How Much Does A Private Investigator Cost?

If you’re a private party, small business, attorney, corporation or law firm looking to hire a private investigator, chances are you’ve taken the time to shop around for rates and quotes. However, if you’ve having a difficult time determining how much a private investigator should cost, there’s a few factors to consider when making your decision…

What Service Do You Need?

Depending on the nature of the job, the cost of a PI will vary greatly. Process serves will not cost the same as surveillance. Additionally, the prominence and reputation of the investigator will undoubtedly make a significant difference. Furthermore, an investigator in the middle of Los Angeles or New York City will inherently charge more than one in the middle of the country, so take this into consideration when utilizing our private investigator pricing guides.

Having seen the work of many PIs across the country, we can confidently make two generalized statements about private investigator prices:

  1. If the price seems too good to be true (or surprisingly affordable compared to other quotes you’ve received), stay away!
  2. If the price stretches your budget to the maximum, it’s likely you’re not getting your money’s worth.

If The Price Is Too Cheap…

If your quote is surprisingly affordable, it’s likely the investigator in question is not actually performing the work, but rather sending an intern or office worker to do the job – typically for both surveillance and process serves. While this can turn out well for simple cases, the second things get more complicated, the inexperience and lack of expertise of the hired help will quickly result in a failure that will take another investigator twice as long to fix. Subjects that have been alerted to the presence of a PI surveying them or attempting a process serve often go into hiding. This means your next PI will likely need a budget at least twice what your original investigator cost, along with a lot of luck. Do not cut cost on your PI – hire a professional the first time! It’s crucial to work with an investigator you trust and get along with.

If The Price Is Too Expensive…

If your quote stretches well above the average for your area, it’s likely the investigator is intentionally dragging their feet on quickly completing your job to push their hourly rate as far as it can go. For example, only performing surveillance during typical work hours (9 to 5, Monday through Friday) – this is often thwarted by halfway sentient subjects who simply adjust their sleep schedule to avoid detection! Be aware of the complexity of your case and consider the attributes that may actually take an investigator more time. More expensive does not mean better, more efficient, more experienced, or a better outcome!

Private Investigator Price

Here are the ranges you can expect to see for different private detective services – ranging from the least expensive you’re likely to come across (not recommended) to the most expensive rates we know of (also not recommended):

  • Surveillance: $40 per hour – $400 per hour. We recommend a PI around $90 per hour, with an average case cost of $1,500 to $2,500.
  • Service of Process: $35 per serve – $1,000 per day. We recommend a PI around $90 per hour, with an average case cost of $500 to $600.
  • Missing Person Locate: $60 per hour – $125 per hour. We recommend a PI around $85 per hour, with an average case cost of $2,000.
  • Cheating Spouse Investigation: $500* – $250 per hour. We recommend a PI around $125 per hour, with an average case cost of $2,500.
  • Background Check: $50 – $10,000 per background check. We recommend a PI around $300 to $500 per background check.

Find A Private Investigator Near You

At Find Your Investigator, we’re proud to help private parties, small businesses and attorneys in finding the right Private Investigator for their case. While other directory sites simply show you a long list of potential investigators, we thoroughly screen our investigators to ensure we’re recommending PIs that provide the level of service and attention to detail you deserve. Look for private investigators near you, or learn more about FYI today!

*Sometimes, an investigator can choose to offer a one-time payment depending on the ease of the case. Some spouses are surprisingly terrible at hiding their infidelity escapades.