Both Americans and Canadians are choosing cremation more and more. The Cremation Association of North America projects that in 2025, 65.2% of Americans will choose cremation, compared to 34.8% burial. These numbers are up from a little more than a decade ago, when approximately 40.4% chose cremation. Numbers are even higher in Canada, where the cremation rate was 73.1% in 2020.
Cremation rates vary by region, from less than 30% in Mississippi to greater than 80% in Nevada.
People make the choice for several reasons, and many factors go into cremation costs.
In this article you will learn:
How much does cremation cost in 2023?
Though cremation is relatively straightforward, a number of factors contribute to the cost. You can elect to hold a viewing before the cremation, which will usually involve embalming and a viewing casket. Or you can skip the viewing but host a celebration of life after cremation. Or you can have both.
Some families have ashes memorialized at a cemetery. Others scatter them in a personally meaningful place or opt to keep them at home in an urn. Each choice impacts the cost. A prepaid cremation can help guard against future price increases.
The average cremation cost in 2023 is around $6,970 in the United States, including cremation casket and urn.
What are cremation service cost components and fees?
Many factors determine the price of a cremation, including:
- Attention to detail, such as chain of custody and level of personal care that goes into the cremation.
- Whether the crematory is owned by the cremation provider.
- Location of the cremation provider.
- Distance traveled to pick up and transport your loved one.
- Local regulatory requirements.
- Planning time for a visitation or memorial service.
- Facilities for a visitation or memorial service.
- Containers used for the visitation and service (if desired).
When you're shopping for a cremation provider, use this list of questions to get a good idea of how a cremation provider operates. Keep it handy and take notes as you make calls.
A funeral home with its own crematory may charge more for cremation services, but knowing who is caring for your loved one at all times can be worth it.
The cost breakdown for cremation services in 2021 was as follows:
Prices reflect the national median cost of an adult cremation with viewing and burial according to the NFDA.
|Basic services of the funeral director and staff||$2,300|
|Removal/transfer of loved one to funeral home||$350|
|Other preparation of the loved one||$275|
|Use of facilities/staff for viewing||$450|
|Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony||$515|
|Printed materials (basic memorial package)||$183|
|Cremation fee (if the funeral home uses a third party)||$368|
What Affects Funeral and Cremation Costs?
There are hundreds of decisions that must be made when planning a funeral, cremation or memorial service, and making funeral arrangements can often seem confusing or overwhelming. Because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to planning a funeral or memorial service, there are different costs and expenses to consider. Learn what to expect and get your free Guide to Understanding Funeral and Cremation Costs today.
Do you need a casket for cremation?
Though you don’t need a casket for a cremation, most state laws require an “alternative container” for the cremation process. This is commonly a rigid cardboard or plywood/laminate container, and many families choose to honor their loved ones with a solid wood cremation casket.
There are three types of containers that can be involved in a cremation. You can purchase any of them from a funeral home or other retailer.
- A casket for a viewing. If you choose to have a service before cremation, you can choose from a variety of caskets to rent or buy for this purpose.
- A container for cremation. This can be a simple cardboard box, though many families choose something nicer for their loved ones.
- A container for ashes. Your plans for your loved one's ashes dictate this choice. To give Grandmother a permanent resting place in a mausoleum niche, you may want to purchase a pretty urn. To host a scattering service for Dad at his favorite fishing hole, you may want to receive his ashes in a special scattering urn or a simple container. Urns and containers range from biodegradable urns to hand-carved wooden boxes to decorative ceramic, porcelain or metal urns.
In addition, you might also choose cremation jewelry or small urns that can hold ashes and be given to multiple family members to cherish as special.
What's the cheapest way to be cremated?
The least expensive cremation option is simple cremation, sometimes known as direct cremation. People choose this option for themselves or their loved ones to keep costs at a bare minimum. And though it's sometimes called cremation without a ceremony, that doesn't have to be the case. If you choose simple cremation, you can still host an informal gathering at home or at a scattering site without adding to the cost. What matters is being with friends and family to remember, reflect and heal.
A simple cremation typically costs $700 to $5,000. It does not include a viewing or a memorial service.
Why do people choose cremation?
There are many reasons people choose cremation either for themselves or their loved ones. These reasons might range from religious considerations to personal preferences.
Here are some of the most common reasons families choose cremation:
Flexible memorial options: Cremation allows for a flexibility that traditional burial does not. When you choose cremation, you have as much time as you need to plan a funeral, memorial or celebration of life. You can hold a viewing for nearby family and friends before the cremation and then host a larger memorial or scattering service weeks or months later for friends and family who need to make travel plans and take off work. That's especially beneficial for those who live in different parts of the country or world. Cremation also enables families to focus on the immediacy of their grief and decide on the details of a service when they feel ready.
Customization: Cremation allows for nearly endless customization and creativity. Families have many special options for memorializing a loved one. Cremated remains can be placed in an ocean reef or incorporated into jewelry or art. They can be pressed into vinyl records, made into fireworks, placed in a mausoleum niche, scattered from a mountaintop and even launched into space. The options are endless and can be as unique as the life being honored.
Lower cost: Cremation can cost less than traditional burial. A simple cremation is the least expensive type of cremation and can cost thousands less than a traditional burial with a funeral. A cremation with a service of some kind can cost a few hundred less, as you can opt out of a casket or cemetery plot, for instance.
Environmental concerns: Many people see cremation as a more eco-friendly option than burial because it preserves land that would otherwise be used for burial.
No religious affiliation: More Americans than ever claim to have no affiliation with a particular religion. Since many funeral and burial traditions are rooted in religious beliefs, many people are choosing cremation as a way to create a new tradition.
The Dignity Difference
For every family we serve, regardless of disposition or service choice, Dignity Memorial offers the following:
When you have a prepaid plan with a Dignity Memorial provider and move more than 75 miles away from where you live now, every detail of your plan moves with you. All of our prepaid plans are fully transferable and will be honored by any one of more than 1,900 Dignity Memorial providers in North America. That’s a promise you won’t find anywhere else.
Some restrictions may apply.
Purchase Protection Plan
Should you pass away before your purchased cemetery property is fully paid for, your family will receive some financial relief. Our Purchase Protection Plan will help take care of any remaining balance due to the cemetery.
Some restrictions may apply.
100% Service Guarantee
At Dignity Memorial, we strive to get every detail right the first time, every time. That's why we offer every family we serve a 100% service guarantee. Should any detail of our service not meet the expectations as promised in our agreement, we’ll do everything we can to make it right, up to refunding that portion of the service.
See associate for details.