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How Much Does A Cremation Cost? [Actual 2022 Costs]

Rikin Shah | Licensed Life & Health Insurance Agent

How Much Does Cremation Cost

If you’re wondering how much the average cremation costs, you’re not alone.  While cremation used to be a mystery to Americans, its popularity in the U.S. has increased dramatically over the past couple of decades.  While only 32% of Americans were cremated in 2005, the cremation rate increased to 56% in 2020.  Currently, 42 states have cremation rates over 50%.

Not only is cremation an environmentally friendly process, but it is also significantly more affordable than a traditional funeral and burial.  (Average funeral costs now exceed $11,000!)

This article will explore the different types of cremation services, cremation prices, and what you need to know before making your final decision.

What Is Cremation?

While many people think of cremation as an Eastern practice, cremation has become increasingly popular in the United States over the past two decades.  At this point, you can arrange a cremation service at the majority of funeral homes in the U.S.

The Cremation Process

Cremation is the process of reducing a body to ashes using high temperatures and flame.

The modern cremation process takes around two hours, depending on the size and composition of the body.  The cremated remains are primarily bone fragments, which are then pulverized into ash.

Incinerators must maintain temperatures between 1,400 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit at all times to ensure complete burning.  After the cremation is complete, any metal such as dental work or prosthetics will be removed from the skeletal remains and will not be included with the ashes.

The Popularity of Cremation

Cremation has increased dramatically in popularity over the past two decades.  According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA):

In just 15 years, the national cremation rate in the U.S. has increased from 32% (2005) to 56% (2020).

This trend is not expected to slow down.  The NFDA projects that, by 2030 and 2040, 69% and 78% of Americans will be cremated, respectively.

Cremation Popularity Has Gone Global

Cremation has been the prevailing practice in Eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, for centuries.  Therefore, it is not surprising to see high cremation rates in countries like Japan, Hong Kong, South Kora, Singapore, Thailand, and India.

But cremation has not been the norm in Abrahamic religious traditions.  So what explains the high cremation rates in Western countries?  According to the Cremation Society of Great Britain:

Cremation rates in Western urban centers often exceed 70% due to high population density and decreasing burial space.

Types of Cremation

There are three basic types of cremation:

  • Direct cremation
  • Direct cremation with a committal service
  • Indirect cremation (cremation with a funeral ceremony and viewing)

Of total 2020 U.S. cremations, 38% were direct cremations, 35% were direct cremations with a short cremation service, and the remaining 27% were cremations with a traditional funeral service and viewing.

Breakdown of 2020 Cremations by Type

Direct Cremation

Direct cremation, also known as basic cremation (or simple cremation), is the simplest and least expensive option.

Direct cremation does not include embalming, a method used to preserve the body from decomposition.  Therefore, direct cremation occurs only with a coffin over the body.

Direct cremation costs significantly less than other methods because it bypasses the funeral home altogether.

In other words, direct cremation typically involves transporting the deceased directly to a crematory (cremation provider).  Note that nearly all funeral homes can arrange transportation from the place of death to the crematory, if needed.

Direct Cremation With Commital Service

A “direct cremation with committal service” combines the convenience of immediate cremation with the comfort of a memorial service.

A committal service is not required for cremation, but many families find a memorial service essential to the grieving process.  This service can be held in a funeral home or at the place of death, and it provides time for family members to say goodbye to their loved one.

Indirect Cremation

Direct cremations must be performed within 72 hours of death.

If the family needs longer than 72 hours to make final arrangements, the body must be preserved (embalmed).  Indirect cremations delay the cremation process (from several days to multiple weeks) by embalming and placing the body in a refrigerated unit.

This allows family members to plan memorial services, viewings, and visitations before the body is cremated.

Why Choose Cremation

People choose cremation for many reasons, including convenience and the associated environmental benefits.  However, the biggest reason is the dramatically lower cost of a cremation.

Reason #1: Affordability

According to the NFDA’s 2021 survey of funeral homes, the national median cost of adult funeral services (including burial) now exceeds $11,000.  This figure includes roughly $2,000 for the cost of the burial plot.  On the other hand:

Direct cremation can cost as little as $1,500 (10% of the cost of a traditional funeral).

While families often prefer the traditional American funeral service followed by burial, unless the deceased or their family has $10,000+ in cash to spare, this option is usually too expensive.

Reason #2: Convenience

Cremated remains are much easier and less expensive to transport than a full body.

This provides families with more options for their loved one’s final resting place.  That is, they can choose to scatter the deceased’s ashes wherever they choose, and they can even choose to store these ashes in an urn.

This is especially helpful in today’s age when families regularly make big geographic moves to pursue job opportunities.  With cremation, families can move across the country, and at the same time, easily move their loved one’s final resting place with them.

Reason #3: Environmental Benefits

Besides being a cost-effective option for many families, cremations also have several environmental benefits.  First of all, it is considered an eco-friendly form of final disposition.

When you choose to cremate your deceased loved one, there are no toxic chemicals or hazardous materials left over.  Cemeteries are very resource-heavy to maintain, and they increase methane production in the soil, another form of pollution that cremation eliminates.

Average Cremation Costs in the U.S.

