How Much Does a Background Check Cost in 2021?

A background check is a screening used to verify some or multiple elements of a person’s past. 

These elements may include but are not limited to financial history, a clean legal record, a safe driving record, and overall reliability. 

Individuals and companies use background checks for a variety of reasons, but not all background checks uncover the same type of information. 

That said, background checks come at various costs depending on the search type, depth, and amount of information necessary to screen. 

This article will help you understand how much different background checks cost in 2021. 

How Much Does a Background Check Cost in 2021?

Different types of national background checks require different categories of information. Depending on the purpose of the background check, a list of areas may need to be verified, such as:

  • Criminal History
  • Employment History 
  • Educational Background
  • Drug Use History 
  • Financial Standing / Credit History
  • Driving Record 

That said, there will be different prices depending on which exact components are necessary to screen in any given background check.

This variety is why some background checks may be as low as $10, while others may be up to $500. 

Why is Background Check Pricing Important?

Current background check pricing is important to business owners in particular. Very large companies that do a lot of hiring pay for each search, so the cost can add up.

Volunteer organizations – such as churches and charities- may wish to screen their volunteers, but don’t have a lot of funds. Background check companies may charge an access fee for a certain number of searches, which can save money.

One time background checks for smaller landlords or individuals who want to verify their information cost more. However, some types of informational public record searches are unlimited for a monthly fee, which can save. These can’t be used for employers or landlords, but may be helpful for general information. Take a look:

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It is helpful to understand background check pricing so that you can choose the appropriate background check vendor for your specific needs – without overpaying.

It is important to consider the average prices for the specific type of background check you need. An appropriate search type will include the components that are necessary for your check with no unnecessary components. 

That way, you will avoid paying too much for your background check. 

You also want to avoid spending too little on your background check and not receiving all the search information and verification that you need. 

What Does a Background Check Pricing Entail?

Most background check companies break down their costs based on different types of searches. The access fee may include:

  • Type of Search 
    • For example, criminal record searches tend to be less pricey than educational background searches or drug testing. Business owners in some industries might only be interested in driving records, landlords credit history, etc.
  • Depth of Search 
    • Even if it’s the same type of search, the search may not require the same depth. For example, it will likely be more expensive to look up the criminal background of someone in one city versus in multiple cities. 
  • Labor Required for the Search
    • A report that requires an online search only is less labor intensive, and therefore likely less expensive, than in-person, time-consuming drug testing. 
  • The “Hit Rate” for the Search
    • How common a type of background search is may influence the costs that a vendor charges as well. If one search type is in higher demand, they may charge a higher price for it. 

What Are the Different Types of Background Checks?

There are several purposes for background reports, depending on the type of background check:

The main types of background checks we will discuss the prices of in this article are:

  • Credit Background Checks
  • Motor Vehicle Background Checks
  • Criminal Background Checks
    • Criminal histories include county, statewide records, nationwide (state-by-state) records, federal records, sex offender status, and terrorist activity.
  • Identity Verification 
    • Verification background checks include social security numbers, employment history, educational history, and professional licenses. An address history might also be included.

How Much Does a Credit Background Check Cost?

Credit checks review credit reports, payment history, debts, bankruptcies, and any financial or credit issues that an individual might have.  

This type of background check is done to determine the financial responsibility of an individual. They ultimately help determine the likelihood of the said person being able to repay a loan. 

Credit checks tend to cost $35-$45 per hire. 

How Much Does a Motor Vehicle Background Check Cost?

Some companies require motor vehicle history if driving is a significant part of the role. 

Companies interested in driving records may also expect their employees to have access to the company car and want to be sure they are trustworthy drivers. 

The average cost of an individual motor vehicle type of background check is $3-$10. 

How Much Does a Criminal Background Check Cost?

Criminal checks screen an individual’s criminal record to check if they have had any significant legal issues, charges, or felonies. 

Criminal checks can run a company from $20-$100 per individual hire depending how how extensive it is. 

This is a wide price range given the various kinds of criminal record information that a company may wish to include or leave out. 

The price range is also due to the various kinds of information that may need to be scanned for each individual. 

County-based criminal records may include more specific information, such as offense dates, case numbers, arrest history, and offense descriptions. These tend to be around $15-$20.

Statewide criminal histories may include similar information as county-based. These will run a similar price, around $10-$20. 

Given that this information isn’t always publicly available, nationwide criminal background checks are typically the most expensive, starting at about $25-$45. 

These take more work, as they may search state-by-state for information regarding an individual’s legal history. 

However, nationwide (or state-by-state) criminal reports differ from federal background checks. A federal background check only requires a scan of federal records, which is less expensive – typically $8-$15.

Information regarding an individual’s sex offender status and terrorist activity is usually free but may cost up to $10. 

Keep in mind that these costs may or may not include separate access fees. 

How Much Does a Verification Background Check Cost?

People use social security number checks to verify that an individual is who they say they are. 

These checks can be done for free by the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. There are also no access fees with this type of check.

Other types of background checks for verification include education, employment, and professional license background checks. These are all used to confirm that what an individual says about themselves. 

Those three non-SSN verification checks cost around $7-$15 and may include some access fees to retrieve the necessary information. 

What are Additional Considerations When Calculating Background Check Pricing?

If you’re a business owner looking for background check provider for your potential hires, you want to be smart about what exact type of information you are looking to scan.

The information you would like to search for each potential employee should be based on what you would like to know as well as your industry’s standards. Background check companies might want to sell you something more expensive than you need. 

If you’re a landlord, you will want to focus recent credit related information and address records. Recent criminal history is important, but probably not as important as civil matters.

Volunteer organizations will likely want to focus on sex offender searches – particularly if the role involves children.

Knowing this information ahead of your background check vendor selection will make it significantly easier for you to choose which vendor can provide what you need at a reasonable price. Don’t overpay for extra information that you don’t need!