Why do direct cremation costs vary so drastically?

4 answers | Last updated: Sep 12, 2016
Mickyg asked...

I have called to get some pricing on Direct Cremation in one funeral home and they gave me $3500.00 with no viewing, another one $1500.00 no viewing, and one $795.00 & another $695.00. I am in NJ so when I looked into further they seem all to do the same thing just different pricing for addt'l Death Certificates. Am I missing a key fact on why so many places are more then others.

Expert Answers

Cremation Costs: The average cremation costs $1,800, but the price can range between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on location and the establishment selected. Most funeral homes do not have a crematory on site, so additional costs may be incurred for transportation.

Cremation Resources:

LowCost Cremation Services http://www.lowcostcremation.com/

Non-Profit Funeral Society Cremation and Funeral Home Network http://funeralcounseling.com/cremationnetwork.htm

Cremation Finder http://www.cremationfinder.com/

Cremation Source http://www.cremationsource.com/index.html

Community Answers

Rebekah peoples answered...

This is a good question. Many of the people reading your question have wondered the same thing about cremation costs.

There are a few reasons why the prices vary so much. One of the main ones is the cost of overhead. The prices on the higher end are probably those of a "full service" or typical funeral home.

The lower prices are probably those of a company that either provides only cremation services or only burial, and also does not provide any type of funeral services or memorial services. They also have no rooms where the family can come to see the person one more time before being cremated. It's what is known as a "direct cremation", meaning the body is cremated "directly" without any services provided by the company. It's up to the family of the deceased to arrange for these services on their own.

As for the higher prices, most funeral homes include more in their cremation prices. The price includes more than the basics of picking up the body from the place of death and taking it to the crematory. They may also bathe the body, comb the hair, and do other preparations to give the family an opportunity to see the person one more time. Many people who have seen their loved one in a hospital or other setting with tubes and other lifesaving equipment connected to them, have said that it was comforting to be able to see the person without all of that. The funeral director/embalmer takes special care to make the person look peaceful and place them in a natural position with a blanket and a pillow under their head.

Another difference may be in the type of box or container used. Almost all crematories require that the body be placed in some type of rigid container in which to be cremated. Cremation-only companies that have the lower prices include a basic cardboard container. Companies with a higher price might include a container that's a step up, such as a cardboard box that has a more rigid bottom made from wood. A higher cost that you'll find at some funeral homes might a higher quality cremation box, such as one that is all wood with no cardboard.

Another difference that relates to the overhead costs is that in New Jersey, the law states that a body cannot be cremated immediately after death. At least twenty-four hours have to pass between the time of death and the time the body is cremated. A cremation company may take the body directly to the crematory where it will "wait" until the required time period has lapsed. A funeral home or cremation company cannot own their own crematory in New Jersey. For that reason, many funeral homes don't like the idea of leaving a body at the crematory for that twenty-hour period where they can't control the environment the body is in, so they will bring it back to the funeral home for that waiting period. This also allows the preparation and option for the family to spend time with the deceased one more time, as mentioned earlier.

As you can see, there's a lot more to it than just the cremation process. When calling around for prices, be sure you ask not only for prices, but also for details about what is included in that price and how the body is handled.

Again, thanks for asking a good question!

Ed markin answered...

Cremation costs for a DIRECT Cremation are often varied due to corporate ownership, greed or one funeral home not wanting to seem 'cheap' compared to the big boys. In one Texas town we did a survey and found charges for a direct cremation ranging from $710 to $3820 and ... there is only ONE crematory in that town! By definition a direct cremation is transporting the body from its place of death (or intermediate location) to the crematory and doing the actual cremation. Anything else will no doubt be charged for additionally so DO ask.

Ca-claire answered...

Each state has varying laws regarding end of life services, but in the US, I believe they ALL require clear breakdowns in pricing of services. I live in California, so we have to have a clear breakdown of all required services (minimums services required by state, and optional services - enbalming, viewing, witnessing the cremation, disposal of the cremains, urns, containers, etc.)

Shop around, and have a person that is not emotionally connected with the deceased, with whom you have had a discussion about what the person's final wishes are. They will keep you on-track during the 'sales presentation', keep you on budget, and keep from over kill.

The writers above make the cardboard boxes sound very flimsy. They are not flimsy at all, and now come in various colors. If you are not having a viewing, use the cardboard - it looks very nice and is about 6 times thicker than the cardboard boxes that the cases of copier paper come in. We used this for my husband and my mother - Mom got a blue one (her favorite color). Colors were not available 4 years ago, but my husband had specified that he wanted the cardboard. We had watched a Penn and Teller show about End of Life services, and it was very informative, in a way that only Penn and Teller can be.