Moving Truck photo
Moving Truck photo

For most service professions, our tips and gratuities are the standard for saying thank you for many services rendered.  With hair stylists and restaurant servers, this activity is almost automatic. But how about when we move?  Is it standard to tip movers? How much and based upon what criteria? Here are some guidelines on how much you should expect to tip your movers.

Is it standard to tip movers?

Unlike many other service providers, the majority of moving companies don’t automatically include a gratuity amount in their pricing.  Tipping is always seen as a nice gesture.  As a rule of thumb, you should budget a tip for the actual laborers between 15 to 20 percent of your total cost of the moving company for large moves. For smaller, cross-town moves, you can reduce the figure down to 5–10 percent. This amount is then divided up among the movers on the crew. Quick Math: if your move totals $2,500, a $125-$250 (5 to 10 percent) tip is acceptable for a local move. 

Plan to tip your movers 15 to 20 percent each for a large move and 5 to 10 percent each for a small move

This is not iron clad and other factors may be considered.  How difficult was it?  Did they have to encounter stairs, narrow hallways and other obstructions to work through?  What was their attention to detail?  Did they run in and start grabbing items or did they coordinate with a master plan?  Were they willing to pre-wrap fragile items and did they respect your family’s heirlooms?  If you received outstanding service, an increase in the amount which you tip goes a greater distance to show your gratitude than endlessly parroting the words “Thank You.” Sparkling, attentive customer service should be well rewarded, and use this as an impetus to tip out on the upper, 10 to 20 percent range. 

Some people prefer to use a flat rate verses a percent of the cost.  If you prefer this style, it’s perfectly acceptable to personally tip each individual crew member directly. Budget an amount between $20 and $40 for smaller moves and up to $50 for complex, large moves. You may hand out directly to each crew member, instead of handing it all to the crew foreman to divvy up.

Do you have to tip your movers?

Unlike restaurant servers, movers are paid a base wage. You are not obligated, but you are asking them to exert themselves both mentally and physically in order to haul items you hold dear and do all this (we hope) with a smile on their face. 

Movers should be punctual, accountable for their actions and know what they are doing. They should be courteous, follow through on your reasonable requests and address any and all concerns about the moving process. Your items should show up at your new home in tact with nothing missing or damaged. Should an accident happen, your movers should take ownership of the things they damaged and assist you in the process of filing a claim with the company. If you have a dreadful experience with your movers, you are not obligated in any way to tip them under any circumstances. 

How do you tip movers?

Large national moving companies will include a way to tip as a line item on your bill, meaning you can pay for the tip by credit card in addition to their services.  Many use credit card smart phone app’s so you can pay on the spot at the conclusion of the move. When you pay using a credit/debit card, this is generally the best way to document that payment of these tips were also part of your moving costs when it comes time to deduct moving costs on your tax return. Large cash tips without documentation would generally be disallowed if you were to ever get audited.

If you’re trying to document moving expenses but don’t want to involve the moving company, some people will tip by writing a check. If you choose to go the check route, it is acceptable to write one single check and let the crew foreman cash and then distribute the proceeds amongst the crew. 

What about food and drinks?

The physical nature of the work can lead to dehydration. Think ahead when deciding on food and drinks for moving day.

Providing drinks for your movers, whether you’re tipping or not, is always best practice. This will also keep their breaks shorter and their activities on task. Your moving team will appreciate if your drinks are weather appropriate for the weather and daypart: coffee for early-morning moves, with water and lemonade available later in the day. 

If your move occurs during mid-day or it is over seven hours in real-time and you plan to feed the crew, ask your movers what they’d like to eat, rather than automatically getting pizza first.  Tacos, chicken sandwiches, and subs really don’t cost that much more. Asking this show you are really on their side. Readily available snacks like fruit, individual bags of chips or cookies are also great for half-day moves. Always have water available. Keep either a jug of water and disposable cups or a case of bottled water on hand.  

Many people have come to associate beer with the act of moving.  Beer is seen by many crews as a nice gesture, but most moving companies will frown upon their crews drinking on the job. You can hold back and then if you choose, offer your crew a six-pack to go though!

Taking Care of the crew. 

It’s always a good idea to tip your movers. When doing so, consider the difficulty of the move. How far you moved and how any items they had to haul?  Ask yourself questions such as: Did the movers do an awesome job? Was there something they did that was above and beyond the call of duty? Would you feel comfortable referring them to your friends and family? If your movers have truly taken care of you, a little something extra will show you have taken care of them.

Leave a Reply