How Much Does a Private Investigator Cost

Hired by individuals or law enforcement organizations, a private investigator is responsible for conducting background checks, processing and delivering legal documents such as subpoenas, locating missing persons or using an electronic medium to track down incriminating evidence. A private investigator’s job involves having a keen eye for detail and specifications so that any missing detail can be easily spotted. The service they provide usually involves a hefty amount of money because it is not easy to perform the job that they have. They often put themselves out in front of the most daunting situations, where their own lives are in danger. Private investigators may charge a high fee for their services.

Cost of a Private Investigator

Before you decide to hire a private investigator, it is important to first find out how much their services cost. The price charged by a private investigator may vary based on the type of service that is required along with their way of charging prices: a flat rate or an hourly rate, and lastly if they require a retainer or not.

Usually, a flat fee is charged for performing tasks that do not move away from the standard process.

Such tasks include background checks, identification of phone numbers, vehicle registration details, past criminal record, and GPS tracking. These jobs do not require extra time or effort and may be conducted from a computer screen.

However, when bigger jobs get involved, the rates of the personal investigators switch from the flat fee to an hourly rate. Such cases are the ones that require additional research and inspection hence an hourly rate is most common. For the location of a missing person, $300-$600 may be charged and for infidelity inspection, around $300-$1000.

The average cost of a private investigator may also vary depending on his demand for a retainer or not. This upfront cost may range from $1000-$5000 and it also depends on the specific case that you want to be handled. Depending on the nature of the work you want to get done, the retainer fee may also vary. Infidelity cases may incur a retainer of $5000 whereas simple data discovery may require only $500.

A private investigator may not be the most cost-effective option that is available for you, but it surely is the one that brings about the best results. An inexperienced investigator may take an extremely long time to complete the task which is completed by a professional in less than half of that time.


The fee charged by a private investigator may seem to be hefty and the costs may seem to be adding up, but an investigation of good quality is the most helpful in answering all the questions that you may have. As they say, quality over cost; which is the same principle applies here because it is essential to have your questions answered. The restoration of your peace is more important than the price that is being charged for that cause.