Why Funeral Packages are Not a Good Deal

Why Funeral Packages are Not a Good Deal

7th May 2024

The loss of a loved one is a deeply emotional and challenging time for families, often accompanied by the need to make immediate and complex decisions about funeral arrangements. Unfortunately, funeral homes can exploit this vulnerability by promoting unnecessary services and packages. Understanding funeral home packages is crucial as it empowers consumers to make informed decisions, avoid unnecessary costs, and choose services that respect their budget and wishes.

Let's delve deeper into the nuances of funeral home packages, providing actionable advice for identifying and avoiding unnecessary services. We will explore how to navigate funeral home packages, explain your rights under the Funeral Rule, and outline tips for choosing services that respect your budget and wishes.

Understanding Funeral Home Packages

Typically, funeral homes offer a "basic package" that encompasses the essential services required for conducting a funeral. This usually includes:

  • Basic Services Fee: This mandatory fee covers the administrative aspects, like filing death certificates and managing the logistics of the services.
  • Transportation and Preparation: Charges for transporting and preparing the body are standard.
  • Facility Use: Fees for using facilities for viewing or services.

Fancy funeral transportation

Despite the straightforward nature of these packages, funeral homes will stack multiple items or services into a discounted package to create a seemingly good deal. But if you are not careful, you can end up paying for things you do not need or do not want. Each package will deliver a different value to every family. Often, you are money ahead buying on an à la carte basis, focusing on personal wants and needs rather than trying to save money on a nondescript package deal.

Misconceptions About Funeral Packages

One common misconception is that funeral packages are inflexible. However, most funeral homes offer customizable packages that meet families' needs and financial limits. This flexibility is crucial to understand as it allows families to tailor services appropriately, dispelling the misconception of rigid funeral packages. But let’s start with some basics.

Are Caskets The Same As Coffins?

Most people use the terms' coffin' and 'casket' interchangeably, but understanding their differences can make you feel more knowledgeable and prepared. While both serve the same purpose of resting your loved one's deceased body, there are noticeable differences that can impact your funeral planning decisions.

If you look at a coffin and a casket, the shape and some unique features will surely give it away. While a casket usually has four sides and is rectangularly shaped, an average coffin will likely have six or eight sides that are tapered at the feet and shoulders, which mirror the shape of an actual human being.

The price and purpose of coffins and caskets are more essential differences. A European coffin sometimes features a front window, closed by a glass, letting people see the deceased to pay their respects and for the last time during the memorial service before the burial.

On the other hand, unlike a coffin, caskets are made with lids, a full couch, where the entire top opens up, and a half couch, where the head portion of the casket can open while the lower portion covering the legs stays closed. In the United States, the half couch design is preferred, especially if funeral events intend to show the body.

The choice between a coffin and a casket depends on the country's traditions and customs. While a coffin is cheaper than a casket, it is less popular in America.

What To Look For In An Affordable Yet Quality Burial Caskets?

When purchasing burial caskets, it's crucial to consider many factors. This comprehensive approach will help you stay within your budget and ensure that you make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and preferences, making you feel more confident in your choices.

Depending on where you're buying your casket from—online or from funeral homes—the price list may range from $1,000 to $8,000. Here are some factors to consider before you make your purchase. Casket prices will vary by source, location, and availability. Online casket providers will have more affordable prices than funeral home prices and a more extensive selection of in-stock models.

The Materials

Burial caskets can be constructed from various materials, such as wood, bamboo, cork, metal, banana leaf, oak, walnut, maple, cherry, mahogany, etc. While mahogany, maple, cheery, oak, and walnut may have some of the most expensive casket prices, wood and metal caskets are often the most common, durable, and cost-effective.

The Interior

The interiors of burial caskets are usually crepe, satin, or velvet, which symbolize luxury, respect, and comfort for the deceased's remains. High-end materials like velvet will cost a little more, while crepe or cotton make for more affordable options.


If you plan on cutting costs when buying burial caskets, you'd need to consider the finishes and casket colors. Most caskets come with precious metal plating or high-gloss, which can add to the overall costs.

To minimize the overall spending, you can choose a more affordable yet quality burial casket with standard finishes like painted or satin finishes. Overnight Caskets offers a wide selection of steel caskets and wood caskets that include automotive-quality paints, stains, and finishes.

Casket Hardware

Hardware such as hinges, handles, nameplates, ornamentation, and emblems is worthy of consideration. While you want the best for your deceased loved ones, highly decorated or designer hardware can be expensive, so if you're on a tighter budget, opt for practical and more standard hardware.

The Ideal Casket Size

Sometimes, the online casket company you're purchasing the casket from or your funeral home offers options for customization on size. If the deceased's body has unique requirements, this most likely would add some additional casket costs as well.

While the cost might be higher than buying a standard casket, ensure it's the perfect size to avoid unnecessary expenses. Asking your funeral director about your desired casket size is always a good idea.

Price Comparison

Since the cost of caskets must align with your budget, comparing the prices from different sellers is crucial. Funeral homes are usually costlier, while third-party retailers or online retailers can charge you hefty prices depending on the extra hardware or materials you need. Comparing prices is significant as it helps you find the best deal and stay within your budget. According to the FTC Funeral Rule, any funeral home must accept funeral merchandise if the customer buys it elsewhere.

Prices can also increase depending on your location's shipping charges. The best cost-effective solution is to pick one burial casket and compare it between sellers. According to the FTC Funeral Rule, any funeral home must accept funeral merchandise if the customer buys it elsewhere.

While the price ranges of burial caskets usually depend and differ on the place you buy them from, including a funeral home and online retailers, a critical component when it comes to the prices of caskets would be the materials used.

