• Detective Chris Brooks

How much is a Private Investigator?

One of the most common questions I get is – “How much does it cost to hire a private investigator?” Not knowing the costs involved is the main reason people hesitate when they think about hiring a private investigator.

The answer to the question is, the cost to hire a private investigator varies widely based on such factors as the investigation services you need and the amount of time involved in the case and other factors. In this article, we’ll talk about how prices are determined and explain what you can generally expect to pay.


Private Investigators, much like attorneys, will charge an up front fee called a retainer. A retainer fee is similar to a deposit, which can be applied toward future work. The amount of the retainer will vary depending on the agency, market and the type of case. Make sure you clearly understand whether a retainer fee is required, and how the money will be applied toward future investigative work.

According to a study conducted by Thumbtack in 2017, the average cost to hire a private investigator retainer started at $1500.

Flat Fee Pricing vs. Hourly Rate Pricing

Hourly Rates

Most private investigators charge an hourly rate for services such as surveillance or investigating a cheating spouse, interviewing a witness, criminal and civil defense. 

The total cost is then determined by the hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours worked. Hourly rates are often negotiable, so be sure to agree on a price before hiring the PI to do the work.

The average low level private investigator cost in the United States is $60 per hour. According to a study conducted by Thumbtack in 2019, the average cost to hire a private investigator was between $70 and $200 per hour, depending on the complexity of the job.

Do your research before hiring any private investigation agency. Cheaper is not always better. Many lower level private investigation firms lack the experience in law enforcement and boots on the ground criminal investigations, which calculates to hourly rates under $100 hour.

Flat Rate

Private Investigators near you usually charge a flat rate or flat fee for services such as: a background check, missing person locate, court document retrieval, or processing serving. With flat fee pricing, the total price is the same regardless of the number of hours the investigator spends working on the case.

Investigation Experience and Expertise

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 government intelligence, or a career in law enforcement that include investigations will tend to be more expensive than someone just getting into the business.

In theory, those with more experience are more likely to solve your case, and more likely to solve it in less time.

Solved It Investigations, we charge hourly rates starting at $125 hour. Our rates are much higher than our competitors and our quality of work is shown.

If you have questions and need to discuss your case, contact

Solved It Investigations, California, Iowa
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