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How Much Does Cremation Cost?

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The average cremation costs between $4,000 and $7,000 depending on the type of cremation. Funeral costs are rising and more people are turning to cremation instead of burials to save money. But many don’t realize a cremation can cost as much as a burial once all of the service fees are calculated. For those looking to save as much money as possible, direct cremation costs between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on whether the family provides their own urn and cremation container. Funeral homes will often provide cremation packages that include a memorial service and viewing casket. Cremation package prices depend on the funeral home and location, but typically range between $2,000 and $10,000. According to the NFDA Cremation & Burial Report, the cremation rate is projected to reach 70% by 2030. As more consumers choose cremation, prices will continue to increase.

This article will help you discover the actual average cremation cost and how price shopping can help you keep the cost of a funeral under control.

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Low-Cost Cremation

The least expensive way to pay for cremation is to arrange for a low-cost cremation called direct cremation. A direct cremation happens when you only ask for cremation and doesn’t require a funeral or memorial beforehand. The body is typically cremated immediately, and the funeral home gives the ashes to surviving loved ones. Direct cremation is the most affordable final arrangement.

The cost of a direct cremation varies, but you should expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on the city you live in and how much the funeral home charges. In some cases, you can engage the services of a crematory directly without having to go through a funeral home which can save you a significant amount of money. Besides the financial benefits, families use this form of low-cost cremation if they intend to hold a memorial service at a later date.

When planning a direct cremation, you have the following rights:

  • You aren’t required to purchase a casket from the funeral home
  • The funeral home or crematory is required to make alternative containers available
  • You aren’t required to purchase an urn from the funeral home

Below are some example direct cremation rates by district from the National Funeral Directors Association Member GPL Study:

New England District (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT)
Arrangement Median Cost Minimum Cost Maximum Cost

Direct Cremation
(container provided by family)

$2,515 $1,325 $4,745

Direct Cremation
(alternative container provided by funeral home)

$2,618 $125 $4,990

Direct Cremation
(casket provided by funeral home)

$2,765 $125 $5,731

 

Middle Atlantic District (NJ, NY, PA)
Arrangement Median Cost Minimum Cost Maximum Cost

Direct Cremation
(container provided by family)

$2,273 $320 $5,165

Direct Cremation
(alternative container provided by funeral home)

$2,343 $60 $5,360

Direct Cremation
(casket provided by funeral home)

$2,678 $895 $5,165

 

South Atlantic District (DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, WV, VA)
Arrangement Median Cost Minimum Cost Maximum Cost

Direct Cremation
(container provided by family)

$2,195 $700 $3,765

Direct Cremation
(alternative container provided by funeral home)

$2,295 $50 $4,255

Direct Cremation
(casket provided by funeral home)

$2,620 $200 $5,490

 

East South Central District (AL, KY, MS, TN)
Arrangement Median Cost Minimum Cost Maximum Cost

Direct Cremation
(container provided by family)

$2,043 $799 $3,400

Direct Cremation
(alternative container provided by funeral home)

$2,080 $185 $3,700

Direct Cremation
(casket provided by funeral home)

$2,498 $395 $8,160

 

West South Central District (AR, LA, OK, TX)
Arrangement Median Cost Minimum Cost Maximum Cost

Direct Cremation
(container provided by family)

$2,175 $945 $4,106

Direct Cremation
(alternative container provided by funeral home)

$2,195 $250 $4,090

Direct Cremation
(casket provided by funeral home)

$2,673 $995 $8,610

 

East North Central District (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI)
Arrangement Median Cost Minimum Cost Maximum Cost

Direct Cremation
(container provided by family)

$2,375 $799 $5,325

Direct Cremation
(alternative container provided by funeral home)

$2,473 $50 $5,800

Direct Cremation
(casket provided by funeral home)

$2,760 $500 $5,900

 

West North District (IA, KS, MN, MO, ND, SD, NE)
Arrangement Median Cost Minimum Cost Maximum Cost

Direct Cremation
(container provided by family)

$2,700 $775 $5,665

Direct Cremation
(alternative container provided by funeral home)

$2,803 $775 $6,055

Direct Cremation
(casket provided by funeral home)

$3,133 $785 $7,345

 

Mountain District (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NE, NM, UT, WY)
Arrangement Median Cost Minimum Cost Maximum Cost

Direct Cremation
(container provided by family)

$1,885 $620 $3,790

Direct Cremation
(alternative container provided by funeral home)

$1,983 $750 $3,400

Direct Cremation
(casket provided by funeral home)

$2,460 $1,120 $5,000

 

Pacific District (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA)
Arrangement Median Cost Minimum Cost Maximum Cost

Direct Cremation
(container provided by family)

$1,595 $620 $3,285

Direct Cremation
(alternative container provided by funeral home)

$1,705 $620 $3,560

Direct Cremation
(casket provided by funeral home)

$1,795 $698 $6,445

Cost of Cremation vs. Burial

The difference in cost between a cremation and a burial can be substantial depending on where you live, the funeral home you use, and the services you request. For instance, while a direct cremation can cost as little as $800 in some states, a cremation with a full funeral can cost almost $10,000. The average cost of a funeral is between $7,000 and $12,000, but can often cost more depending on additional fees and services.

