operating attempting to offer "affordable" cremations online. Many of these are just marketing companies attempting to sell cremation leads into the industry. Service Corporation International (SCI) are also heavily brand-marketing their 'Neptune Society' direct cremation brand at present, but they are by NO means the best value direct cremation offering.

Ultimately you will find that there is a local family-owned funeral home and/or crematory that WILL offer an affordable cremation package. Direct cremation being by far the most affordable option (this is where there is no service).

You can visit us at US FUNERALS ONLINE[] and we will endeavor to direct you to your nearest family-owned funeral home that offers the best price cremation cost in the area. For over a year now we have been researching and compiling data on cremation costs across the U.S. Let us take all the stress and hard work out of the task of comparing cremation costs. In addition to connecting you with your local best value cremation company, we also have a wealth of useful information explaining everything you need to know legally about cremation, (state laws DO differ) and how best to save $$$ when arranging a cremation.

We are advocates for transparency of ownership and price in the funeral industry.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Donate your body to science, it's cheaper (free). :D

Crestwood cremation. answered...

FYI In NY State and many others, crematories legally can't deal with the general public to arrange cremations. You must call a funeral home who will arrange for everything you wish.

Lifespanlegal answered...

Despite identical procedures, the costs of a cremation may differ by hundreds or thousands of dollars. In some cities, the same crematory serves several funeral homes, yet the total cost of the cremation may differ significantly among those funeral homes. In addition to practicing Elder Law, I once volunteered as president of our local chapter of the Funeral Consumers' Alliance ( which is a non profit institution designed to educate consumers about funerals. In addition to visiting the local crematory to see how the cremation process works, we had the opportunity to survey the prices in our region. I now volunteer to teach a course sponsored by our local law library, where I educate other lawyers about the laws surrounding death and burial. The time to shop for funeral services if before the funeral. According to a Federal law known as the "Funeral Rule", a funeral director must give you a written price list if you ask in person. The price lists follow a form mandated by Federal Law to permit an easy comparison. Since everyone will incur the costs of a funeral, it might not be a bad idea to plan now. Remember though, the funeral home you choose today may be owned by somebody else at the time of your death, so plan for alternatives. I have been to clients and friends funerals that could have never taken place without the services of a skilled funeral director. If the funeral will be crowded, the services of a funeral director are well worth it. However, I have also been to funerals where only three or four people came because the person who died outlived all his/her friends and relatives. In that case the money spent on the funeral could have been used for other things.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Unfortunately, these cheap cremations you see online advertised are misleading to consumers. Again as someone has stated here, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

These cheap advertisements fail to let the consumer know about their additional fees. Refrigeration (sorry folks. Our loved one needs to be refrigerated and there's a cost attached to that). The removal fee. The crematory fee. The professional services fee (I've seen this range from $400-$500. The death certificate(s). And on and on. I think it's best to speak with the funeral homes, and pay attention to their emphasis on service to you as a family. I know that I will happily pay a little more for a cremation if I know that I am not walking that path of grief alone, instead of saving a few bucks and they will act like they don't know me in the future if I don't have a body and some cash to bring them. But this is just my thought.

A fellow caregiver answered...

There are actually low cost cremation providers who DO offer cheap cremations at an inclusive price. However, you do need ensure that you are dealing with a genuine cremation provider. There are companies out there that WILL add extras to a listed direct cremation price, but there are also Mom & Pop funeral homes that will offer a fair price. The DFS Memorials network of funeral homes all offer a complete direct cremation for the price added extras. The cost varies by area but range between $596 and $1,395.

Lifespanlegal answered...

I do not intend to be disrespectful, but the cremation process is not exactly "rocket science." The dying process is surrounded by an aura of mystery, and sometimes madness. I understand the feeling of sadness and loss, and I've lost close friends and relatives too. However, ponder for a moment the number of people who have died since the dawn of civilization. They are all here on this planet somewhere, and you and I be in the same place. When studying the cremation process, think pizza oven with a special smoke stack. That is pretty much exactly what it is, except the temperature goes well beyond 400 degrees, and the air that comes out of the chimney must be monitored for environmental reasons. Before cremation, any medical devices that might cause an explosion are removed, and after cremation the bone fragments are ground up into cremains. But think about 2-4 hours @ 1800 degrees. The employees at the cremation center will probably treat your loved one (or you) with the utmost respect, but the actual process is very basic. The placing of "cremains" is of religious or symbolic importance, and the remains of me an everyone else will join the others who have come before us since the dawn of civilization, all of whom left family and loved ones behind.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I would use a smaller family owned and operated funeral provider. I found that you get custom attention as well as save a lot of money over a large corporate owned funeral home. I would recommend checking out reviews on line to see what other people have used as reputable and good priced funeral services. This helped me find an exceptional funeral service in New York city area.

Davethegeezer answered...

I just purchased direct cremation from a local mausoleum for aprox $1600 including pick up. Also added 4 copies of death certificate for $80 and a glass cased double niche for about $3000. They added an opening/closing fee of $385. I had to pay 10% of the niche cost and then they financed the rest, 5 years at $100 a month, which is a high interest rate, but if I don't die in the first 2 years then they will pay the balance if I die before it is paid off. If I do die in the first 2 years then my relatives will have to come up with the cash. This mausoleum had single enclosed walled off niches starting at $950.

For a long time I just wanted to have my ashes scattered somewhere like the beach, but what changed my mind is that for the last several years my family has gotten together for a day to visit our friends and relatives throughout the city. We have a great time, we tell stories about the deceased and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Ivabrady answered...

My sister recently lost her husband in Cadillac Mi the funeral home charged her$2600 for his cremation. When asked what the charges covered they told her they felt insulted she should ask such a question. She virtually has no income only SS. I felt this was predatory in a time of grief . What does one do under these circumstances?