How to Tip Your Movers: A Beginner's Guide

You’ve just shelled out what feels like your entire life savings on your move, but one question still remains: How much do you tip movers? Between the down payment on the house (or the security deposit on your apartment), hidden moving fees, and the million and one other moving expenses, it can feel as though everyone’s competing for your checkbook. After all of the stress brought on by a big move, tipping your movers may be the last thing on your mind. However, it’s important to make sure you are aware of how much you should tip your movers before your moving day. When it finally comes time to tip your exceptional moving company, here’s how to know exactly how much to tip your movers.

The basics on how much to tip your movers

While tipping your movers is technically optional, consider the nature of the work and how hard movers work to get your stuff from point A to point B. Your movers are doing difficult work to get the job done. We’re talking moving your grand piano up the staircase in the heat of summer difficult. Movers are a part of the service industry and tipping is the best way to show your appreciation for all of their hard work. While the industry standard for tipping movers is around 15 to 20 percent of the total cost for large moves and 5 to 10 percent for smaller movers, the length of your move, the quality of customer service, and a number of other factors play into how much you should tip movers.

 Person tipping_How much do you tip your movers

Calculating the tip…

While anywhere between 5-10 percent is standard, some customers tip their movers up to 15-20 percent. Use this moving tip guide as you evaluate how much to spend.

Did your movers provide white-glove customer service?

Assessing the quality of your mover’s customer service goes beyond asking yourself whether your movers managed to carry grandma’s china from point A to point B without breaking anything. Instead, think about whether your moving company raised the bar with their customer service. Tipping should be based on customer satisfaction and the quality of services provided to you by the movers. If you’ve chosen a reputable moving company, a tip is important if they do a good job. Keep in mind that tips for moving companies are standard if they are doing their job correctly.

In most cases, an excellent moving experience means that your movers will pay attention to the small details. Often times, in the hectic environment of moving, the little things matter most. For example:

  • Did your movers arrive on time?
  • Did your movers remain polite and professional throughout the entire process?
  • Did they pay attention to the details to ensure a seamless moving experience? For example, did they make sure that your dog Buddy was safely tied in the backyard while they moved your stuff?
  • Did they manage to navigate around your freshly planted bed of petunias?

Many customers settle on a daily amount to tip each of their movers if they're planning a long distance move. Industry standard is to tip $20 per head per day. Meaning, if your long distance move takes three days and three movers are moving your stuff, you should expect to spend around $180 on tips.

What were the conditions of your move (i.e. Was there bad weather)?

Ask yourself whether your movers went beyond the call of duty when presented with tricky situations. For example, how did your movers handle it when your four-legged friend snapped at their ankles? Were they gracious, regardless of the poor weather? If your movers handled unpredictable factors with grace, you’ll want to consider tipping on the higher end.

Did your moving company charge extra for challenging work?

Investigate whether your moving company charges additional fees for extra work, like a bulky item or an appliance fee. If these fees aren’t rolled into the overall price of your move, you should tip your movers higher, particularly if your movers encountered an obstacle on your property, like the rickety staircase leading up to the front porch.

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Once you’ve calculated the tip…

Tell your movers you’ll tip.

Never underestimate the power of an incentive. Toward the end of your move, tell your movers you’re planning on handing out a tip (Think: "You all have definitely earned a tip today with all of your hard work!"). Your movers are more likely to deliver an exceptional job if they know a tip is waiting for them.  

Hand out your tip individually.

For starters, it’s a nice gesture to individually thank each mover for their hard work. Plus, it'll ensure that your money lands in each of their hands, rather than the hands of the moving foreman.

But if you decide not to tip…

At the end of the day, if the big move has left you in the red, you can still express your gratitude to your movers without doling out the cash. Consider these tips to let your moving companies know you appreciate their service.

  couple embracing by moving boxes_how much do you tip movers

Don’t forget to say thanks.

This one should be a no-brainer, but moving day stress sometimes means that a simple “thank you” will slip through the cracks. Moving is literally back-breaking work, and chances are that your movers pulled some ridiculous stunts throughout the day to get everything into your home.

Moving companies distinguish themselves from the competition by offering professional service. Don’t underestimate how much a simple compliment to the foreman will mean to him and his team.

Skip the beer, and offer lunch.

While many customers think it’s a nice gesture to offer their movers a beer at the end of a job well done, most moving companies have strict regulations about not drinking on the job. Instead, consider offering coffee and doughnuts in the morning or a pizza for lunch.

Open up your furniture inventory.

If you have extra furniture lying around the house that you’re putting up for donation, ask your movers whether they’d be interested in taking a look at your inventory. Hey, who knows whether they’ll need a new coffee pot or ironing board!

The key to the moving tipping dilemma? Every move is different, so there's no formula for deciding how much to tip your movers. Even if you decide not to tip, make sure that they walk away with something, whether that's the experience of working with a gracious customer or the nice sofa that you just don't have room for in your new place.

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