Below are detailed maps comparing the median cost of a funeral with the median cost of a cremation by district:

 

 

As the price of funerals continues to rise, more and more people are turning to cremation. In 1960, just over three percent of people used cremation when a loved one died, but today more than forty percent of people choose cremation.

 

 

 

You can reduce your loved one’s burden by planning for your cremation or burial costs in advance with final expense insurance. Doing so will ensure they don’t experience the stress of an unexpected financial burden while grieving.

No-Cost Cremation: Donate Your Body to Science/Organ Donation

It’s possible to have your body cremated for no cost. If you donate your body to science and allow researchers to use it, your body will be cremated for free and returned to your family. The same is true if you decide to donate your organs. By becoming an organ donor, your body will be cremated and the remains returned to your family.

And while most people can donate their body to science, there are some exceptions. For instance, if you have a communicable disease like HIV, tuberculosis, edema, or hepatitis, or if your body has been traumatized or has decomposed, researchers won’t accept it.

How Much Does a Funeral Cost with Cremation?

If you choose to be cremated and have a funeral so your loved ones can gather and celebrate your life, you should expect to pay between $6,000 and $8,000. The cost will be higher if you add extras like flowers, an expensive urn, or anything that will make the funeral more personal.

Below is a chart outlining the national median cost of an adult funeral with a viewing and cremation in 2017 according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Costs have most likely increased since the following figures were released:

Item Cost
Non-declinable basic services fee $2,100
Removal/Transfer of remains to funeral home $325
Embalming $725
Other Preparation (e.g. casketing, cosmetology, dressing, grooming) $250
Use of facilities/staff for viewing $425
Use of facilities/staff for funeral $500
Service car $150
Printed materials (basic memorial package) $160
Cremation fee (third party) $350
Total without cremation casket and urn $4,985
Cremation casket $1,000
Urn $275
Total with cremation casket and urn $6,260

Average Funeral Costs

Today, the average funeral costs between $7,000 and $12,000. Expenses vary depending on several things, such as:

  • The funeral home used
  • Whether a graveside service is performed
  • The casket used
  • Whether items are purchased directly from the funeral home or through a third-party
  • The grave marker, headstone, or vault used and where it is purchased
  • Whether the body is embalmed or stored in refrigeration before final arrangements are made
  • The cemetery’s grave opening and closing cost
  • Transportation costs, floral costs, obituary notices, etc.

Researching funeral homes is often the number one way families can save money on burial costs. For the same service, Funeral Home “A” may charge hundreds of dollars more than Funeral Home “B”.

In addition, most funeral items like caskets, flowers, and grave markers can be purchased outside of the funeral home. Buying from third-party sellers can result in substantial savings.

Below is a chart outlining the national median cost of an adult funeral with a viewing and burial in 2017 according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Costs have most likely increased since the following figures were released:

Item Cost
Non-declinable basic services fee $2,100
Removal/Transfer of remains to funeral home $325
Embalming $725
Other Preparation (e.g. casketing, cosmetology, dressing, grooming) $250
Use of facilities/staff for viewing $425
Use of facilities/staff for funeral $500
Service car $150
Printed materials (basic memorial package) $160
Cremation fee (third party) $350
Total without cremation casket and urn $4,985
Total $1,000
Vault $1,395
Total with burial vault $8,755

Cremation Caskets

Most people don’t realize a casket is used during the cremation process. Cremation caskets are different than traditional caskets because they have no metal parts such as hinges or handles, they consist of wood and/or reinforced cardboard, and they have no extra finishes. It’s essentially a standard, pine box that will easily disintegrate in the cremation chamber. You can expect to pay between $120 and $600 for one of these caskets.

If you plan on having some sort of viewing or visitation before the cremation, most funeral homes allow you to rent a traditional casket. Rental caskets are reused by the funeral home, but they will typically use a special sheet to line the casket so it is completely sanitary. Rental caskets cost between $400 and $600 (or more).

Cremation Urns

An urn is where the ashes of a cremated body are stored. After the body undergoes cremation, the funeral home or crematory will provide your loved ones with a basic container, but if you or your loved ones want something more presentable, you can purchase your own urn through the funeral home or a third-party business. Costs range from $50 to $1,000 or more depending on the style you choose, the material the urn is made of, whether it is engraved, and the relative size.

Here are some of your options:

Companion urns: These urns are larger because they hold the ashes of two people. For instance, you can use them to hold the ashes of a husband and wife. Expect to pay $150 to $500 or more for a double urn.

