P.I. Directory

Private Investigator Prices, Rates and Fees

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Private Detective?

One of the questions we are most frequently asked is – “How much does it cost to hire a private investigator.”  Private investigators provide a wide variety of services that range from simple to extremely complex.  The cost of hiring a private investigator varies widely based on such factors as:

  • Investigation services desired

  • Geographic location

  • Risk involved

  • Amount of time required

Miscellaneous costs involved (travel, special reports, etc.)

Flat Fee Pricing vs. Hourly Rate Pricing

Most private investigators charge an hourly rate for services such as surveillance or investigating a cheating spouse.  These rates are often negotiable, so be sure to agree on a price before hiring the PI to do the work.  Private Eyes usually charge a flat fee for services such as: a background check, missing person locate, court document retrieval, or processing serving.

Market Differences May Affect Pricing

A private investigator’s prices will vary depending on the market or geographic area being served.  Prices will tend to be higher in metropolitan areas due to such factors as licensing, insurance, transportation, office space, etc.


The cost of hiring a private investigator can vary widely based on the experience level of the private investigator.  A private eye with an extensive career involving military or government intelligence, or a career in law enforcement will tend to be more expensive than someone just getting into the business.

Expenses and Miscellaneous Fees

Depending on your individual agreement and the needs of your case, a private investigator may ask you to cover any expenses associated with the case.  Expenses associated with an investigation case may include:

  • Travel expenses (gas, mileage, etc.)

  • Supplies

  • Communication costs (phone calls, text messages, etc.)

See our List of Tips for Hiring a Private Investigator

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