Is Cremation Cheaper Than Burial: Full 2022 Cost Analysis

When it’s time to plan for the funeral of a loved one, you want to do right by them and adhere to their wishes. However, you also don’t want to put yourself and your family in a bad financial situation, and unfortunately, the costs of burial and cremation are increasing. This leaves many families wondering which option is cheaper. 

Overall, cremation is cheaper than burials as you can avoid many fees associated with a traditional burial. Of course, this can vary based on the specific choices you make for each option, but the overall cheaper option is cremation. 

Let’s take a more detailed look at the cost breakdown of cremation and burial and help you choose the right option for you or your loved one. 

The Cost Differences Between Burial and Cremation

While it is important to choose the option your loved one preferred, choosing between a burial and cremation can be challenging. They both come with their own fees and unique costs. So, let’s break down some of these costs and cover what really sets these two options apart financially. 

Body Preparation

If you choose to cremate your loved one instead of a traditional burial, then you can save money on body preparation. Rather than having an open casket funeral, you can gather with your friends and family to mourn without time restrictions or the cost of embalming. 

Embalming a body is going to cost you about $775, and you can add another $275 on top of that cost for dressing your loved one with clothes, hair, and makeup styling. This means that choosing cremation compared to a traditional burial with an open casket service can save you roughly $1,050 just in body preparation. 

Casket vs. Urn

Both urns and caskets are expensive parts of the funeral process. Whether you choose cremation or burial, this is where most of your funds will go. There are many different types of urns and caskets available, some costing more than others. But let’s talk about the overall average pricing and how it can impact the cost. 

On average, a casket for your loved one will cost you between $2,000 and $5,000. This depends on the material you choose, the size you need, and many other factors that affect the overall cost. While there are cheaper and more expensive casket options out there, this is the average of what a casket can cost you. 

Alternatively, an urn will cost you between $70 and $2,250 on average. This is a significant price drop compared to a casket. Sure, there are more expensive options for an urn available, but it is important to know that, on average, they cost significantly less than caskets. 

Burial Plot

Burial plots are another expensive factor contributing to the overall cost of a burial. You can get a burial plot for a casket or a cremation urn if you prefer to bury your cremated loved one. While both options can get expensive, it is important to know that burying an urn is cheaper than burying a casket because it is significantly smaller. 

If you are looking for a burial plot for a casket, expect to pay between $525 and $5,000. Meanwhile, burying an urn will cost you between $350 and $2,500. There is such a huge gap between the prices here because cemeteries set their own prices for plots, and the price can change based on availability. 

For example, paying for a burial plot for your loved one in a small town with a reasonable population size may be a lot cheaper than purchasing a plot in a heavily populated city. This is simply because of supply and demand. If the cemetery is running short on space, then they can charge you more for a burial plot. 


A headstone is another factor that can heavily influence the price of burying your loved one. With so many choices like color, size, shape, writing, and material, there is a lot of variety when it comes to the final price of a headstone. On average, headstones cost between $2,000 and $5,000, while a gravemarker will cost you about $1,000. 

If you choose to cremate your loved one, then you may still want to bury them. In that case, this cost will still apply to you. However, you can avoid the cost of a headstone if you decide to keep or spread the ashes of your loved one instead. 

Transportation to Cemetery 

Our final factor for you to consider in the cost difference between burial and cremation is transportation. Many aspects of the funeral process cost money, from embalming to ensuring the funeral home safely transports the body of your loved one to their resting place. On average, you can expect to pay about $350. 

If you choose cremation for your loved one, paying for their transportation to the cemetery is not necessary as the urn can fit into an ordinary vehicle. There are still car services available for those who want the funeral home to handle transportation of the urn, but it is by no means necessary. 

Bearers are carrying a coffin in a mourning car

Making that Choice

It can be difficult to choose cremation or burial for your loved one, especially when money is an issue. What your loved one wants should be an important factor when it comes to funeral planning. If they didn’t provide specific requests, then consider both options for them as funerals can cause a hefty financial impact on families. 

If you need help making that decision, read my article on deciding if burial or cremation is right for you.  

Burial and Cremation Costs by Region 

The costs of burial and cremation depend on what region of the United States you’re in. The table below is based on the average costs of cremation or burial in the states that make up the five National Geographic regions of the United States. 

Region Included States Burial CostsCremation Costs
Northeast Connecticut 
New Hampshire 
New Jersey 
New York 
Rhode Island 
Maximum: $10,799 (New York) 

Mean: $9,173.25

Minimum: $7,895 (Pennsylvania) 
Maximum: $7,463 (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) 

Mean: $7,216.88

Minimum: $7,069 (Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) 
Southwest Arizona 
New Mexico 
West Virginia 
Maximum: $7,818 (Virginia) 

Mean: $7,178.33 

Minimum: $6,754 (Oklahoma) 
Maximum: $7,070 (Virginia, West Virginia) 

Mean: $6,389.67 

Minimum: $5,694 (Arizona, New Mexico) 
West Alaska 
Maximum: $14,975 (Hawaii) 

Mean: $9,312.27

Minimum: $6,933 (Wyoming) 
Maximum: $6,028 (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington) 

