How much should you tip movers?

Moving into a new place is exciting, and also a ton of work. One way you can streamline your moving checklist is by hiring a professional moving company to do the job when moving day rolls around. Yes, you can save money by packing yourself and renting a van, but there’s a reason moving is an actual job: professional movers are efficient and careful. A good crew will get your stuff where it's going quickly and in one piece. 

If you go this route, be aware that, like many members of the service industry, professional movers often expect a tip at the end of the day for good service. Factor this added cost into your moving budget and plan ahead, so that you have the right amount of cash on hand when the day comes.

A man working for a moving company indicates a contract on top of a stack of boxes to another man.

Table of contents

Should you tip movers?What merits a higher tip?What merits a low (or no) tip?What’s the best way to tip movers?Other ways to show appreciation

Should you tip movers?

While tips are not required, they are appreciated and in good form. How much to tip depends on the scope of your move.

  • Local moves: 5-20% gratuity, based on the total moving cost.

  • Long-distance moves: 5-20% gratuity, based on hours spent by movers and their hourly rate. (Your moving company should be able to break out the movers’ hourly rate from the cost of transporting your belongings.) For long distance moves, you’ll probably be working with two sets of movers—one on each end of the trip—so you’ll need to tip both.

What merits a higher tip?

If your movers do an amazing job and go above and beyond to tackle a difficult or long move, you may want to tip them a bit more. Excellent quality of service and jobs that require them to work harder than others are ones where an extra-generous tip may be justified. 

Things that nudge a good job into great job territory: 

  • Carried heavy furniture up flights of stairs

  • Went out of their way to clarify your moving plans before the move, or helped you come up with a good plan to deal with unexpected issues

  • Worked extra quickly

  • Carefully packed and moved your fragile items

  • Helped with the assembly of furniture after it reached its final destination

  • Worked through very cold or hot weather, or in the snow or rain

  • Navigated tricky spaces like narrow hallways and flights of stairs

If your movers do any of the above and you feel obliged, consider tipping more. Finally, consider adding to the tip if your movers simply go out of their way to be friendly and kind, just like you would tip an extra-friendly server.

What merits a low (or no) tip?

Like any service you pay for, you should expect a certain level of quality, and you don’t have to tip for bad service. 

There are also a few things that may justify a lower tip. Big ones include arriving late without reason or warning and breaking, damaging, or losing items. Other big errors include damaging property (either the one you’re leaving or the one you’re moving into) by, for instance, dinging the walls or scuffing the floors, or stalling to extend the billable hours. 

Mistakes happen, so try not to be overly harsh if there are honest accidents. If it’s a big move, breaks are normal, but it would be abnormal for a crew to make, say, three breaks over the course of a two-hour job or do any damage to the home that might impact your security deposit.

A cash tip in a small envelope.

What’s the best way to tip movers?

Cash tips are preferred, and it’s better to give one to each moving crew member, rather than a lump sum to the foreperson. However, some moving companies will give you the option to tip when you pay your bill with a credit card, just like you would tip a waiter in a restaurant. How you decide to tip is up to you, and you should do what makes you feel most comfortable.

Other ways to show appreciation

There’s a reason you’re hiring someone to handle the move for you—it’s tough work! While it’s not required, there are additional ways you can show appreciation to your movers throughout the day for treating your things like your own and making your move less stressful. Supplying bottled water or other cold drinks is a nice way to say thanks and make them comfortable. 

For extra long moves, consider providing a meal, like pizza or sandwiches. It’s also customary to offer movers the use of the bathroom. And if you had a really great experience, businesses always appreciate kind online reviews or word-of-mouth recommendations. 

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