How Much Does a Background Check Cost?

Last Updated on December 27, 2023
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

A background check is a review of a person’s commercial, criminal, and financial records. Employers often use background checks on job candidates to verify education and work history and check for any red flags like a criminal record. Background checks are usually required for jobs working with vulnerable groups like children and the elderly. They help employers make more informed hiring decisions and avoid potential liabilities.

With background checks being so common today, it’s important to understand what goes into them and how much they cost. The price can vary quite a bit based on the type and depth of information being screened. In this article, we’ll break down the typical cost of a background check and what factors influence the price.

How Much Does a Background Check Cost?

A basic background check that verifies previous employment, education, and criminal history will typically cost between $30 and $70. This will search county and state records for criminal convictions within the past 7 years and include a county or multi-county criminal check.

More extensive checks that go back further or search more jurisdictions and databases will cost more. For example:

Background Check Type Price Range
County Criminal Records Search $20 – $50
Statewide Criminal Records Search $30 – $100
National Criminal Records Search $40 – $150
Sex Offender Registry Search $10 – $30
Education/Employment Verification $10 – $50 per institution or employer
Driving Records $10 – $25
Credit Reports $25 – $100

So in total, a very comprehensive background check could easily cost over $300. However, most standard pre-employment checks only verify recent criminal history and education/employment essentials, keeping costs in the $30 to $100 range.

Background check prices on popular websites

Background Check WebsitesNow let’s go over some of the websites that provide background checks.

Checkr, for example, offers three different packages for background checking. These are:

  • Basic+: Starting from $29.99 per check, includes SSN trace, sex offender registry, global watchlist records, and national criminal records.
  • Essential: Starting from $54.99 per check, includes county criminal searches and other features.
  • Professional: Starting from $79.99 per check, includes education and employment verification.

TruthFinder, one of the most advertised background check websites, has the following pricing structure:

  1. Special Offer: Unlimited background check searches for just $1 during the 5-day trial period. If the subscription is not canceled during the trial, a recurring membership fee of $29.89 will be charged every 30 days.
  2. Monthly Membership: The website does not charge for individual background checks but requires a monthly membership fee of $29.89, which automatically renews every 30 days unless canceled.

Instant Checkmate is another website that provides background checks. It offers unlimited reports for personal searches, including dark web monitoring, but is not FCRA-compliant for employment purposes. The prices it features for personal checks range from around $20 to $60 or more for a monthly subscription.

ShareAble for Hires, on the other hand, offers pre-employment screening bundles with prices ranging from $25 to $50, including various types of checks such as state and county checks, federal watch lists, and identity verification.

CriminalWatchDog $12.95 to $38.95 for instant results.

BeenVerified provides a monthly subscription for unlimited standard reports, including criminal records, contact information, and more, starting from around $26.89 per month. This website also provides a one-time report option for around $29.95.

It’s important to note that the prices and services offered by these websites may vary based on the specific needs and requirements of the background checks. Additionally, custom pricing may be available for companies that perform a high volume of checks per year.

You might also like our articles on the cost of BeenVerified, or your personal data.

Factors Influencing the Background Check Cost

Here are some of the key factors that will impact the cost of a background check:

  • Depth of criminal search – Local, state, national, number of counties searched. More jurisdictions increase prices.
  • Number of employers or schools verified – More employment and education verifications add to the cost.
  • Speed of results – Faster turnaround times come at a premium.
  • Credit check inclusion – Checking a candidate’s credit history adds a significant amount to the cost.
  • Drug testing – Many employers bundle drug tests with background checks for one fee.
  • Volume discounts – Employers ordering checks in bulk often get a discounted rate.

Additional Costs to Consider

While the actual background check report is the primary cost, there can be additional expenses you should consider, that would add to the final bill:

  • Application fees – Some background screening companies charge an application fee per candidate.
  • Data access fees – Fees passed on for accessing certain state or county data systems.
  • Adverse action compliance – The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires extra steps if an adverse action is taken based on check results.

Spending Less on Background Checks

If you’re looking to keep background check costs down, here are a few tips:

  • Only check records you actually need – Don’t pay for more data than you plan to use.
  • Check county only instead of statewide or national searches if peripheral records aren’t necessary.
  • Only verify recent education and employment background – Go back 10 years instead of the entire career history.
  • See if you qualify for volume discounts – Larger employers often get better rates.
  • Don’t repeat checks – If a candidate has been recently screened, see if you can get a copy of that report instead.
  • Shop around and get quotes – Costs can vary greatly between screening companies.

The importance of a background check

According to Investopedia, background check sites can help an applicant with screening applications, so that they do this quickly and cost-effectively. They also feature a list of the best background check sites based on cost, speed, and details provided. 

Both the Dallas Morning News and MySA recommend TruthFinder as the top choice for background checking in 2023. They highlight the convenience of using background check websites with access to state records for comprehensive information.

Final words

Background checks come with costs but also benefits for employers trying to make informed hiring choices. While the price varies based on several factors, standard pre-employment screenings often range from $30-$100 per candidate. Following some cost-saving steps like only checking required records can help keep expenses in check. But with the risks bad hires pose, the investment is often worthwhile for avoiding liability and finding qualified workers.

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