Mean: $5,845.82 

Minimum: $5,694 (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming) 
Southeast Alabama 
North Carolina 
South Carolina 
Maximum: $10,216 (Massachusetts) 

Mean: $7,718.46

Minimum: $6,684 (Mississippi) 
Maximum: $7,070 (Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina) 

Mean: $6,734.92

Minimum: $6,314 (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee) 
Midwest Illinois 
North Dakota 
South Dakota 
Maximum: $7,887 (Minnesota) 

Mean: $7,237.33

Minimum: $6,762 (Missouri) 
Maximum: $7,560 (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota) 

Mean: $7,307.08

Minimum: $6,953 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin) 

Here are some key takeaways from the information found in the table above: 

  • In all regions except the Midwest, the average cost of burial is higher than the average cost of cremation. In the Midwest, the cremation average is approximately $70 more than the average cost of burial. 
  • The region with the highest average burial cost is the West. 
  • The region with the lowest average burial cost is the Northeast. 
  • The region with the highest average cremation cost is the Midwest. 
  • The region with the lowest average cremation cost is the West. 
  • According to the average costs, the cheapest way to dispose of a body is to have it cremated in Arizona or New Mexico. 
  • According to the average costs, the most expensive way to dispose of a body is to have a burial in Hawaii.  

The region you live in can drastically influence the price of disposition (for example, it costs $14,975 to bury a body in Hawaii compared to $6,684 to bury a body in Mississippi; or $7,560 to cremate a body in some Midwestern states compared to $5,694 in some Western and Southwestern states). Therefore, considering your location is a good place to start if you’re trying to determine what you can afford. 

How To Save Money on Cremation or Burial?

One of the best ways to save money on cremation or burial is to understand all of your options and rights when it comes to taking care of a loved one after they pass. Choosing some of the cheaper options when it comes to funeral planning can really help you budget. 

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things we can experience. Because of this, people can often feel overwhelmed by all the options available when their loved one passes. So, let’s go over some of the options you have to save money along the way while still honoring and respecting your loved one. 

1. Choose a Cheaper Casket or Urn. 

As discussed above, caskets and urns are some of the most expensive parts of the funeral planning process. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on either option if you are willing to consider different materials. 

If you’re trying to save money, I recommend renting a casket or selecting one made of steel, pine, or cardboard. Cardboard caskets are typically used for cremations because they are so low-cost. 

Most importantly, when selecting a casket, don’t just go for the first one the funeral home offers you. Take some time to shop around and check online sellers. Of course, you may be hesitant to do this for fear of fees or rejection. However, the FTC has set protections for you and your family. 

First, the funeral home must accept caskets from other online retailers and can’t refuse you service based on this. Also, the funeral home can’t charge you a fee to use a casket from a different retailer as well. So, know your rights to shop around when it comes to casket and urn selections. And make sure you shop around. 

Additionally, try not to feel bad about choosing a more affordable casket for your loved one. After all, even the world’s most elaborate and expensive casket can’t stop decomposition. For more tips, you can read my article on the cheapest caskets that help save money on any U.S. funeral.  

Just as there are many options for budget-saving caskets, you can choose a cheaper urn (or opt not to buy an urn at all!) to save money on a cremation. You only need to provide some sort of container that is big enough to hold all the ashes, so you can technically pick any kind of container you want. 

2. Don’t Have Your Loved One Embalmed. 

Most people choose to have the body of the departed embalmed, especially if there will be a viewing and they can’t have the service immediately. There are some instances where embalming the body of your loved one is not a requirement. 

Some states don’t require embalming at all, while others do for specific circumstances like disease, transportation, and viewing the body. One way to cut back on cost is to opt for a quicker turnaround and forego embalming altogether. For more detailed information, check out my article on if embalming is required by law

3. Choose a Cheaper Burial Plot. 

Burial plots in private cemeteries can be as much as $6,000. If you don’t want to speed that much, take some time to look for an alternative. Public cemeteries can run a lot cheaper for a burial plot, and you can save money by choosing a less-populated cemetery for your loved one. 

4. Choose a Less Expensive Grave Marker. 

You can save money on the headstone or grave marker by choosing a cheaper stone, a smaller size, and a simpler design. The more you engrave on a marker, the more expensive it will be, so it’s best to keep it nice and simple. If you need ideas on what to put on a grave marker or headstone to honor your loved one, I have an article with five examples to help you out.  

5. Get Quotes From Several Funeral Homes. 

If your loved one didn’t already choose a funeral home before they died, you should take some time to get quotes from multiple homes. Then, compare the prices and the value to determine what is right for you. Additionally, if you ever feel like a funeral director is pressuring you to purchase a more expensive option, try a different home. No one should be pressuring you or making you feel uncomfortable during this difficult time. 

If you’ve implemented all these tips and you’re still struggling with covering the costs, check out my article on how to pay for a funeral


The cost of burials and cremations varies widely depending on the region of the United States, what services you opt for, and what physical items you purchase. In general, cremation is cheaper than burial, although this isn’t always the case. There are also many ways you can cut back on costs if both options are initially too expensive. 

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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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