If you are looking for investigative services, one of the burning questions is “How much are private investigator fees?” The answer is not so simple.

In general, private investigators typically charge fees at an hourly rate. While some firms may offer flat-fee packages for a background check or surveillance matter, for the most part every case is different, and it’s difficult to put a standard flat fee on anything.

Like any other line of business, the hourly rate differs, based on various factors. Below, we have outlined below some important factors that determine private investigator fees.


Just like any professional service firms, the rates of different investigative firms will vary depending on the complexity of the matter.

A private investigator retained for a complex legal matter with hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake will cost you more than finding an address for a long-lost friend.


Are you trying to find out if an individual has a criminal record, or is there something in a person’s past that could potentially discredit that person?

Logically speaking, if you are seeking any piece of information to discredit someone, you may have to dig deep. Needless to say, the deeper you want to go, the more expensive it will get.


Rates vary depending on specific area of expertise and the jurisdiction in which the case is being worked.

For example, a surveillance investigator in “Anywhere, U.S.A.” may charge half the rate of a metro New York-based surveillance investigator who is conducting exactly the same investigation but charging upwards of $150 per hour for each investigator.


Investigators who are trained to conduct a complex asset investigation will demand higher fees than investigators those who conduct surveillance.

The most prominent New York investigative firms charge more than $500 per hour.


Rates for private investigators vary widely, from less than $75 per hour to more than $500 per hour.

The old adage “You get what you pay for” applies to the investigative business, just as it does to almost anything else.

Ultimately, private investigators are hired to find information to help you make more informed decisions and need to be comfortable with the information you are getting and the people with whom you are dealing, regardless of what fees they are charging you.

[Want to find out more about our fees?]

Other Resources:

Guide to Hiring a Private Investigator

Enjoyed What You Read?

Sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date with what Hal Humphreys, from Pursuit Magazine, believes to be one of the absolute best blogs in the investigative industry!

15 replies
  1. Meme
    Meme says:

    I am dating a guy that lives 6 hours away(New York) the last 2 Thursdays his actions and hours have been unaccounted for.I tried calling and couldn’t reach him for 7 hours and all he says is he didn’t answer is phone.How much is a private investigator?

  2. Evy
    Evy says:

    How much would it cost to find out where my daughter’s father is working? He gets paid under the table and hasn’t helped me at all and I need to have proof before I go to a judge.

  3. Linda
    Linda says:

    I attempted a background check on someone I’m about to meet from a dating site. No results were found. Does this mean it was all a lie?

    • John Caston
      John Caston says:

      Linda not necessarily. What information did you use. Did you have a full name date of birth, residential address? Cell Phone Landline? Generally speaking if I have a first and last name and any address they have ever lived at – I can find them. But it really depends on the information you have and where you looked.

  4. Catherine francois
    Catherine francois says:

    I need to find out where an individual is living, he has constantly lied to me,I only have his address to where he works,I believe he is living with another woman ,he uses a p.o.box and his mother’s address,he recently got an apartment ,but I don’t know where,can you help me?

  5. russell todd
    russell todd says:

    I was introduced to a girl from ukrain who was being deported i fell. In love with her and did everything i could to keep her. After the two year required for her she emptied my bank account and went to Ukraine for. Two months came back and moved in somewhere else and now wants me to pay for a divorce l.C.S. will do nothing what can l do

  6. Dorin matthews
    Dorin matthews says:

    Im interested in Becoming a private investigator to take down corruption in foster care. I do have experience as loss prevention conducting surveillance and investigations on employees and peace officer making arrest for over 8 years. Can you tell me if my peace officer status will be consider as the experience to apply for PI

  7. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    I have spent years being lied to and made to feel crazy, how much would it cost to follow him for an entire twenty four (24) hours? We live in Brooklyn, ny.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Rates around the New York City area are at least $100 per hour and even more for the higher end firms. In many NEw York City cases, you are talking a two-man surveillance given the challenging layout, which will run you close to $5000 without out-of-pocket expenses.

  8. Angel
    Angel says:

    I know this dude off the Pacific Coast Highway, lives in a beat up old trailer by the beach, name of Rockford, charges only $200 a day plus expenses & he just might throw in a free taco or two w/that. Not a bad sort as far as it goes. Just make sure he shows you all the receipts — a guy can’t be too careful these days.

    • John Glover
      John Glover says:

      Hey Angel,

      I totally loved your response. I know this is an old thread but I had to comment. Jim Rockford made $200 a day but he only worked on the show for 45 minutes 10 shows a season so really he was making out, minus commercials of course.

  9. harry kirkbride
    harry kirkbride says:

    what would it cost me to find some to find some one that has changed there name. I live in Wa and the persone lives in Wy. Thanks

Comments are closed.