Cost of Cremation vs Burial: Price Comparison (2024)

Planning a funeral can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to finances. This guide simplifies the cost of cremation vs burial, helping you make informed decisions.

In the difficult time following the loss of a loved one, making funeral arrangements can feel like a lot to navigate.

There are so many decisions to be made about the type of service, the cost of cremation vs burial, the people to invite, and how to plan for all of it.

Let us ease some of that confusion — this guide offers a clear comparison of cremation and burial costs, providing clarity as you make these important decisions and plan next steps.

Cost of cremation vs burial: At a glance

Here's a quick comparison of cremation and burial costs according to National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) data:

The cost of each of these options can vary significantly based on what’s involved — whether it’s a customized casket, the urn you choose, and whether you have a memorial or service along with it.

Explanation of basic costs

Let's dive deeper into the specific costs that contribute to cremation and burial expenses:

Cremation costs

Burial costs

This table summarizes the costs for a clear comparison:

Expense category



Service fees

$1,000 - $2,500

$1,500 - $3,000


$500 - $1,500 (cremation process)

$300 - $500 (transportation)


$30 - $500+ (urn)

$900 - $10,000+ (casket)

Plot & grave preparation

Not applicable

$2,000 - $6,500 (plot and preparation)


$1,530 - $4,500

$4,700 - $20,000


Cremation costs explained

Cremation offers a range of options, from the most straightforward to those that include traditional memorial services and ceremonies.

Let's explore these options and the associated costs, including any additional expenses you might encounter.

Direct cremation

Direct cremation is the most economical choice. It involves the cremation of the body without a preceding funeral service.

Costs generally include the cremation process, a basic urn, and necessary paperwork, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. The price variation largely depends on the provider and geographic location.

Cremation with a memorial service

This option includes a memorial service after the cremation has taken place.

The costs for cremation remain similar to direct cremation, but additional expenses include venue rental, service planning, and potentially catering.

Including these services, the total can range from $3,000 to $7,000.

Full-service cremation with viewing

A full-service cremation includes a viewing or visitation before the cremation, closely resembling a traditional burial service in structure.

This option can include rental of a cremation casket for the viewing, which can cost between $500 and $2,500. The total cost for a full-service cremation can range from $4,000 to $7,000, depending on the level of service and the choice of venue.

Additional costs

The cost of cremation can vary depending on your location and the funeral home you choose. Generally, cremation costs tend to be lower in rural areas compared to urban centers.

Funeral homes can also have different pricing structures, so it's important to compare quotes from several providers in your area.

Be sure to ask detailed questions about what's included in their packages and about any additional fees that may apply.

Burial costs explained

Traditional burial involves several key cost components. Here's a breakdown of the major expenses you can expect:

Burial plot

The burial plot is a significant part of the cost. Depending on the cemetery's location and prestige, a plot can range from $1,000 in a rural area to $4,000 or more in a metropolitan cemetery. Exclusive or private cemeteries might charge even higher rates.


A significant expense in a traditional burial is the casket. Caskets come in a variety of materials (wood, metal, composite) and with various features, impacting the price. Costs can range dramatically, from $2,500 for a basic option to $10,000 or more for elaborate caskets.


Headstones are not mandatory, but many families choose to purchase them to mark the gravesite. Prices depend on the material, size, and customization level, ranging from $500 for simple flat markers to $5,000 or more for fancier monuments.

Burial vault

Many cemeteries require a burial vault or grave liner to prevent the ground from caving in over time. These can cost between $700 and $3,000, depending on the material and design.

Viewing and funeral service

Cremation vs burial cost: Don’t overlook these!

While cremation and burial offer distinct cost structures, both options have hidden expenses that can add up quickly. 

Here's a breakdown of some often-overlooked fees to factor into your planning:

For both cremation and burial

Additional hidden costs for cremation

Additional hidden costs for burial

Remember: It's always best to ask detailed questions about all associated fees when discussing service options with a funeral home or cemetery representative.

By being aware of these hidden costs, you can create a more accurate budget for final arrangements.

Cost of funeral vs cremation: Budgeting tips

Funeral arrangements can be a significant financial burden. Here are some practical tips to help you plan a dignified and meaningful service while remaining mindful of your budget:

Comparing costs and discounts

Don't hesitate to get quotes from several funeral homes in your area. Funeral homes typically offer a la carte services, so you can choose the specific elements you need and avoid unnecessary package costs.

Many funeral homes offer veteran or senior citizen discounts. Be sure to inquire about any potential discounts that may apply.

Next steps

We hope this guide helps you navigate the process of choosing a fitting tribute for your loved one — factoring in the cost of cremation vs burial and the logistics involved in planning it out. 

Meadow’s comprehensive cremation package includes everything you need: Experienced care, a respectful cremation, a beautiful urn, nationwide delivery, and a senior discount.

We understand the weight of this moment. We offer a more compassionate and meaningful way to celebrate a life well-lived with customized memorial planning services.

Our team of caring memorial planners partner with you in this tender time to create an occasion as remarkable as the life it honors.

With our licensed team, you can expect:

Explore our Personalized Memorial Services.