How Much Does It Usually Cost to Hire a Private Investigator?


Private investigators perform an important service. They’re able to find the information individuals need thanks to their particular set of skills. When you need to know someone’s credibility, a private investigator can verify it.

But how much does a private investigator cost? If you want to hire a private investigator, you need to prepare yourself first for what they may find and second for what they may cost.

Keep reading to learn about the cost of hiring a private investigator.

General Cost to Hire a Private Investigator

Generally speaking, a private investigator will cost as little as $50 an hour and as much as $200 an hour depending on a variety of factors. The best rated private investigator will cost the most whereas a beginner P.I. will cost the least.

Factors Affecting PI Cost

Now that you can answer the general question of “how much is a private investigator,” you should understand why their costs vary. Anything from experience to time to the general expenses involving the case will affect cost.

Basic Fee

Many private investigators charge a basic fee for their work. You can also have them on retainer, paying them a monthly fee for any future work you will have them do.

The market, particular agency, and type of case all play into the basic fee the detective will charge you.

Hourly Rates

Some investigators bypass a basic fee and charge an hourly rate for their services. Such services would include investigation, surveillance, and infiltration.

Your final bill will depend on the rate along with the number of hours the private investigator worked on your case. Average costs hover around $65 an hour in the United States.


The investigator’s experience will play a part in the fees as well. If you have a detective with years of experience and investigators with many contacts, you will pay more. Furthermore, a qualified investigator will have gone through specific training.

As you look at different agencies, always ask how many years the investigator has been working in the detective business.

Flat Fees

Some investigators will charge a flat fee for specific services. Background checks, surveillance, and address inquiries often take just a flat fee rather than an hourly rate. Ask about these fees when you find a good investigator.


The services the investigator performs will also affect the overall cost. Some services will cost more per hour depending on the risk and work involved. For example, some investigators will charge more for undercover investigations and special matters because of the risk they’re putting themselves in.

As you look into a private investigation service, ask about basic fees, flat fees, and any extra charges based on what you need. An employee background check should cost less than surveillance, which requires hours of work and some mild risk.

The type of investigation will largely determine the cost of the private investigator’s services.

Hire a Private Investigator With Confidence

Now that you understand how to hire a private investigator and what costs to expect, you can move forward with confidence. Ask the investigator your critical questions about cost. Don’t be afraid to address any of these cost questions so you can avoid a surprise bill at the end of the investigator’s services.

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