How Much to Tip Movers in 2021

The PropertyClub Team
Nov 20th 2020
How much to tip movers depends on a few factors, including the moving distance, the complexity of the move, and the level of service you receive. Here's everything you need to know about tipping movers.

Everyone knows the local customs for tipping in bars and restaurants (and if you don’t, most places will remind you). But other service jobs aren’t as black and white. Movers are one such example of an occupation where there is often confusion over whether or not a tip and how much to tip is appropriate. Here is a quick guide to answer your burning questions about tipping the workers of a moving company.

Do You Tip Movers?

Tipping movers is customary but not required. That means you should plan on tipping if you received good service, but it’s not quite as crucial as in other service sector jobs. 

Movers make about $14.25 per hour, on average. That’s more than twice the average waiter’s hourly rate, which is $7.03 per hour. That’s not to say that movers are overpaid – but waiters rely on their tips to supplement their hourly income, whereas tipping a mover is more of a bonus.  

If you believe that the service you received from the movers is adequate or above what you expected, it’s polite to offer a tip. But, if you are dissatisfied with the service, withholding the tip may be appropriate. Movers have a demanding job, and those who put in the effort deserve fair compensation. That being said, some companies are more professional and cautious with your belongings than others. If you feel the service you experienced was not deserving of a bonus, you don’t have to tip. 

When Do You Tip Movers?

It’s wise to wait until your belongings have been safely transported and the job has been completed to tip the movers. You wouldn’t tip a waiter at the beginning of a meal. Therefore, it’s customary to wait until the service has been completed to offer your movers a tip. 

You may decide to tip them more than you had initially anticipated if the moving team goes above and beyond the job description to help you safely transport your belongings. Likewise, if the team is sluggish and reckless with your belongings, you may not want to tip them at all. 

It will be tough to tell whether a tip is appropriate and how much the crew deserves if you tip at the beginning of the move. If you are concerned that the team may leave before you have a chance to tip them, make a simple mention of the tip to whoever is coordinating the effort toward the end of the job. Of course, you are free to decide when it makes the most sense to tip. But, tipping at the beginning of the move may be premature, and tipping in the middle may be awkward if the movers have nowhere to store the money. The exception is if the move will be cross country and you want to get it out of the way beforehand. 

How Much Do You Tip Movers? 

It all depends on the length of the move and how much work is required. Somewhere in the vicinity of 5%-20% of the cost of the move is typically appropriate. If you don’t have many belongings and you’re going a short distance, 5%-10% makes sense. But if the move is going to last several hours or days and requires the transportation of large, heavy objects, 15%-20% is more appropriate. 

You may also choose to increase or decrease the amount based on the quality of the service. Maybe it’s an easy job, but you like the staff and want to reward them handsomely. In that case, a bigger tip may be warranted. Or perhaps it’s a tough job, but some of the movers have a bad attitude, or they may be careless with your stuff. You may decide to reduce their tip to disincentivize this behavior. When in doubt, go with 10%-15% or $5 per hour of working time. That is usually enough to please the crew without making you break the bank. 

Is it Ok Not to Tip Movers?

Although tipping movers is customary, it is ok to withhold a tip if the service was not up to par. A tip is supposed to be a reward for a job well done, not a guaranteed payment. In certain sectors, it’s more important to tip than others. Nevertheless, if a job is done poorly, a tip should not be expected, no matter what the industry. 

Here are a few scenarios where it’s advised to withhold a tip: 

  • The movers are late on arrival, or the job takes substantially longer than anticipated without a valid excuse
  • Items are broken or damaged during the move
  • Items are stolen, or they go missing without explanation
  • The movers are rude or argumentative
  • The job is not completed as agreed upon 

Each of these is a valid reason to withhold a tip because the baseline level of service that is customary was not upheld. Keep in mind that forgetting to tip is not a valid excuse. If you don’t have any cash on hand, you can always run to the ATM during the move or offer to add a tip to the bill if possible. Tipping movers is customary if the service is good, and failing to do so just because you forgot is frowned upon. 

Do You Give Each Mover a Separate Tip?

It depends on the situation. You should make sure that each mover gets his or her fair share of the tip. The easiest way to do so is to tip each mover separately. This is easy if you have cash and there are only a few movers. It gets a bit more complicated if it’s a large project or you don’t interact with the movers directly. You can always give the tip to a supervisor if there is one and let the company handle the distribution amongst themselves. But, if you do so, make sure the person who takes the tip understands that it is intended for the entire crew. Otherwise, it may get awkward if one person receives a $100 tip and everyone else gets nothing. 

It’s up to you what makes sense for the situation. But in most cases, the moving company will not be involved in handling the tip, and it’s your responsibility to make sure compensation ends up in the right hands. Moving is a hard job and that’s why so many people decide to hire movers when it comes time to relocate. Hardworking crew members deserve to be rewarded for their labor. Next time you move, make sure you have some extra cash in your wallet to compensate the moving crew for a job well done.