Private investigators typically charge an hourly fee along with extra fees to cover costs associated with a more extensive investigation, such as air travel, hotels, equipment costs and gas mileage. Private investigators specialize in investigative research and surveillance.
Hourly fees for private investigators can vary greatly, depending on the type of work they are hired to perform, and rates typically range from $40 to over $100 per hour. More difficult work typically requires a higher hourly rate, and investigators up their prices if they need to bring in other investigators to help with a task. Investigators also typically attach mileage fees to cover their travel expenses. They may also charge a flat fee for standard investigative services, such as criminal records searches, vehicle registration searches, GPS monitoring and identifying phone numbers.
Many private investigators may require an upfront deposit or retainer in addition to hourly fees. This is intended to cover the cost of expected services and expenses. Factors that can affect the amount of a retainer include the urgency of the case, the amount of travel involved, airline and hotel expenses and the estimated amount of surveillance required. Retainer fees may vary greatly, depending on the type of case. For example, data research is typically far less expensive than an infidelity investigation.