accounts for just over 42% (1)
of all funerals in the United States, with industry watchdogs reporting
that by around 2020, more Americans will be cremated than buried.
There are several reasons why cremation is gaining popularity and the lower
cost of a cremation is certainly one of the main reasons why more people
are opting for it as a disposition method.
The Internet has enabled
us to shop and price compare with relative ease, and this can be especially
important to funeral consumers. At US Funerals Online we are often
asked ‘what does a cremation cost?’. So we have put this guide to cremation
costs together to help you understand what average cremation costs to expect
and how to break down how this cost is made up.
Comparing the average cost of
a cremation nationally
The problem with quoting the
average price for a cremation is that the actual costs for cremation do
vary significantly. Some states are generally more expensive on cremation
costs than others. This can be due to higher energy costs, a less
competitive cremation market and a lower cremation rate. Even within
a state or city the cost for a cremation can differ by $100's or even $1000's..
The company efuneral conducted
some basic data gathering from 1,000 funeral homes across the nation and
published the average price of a cremation from their findings as $3,725.(2)
However, the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), the largest
trade organization for cremation practitioners, claim that the national
average cost of a cremation is $1,650.(3)
This is a basic cremation with “limited memorialization services and a
basic urn.” This demonstrates that you need to compare cremation
prices on a local level, and ensure you are comparing like for like services.
Compare cremation prices locally
and for the exact same service
In order to establish what is
the average cost of a cremation in your area, you need to compare prices
purely on a local level, and you need to ensure you are comparing ‘apples
You will find that there
are different brackets of cremation providers and funeral homes offering
cremation services. As the market for cremation grows, more providers
are offering more affordable cremation services, especially in recognition
of the need to conduct more cremations to make up a profit margin.
However, there are still funeral homes out there that charge exorbitant
cremation fees. It is not uncommon to find that a cremation fee will
differ by as much as $2,000 in the same city.
In determining that you are
comparing like-for-like in cremation costs from a funeral home price list,
or when speaking over the phone, ensure you establish the cremation package
they are offering you is the same.
Establish exactly what kind
of cremation you require
A cremation can be conducted
even when there is an elaborate, traditional funeral. It is
simply an alternative way of conducting the final disposition and the deceased
is cremated instead of buried.
A cremation can also be conducted
when no services are required, and a very simple, no-fuss disposition is
desired. Today, many folks are choosing to opt for a very “simple”
cremation and then performing their own memorial or life celebration service
at a later date. With, or without, the cremated remains present.
The confusion about the cost
of a cremation can arise when funeral homes all use different terms to
represent the cremation services they offer.
To have a service, or not to
have a service,….that IS the question
The use of the term ‘simple’
is common and is synonymous with meaning basic cremation services.
It is important to establish the difference between whether the cremation
offered includes any kind of service or not. A cremation with a funeral
service will cost more than a very basic disposition cremation. In
the trade a basic disposition cremation is often called a ‘clinical cremation’
or a ‘direct cremation’. This means that the funeral home basically
just collect the deceased and do minimal preparation before cremation.
A basic container is used for the purposes of cremation and the cremated
remains are returned in a temporary container. This direct cremation
is just about the cheapest cremation option you have, as it requires the
most limited services of a funeral director. In 2 states (Florida
and California) ‘direct disposers’ are licensed who do not even have to
be licensed funeral directors, and who can operate without the large overhead
of a funeral home, thus enabling them to offer discounted direct cremation
A basic cremation price,
will not generally include incremental services such as flowers, funeral
stationery, obituary notices etc. However, you can add ancillary
services to a cremation service at an incremental cost.
Consider the differing costs
for a cremation container, casket or rental casket
A casket is NOT required for
the purposes of a cremation. Most states stipulate that a ‘rigid,
combustible container’ must be used. To minimize costs this basic
container can be a rigid cardboard or simple wooden container. It
is going to be cremated anyway.
A simple cardboard container
is generally charged at anything between $50 and $400. Some cremation
providers include this in their direct cremation price, but others do not,
so be sure to check.
If you are opting to hold
a service and require a casket, it is possible to rent a casket.
Many funeral homes offer this service and charge a fee for the rental.
This helps them cover cleaning and maintenance costs for the rental casket.
The cost to rent a casket is anywhere between $300 and $800.
Cremation Packages – average
prices to expect
Many funeral homes and crematories
offer cremation packages. In a cremation package they ‘bundle’ together
some basic services, and the price quoted for a cremation package is an
The average price of a direct
cremation generally varies between $495 and $1,500. This cost varies
between areas. In Miami, Las Vegas and Phoenix you can arrange a
direct cremation for as little as $495 - $580. However, in most metro
areas across the U.S. a direct cremation costs between $795 and $1,200.
There are areas where you can expect to pay over $1,000, even for the most
minimal direct cremation package.
A cremation service package
can cost anywhere between $1,500 and $3,500, although you do need to check
exactly what is included in the price.
Services to help you compare
Trying to compare cremation
prices between funeral homes can be a minefield. If you are preplanning
you may have time and some objectivity to approach the task. If you
are dealing with the death, or imminent death, of a relative you may not
want to spend time comparing costs.
Everest Funeral Planning
and Concierge Service offer a PriceFinder report for a fee ($29 - $48)
that compares up to 8 funeral homes prices.
The Funeral Consumers Alliance
has chapters throughout the United States and many of these conduct local
price surveys that they make available to members. To check if there
is a chapter near you, visit the Affiliate Directory on the FCA website.
Locating the most affordable
cremation service in your area.
The chances are that if you
are searching about cremation costs, it is because you want to find an
affordable cremation option. The DFS Memorials network is an independent
network of family-owned funeral homes that offer low cost cremations.
To find your nearest provider visit the DFS Memorials website and locate
your nearest city/area. All member funeral homes that join the network
offer a complete (no hidden extras) direct cremation for between the price
of $495 and $1,395 (depending on where you live).
Being a savvy consumer and
comparing prices is part of our culture today. When the average cost
of a cremation can differ so much, it is essential that you do some homework,
or use a service that can assist you to determine your best local cremation
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Memorials – network of low cost cremation companies across the U.S.
Funeral Planning & Concierge Service
2011 National Funeral Directors Association – Funeral Service Trends &
efuneral 2012 price survey
Annual Statistics Report: 2010 Cremation Association of North America.