How Much Do Employment Background Checks Cost?

Screening prospective employees is a crucial part of the hiring process, as finding the right employee from the start can help save your company time and money.  

However, performing a background check isn’t free, and it’s worth considering the costs before deciding on a pre-employment screening service. One thing is true, however: The cost of making the wrong hire can be expensive for a small business. According to a CareerBuilder survey, the wrong hire can cost employers an average of $17,000. To avoid these costs and ensure you’re placing the right individual in the position, it’s important to screen job candidates thoroughly.

So how much do background checks cost, and is it worth the investment for your small business?

What Affects the Cost of a Background Check?

There are several factors that may affect the overall cost of a background check, including:

Amount of Information Requested

The overall cost of a background check largely depends on the amount of information requested. If your background check requires a variety of reports, costs can increase significantly. For example, a simple criminal history check typically costs much less than a background check that includes criminal history, credit history, MVR records and drug testing.

It’s also important to consider the time and effort required to check points of information not available on public record, such as education degrees or reference checks. This information must be independently checked, which can add to the total time and cost of a background check. 

Access Fees Charged for Your Reports

A background check may cost more or less depending on the state in which you request information, as different jurisdictions charge varied access fees. Some states offer online searches of their state court records, but this too may come with fees.

So how much do access fees cost? It depends. Fees vary by state, county, and data providers.

Statewide criminal repository access fees can range from $3 to $65, while accessing MVR records can cost anywhere between $2 and $25, depending on the state in which you’re requesting the information.

access fees vary by state

Amount of Country Court Record Searches Needed

Some employers supplement state searches with county court record searches. The cost of a background check can vary based on the number of county court record searches you request. Searching criminal records at a county courthouse might mean accessing additional results, but these checks may come with varying access fees.

Number of Background Checks Needed

The amount of screenings you need can also affect the cost of a background check. Some third-party screening solutions price their background checks by volume; the more you buy at one time, the less you’ll pay for each. This type of pricing system can be a deterrent for small business owners who only need to screen a few times or less per year.

Is a Background Check Worth the Cost?

The right background check can be a cost-efficient method of helping your small business find the right employee, especially when you compare that single expense to the consequences of making the wrong hire. In conjunction with employment and education verification, reference checks, and credit history reports, public record checks can be used to get a comprehensive look at your job candidate’s past.

Learning more about a prospective hire’s background can provide small business owners with a variety of benefits, including:

Peace of Mind

The cost of performing a background check is a small price to pay for the relative peace of mind it affords. Having more information about your applicant’s background can make you more confident that they’re the right fit (or not).  

Reduce the Cost of Employee Turnover

Hiring the right person from the start can help reduce your turnover expenses by reducing the likelihood of employee termination. According to the US Department of Labor, making the wrong hire could cost on average about 30 percent of that employee’s first year salary.

Reduce Time Lost Correcting Poor Performance

The wrong hire affects everyone in your business, but it particularly impacts the individual’s supervisor. One study performed by Robert Half International found managers spent 17 percent of their time (about one day per week) managing poorly performing employees—time that could be better spent growing your business and increasing your bottom line.

Keep Your Company’s Reputation Intact

Consider the effect poor customer experience could have on public perception of your brand. If the wrong hire is placed in a client or customer-facing position, their performance could impact your business’s reputation.

Improve Employee Morale

Happy employees are productive employees, but the wrong hire could throw your business’s delicate balance off-kilter. A single team member can affect the productivity of the entire team, which could result in a loss of morale within the company. In the abovementioned survey from Robert Half International, 35 percent of executives said a poor hire greatly influences employee morale, proving that one individual can affect the productivity of the group.  

How Much Does a Background Check Cost with ShareAble for Hires

ShareAble for Hires offers straightforward pricing. This is ideal for a small business conducting criminal background checks and credit checks for employment who doesn’t need to screen hundreds of applicants per year. Our online screening service allows you to screen per applicant, meaning you pay for a background check only when you need it. We don’t charge minimums, subscription fees or setup fees so you know exactly what you’re paying from the beginning. And since there’s no on-site inspection required to access credit reports, you don’t have to pay inspection or membership fees.   

Depending on your screening needs, you can choose from two cost-efficient options:

Background Check Basic - $25

Small business owners that require less information to make their next hire can benefit from a cost-effective package called Background Check Basic, which offers the following: 

  • TransUnion Identity Verification
  • National Sex Offender Registry
  • National Most Wanted
  • Federal Watch Lists
  • Instant State and County Check
  • FCRA and State Filters

Background Check Pro - $60

Background Check Pro is our most comprehensive package, and provides you with all the information from the Background Check Basic Package plus a detailed credit report:

  • TransUnion Identity Verification
  • National Sex Offender Registry
  • National Most Wanted
  • Federal Watch Lists
  • Instant State and County Check
  • FCRA and State Filters
  • Current & Previous Addresses
  • Reported Prior Employment (where available)
  • Detailed Credit Report

The information posted to this blog was accurate at the time it was initially published. We do not continue to guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. The information contained in the TransUnion Rental Screening Services, Inc. blog is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. You should consult your own attorney or financial adviser regarding your particular situationFor complete details of any product mentioned, visit This site is governed by the TransUnion Rental Screening Privacy Policy Privacy Notice located at TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions, Inc. Privacy Notice | TransUnion.