Cremation vs. Burial Comparison Chart

Many factors influence the cost of funerals, burials, and cremations. The National Funeral Directors Association collects information each year and compiles a report that estimates average costs in the United States. While the information in the report is helpful to understand national averages, it doesn't help you, the consumer, understand what goes into prices for putting loved ones to rest.

Breakdown Costs of Funerals

  • The cost to lay a loved one to rest is affected by a number of factors, including:Location, which may affect transportation costs
  • State-mandated or county-mandated fees and regulations
  • Type of service (burial vs. cremation, for example)

The infographic below shows three common options:

  1. A burial with a viewing and vault: This is the most expensive option, which is why its slice of the "pie" in the infographic below is larger than the other two options. A vault is a lined, sealed and waterproof container that houses the casket.
  2. A cremation with a viewing: For families who want to have a full memorial service with viewing, but do not want cemetery burial, this is a less expensive option. Cremation costs less than burial.
  3. Direct cremation: This is the most affordable option because families are choosing cremation services only, without additional memorial or burial services.

The most costly element for most funerals is the casket itself, which can range from a few thousand dollars into the tens of thousands.

You'll see that the second-highest cost is what the industry refers to as "non-declinable fees." These are basic service fees that apply to arranging any funeral or cremation service; they are not optional. As you work with your funeral director or cremation provider, ask them to explain what goes into their non-declinable fees.

Cremation Rates in the U.S. and Canada

If you're leaning toward cremation, you are not alone. In 2020, an all-time high number of Americans chose cremation over burial — 56%, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, and that percentage is projected to continue growing. In some states — Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii — more than 70% of people choose cremation. 2020 data shows 74.2% of people in Canada choose cremation.

If you're considering cremation for a loved one who has recently passed away, our free cremation answer book will help you learn more about how to plan a cremation.

If you have more questions about the expenses for cremation, our cremation cost breakdown will help you understand what you'll be paying for.


Cremation Answer Book - guide cover

Download the Ultimate Cremation Preplanning Guide Today

With our guide, learn how to:

  • Understand the cost factors involved in final arrangements
  • Get tips to avoid scams when preplanning cremation or burial
  • Gain the confidence to express your final wishes to loved ones