Should You Buy a Casket Online?
Last updated December 2021
Casket costs often amount to a large portion of the price of a funeral. When we calculated sample costs at funeral homes for a traditional service and burial we included their prices for the least-expensive oak (solid or veneer) caskets. On average, the price of the casket alone accounted for roughly 30 percent of funeral homes’ total charges. Had we chosen a more expensive coffin—say, an elaborate casket in copper or bronze with plush linings—the price of the casket could have accounted for more than three-fourths of the funeral costs.
There is tremendous price variation among funeral homes for identical caskets. Many homes mark up caskets three to five times wholesale; some go even higher.
Comparison shop. Dozens of online casket vendors (including Costco and Walmart) sell directly to consumers and ship to funeral homes. By law, funeral homes must allow you to provide your own casket and may not charge a handling fee if you do. But know they can withhold offered discounts for funeral packages if you don’t buy a casket from them.
We compared prices charged by funeral homes for several casket models with prices from several online direct sellers and found that direct sellers almost always offered big savings. For example, for an oak casket, the average price quoted by area funeral homes was $3,488, compared to $1,195 at ExpressCasket.com and $1,295 at DirectCaskets.com.
Although Costco and Walmart offer very limited stocks of caskets, their prices are low: When we checked, the oak casket offered by Walmart cost $1,295, and all of its caskets cost $955 to $3,395; Costco charged $1,400 for its wood casket and the price range for all its options was $900 to $1,500.
Our advice: Get written price proposals from funeral homes, including their charges for your selected casket, and then use online retailers’ prices to negotiate a lower price with the funeral home. Let the funeral home know the best price you found, and that you’ll buy it elsewhere unless the funeral home lowers its price. By law, funeral homes must provide customers with price lists for caskets they sell, and they are not allowed to charge more than the prices shown on the price list; but funeral homes are allowed—at their discretion—to discount casket prices.