How much do you think it costs to cremate a dead body? It’s a question you probably don’t think about until tragedy strikes and you’re planning the funeral of a loved one.
One of the last things anyone wants to do when they've lost a loved one is make a complicated financial decision. Families want to spend that time celebrating a life, not hunting for the best rate on the memorial service. If a funeral home quotes you a price for a cremation, you’ll probably just assume you’re being treated fairly and accept the price.
So it may come as a surprise that the price of basic services like cremation can vary wildly from home to home. Today the average cost of a standalone cremation -- no additional services -- is $2,057. And yet, in any given city, some funeral homes will charge you two to three times as much for a cremation. Same service, drastically different price.
Even more troubling, in the Internet age funeral parlors tend to make pricing hard to find. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission allows funeral homes to keep their rates hidden until someone actually writes or calls a funeral home representative -- leaning on regulations last updated in 1994 -- rather than pushing funeral homes to let the customer compare online. In a survey by the nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance, only 25 percent of funeral homes fully disclosed prices on their websites, while 16 percent failed to disclose prices after an email and a phone call.
Tough access to comparison shopping seems to affect pricing. At Parting, we’ve painstakingly built a database of how much funeral homes charge for services so that no one ever gets ripped off in their time of need. Let’s walk through the data.
If recent trends continue, cremations will account for over half of all funerals by 2018, up from about a quarter in 1998.