The Ultimate Guide To Cremation Costs

With cremation on the rise as the most popular funeral service choice, there is a lot of information on the cost of cremation, the cremation process, the benefits of cremation versus burial and more spread all across the web. We’ve put together a comprehensive cremation and funeral guide including the top tips for choosing cremation services, how to pre-plan for cremation or any kind of funeral, the best options for direct cremation for low income funerals and even some tips on how to cremate your cats and dogs! 

Cost of Cremation versus Burial

It’s important to be informed, so, first, let’s compare the cost of cremation versus burial services. Because we know the cost of funeral services are not usually what first comes to mind after the loss of a loved one we have put together a simple and honest comparison between options. During this emotionally sensitive time, anyone’s judgement can be clouded during the funeral arrangement process and this comparison should make it much simpler to consider your funeral options. As you will see, the cost of either kind of funeral service can vary greatly depending on the details.

Cost Comparison of Direct Cremation versus Other Cremation Methods

Direct cremation, or low cost cremation, is the most economical funeral option out there with direct cremation rates in the USA in 2018 ranging from $496 in Las Vegas, Nevada to $975 in Chicago, Illinois and $1550 in New Orleans, Louisiana according to DFS Memorials. The average cost in for cremation in Los Angeles, California is $625. If you are looking for cremation costs in your city, their blog article has a great infographic comparing direct cremation cross in multiple US cities. Finding out how much cremation costs in your area is as simple as typing “cremation costs near me” into the search box of your search engine.

What is direct cremation? Direct cremation is the process of cremating the body directly after death without inclusion of any funeral services or a ceremony, which therefore eliminates the need for embalming, and immediately turning over the cremains to the family of the deceased. There is no cost for burial, headstones or burial plot which keeps the overall cost of direct cremation substantially lower than other funeral options. It is the lowest cost cremation option available.

Direct cremation fees should generally include the following:

  1. Transport of the deceased from the place of death to crematory. There is sometimes an additional fee if the collection is from a residential location.
  2. Housing of the deceased for a fixed time period with longer stays incurring additional fees (the cremation process as a whole can take anywhere from six to 14 days depending on your location)
  3. The cremation itself, in a basic container in the retort (the cremation machine), which alone usually takes two to four hours
  4. A simple cremains container, usually a plastic urn or container. For more container options, cremation jewellery and more, click through our cremains container gallery here.
  5. All paperwork and required services by the funeral director

Additional fees are commonly incurred if the deceased is overweight, if a private viewing before cremation is requested (in which case, the cremation is not considered “direct”) or in order to upgrade the cremains container.

Other cremation methods include cremation after public or private viewing of the deceased in a casket, 

Commonly, people choose to host a viewing or memorial for the deceased prior to initiation of the cremation process. If you opt for a viewing before the cremation itself, you are looking at a minimum additional cost of a casket. Caskets can be purchased on average for $2000-5000 or up to the $10,000 mark whereas the cost of casket rentals is usually in the $400-$1000 range.

The Cost of Cremation and Other Cremation Related Options

In addition to caskets for viewings before cremation, loved ones may also choose to decorate with flowers, prepare the deceased with grooming and embalming for open casket, publish an obituary, ship the remains, disposition services for the cremains, storing the cremains in a columbarium and more. Considering all the cremation and funeral options together, the cost could range anywhere from around $500 to multiple thousands which makes it more flexible and often the most affordable funeral option.

Costs of Cremation versus Burial

When comparing the costs of cremation to burial services, we realize that to bury the deceased is much more costly. In addition to the cost of a casket (nicer ones can be rented for the viewing while more basic wooden caskets can be purchased for burial), the burial process often involves the cost of a cemetery plot, headstones, embalming fees, opening and closing the gravesite and more. According to Neptune Society, the average cost of a funeral with burial was $11,000.

All information considered, funeral services costs can range from $500-$11,000 and more, depending on preferences with direct cremation proving to be the cheapest option available today. Funeral options are diverse both in outcome and in price point but did you know that there are multiple, often not thought of, ways to fund funeral services? 

Instead of passing the costs of a funeral onto loved ones, a person can pre-plan their funeral both financially and logistically by using one or some of the many tools available on the market today, such as estate planning services or drafting a will online. You can read about the difference between wills and estate plans here and refer to Everplans’ Cheat Sheet on Wills to get started. You might also want a look at NOLO’s Final Arrangements Kit which includes a Burial or Cremation Form, a Funeral or Memorial Services Form and an Obituary Form, all of which are commonly necessary to fill out upon death. Using NOLO’s Final Arrangements Kit is a great start to giving your loved ones peace of mind during an otherwise very difficult time, and it’s free!

