But the extremely hard work and care that goes into long-distance moving deserves recognition just as much as your favorite bartender or barista in the service industry. After all, long-distance moves can take days, if not weeks, once you factor in the driving, so it’s important to consider the tip part of the overall moving cost.
So, how much should you tip movers and what’s the best etiquette around handing it off? Let’s take a closer look below.
How to Determine Your Tip for Long-Distance Movers
The cost for a long-distance move with a full-service company averages around $4,300 according to HomeAdvisor. However, you’ll come across a pretty wide range of numbers depending on:
- The weight of your household items
- The distance of your move
- Moving services
- The size of your moving team
- Details about your home
As a rule of thumb, you should consider tipping your movers between 5% and 15% of your total bill for your moving costs. If we take the average long-distance number this comes out to between $215 and $645. In other words, a significant portion of extra cash for the tipping process.
To clarify: these amounts indicate the totally tipping amount. Split these cash tips between each member of your moving crew, especially if you have two different teams at each location.
So why the large numbers? And what tip amount is best for each move? Here are two types of long-distance moves to consider.
If your long-distance moves fall on the smaller side, the lower end of the tipping range is just fine. Five to 10% is appropriate for moving that only requires:
- One full day of packing and driving
- A straightforward moving day without complex packing or lifting
- Minimal or no flight of stairs
- Only 1-2 crew members
The majority of cross-country moves include a team of professional movers and require several days to complete. This means that many movers spend days, if not weeks, working on your contract. Good tips in this range fall between 15% and even 20% for a high quality of service.
A Note on Tips for Local Movers
While local moves are just as strenuous, they typically only require a half-day move or a few hours at most. You can typically determine a flat rate per hour for your total move cost. For example, depending on the complexity of the day, consider tipping between $10 and $20 per hour, per person at the end of the move.
Do You Have to Tip Movers?
While you are never required to tip movers, gratuity is standard and highly appreciated in the industry. If you reach out to your moving company during the free quote process, you will likely receive the same answer. Most movers will not think that tips are not necessary but they will happily accept them at the end of the day for great job performance.
When asking this question, you may get more specifics if you inquire about their standard tip process, when to tip, and if they prefer cash or check.
We recommend setting aside separate envelopes for each mover before the day begins so that there’s no confusion when you finish up at your new home.
Reasons to Tip Extra
The 5% to 15% rule is not set in stone, especially if your movers make a great impression and go above and behind on the big day. Moving a home is a massive job, especially if you also hire packers with extensive moving skills.
Here are some things to look out for if you’re considering tipping over your original amount:
- You have particularly heavy furniture
- Your home has many flights of stairs
- The company took care of fragile items with time and care
- The company offered moving tips during the process
- The moving truck arrived early at your destination
- The total cost of your final bill ended up being lower
- The team worked on a hot day or in bad weather
- You received a higher level of service overall
We also recommend tipping extra if you hired the company for a long list of extra moving services. For example, consider increase gratuity for:
- Packing and unpacking services
- Storage preparations
- Piano moving
- Auto, motorcycle, and boat shipping
- International coordination
- Last-minute moves or early pickup
- Cleanup and debris removal services
- Extensive assembly and disassembly
When Should You Tip Your Moving Crew?
From a logistical standpoint, when is the best time to tip your movers? The standard in the moving industry is to tip your team at the end of the move. However, if you will have two different loading and unloading teams, remember to hand off the tips to your first group before the truck heads to your new home.
If you feel confident in your moving team and want to motivate them to provide great service, you can also tip when the team arrives. However, this is not standard.
Other Ways to Thank Your Moving Company
In addition to the traditional cash tip, homeowners have an opportunity to make the moving day run more smoothly and take care of the workers spending so much time on the job. While movers will not expect any special treatment, here are some ways to help the team pull off a successful move.
Offer Cold Water and Packaged Snacks
Movers have to work no matter the weather, making hot days particularly challenging with larger, long-distance moves. Offer cold bottles of water and packaged snacks like granola bars or trail mix to look out for your team. Remember to offer these at both locations, even in your empty new home.
Clear a Pathway
Make sure your home is ready for the moving team’s arrival on the big day. Ensure all boxes are packed and labeled and all debris removed from the team’s main pathway to the truck. Hire a sitter for the kids and the pets so the day can run smoothly without interruptions.
A bit of gratitude goes a long way on a stressful day. While most movers prefer that you do not help with the loading and unloading process, stay available to answer any questions or offer tips about your home. If something unexpected comes up, work with your moving team to resolve it quickly and professionally.
Leave a Good Review
Local movers depend on great online reviews to get business. If they did an exemplary job, offer a detailed review online, especially on major sites like the Better Business Bureau. If possible, take notes on what you enjoyed about the day and offer tips to future customers looking to work with the company.
FAQS About Tipping Long-Distance Movers
Do you tip movers when they load or unload?
Traditionally, tip movers after they have unloaded the truck at your new home. However, if you have two separate teams at your origin and destination, tip half your allotted amount to the loading team before the truck pulls away.
When do you pay movers?
Each moving company requires a unique payment schedule for your move. Most companies require a deposit to book your moving date and the full amount before the team unloads the truck at your destination.
However, some movers request a portion of the payment before the truck leaves your original home, especially for long-distance moves with a long trip. If you’re unsure about when or how to pay your movers, be sure to clarify this during the contract process.
Should you include a tip with your moving payment?
To avoid confusion, separate your moving tip cash from your full moving payment. It is best to hand cash or a check—depending on their preference—directly to the moving crew member themselves.
Should your tip packers?
If you hire a team for packing services only, tip the team between $10 and $20 per hour for each mover. Opt for the higher rate if they:
- Packaged fragile items
- Helped organize and label boxes
- Moved faster than expected
- Provided top-notch customer care from the start