If you’re going to be hiring a private investigator to work on your case, it’s definitely a good idea to know what he or she is going to charge before setting things in motion.

Factors that come into play include whether the investigator charges by the hour or simply a flat rate depending on the type of case. They may also ask for a retainer, so you’ll want to be sure you ask about this possibility as well.

If the type of service you require is rather straightforward and very rarely strays from what would be considered standard procedure, then the investigator will likely opt to charge you a flat fee for his or her services.

These types of basic services include things like background checks, vehicle registration searches, GPS monitoring and criminal record searches.

Basically, if the investigator can sit at his or her desk and do a little bit of work on your behalf, then a flat fee is probably what you can expect to see when you receive your final bill.

These will be different from private investigator to private investigator, so it’s hard to put an estimated price tag on this type of service. But, it shouldn’t be too terribly expensive, unless something unexpected comes up that requires the case to receive a little extra attention.

Because of the many variables in play, the industry averages for the types of services mentioned above can vary greatly. But some examples include $300 to $600 for locating a missing person, $100 to $700 for locating birth parents or children and $300 to $600 for cases that involve a pre-determined amount of in-depth research.

Now, let’s talk a bit about larger jobs and how much you might expect to pay for your investigator’s services. Think of these types of cases as anything that involves either much more extensive in-depth research or actually getting out into the field and doing surveillance or other types of information gathering.

Examples might include surveilling your spouse for an infidelity case, locating someone who doesn’t want to be found or many other types of more in-depth cases.

These are cases where your investigator is going to want to charge you an hourly rate, as it’s hard to determine ahead of time how extensive the case is going to become. Hourly rates vary across the country, but the industry average in the United States is between $50 and $75 per hour. In the Dallas Texas area, Dallas private investigator cost came in at 50-$75.00 an hour. With Dallas being in the top 10 largest cities in the U.S. it could easily be compared to other “like”metropolitan areas.

As for the amount of time the case is going to take, that’s really impossible to estimate ahead of time. Every case is different and clients’ goals can vary from just a simple photo taking expedition to hours of surveillance and gathering information that is to be used in court.

It is possible, and fairly common, for investigators to lower their price per hour if you’re hiring them for a large amount of time. So that’s something you may want to keep in mind as well, as you prepare to get started on your own unique case.

You also need to realize that a simple hourly fee is not the end of your financial obligations. Investigators will also let you know up front what they expect in the way of reimbursement for expenses like gasoline, equipment, hotel stays, road and bridge tolls and anything else that comes out of their pocket up front.

Renting a GPS tracker, for example, usually costs around $50 to $75 a day and mileage expenses average around 50 cents a mile, give or take a few cents depending on gasoline prices and where you’re located in the country.

In some cases, things like equipment rental could be factored into your investigator’s hourly fee. This is not the industry norm, but it is possible, so be sure to ask about this up front as you’re doing the paperwork for your case.

We mentioned the possibility of your private investigator requiring a retainer for his or her services up-front, and this is definitely something you need to be prepared for. Retainers can vary from $500 to $5,000, depending on the specifics of your individual case.

If the final bill for your case is less than the retainer, the investigator will refund the difference. If it’s more, you can expect a final notice requiring you to pay the additional amount.

So with all of these dollar figures being thrown about, the biggest question on your mind may be whether or not hiring a private investigator is really worth it. Well you get what you pay for, as the old adage goes, and this is certainly true in the world of private investigation.

At the end of the day, an experienced private investigator is going to get you the results that you’re looking for. It’s true that you could go with someone a little less seasoned, or even attempt to work the case yourself, but it’s almost certainly going to take a lot more time to get probably much poorer results.

In the end, hiring a professional investigator who knows what he or she is doing will more than likely save you money, as well as time and excessive amounts of worry and frustration.