Earth-friendly urns: If you’re conscious about the environment, a biodegradable urn might be the right choice for you. You can choose between water urns that disintegrate into the water or a biodegradable urn made from natural materials that will degrade naturally into the earth. Prices range for this type of urn from $70 to $300 or more.

Cremation boxes: If you think your loved ones will want to keep your ashes in their home, a cremation box is the right choice. These decorative wooden boxes are designed to hold ashes for long periods of time. They take the place of the traditional vase urns and the prices vary depending on how elaborate the box is. You can expect to pay $50 to $300 or more for a cremation box.

Jewelry, keepsakes, and mementos: Many businesses exist today that can take a portion of your loved ones ashes and create a piece of jewelry for you, such as a necklace or ring. There are many unique options, including mixing a portion of the ashes with clay, paint, or ink to create a sculpture or work of art.

Approximate Cremation Costs in the US

The cost of cremation varies across the country, and yours will depend on where the cremation takes place. Also, the cost will rise or lower depending on whether you want to include a viewing, funeral, flowers, or a more expensive casket or urn.

The National Funeral Director’s Association conducted a survey and found that the average direct cremation in the US costs $2,300, and a cremation with a memorial service costs, on average, $6,078.

Here is a chart that shows the average cremation costs for the top cities and states.

City Lowest Cremation Cost Highest Cremation Cost
Chicago, IL $675 $4,600
Dallas, TX $755 $6,300
Fort Meyers, FL $795 $2,200
Houston, TX $675 $6,800
Indianapolis, IN $850 $6,100
Las Vegas, NV $495 $2,240
Los Angeles, CA $625 $2,900
Louisville, KY $795 $3,390
Miami, FL $596 $2,340
Nashville, TN $995 $4,400
New Orleans, LA $1,550 $2,930
Phoenix, AZ $639 $2,370
Pittsburgh, PA $695 $3,895
Salt Lake City, UT $750 $2,595

FAQs

How much does it cost for a basic cremation?

A basic cremation can cost between $800 and $3,000 or more depending on the city you live in, the funeral home you choose, and whether or not there will be a viewing or visitation beforehand. This cost can increase fast when adding things like a memorial, flowers, music, and expensive cremation caskets or urns.

What is the cheapest cremation?

The cheapest cremation is a direct cremation. When you choose direct cremation, your loved ones won’t have a funeral, memorial, or viewing beforehand. The crematory will cremate your remains and give them your ashes.

How much does cremation cost in 2020?

A cremation can cost between $2,300 and $6,078 according to the National Funeral Directors Association. But keep in mind every city and state is different, and the funeral homes dictate what a cremation will cost in your area.

What happens when a family can’t afford a funeral?

Some municipalities offer assistance for families who can’t afford a funeral. You should check with yours to determine if they offer such a program. Government benefits and the VA offer funeral assistance to qualified applicants.

You also have the choice of donating your body to science in exchange for a free cremation. Your family will receive your ashes after a few weeks. Some organizations even plant a tree in remembrance of your generosity.

What does the Bible say about cremation?

The Bible doesn’t address how believers should bury a body. While the Catholic Church once forbade cremations, it has softened its stance and now allows it as long as the cremated remains are present during the funeral. There are many different stances on cremation, so check with your local institution to see how they view this type of final arrangement.

How is a body prepared for cremation?

The staff first verifies the identify of the deceased, and then authorization is obtained from the family or others. The staff will remove all jewelry and medical devices from the body. Finally, the body is placed in the cremation container and moved to the area where the cremation will take place.

Do organ donors get free cremation?

Yes, if you donate your organs you will receive a free cremation. Afterward, the researchers will give your ashes to your loved ones.

Is it cheaper to cremate or bury someone?

It is cheaper to cremate someone than to bury them, even if you have a cremation memorial service. That’s because you won’t have to pay for a burial casket, which is one of the most expensive items at a funeral.

Can you be cremated without a coffin?

Yes, funeral homes can cremate a body without a coffin. Most states allow you to use an alternative container as long as it is combustible. For instance, you can use a rigid cardboard box, a plywood box, or a laminate container.

Can you prepay for a cremation?

Yes, you can prepay for cremation just as you would a funeral. You can work directly with a funeral home to arrange your cremation, or you can purchase burial insurance so that your loved ones will have the available money to make the arrangements you want.

Your Next Steps

Whether you are arranging for your cremation or thinking about an aging parent, it’s smart to understand your options. Each family is unique and has different concerns for their loved ones. No one understands this more than Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance Company®. For more than 55 years, we’ve helped protect families from the high cost of cremations and other expenses.

Our product – Funeral Advantage – is designed to protect your loved ones from emotional overspending by helping them understand the pricing options available to them. We helped save policyholder families thousands of dollars last year alone.

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