How Much Does Cremation Cost in North Carolina?

Updated

As with all funeral arrangements, the cost of cremation can vary widely depending on the crematory and services you choose. Understanding the average price can go a long way in helping you determine whether you’re being asked to pay within the target range, you’re getting a good deal, or whether you could find a better price somewhere else.

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The less expensive price point typical of cremation is one of the most significant factors that lead families in the decision-making process between cremation or burial. And, if you decide on prepaid cremation, you could save even more since you lock in current prices even if you won’t need the services for several years.

Average Cost of Cremation in North Carolina

In North Carolina, there are three types of cremation services you can choose from, including traditional cremation, direct cremation, and aqua cremation. We’ll list the average costs for each below. 

Pro tip: When deciding on the crematory your family will use, always ask for a general price list for an accurate idea of what they charge. By law, all funeral homes and crematories are required to provide you with a price list and be completely transparent regarding their fees and charges.

» MORE: Your loved ones will spend ~500 hours dealing with your death. Reduce their burden by setting things up in advance.

 

Traditional cremation

Traditional cremation is a package that combines cremation as the method of final disposition with a funeral or memorial service prior to cremation. This is going to be the most expensive option, but choosing cremation instead of burial as the method of final disposition will always save money. 

Traditional cremation with a funeral service

It’s important to keep in mind that choosing cremation won’t directly impact costs related to the funeral service itself. In fact, it might cost a bit more to choose this option if you want an open casket service since most funeral homes require embalming for an open casket service.

If you want to choose this service option, then you should plan on budgeting around $4,500. This price includes expenses such as:

  • Services of funeral director and staff
  • Embalming
  • Dressing and makeup 
  • Chapel service
  • Visitation at funeral home or church
  • Transfering of remains
  • Funeral hearse
  • Service car
  • Rental casket
  • Cremation fee
  • Temporary urn

You can see how expenses add up rapidly when you need to add on elements such as a rental casket, embalming, and other funeral-related expenses. However, this option can still save you thousands in comparison to burial and a full funeral service.

Traditional cremation with a memorial service

Choosing traditional cremation with a memorial service instead of a funeral service can save you significantly. A memorial service allows you to gather with loved ones and celebrate the life of your family member while avoiding costs for embalming and makeup, a service car, and a rental casket.

If planning on traditional cremation with a memorial service, budget around $2,000. This price includes expenses such as: 

  • Services of funeral director and staff
  • Transfering of remains
  • Crematory fee
  • Memorial service
  • Visitation
  • Urn

Direct cremation

Direct cremation is the least expensive cremation option and is a budget-friendly favorite for many families. The funeral home takes care of transporting the person’s remains from the home, nursing facility, or hospital and takes them directly to the crematory. The person is then cremated, and the ashes are returned to the family in a temporary urn.

With this option, there is no funeral or memorial service. Some families hold a service in their home or other location at a later time, but these services are not taken care of by the funeral home or crematory.

For direct cremation, you can plan on budgeting around $1,000. This cost includes expenses such as: 

  • Services of funeral director and staff
  • Transferring of remains
  • Crematory fee
  • Cremation container
  • Temporary urn

Some crematories offer a “final goodbye” option where the family members can gather to say goodbye before the remains are placed in the crematory. This is usually a slight extra expense and can add around $200 for a half-hour of family time.

Aqua cremation

Aqua cremation is the newest type of cremation available. It’s a greener option to the traditional flame-based cremation. With aqua cremation, a person is cremated using a water and alkaline solution. Similar to flame-based cremation, aqua or hydro-cremation can be paired with a funeral or memorial service, or direct cremation services.

The average price range for aqua cremation depends on the package you choose, similar to traditional cremation. Direct aqua cremation is going to be the least expensive option, while a full funeral service with embalming and aqua cremation is going to be the most expensive. 

Since aqua cremation is a new service and somewhat unknown, prices are going to be higher than for flame-based cremation. For direct aqua cremation services, plan on budgeting around $2,500.

Popular Crematories in North Carolina

Here are some of the best crematories in North Carolina with consistently high ratings.

