Cremation Cost 2024

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on January 28, 2024

Get Any Financial Question Answered

What Is Cremation?

Cremation is the dissolution of a dead body into ashes through mechanical or thermal processing. It is an alternative to the traditional burial in a coffin or casket.

The remains are put in a cremation container and then processed with heat for roughly three hours. Depending on the type of cremation, this process can be either flame-based or water-based.

The resulting ashes, gasses, and mineral fragments are known as cremains. They pose no health risk and are returned to the family of the deceased.

Families can transfer the remains into an urn, inter them at a memorial site, or disperse them at a special ceremony.

Most people choose cremation because it costs less and requires simpler arrangements.

Types of Cremation

There are two legally accepted options for cremation: flame-based and water-based.

Flame-Based Cremation

This type of cremation uses flame and heat to reduce the remains to ashes. It is performed using a machine called a cremator.

This type is the most widely available option.

Water-based Cremation

Water-based cremation is done using a process called alkaline hydrolysis, which involves a combination of water, alkali, heat, and pressure.

Since this is a newer technology, it is less widely available than the previous option.

Although, in the areas where it is available, it is becoming increasingly popular due to its many environmental benefits, including reduction of carbon footprint.

The Rise of Cremation in the U.S.

Cremation has been on the rise in the United States for many years now. It is projected to increase to 64.1% by 2025.

According to a recent survey by Choice Mutual Insurance Agency, 37% of Americans plan on being cremated. In contrast, only 34% of Americans still preferred the traditional burial option.

There are several reasons that cremation has become more popular as a funeral option.

Decrease in religious attitudes, demand for greater flexibility among migrated families, and the availability of more environmentally friendly options, such as cremation, are some of the primary reasons.

The Costs Associated With Cremation

Although generally more cost-efficient than traditional burials, the costs involved with cremation have also been rising over the years due to increased demand.

These costs include:

  • A cremation casket
  • Final arrangement costs for the funeral home
  • Embalming and preparation of the body if you plan to hold visitation and viewing
  • Casket rental for visitation and viewing
  • Urn
  • Flower arrangements
  • Interment costs for burying the urn

The total cost depends on which arrangements you make, as well as any optional extras like cremation jewelry, keepsakes, and other memorial items.

The Cost of Cremation in 2024

The cost of cremation differs depending on the services you choose. You have the option to choose a traditional funeral service, a memorial service, or to forgo any type of service at all.

Cremation With Traditional Funeral Service

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NDFA), the median cost for a funeral with cremation is around $7,848.

These expenses include:


Cremation With a Memorial Service

A cremation with a memorial service is very similar to a cremation with a funeral service. However, with a memorial service, the remains are not present.

The cost of a cremation with a memorial service is about $3,517. These expenses include:


Cremation Without a Ceremony

The direct cremation option is a more simple and more affordable method of cremation. With this option, the body is cremated immediately, and the ashes are returned to the family.

The family can provide their own container, which is the least expensive option, or the funeral home can provide the container, which costs a bit more.

Prices for direct cremation vary depending on location but typically cost around $2,183.

No funeral or memorial service is held, at least not immediately.

Family and friends can choose to have a service and scatter the ashes at a meaningful location later on.

Cremation Costs vs. Burial Costs

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral is around $7,848. However, the cost can easily jump to $9,420 or higher, depending on the options you choose.

Typical funeral costs include:

  • Funeral home service fees
  • Transportation of the deceased body to the funeral home
  • Embalming and preparing for viewing
  • Staffing fees
  • Printing fees
  • Casket
  • Flower arrangements
  • Officiant fees
  • Hearse and service vehicle fees
  • Transportation of the body to the cemetery
  • Burial fees
  • Headstone or grave marker

On the other hand, the cost of cremation services varies depending on location. Cremation costs may be higher in larger cities than in smaller towns.

Cremation cost is likely to be cheaper than a burial. However, just like traditional burials, the total cost will depend on the type of services you choose.

How to Plan For Cremation Costs

Planning ahead for cremation services can help you control costs and ensure that your wishes are carried out. It also gives you the opportunity to shop around and compare prices from different funeral homes.

With advanced planning, you can arrange for prepaid funeral services and select a location where you want the cremation to take place.

This foresight can help to simplify the process for family and friends later on.

However, there is a potential risk involved if the funeral home or crematory goes out of business. In that case, your loved ones may not be able to get the money back that you paid.

To avoid this risk, you can opt to set aside money for cremation services instead. You have several options on how to achieve this:

  • Purchasing a final expense insurance policy
  • Setting up a trust account or a joint bank account
  • Establishing a Payable on Death (POD) account.
  • Including a death benefit in an annuity contract

Final Thoughts

Cremation is the dissolution of a dead body into ashes through mechanical or thermal processing. It is an alternative to the traditional burial in a coffin or casket.

There are two legally accepted options for cremation: flame-based and water-based.

Water-based cremation or alkaline hydrolysis is more expensive than the more widely available flame-based cremation. However, it is the more environmentally friendly option.

Cremation costs are typically cheaper than funerals, but the cost will still depend on the services you choose. Cremation costs can also vary depending on where you live.

Overall, cremation is a good option for those who want to save money and help the environment.

You can usually prepay for cremation services which can help to simplify the process later on. However, this also carries the risk if the funeral home or crematory goes out of business.

An alternative option to prepayment is setting aside money to cover the costs of cremation.

This can be done through purchasing a final expense insurance policy, setting up a trust account or joint bank account, establishing a Payable on Death (POD) account or including a death benefit in an annuity contract.

Cremation Cost FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.

Meet Top Certified Financial Advisors Near You

Find Advisor Near You