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How much to tip movers

Aim for $5 to $10 per laborer per hour

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    Colonial Van Lines and iMoving.com
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    If you’re relocating and using services from a professional moving company — and you’re happy with the job it does — tipping the moving crew is a nice gesture. The cost of hiring movers can be a few hundred dollars or less for a small, local move, or it could be thousands if you’re moving a home with multiple bedrooms across state lines.

    John Pellitteri, vice president of Colonial Van Lines, said that rather than taking a percentage of your total moving cost to calculate a tip, it’s better to consider how much you’d pay someone for a full day of work. He said tipping each crew member between $50 and $100 for a job well done on a large, full-day move is a common practice that’s always appreciated, but it’s not required — basically, it’s a safe bet.

    How much do you tip movers?

    According to Meyr Aviv, founder and CEO of iMoving, a technology platform for relocation planning, a good tip is “$5 to $10 per person for each hour of work. However, this number would greatly depend on several factors, such as how long they've been working and how difficult the move was. If they're moving really fragile things that require extra time, care, and possibly equipment, it's best to leave 20% of the total cost.”

    Here are some general guidelines you can follow when it comes to tipping your movers by the hour:

    Moving timeTip guideline
    4 hours or less (half day)$20 to $40 per person
    8 hours (full day)$40 to $80 per person
    12 hours or more$60 to $100 per person

    Always consider factors like the difficulty of the move and the level of care the movers put into transporting your belongings. If your movers really go above and beyond, you should consider a tip toward the upper end of the rates above.

    xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg">A good rule of thumb for flat-rate tipping is $20 to $30 per person for local moves and $50 per crew member for cross-country moves.

    Proponents of the flat-rate tipping method say it’s standard to tip $20 to $30 per crew member for local moves. You might tip cross-country movers closer to $50 per crew member.

    Aviv said how much you tip also depends on the season: “During the busy summer season, when most people are moving and the weather can get quite hot, it's a good idea to give a little extra to show appreciation for their willingness to work during this hectic time. The same goes for winter moves, when cold weather and possibly snowy conditions can make the job even more difficult.”

    • How much to tip long-distance movers: $40 minimum per mover
    • How much to tip local movers: $20 minimum per mover
    • How much to tip packers: $10 to $20 per day
    • How much to tip piano movers: $20 to $40 per mover

    Do you have to tip movers?

    As a general rule, you’re not required to tip your movers, but it’s a good idea. 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.

    If your movers do an exceptional job and go above and beyond what you expected, feel free to give them a larger tip. Conversely, if they damage any of your belongings or are careless, you may want to give a smaller tip or none at all.”
    — Meyr Aviv, CEO of iMoving

    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.

    “Of course, you should always use your best judgment when tipping,” Aviv, the iMoving CEO, said. “If your movers do an exceptional job and go above and beyond what you expected, feel free to give them a larger tip. Conversely, if they damage any of your belongings or are careless, you may want to give a smaller tip or none at all.”

    Questions to ask yourself before you tip

    When deciding if you want to tip your movers, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Were there excessive stairs or multiple levels to climb?
    • Did the movers have to make more than one stop, like to your home and an off-site storage unit?
    • Was there a lot of heavy furniture?
    • Did they take extra care of your antiques or belongings with sentimental value?
    • 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?

    Another way to show appreciation for your movers is to write an online review that mentions their names. Providing feedback gives others an idea of what to expect on moving day while also highlighting movers that go above and beyond.

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      How to tip movers

      Large national moving companies typically include a tip option 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. If there isn’t a line item, you can tip in cash or ask the moving crew foreman if you can add a tip to the total amount charged to your card (or other payment method).

      Tipping 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 (if you’re able to deduct moving costs from your taxes). Tipping with a credit card is also convenient and saves you a trip to the ATM.

      Tipping with a check

      If you're trying to document moving expenses, you can also tip with a check (as long as a check is acceptable per company policy). If you tip this way, you can write one check and let the crew foreman distribute the tip among the crew.

      Tipping in cash

      A cash tip 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 is allowed.

      Tipping movers with food

      Providing refreshments for your movers, whether you're tipping or not, is a nice thing to do. Make sure the drinks are appropriate for the weather: coffee for cold-morning moves; water and lemonade for hot days.

      If your move crosses over the lunch hour or takes all day, you can offer your crew lunch. You can just order pizza, but you can also ask your movers what they'd like. Snacks like apples, oranges, chips or cookies are great for half-day moves.

      And 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 — offering beer is a nice gesture, but a good, professional moving service won't let employees drink on the job. You could consider giving your moving team a six-pack to go, but it's probably best to stick with nonalcoholic beverages and treats.

      For further information about costs, learn how to make a moving budget.

      Should you tip movers when they load or unload?

      It depends. Sometimes, especially with long-distance moves, you work with two different crews. In this case, you could tip movers half of the total (or whatever makes sense based on each crew’s performance) at both ends or give the tip directly to the company with instructions on how you’d like it split up.

      If the crew that loaded your possessions did a truly exceptional job, you might want to tip them before you depart. If you’re tipping in cash, you can give the total tip amount directly to the crew leader, who can distribute it appropriately.

      Bottom line

      No matter the size of your move, it's almost always a good idea to tip your movers. Tipping between $50 and $100 per crew member for a full-day, larger move is a good place to start. A $20 to $30 tip for each crew member is standard for smaller, local moves that take less time. If the movers are disrespectful, damage your things or try to scam you, it’s fair to not leave a tip at all.

      Often, it’s easiest to tip in cash at the end of the day. Consider the complexity of the move, how far you're moving and how much stuff you have. How was the experience? Did the movers go above and beyond? How much heavy lifting was involved? Would you recommend them? If your movers did a great job, let them know with a little something extra once everything is off the moving truck and the job is complete.

      Next, learn what to know about moving quotes and how to save money on your next move.

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