Whether you’re planning ahead for yourself or a recently deceased loved one, understanding the costs and processes involved in cremation can be a bit confusing. If you just lost a loved one, it may not feel like an ideal time to “shop around” for the best services and costs.
However, whittling down to a few good options with just a little bit of online research can save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.
Here are some tips on how to find a good option nearby, along with questions to ask prospective cremation providers to ensure you’re getting a high-quality and affordable service. If you're still deciding on whether or not to cremate in the first place, learn about how cremation works first.
Where to Find Cremation Services & Reviews Online
In many areas, cremation is offered primarily by funeral homes. Some of these funeral homes perform the cremation on-site, while others work with larger off-site facilities.
Depending on what options are offered in your area, you can choose to work through a funeral home or directly with a crematory. Working with a funeral home will usually be more expensive because they tend to charge for handling all of the arrangements involved in a cremation.
Your costs will be higher if you opt for a pre-cremation viewing/wake and/or memorial service. Either way, a funeral home or crematory can work with you to arrange for transport of the body from the place of death, along with coordination of the permits needed to perform the cremation.
Search for Google Reviews
Google tends to capture the most reviews for businesses these days. Do a search on Google for “cremation services near me” to get a comprehensive map listing of funeral homes and crematories in your area.
In the search results, you’ll see a small map with a few popular options near you. You can click on the “more places” link to expand the listing to see all of the options near you. These search results will also offer customer reviews you can peruse.
Search for “Cremation” on Yelp
Like Google, Yelp allows you to easily search for “cremation” in your town to get a list of nearby service providers and reviews. It can be helpful to “crosscheck” a business on both Google and Yelp to see if their reputation is good on both sites.
A note of caution about online reviews
Wherever you find online reviews, be careful of forming a judgment based on just one or two negative reviews. As you can imagine, not everyone is easy to please. People are more likely to go through the extra effort to post a negative review than a positive one.
If you see a bad review, try to assess how level-headed and fair the reviewer’s comments appear to be. Did the owner of the business respond to the review in a professional manner?
Can you find other positive reviews of the crematory elsewhere online? When in doubt, call the business to get a sense of their professionalism and ability to answer your questions in a way that allays your fears.
Questions to Ask About Cremation Services
Before selecting a funeral home or crematory for your services, here are some questions that you want to ask:
- Are you a licensed and board-certified crematory with up-to-date permits?
- (If you want to) Can I witness the cremation (along with other loved ones)?
- Does the body need to be delivered in a rigid container to your location? If so, what container materials are acceptable?
- Do you offer urns for ashes? Or do I need to bring my own urn or container?
- Do you offer biodegradable urns or containers (if you plan on burying the urn)?
- (If desired) Do you offer direct cremation (no funeral service)?
- When will I be able to collect the
- Do you have a memorial onsite for the interment of cremated remains?
- Is pre-paying an option for someone planning for their end-of-life decisions?
- Where can I see some of your customer reviews or testimonials?
Questions to Ask About Cremation Costs
The price for cremation is far less costly compared to the price of a burial — usually between $1,000-3,000 depending on where you live and what additional services you opt for. However, keep in mind that your costs will increase if you opt to bury the
Direct cremation is typically the most affordable option. With direct cremation, you forgo a funeral service altogether. This means you save money that would otherwise be spent on an open casket viewing prior to cremation, which may include the rental cost of a casket, embalming services, and cosmetic procedures.
People who opt for direct cremation often have a memorial service at a funeral home, church, or function hall after the cremation has taken place.
When calculating the price for cremation, here are some questions to ask:
- How much does the actual cremation cost?
- What is the cost of completing the death certificate?
- What is the cost of transporting the body to the funeral home/crematory?
- How much does a cremation container for transport/cremation of the body cost?
- Are any of these costs rolled into the cremation services provided? Do you offer packages?
- Do you offer urn or containers on-site? What is the range of costs?
- Can I rent a casket for a funeral service or wake before the body is cremated?
- Is there a special discount for pre-paying for cremation and the services you want along with it?
Tip: Always ask for an itemized list of costs from the funeral home or crematory you are considering working with. This will provide transparency on what is required vs what is optional. If you feel pressured or guilted into
Also, keep in mind the prices of services you want to employ to keep a portion of the cremains with you if you so desire. Perhaps you would like a piece of cremation jewelry or memorial diamond that holds a portion of the cremated remains or use the ashes to create a beautiful stone that can be used in a piece of jewelry or decor.
Eterneva is one company that makes this possible, transforming cremated ashes into real diamonds in a matter of months. You can also solidify your loved one's cremains into 40 to 60 cremation stones, which you can divvy up however you'd like, with Parting Stone.
Shopping around might seem like a real hassle with everything else going on after
Create a Free Plan for End-of-Life Decisions
As you continue to plan for the recent or impending death of a loved one, let Cake help. Our free end-of-life planning website helps you get all your final affairs in order. It’s easy to share your comprehensive Cake end-of-life plan with your loved ones.
Make sure your family is on the same page when the time comes. This can reduce stress, conflict, and guilt for the people left behind. Create a free plan to express and share your final wishes today.
If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, we also have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.