How Much Does Cremation Cost?

History tells us ancient humans have used various forms of cremation to pay tribute to their loved ones as far back as more than 2,000 years ago. The practice is becoming quite popular nowadays, with many choosing cremation as a way to minimize funeral costs, opt for an eco-friendly alternative, or simply because their family desires to keep a loved one’s remains close to them.

It is estimated that by 2040, almost 80 percent of people will opt for cremation over traditional burial methods. It is undeniable that cremation is emerging to be the leading method of memorialization for the future, but exactly how much does cremation cost? Is it really more affordable than traditional methods? Are there additional costs you should know of?

In this cremation guide, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about cremation costs and help you decide the type of cremation that is appropriate for your needs and budget. Also, we’ll be sharing with you a few secrets funeral directors don’t want you to know, helping you potentially further limit your expenses. Continue reading to learn about what to expect when planning for cremation for a loved one. 

Cremation Cost Breakdown

The cost of cremation in the U.S. is usually around $1,000 – $4,000. Depending on your selections, it can be practically less than half the cost of traditional burial fees. Here is a quick list of some of the most common costs associated with choosing cremation as a method of burial.

Cremation Alone

The reality is the cost of cremation itself is only about $250-$400. The act of cremation is rarely done by the funeral home, but by a third party instead. Because of this, funeral homes will sometimes try to offer you a package that might include unnecessary expenses. Make sure to examine your package closely so that it aligns with you and your family’s needs and budget.


The service price will mainly depend on the kind of ceremony you wish to have to honor your loved one. You can opt to have the funeral home host a traditional one for you, or simply hold a gathering of family members and friends yourself.

Service Casket

If you choose to have a service, the average cost for cremation caskets is $500-$600, which is significantly more affordable than those required for traditional burial services.

Cremation Urn

You can also choose not to have a service and simply opt for direct cremation, which we will be covering next. Under direct cremation, all you will be required to pay for besides for the actual cremation is an urn. Cremation urns are typically priced between $50-$1,000 and their cost will depend on the style you choose and your preferences. 


The average cost for embalming ranges between $200 – $800. This is often an extra charge that takes many by surprise, but it is important to know that embalming is only necessary if there is to be a funeral viewing or visitation. Funeral homes don’t want you to know that you can easily avoid embalming costs by holding a memorial service after the cremation has been done. Make sure to check for any embalming charges in the case that your situation doesn’t require them.

Scattering of Ashes

Some people choose to hire a company to take care of spreading their loved one’s ashes, while others prefer a do-it-yourself route. Typical costs for scattering ashes can range from $100 – $1,000. These prices include costs for permits that are sometimes necessary to scatter ashes on public property or the cost of hiring someone else to do it for you.

4 Types of Cremation

The below are the most common types of cremation services to choose between. Educating yourself about each one of these is a good way to limit stress and costs when the time comes to make a decision.

Traditional Funeral Cremation Service

Traditional service cremation is one of the most expensive options. It involves the viewing and visitation of the decedent’s body before cremation, and once the memorial service is over, the decedent’s body Is then cremated.  

Memorial Service Cremation

This involves a ceremony or memorial service just like a traditional cremation service, but the main difference in a memorial service cremation is that the decedent’s body is not actually present at the ceremony. During a memorial service cremation, the already cremated remains take the place of a casket where the decedent’s body would be displayed. Because there is no casket or body to be prepared, the costs are less than those of traditional cremation.

Direct Cremation

This is one of the most cost-effective options available. With direct cremation, the body is cremated and given directly to the family. No ceremony is held with this type of cremation service.

Cremation with Body Donation to Science

The last type of cremation is also the most affordable option of them all. Facilities that accept body donations provide a free cremation service. An example of an organization that offers a no-cost cremation program is Science Care.

This type of cremation service is a great option for those who want to cut cremation costs, or simply appreciate donating bodies for the sake of research purposes to help advance the medical field. Once the decedent’s body has served its purpose, the cremated remains are returned to the family within 4 to 6 weeks.

Paying for Cremation

When planning for your or a loved one’s burial service, it is important you are making a decision that feels right to you and your family. Regardless of your choice of cremation service, cremation remains an affordable alternative to traditional burial services. As time passes and traditional funeral costs continue to increase, we’ll be seeing a rise in the demand for cremation services.

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