How Much to Tip Your Movers

Moving men unload furniture from truck

Yellow Dog Productions / Getty Images

If you've hired movers for your upcoming move, you probably have a few questions regarding whether you should tip the movers, and if so, how much to tip. As this profession is a very physical job and the movers are tasked with handling your possessions, prized and otherwise, good movers should be rewarded for their services.

Just keep in mind that while it is nice to tip exemplary movers, it is not obligatory to provide a tip for mediocre ones. Most movers do not usually expect a tip but are very appreciative when given one. Think of the tip as a way of conveying your recognition for their efforts and how much you valued that effort.

If you keep the following suggestions in mind, you'll be sure to find the right answer for your particular move.

When to Tip a Mover

Tipping should always be based on receiving good service from your movers. Just remember that the people doing the actual moving—the physical lifting—are the ones who receive the tip, not the moving company. So if the company itself was difficult to work with and you weren't happy with the service you received, but the actual movers were good, make sure you tip and tip them directly. In other words, always separate the moving company from the actual workers.

If you feel you aren't receiving good service (e.g., the movers weren't punctual, they were rude, or they didn't handle your possessions with care), don't feel compelled to tip. Tipping should be reserved for movers who do their job well. If a mover goes out of their way to accommodate you, then tip accordingly. 

How Much to Tip

The amount you tip will depend on how long the movers take and how difficult the move was—were there stairs, was there a steep yard or driveway to maneuver or did they have to handle awkward pieces that took time to move? The rule of thumb is to tip 5 percent to 10 percent of the total cost, which is then divided between the movers. For example, if you're moving the contents of a three-bedroom house a long distance with a total move cost of $2300, you should give each set of movers $115 to split between the number of people helping you move.

A tip on tipping: If you're dealing with more than one mover, don't give the lump sum to the driver or foreman. Instead, give each worker their tip. Not only does this show your appreciation for their job well done, but there can also be some immoral drivers or foremen who might keep the total amount for themselves.

If you received amazing service with the movers, going above and beyond what was expected, tips can reach up to 10 percent. But the movers need to be really good, really helpful, and do something outside of their normal duties, such as helping with last-minute packing and moving, taking the time to carefully wrap fragile items, or staying a bit longer to help you carefully unpack and set up your grandmother's dining table without scratching it, or the floor. That's the sign of a really good and courteous mover.

When Not to Tip

One thing to keep in mind when tipping, movers should be on time (unless they provide a good reason), treat your things with respect, and be organized. They should also follow your requests and answer any questions that you have about the move, and if something is missing, they need to provide a way for you to follow up to retrieve the lost item. They should also take ownership of anything that they break and should help you through the insurance coverage. Nothing should be broken or damaged when it arrives at your new house, but accidents do happen and it's how the movers deal with it that will determine if you tip or not.

If you have a bad experience with a moving crew, then don't feel the need to tip or provide anything extra. 

Providing Refreshments and Food

Whether you end up tipping or not, it is always polite to provide cold bottled water, soda, coffee, or sports drinks. Remember, these movers are doing backbreaking, physical work and it is a nice token of your appreciation to offer cold beverages.

If the move takes a while and extends over lunch and/or dinner, feel free to buy one or the other, or both. Some people will purchase a meal in place of tipping, while others will provide the meal and a tip. It is whichever you're more comfortable with doing.

If you do decide to provide a meal, feel free to provide the movers with several options that you are comfortable with paying for (e.g., pizza, sandwiches, fried chicken, sushi). Most people's minds go to pizza first, as it's an affordable and easy meal, however, if everyone has that same thought and provides pizza, you can imagine how many times these movers are having pizza each month. So we recommend taking a quick survey from the crew to see what they'd like.

If you're not moving over the lunch or dinner hour, you can always have snacks on hand, such as chips, apples, pretzels, or cookies. 

Something to avoid providing at the end of the day would be beer. While it may seem like a kind thing after a long day's work, most legitimate companies have policies against drinking on the job. Not only that, but it opens up liability issues. Reserve the cold ones for yourself, after the movers have left.