That said, two of the most common caskets people call the perfect casket are made of metal and wood. However, the title may vary depending on the preferences of the buyers. Here are the types of caskets available for you to choose from:

Wooden Caskets

Wood caskets are among the most popular types. They usually come in solid hardwood, softwood, or veneer. The market markets hardwood caskets as a more durable product, which explains why they are generally more expensive than other materials like steel.

Caskets made of Hardwoods like cherry, walnut, maple, oak, and mahogany have vibrant and elegant appearances with a more premium finish. They also offer natural beauty but are often not on the affordable casket price list and are sometimes even called expensive caskets. On the other hand, softwood caskets are made with redwood, pine, cedar, or old-style pine boxes. These caskets usually offer a more natural and warm appearance and are more affordable and cost-effective.

There are also veneer caskets created using thin layers of top-quality wood veneer applied over a slightly inexpensive wood core. These caskets look attractive and have a solid wood appearance. Compared to expensive hardwood caskets, these casket prices are affordable but still high-quality.

Metal Caskets

Like wood caskets, metal caskets are popular choices in the market today. They come in various options, including steel caskets (the most common) and more expensive stainless steel, copper, bronze, and a copper-bronze combination. As you can imagine, the higher-end materials come with much heftier price tags.

However, steel caskets are one of the most popular choices, not only due to their durability but also their affordability. They usually come with different thicknesses, known as gauges, and 18- and 20-gauge steel are the standard metal caskets. Most 18-gauge caskets have much-rounded corners, great hardware, and better interior material, offering the best protection. Some retailers provide easy customizations for metal caskets with a selection of exterior finishes, interior linings, and features like rubber gasket sealers, which can prevent outside elements, such as dust and moisture, from encroaching on the container.

Biodegradable and Eco-Friendly Caskets

If you're an individual who is hugely concerned with the environment, affordable caskets like biodegradable or eco-friendly caskets have become tremendously popular recently. Biodegradable caskets usually contain no metal parts and are made from recyclable materials such as organic cotton, recycled paper, willow, cardboard, bamboo, and other natural materials.

Rental Caskets

As the name suggests, a rental casket is not always a cost-effective solution for families that want a traditional funeral service, including cremation, but cannot afford an expensive casket yet still want to host a proper funeral service instead. However, you might be surprised that beautiful yet economical caskets purchased from online retailers like Trusted Caskets or Overnight Caskets are generally cheaper than renting a demo casket from your local funeral home.

Cremation Casket

Cremation caskets are affordable containers designed for the cremation process. They have simpler designs than other caskets and are made of combustible materials, including particle board, pine, oak, pressed wood, and even cardboard.

That said, most lower-priced cremation caskets are made from cardboard and sturdy enough for the entire cremation process. Although searching for cremation caskets with a lower price might be the goal, make sure they are rigid enough, nontoxic, leak-proof, and don't contain any metal parts.

Do It Yourself (DIY) Caskets

Constructing a simple casket with inexpensive materials is an excellent way to keep funeral costs down and make the experience more personal. Not only does constructing a casket yourself build a bond and activate healing for your grief-stricken heart, but you can also customize it by imagining the personality of the recently passed, creating a personalized tribute while being cost-effective and unique.

Plenty of DIY instruction kits online or in various bookstores will help you create a casket from scratch for half the price compared to buying a much higher price. And like third-party supplied caskets, DIY caskets are protected by the FTCFuneral Rule. Under the federal statute, funeral homes must accept caskets purchased from any source, including you.

Strategies to Avoid Unnecessary Funeral Services

  1. Educate Yourself on What's Necessary: It is crucial to know what services are legally required and what is not. For example, embalming is not legally required in many cases, though many funeral homes treat it as such.
  2. Request Itemization: Always ask for an itemized list of all costs. This transparency is not only your right but also helps identify padded services.

Exploring the Costs and Services

  • High-Cost Items: Items like caskets and urns can be marked up significantly. Consumers should shop around, as they can buy these items from outside vendors.
  • Service Fees: Understanding what each fee covers can help identify redundant services like cosmetic preparations for closed-casket services.

Consumer Rights and Protections

Under the Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, consumers have specific rights:

  • Right to Choose: Purchasing any funeral good or service must be optional, not bundled.
  • Price Lists: Funeral homes must provide detailed price lists for all services and goods.
  • Use of Third-Party Caskets: Funeral homes cannot refuse caskets bought elsewhere or charge a handling fee.

The Role of Digital Resources in Funeral Planning

A wealth of resources and tools that aid in planning and cost comparison can be found online:

  • Online Reviews and Testimonials: Leveraging online feedback can provide insights into the practices of local funeral homes.
  • End-of-Life Guidance: Cake is the largest online database of end-of-live resources. Take advantage of Overnight Caskets’ free annual membership deal.
  • Virtual Tours and Consultations: Some funeral homes offer virtual services that can save time and provide preliminary information before in-person visits.

Community and Support Networks

Engaging with community resources and support networks can provide additional guidance and emotional support during funeral planning. These might include:

  • Consumer Advocacy Groups: These organizations often have insights into local funeral homes' practices.
  • Support from Religious or Community Leaders: Leaders often have experience with local funeral services and can provide recommendations based on past interactions.

Navigating the complexities of funeral arrangements is never easy, especially during grief. Families can make decisions that honor their loved ones without unnecessary financial burdens by being well-informed about consumer rights, available services, and funeral homes' standard practices. Being proactive, seeking transparency, and utilizing community resources are vital to ensuring dignified and cost-effective funeral arrangements.