According to the NFDA, the average cost of direct cremation was $2,598 in 2021 (and only $1,438 when using an alternative container instead of a cremation casket).

The table below shows a breakdown of this average cremation cost into its component expenses.  For a direct cremation, these expenses include:

  • Transfer of the remains
  • Preparation of the body
  • Cremation casket (or alternative container)
  • Cremation fee
  • Urn (for the cremated remains)

The cost of the cremation container is the largest of these expenses, by far.  Therefore, we have shown two prices for direct cremation: one in which a cremation casket is used ($1,310) and one in which an alternative container is used ($150).  Choosing the latter would save you $1,160 alone, allowing for a very low cost cremation.

Table: Breakdown of Direct Cremation Costs

Cremation Cost Breakdown

If you want to have a service, the NFDA reports that the average cost of a cremation with a traditional funeral ceremony and viewing was $6,971 in 2021.

Cremation Expense Details

See below for more qualitative detail on the expenses that make up the total cost of cremation.

Cremation Caskets

A cremation casket is a box that contains your loved one’s body during the actual cremation.  Cremation caskets are usually constructed of wood, although some people opt to use composite or cardboard materials.

Families who choose to have a traditional funeral service before the cremation often rent a traditional casket for the viewing and then exchange this for a cremation casket for the actual cremation.

Cremation Urns

A cremation urn is a vessel that holds your loved one’s ashes after the cremation process.

Urns vary considerably in size and style and are typically constructed from wood, marble, or metal.  Some people choose to store their loved one’s ashes in multiple urns instead of one large vessel.

Miscellaneous

Finally, while not an additional expense item, location has a major role in influencing total cremation costs.  Funeral homes often have different rates for urban areas and rural areas, depending on the demand for their services and the cost of labor, among other factors.

The Funeral Rule

When shopping at a funeral home, the funeral director should give you a “general price list” (GPL) immediately.  In fact, funeral homes are required by law to provide consumers with a GPL before discussing any products or services.

On this document, you’ll find cremation packages and basic memorial packages that will aggregate all of the products and services typically purchased for cremations.

Cremation FAQs

The cheapest way to be cremated is direct cremation, also known as immediate or basic cremation. If you use an alternative cremation container, direct cremation costs as little as $1,438.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average price of direct cremation was $2,598 in 2021. This assumes that you use a casket when cremating the body. If you use an alternative container, the price falls to $1,438. The average price of a cremation with a traditional funeral service and viewing was $6,970 in 2021, according to the NFDA survey.
Direct cremation does not include embalming, which is necessary to disinfect and preserve the body. Without embalming, direct cremation can only occur with a coffin over the body.
There is no definitive answer to this question since there are a lot of variables that come into play, such as the type of cremation furnace being used, how efficiently it’s operated, what kind of fuel is being burned, and so on. That said, most experts agree that cremations are not as environmentally friendly as burials, and they produce harmful emissions like carbon dioxide and mercury.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as different people may have different interpretations of the Bible. However, here is an excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that addresses cremation: “The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body. The Church strongly prefers burial over cremation, unless there is a compelling reason for cremation.”
Yes, cremation is allowed in Judaism. In fact, it’s considered a more humane way to dispose of a body than traditional burial. The ashes of a cremated person can be buried or scattered in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.
Cremation jewelry allows you to keep a small amount of cremated ashes within a piece of jewelry. It can come in many shapes and sizes, including rings, bracelets, necklaces, and pendants. Many people choose cremation jewelry as a way to keep their loved ones close to them even after they’re gone. Others find it to be a comforting reminder that their loved ones are always with them.
Yes, you can prepay for cremation. In fact, many people choose to do this so that their loved ones don’t have to worry about the expense of cremation after they’ve passed away. When you prepay for cremation, you usually work with a funeral home to make all the arrangements. You’ll likely be asked to put down a deposit, and then you’ll make monthly or annual payments until the balance is paid off. This allows you to budget for cremation in advance and eliminates any potential stress or burden on your loved ones after you’ve passed away.
There is no one answer to this question since different faiths have different perspectives on cremation. In general, however, cremation is not considered to be inherently prohibited by any faith, though there may be specific circumstances in which it is not allowed. For example, the Catholic Church forbids cremation unless there is no other option available due to illness or accident.
Yes, cremation records are a matter of public record in most cases. This is because cremation is considered to be a form of final disposition, and thus the records fall under the umbrella of state disclosure laws. In most cases, the person’s name, date of death, and place of cremation are all included in the public record. However, there may be some restrictions on who can access these records (i.e., family members only).

Conclusion

Choosing cremation over a traditional funeral service is a very personal choice.  Every family should make this decision thoughtfully and take into account their beliefs, religion, and finances.

If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email us at hello@getsure.org.  We’ll be sure to get back to you within 24 hours.

Warm Regards,
The GetSure Team

  1. National Funeral Directors Association. 

    (July 2021). 

    2021 NFDA Cremation & Burial Report. 

  2. National Funeral Directors Association. 

    (n.d.). 

    2021 NFDA General Price List Study Shows Funeral Costs Not Rising as Fast as Rate of Inflation. 

  3. Best Cremation Care. 

    (n.d.). 

    General Price List. 

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