A Handy Guide to Tipping Movers
After weeks or months of planning, packing, and decluttering, moving day has finally arrived. You’ve got all your boxes organized and you have a team of helpful professional movers to help with your relocation. If they’ve made your life easier, you might be wondering if it’s okay to tip the movers and how much you should provide. After all, they moved everything for you from your furniture to your fragile items. So what’s the tipping etiquette and how do you make sure the moving crew knows you are satisfied?
Should You Tip?
So long as the movers did their job, you should provide a tip. It’s a great way to show your satisfaction with the job and appreciation for the efforts of the crew. How much you tip depends on you. In general though, you should tip around $4-$5 per person per hour. So if there are two crew members who work a total of 5 hours, you should tip each person around $20-$25 or around 10% of the total split between each person.
Of course, you can tip more if you felt they provided excellent service. Conversely, if the movers were rude or damaged a lot of your items, you can lower or forgo the tip entirely. You should plan to provide some kind of tip so make sure to work that into your moving budget. Set aside more than you think for the tip. If you don’t end up using it all, you can put the rest towards fun home stuff.
Calculating Your Tip
Quality movers provide ongoing training to their employees as well as custom services to their customers to stand apart from their competitors. That should hopefully translate to a good minimum level of service. Still, there are a few factors you should consider when deciding tip amount:
- Professionalism - did the crew arrive on time? If they did not, did they contact you beforehand to let you know? Were they friendly to you and your neighbors?
- Weather conditions - are your movers dealing with super hot temperatures? Or are they dealing with heavy snow, ice, rain, etc? You might want to tip more if they’re working in challenging conditions
- Number of hours - An average move for a 3-bedroom house could take between 7-10 hours. Did your move take much longer than expected or did they finish early/on-time?
- Oversized items - if you’re moving a lot of heavy and large items such as pianos, antique cabinets, pool tables, boxes of books, etc.
- Tricky navigation - does your house or apartment have narrow hallways? Or perhaps the movers have to navigate up and down several flights of stairs?
- Damage - always check your items before and after a move for any damages to the items. You should also check your old and new home to make sure nothing got scuffed.
- Extra services - some moving companies offer free services with your basic moving service so long as you ask. This could include dismounting your TV, uninstalling your air conditioner, disassembling and reassembling basic furniture, and some packing of items like TVs, glass countertops, etc.
From there, you can increase or decrease your tip amount based on their job performance, amount of time they took, professionalism, and so on. Make sure you’re fair in your assessment. If they took longer than they expected but it was because you weren’t organized, then that shouldn’t be seen as an issue with the moving team.
While tipping your movers isn’t complicated, you'll still need to do a bit of preparation beforehand. In general, most movers prefer their tip in cash so make sure to withdraw some money the day before your move. Keep this amount in a separate envelope labeled moving tip and put it in an easily accessible location like your purse, backpack, or wallet. Some movers do accept credit card tips so if you forget to take out cash, you can include the tip on the total. Just make sure to confirm with the moving company first and let them know that you want the tip divided equally.
For local moves you should tip after the crew has unloaded everything from their truck and you have made sure nothing is damaged or missing. Divide the tip evenly between all the crew members. Do NOT give it to the foreman to distribute as the total might just end up in their pocket. By giving each crew member their tip, you can ensure everyone is getting their share. If the movers try to haggle with you over the tip, call the moving company immediately to mediate the situation.
Cross-country moves are a bit trickier as you might be dealing with different people that are driving your belongings to your new home. If this is the case, it might make sense to tip your movers a set amount for each team beforehand instead of tipping just the final crew. If you’re unsure who is handling your items, ask the moving company and see how you can distribute your tips accordingly.
And while tipping is customary, it is okay to withhold a tip if the service was not up to par. Remember, a tip is meant to be a reward for a job well done and is NOT guaranteed. If the movers are unprofessional and generally did a poor job, you don’t need to tip. You should explain why you are not tipping and you should also call the moving company to explain the situation and mediate if necessary.
The people you hire are moving professionals, but that doesn’t mean they’re superhuman! If anything, they appreciate it when customers show a bit of kindness towards them during the move. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, but things like providing cold bottled water during the summer or hot beverages in the winter can go a long way. You could even have some snacks on hand to give the movers a boost of energy. Don’t offer any alcoholic beverages as most companies do not allow workers to drink on the job.
Even if you don’t have the money to provide these extras, one of the best things you can do is leave a positive review and recommend the company to friends and family. It’s a quick and free way to show your appreciation.
I’m relocating because of my job and I need to document all moving expenses. How do I get documentation of the tip I provided?
Your best bet is to see if you can pay the tip via credit card as you will then be able to track your tip via your credit card transaction. If the company doesn’t accept credit card for tips, ask the company to include the tip on the final bill and have them send it to you.
How can I calculate my tip before I get my final bill?
Use the quote the company provided and multiply by 10-20%. You can also ask the moving company how many people and how long it will take to move your home and then multiply that by $5.
I’m using a professional packing service through the moving company. Do I need to tip the packers separately?
You should ask the moving company if the packers are a separate team from the movers. If they are, you should tip them separately. If they are not, you can always increase your tip amount.