What is the average cost of a cremation?














 
 
 
 

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What is the average cost of a cremation?

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Cremation now 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 to 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 prices.

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 inclusive price.

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 cremation costs

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 price.

Expert Author: Sara J. Marsden

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.

Related Articles:

Resources:
DFS Memorials – network of low cost cremation companies across the U.S.
Funeral Consumers Alliance
Everest Funeral Planning & Concierge Service
Sources:
1 2011 National Funeral Directors Association – Funeral Service Trends & Statistics
2 efuneral 2012 price survey
3 Annual Statistics Report: 2010 Cremation Association of North America. 
Published:  04/23/2013
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