Around 35 million people pack up their possessions and move each year in the United States, according to the United States Census Bureau. Not many people think about tipping their movers, though. And, if they do, they might not be sure how much to tip.
So how much should you tip your movers — you know, the hard-working humans that just hauled your dresser, couch, bed and all of your life's possessions up three flights of stairs? Should you tip them in money? Food? Beer? If you ask Google, you'll get multiple answers, from flat rates to percentages. Here's a guideline on tipping etiquette and how much you should expect to tip your movers.
How much do you tip movers?
Moving companies don't automatically include a gratuity in their pricing, so tipping is always a nice gesture. As a guideline, you should tip your movers between 15% to 20% of the total cost of the move for large or long-distance moves and 5% to 10% for smaller, cross-town moves. For example, if your move costs $2,000, a $100 to $200 (5% to 10%) tip is appropriate for a move across town. This lump sum is then split among the movers on the crew, so if you tip for that $100 to $200 tip with two movers, each mover would receive $50 to $100.
Plan to tip your movers 15% to 20% for a large move and 5% to 10% percent for a small move
Always consider things like the difficulty of the move and the level of care the movers put into transporting your belongings. These factors should play into how much you tip. If your movers really go above and beyond, you should consider a tip towards the upper percentage range of 10% or 20% of the total moving cost.
Some people say you should tip a flat fee as opposed to a percentage. Lauri Ward of Redecorate.com promotes the flat-rate tipping method. She says it's perfectly acceptable to give each moving crew member $20 to $30 for smaller moves and up to $40 for complex, large moves. Tip each individual crew member directly instead of handing it all to the crew foreman to divvy up.
Do you tip movers?
You are not required to tip your movers. Movers should be on time, treat your things like their own and be organized. They should be courteous, follow your requests and answer any questions that come up about the move.
Most importantly, nothing should show up to your new home damaged or missing. If an accident does happen, your movers should take ownership for anything they damage and help you file a claim with the company.
Remember, movers are in the service industry. You tip for good service and based on job performance. If you have a poor experience with your movers, don't feel obligated to tip.
When deciding if you want to tip your movers, ask yourself the following questions:
- Were there excessive stairs or multiple levels to your move?
- Did the movers have to make more than one stop, like to your home and an offsite storage unit?
- Was there a lot of awkward or heavy furniture?
- Did they take extra special care of your grandmother's piano or other antique or sentimental items?
- Did they take the time to add extra padding on fragile items or follow special instructions with care?
- Were they pleasant to be around, courteous and efficient?
How to tip movers
Large national moving companies typically include a tip as a line item on your bill, meaning you can pay for the tip with the rest of the move. A smaller company may not have this option. In the event there isn’t a line item, you can tip cash or ask the crew foreman if you can add a tip to the total amount charged to your card (or other payment method).
- Tip with a credit card: Using a credit card is the best way to document to the IRS that tips were part of your moving costs when it comes time to deduct moving costs on your tax return. Large cash tips without documentation would be disallowed if you were to ever get audited by the IRS.
- Tip with a check: If you're trying to document moving expenses, you can also tip with a check. If you go the check route, it is acceptable to write one check and let the crew foreman distribute the tip among the crew.
- Tip with cash: Cash is usually a welcome method of tipping, but you may want to verify with the company or crew foreman in advance that this tipping method aligns with the company policy.
Tipping with food
What about food and drinks? Providing refreshments for your movers, whether you're tipping or not, is a nice thing to do. Make sure the drinks are weather appropriate: coffee for cold morning moves, water and lemonade for hot days. Consider these points when deciding on food and drinks for moving day.
If your move crosses over the lunch hour or if it takes all day, offer your crew lunch. Ask your movers what they'd like to eat, rather than just ordering pizza. You can imagine how much pizza they get a month. Snacks like apples, oranges, chips or cookies are great for half-day moves of four hours.
Always have water available. Keep a jug of water and paper or plastic cups on hand. A lot of people ask about tipping with beer. Beer is a nice gesture, but a good, professional moving company won't allow employees to drink on the job. You could consider gifting your moving team with a six-pack to go, but it's probably best to stick with nonalcoholic beverages and treats.
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