Clay-Barnette Funerals, Cremations, and Aquamation Center (Central NC)

Located just an hour outside of Charlotte, Clay-Barnette is a highly-rated service provider that specializes in a full range of cremation and aquamation options. Theirs is currently the only aquamation center in North Carolina available for people and pets.

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Triad Cremation and Funeral Service (Northwest NC)

This cremation center is located in the northwestern portion of the state and receives consistent 5 out of 5 star reviews for its services, professionalism, and pricing. They offer basic cremation, memorial packages, and full funeral packages with cremation. Prices start at $696 and top out at $2,695, making this one of the most affordable locations for cremation with a full funeral service.

Coastal Cremations and Funeral Care (Southeast NC)

This cremation center is relatively new to North Carolina and has been serving area residents since 2012. They are consistently rated highly for providing professional on-site cremation services. Their prices range on the higher side and are typically above average, but they offer more package options than most crematories. 

Charities, Nonprofits or Government Programs That Help With Cremation Costs in North Carolina

Though cremation is certainly more affordable than burial, it can still present an expense that many families are unprepared to handle. If you or a loved one is facing that situation, here are several charities that help with funeral costs.

North Carolina Pre-need Recovery Fund

The North Carolina Board of Funeral Service has set up a fund to help consumers who established a pre-need contract with funeral homes only to be robbed of those funds. Should you pay ahead for pre-need services and the funeral home go bankrupt, refuse to serve your family, or reject your contract, you can submit an application for reimbursement to recover the lost funds.

Social Security

Though it isn’t much, if your loved one was receiving social security payments at the time of their death, they might qualify for a one-time stipend of around $250 to help offset funeral costs. 

The funeral director can notify the Social Security Administration of your loved one’s death and begin the process for reimbursement. If you’d rather, you can also contact the SSA yourself by calling 1-800-722-1213 or visit in-person at an office nearby to apply.

» MORE: Your loved ones will spend ~500 hours dealing with your death. Reduce their burden by setting things up in advance.

 

FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is responsible for providing funds to individuals and families impacted by national or state emergencies including natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and fires. 

If a loved one dies as a result of a natural disaster (including Covid-19 type pandemics), FEMA will provide monetary compensation for funeral expenses.

Veterans Assistance Funeral Fund

Military members who are honorably discharged or who die while on duty qualify for what is known as VA burial allowance. The amount families can receive to help cover funeral-related expenses varies and largely depends on whether the person’s death was service-related.

If your loved one died in a service-related incident after September 11, 2001, the maximum burial allowance comes in at $2,000.

Non-service-related deaths fall into one of two categories: those who died while in the care of a VA hospital and those who were not.

If your loved one was not under the care of a VA hospital at the time of their death, you can receive up to $300 allowance for expenses and $807 for a burial plot.

If your loved one was under the care of a VA hospital when they died, the allowance increases to an $807 allowance for expenses and $807 for a burial plot.

Whole-body donation

While this isn’t for everyone, if you’re looking for a no-cost alternative for cremation services in order to save your family from bearing the expense, a medical school’s whole-body donation program might be of interest. 

Medical schools put donations to use for scientific and medical advancements and training purposes. Most programs pay for transportation costs in addition to any costs related to caring for the body once in their care.

Once finished, the school will cremate the body for free and return the cremains to the designated family member.

Whole-body donation programs are the only way to obtain a truly free cremation.

Local religious organizations

While this varies from county to county, it can be helpful to check with local religious organizations and ask about funds set up for those in need. Some organizations have a funeral fund set up to help families in their community with funeral or cremation costs.

Cremation: An Affordable Burial Alternative

Thanks to the growing popularity of cremation services, already-low prices should continue to stay reasonable. Whether you choose traditional cremation with a funeral or memorial service, direct flame-based cremation, or aqua cremation, you’ll be able to honor your loved one with a dignified end-of-life service.

If you're a North Carolina resident and ready to start preparing your own end-of-life planning documents, Cake has Advance Care Planning forms you can download. To help ease your planning, we have all the documents you need in one place.

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