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Big funerals aren’t for everyone. Maybe you want to keep things low-key. Perhaps your loved one wanted you to spend your money on other things. Or maybe you’re worried about covering the cost. Whatever the reason, there are low cost funeral options that allow you to say goodbye with care and respect.

We’ll take a look at the lowest cost funerals available and also at different ways to pay for the funeral. So you can choose what’s right for you.

Low cost funerals – what are your options?

A traditional funeral with a hearse and limousines, flower arrangements, venue hire and catering can be expensive. It all adds up. But you can organise a low cost funeral that still pays respect to your loved one. It really comes down to what’s right for you.

Before you start comparing the prices of low cost funerals, it’s important to understand the 2 main types. This is because they’re quite different – something which is reflected in the price. These are:

  • Unattended funeral – this is a type of low cost funeral without a ceremony
  • Simple funeral – this is a low cost funeral where you can still have a small ceremony at a crematorium or burial ground

To help you decide, we’ll look at each type in more detail.

Unattended funerals

Did you know that you don’t have to have a funeral service? This is called an unattended funeral  (or a direct cremation when the person is cremated) and it’s becoming more popular in the UK. It’s when a person is buried or cremated without a funeral service. The funeral director will arrange the burial or cremation and family and friends don’t attend. This makes it a more affordable option when compared with a traditional funeral service because there’s no need to arrange a venue, transport, flowers, or catering.

But that’s not to say that you can’t say goodbye to your loved one in the way you’d like. Even if you organise an unattended funeral you could still have your own memorial service at home with family and friends to remember the person. It’s a good opportunity to plan something personal while keeping costs to a minimum.

Read our guide to unattended funerals to learn more.

Simple funerals

Ever heard of a simple funeral? Or a basic funeral? Different funeral directors call their funeral packages by different names so it can be a bit confusing. But a simple funeral package usually only includes the basics. It follows the same kind of structure as a traditional funeral service. But it will be pared back and you’ll usually find you have less choice about some of the options.

Here’s what you can expect from a simple funeral package:

  • You’ll have less say over when the funeral takes place. It could be at a less popular time, so keep that in mind.
  • The funeral director will take the coffin in a simple but suitable vehicle. No hearse or limousines will be used.
  • A simple coffin will be provided.
  • There’ll be no procession or pallbearers.

Read our guide to simple funerals to learn more about how they’re different to traditional funerals.

What is the cheapest funeral option?

A direct cremation is the cheapest type of funeral currently available in the UK. According to recent research (SunLife 2023) a direct cremation costs an average of £1,511. Though you could pay less if you choose a virtual provider. These are nationwide direct cremation specialists who organise the whole funeral for you over the phone or by email.

But direct cremations aren’t right for everyone. If you want to have a funeral ceremony, a simple funeral is the cheapest funeral option that allows you to do this. You can expect prices for a simple funeral to be around £3,953 which is the UK average for a basic funeral (SunLife 2023).

Cremations cost less than burials

Whether you choose to have a ceremony or not, it’s worth knowing that cremations usually cost less than burials. This is because of the extra costs associated with a burial, including paying for a headstone and the cost of leasing the burial plot.

Finding the lowest cost option in your area

Keep in mind that funeral costs can be more or less than the averages above because it depends on where you live. It can also depend on which funeral director you choose. Funeral directors’ fees can vary significantly, even within the same area. Simply by shopping around and comparing prices from different funeral directors, you could save hundreds of pounds.

If you feel like you don’t have time to shop around, you can use our funeral director comparison tool to find and compare funeral directors’ prices in your area. It takes just a few minutes.

What is the cheapest way to pay for a funeral?

Paying for a funeral usually means finding a large sum of money all in one go. If that’s not realistic for you, there other ways to manage funeral costs.

So what are your options?

Paying for a funeral in instalments – Speak to your funeral director and see if they offer flexible payment terms so you can spread the cost of the funeral instead of paying it all off in one go. Keep in mind that you might be charged a fee to pay in instalments, which means the total cost of the funeral will be higher than if you pay it up front.

A funeral plan – This is a way of paying for your own funeral in advance. It’s not really an option when it comes to paying for a loved one’s funeral. But it means you can pay for the cost of your own funeral at today’s prices even if the cost goes up in the future. If you’re planning a loved one’s funeral it’s also worth checking in case they had a funeral plan that could help you cover the cost. Learn more about funeral plans.

A funeral insurance or life insurance policy – When you take out a funeral or life insurance policy you can pay for it in instalments. And depending on the type of policy the payout could cover the cost of your funeral. Again, this mainly helps with future planning, though it’s worth checking if your loved one had a life insurance policy.

Keep in mind that all of the above ways to pay for a funeral still have their own risks. So it’s always worth getting independent financial advice so you can weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.

Need help paying for a funeral?

Hopefully we’ve helped you find the cheapest way to arrange a funeral. But even low cost funeral options are still an expense you may not have expected. So make sure you get the financial help you need from the government or from charities who may be able to help.

Use our guide on how to get help with funeral costs to find the cheapest way to arrange a funeral. That way you can organise a suitable funeral for a loved one while keeping costs down.

Please note: This article isn’t intended to offer financial advice. Before you agree to any payment plans or insurance policies, make sure you read the small print and get independent financial advice. Contact your nearest Citizen’s Advice office for support.