All of these tools can assist providing the best financial outcome before and after death, including covering the costs of a cremation and more.

Pre-planning for the Cost of Cremation

As burial costs rise, cremation rates are on the rise across the USA and they are still the more affordable option plus tend to be more eco-friendly, too, however these facts do not necessarily make the funeral process any easier on the loved ones of the deceased. If you know you want to be cremated and that you or your family might also want to organize a viewing, memorial or other special arrangement along with your cremation, you can help ease the process of doing so by planning to cover the funeral costs involved.

There are a variety of financial planning services and products available online and at many modern funeral homes. 

Prepayment of Your Cremation and Other Services

One of the smartest ways to go about covering the costs of cremation in advance is pre-payment. Not only does prepayment solve the finances and major decisions regarding funeral services and options for your loved ones but it also ensures you’re getting the best rate possibly in the case that the cost will rise before your death.

Cremation rates are on the rise all over the country with an estimated 53% of people opting for cremation in 2018, a five percent jump from 2015 and over the next 18 years, cremation is estimated to grow 30% more. With these numbers in consideration, there’s no question that pre-payment now is the smartest option for covering the cost of your cremation.

Prepayment should be really simple as most funeral homes offer the option. You can also choose to plan and prepay for your cremation with an online agent such as Smart Cremation, who coordinate cremation services in multiple states including California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Texas.

Depending what you or your loved ones choose to do with your cremains, you may need a plot, a special container for the ashes, a service to take them out to sea or to purchase different services or products such as the ones listed in the CreMemories gallery. It really helps to think through your own preferences and plan as much as possible beforehand in order to relieve any worries from those who will take care of the process after your death. After looking into and making decisions on all the details related to cremation, you may then want to contact your nearest cremation service provider and discuss cost in more detail so to organize your financial plans.

Covering The Cost of Cremation with Life Insurance

Funeral Insurance is a common option among major life insurance providers such as State Farm, but it is important to beware of the potential problems in signing up for a Funeral or Cremation Insurance policy, For one, the policies often go into effect only two years after initial payment and sometimes the plan ceases once the insured individual reaches the age of 100 years old.

The standard benefit is around $10,000 but can range depending on your selection starting at $5,000 and reaching up to $25,000. This benefit is delivered as a cash payout to your appointed beneficiary and sometimes amounts to more than the actual cost of cremation, leaving a little extra cash in your loved one’s pocket to support them in thinking less about money in order to process grief and sadness with peace of mind.

A variety of insurance companies offer cremation insurance including the more widely known policy providers like State Farm or lesser known, specialty insurers like Choice Mutual. Whatever you choose, make sure you do your research before signing up. Here’s a really thorough and helpful guide on how to choose a provider and Final Expense Insurance Policy from Funeral Wise.

Make sure that if you do have a policy or prepay for your cremation and funeral services that you inform your beneficiary or beneficiaries and have a talk with them about what you do or do not want to happen after your death.

Cremation & Burial Benefits for Veterans

Veterans are eligible for anywhere between $300 and $2000 in reimbursements for expenses related to cremation, burial and funeral services. The amount reimbursed is dependent on whether the death was service related or non-service related. Service related deaths are not exclusive to deaths which occur only while in active combat and only services for veterans who were not dishonorably discharged are eligible for reimbursement.

Keep in mind that this is a reimbursement which means that up front costs need to be paid out of pocket, with receipts then sent to the Veterans’ Affairs Regional Benefit office. You can find the one nearest you by clicking on this link.


How Much Does it Cost to Cremate a Cat or Dog?

Just in case you found the Ultimate Guide to Cremation Costs while looking for information on the cost of cremation for a cat or dog, we have included a little snippet below on cremation options and costs for your beloved furry friend.

Depending on whether you want a private or communal cremation for your pet, the cost to cremate your pet will vary. A private cremation allows you to receive the cremains of your pet after the cremation in order to scatter the ashes in the memorial location or store them in a vessel or container of your choice. A communal cremation means it is likely that the remains of your pet will be mixed in with those of others.

Depending on the size of your animal, the facility you select and the cremation method you opt for, a standard private cremation typically runs from $100-$200 while a communal cremation costs much less at $30 to $70.

These costs do not normally include a special container such as an urn or nice wooden box. Some companies will even turn your pet’s ashes into diamonds, for a price. You can send your ashes to Heart in Diamond where they will extract the carbon to create a diamond, costing anywhere from $750 to $17,295. They will do this with the cremains of a human loved one, too!

There are so many options when it comes to the cremation and funeral process but have you considered what to do with your loved ones’ remains after it’s all done? Visit our gallery of options here for some extraordinary inspiration.

7.5 billion people
on the planet and
no two alike
Search the worlds largest library of
unique post cremation memorial options