Long-Distance Moving Tips – How to Tip Movers (and When Not)

December 1, 2021Moving Tips
Gemma Collins

Gemma is an NJ local that has explored all the US states, making her the perfect person to write about moving.

It’s alright if you didn’t know about tipping a relocation crew because it isn’t mandatory. However, just as you’d tip a waiter for the service they provide in a restaurant, movers do hard work that warrants tipping as well. Learn here when and how to tip movers according to some unwritten rules.

Is Tipping Movers Customary or Mandatory?

If this is the first time you’re hearing about the concept of giving tips to a relocation crew, don’t worry. Many people aren’t aware of the option, so when it does come up, the question is always – are you supposed to tip movers? It is common to give tips to people providing services that benefit us, so the logical answer would be ‘yes.’ However, it’s mostly up to you to decide whether this is a thing you’d do.

While giving tips to relocation crews is customary rather than mandatory, our relocation advice is to observe how the move goes, if it is slower or faster, less or more efficient than expected, and then make your decision according to that. Tipping is one of the most common things people forget to do when they move, but it may also just come down to how happy they are about the process.


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What to Tip Movers When They Finish Moving You to Your Home and Shipping Your Vehicles

Relocation companies provide every possible relocation service, including car shipping. You can give some bonus cash for good efforts to the crew that helps you move to another home, and to the team that shipped your car over. Even with the knowledge that tipping is a thing, moving to a new state with a relocation company will be a much safer experience.

You may know all about the benefits of relocation services at home, but do you know what are the benefits of car shipping? The same company you hire to pack your belongings and load the relocation truck can also offer two ways of transporting vehicles.

For example, you can give some money to the crew that drives your car by open trailer transport because this way exposes vehicles to the elements. If the car arrives intact and undamaged, a nice tip of about 10% of the price will suffice. If you pick enclosed auto transport that is more expensive but safer overall, you can tip them around 5% of the price. You can calculate tips either in percentages or count on giving $4 – $5 per mover, per hour. So, if your move costs $2,000, you could give between $100 and $200 to divide between movers.

A mover holding a clock and a box and smiling
You can tip long-distance relocation workers per hour or give a certain percentage from the full price

How to Tip Movers and What’s the Best Time of the Move For It?

The problem with giving tips is that it may not seem like the best way to save on relocation costs. As we mentioned, you have different crews doing a service for you on relocation day, so it isn’t easy to determine who gets a tip and why. Essentially, it’s more like – everyone gets a bonus because every team is different.

It doesn’t sound like a way to move efficiently, but there are methods to save money before the move, so the entire service is paid out well. One is getting free packing materials and doing some of your own packings along the way, and another is the everlasting packing tip called decluttering. This will help you pack faster, and more importantly, make the items list smaller, and subsequently, cheaper.

The best time for tipping is usually after the entire moving process, but if you see fit, you can do it right as the move is happening; it’s all about finding the perfect moment since money exchanges can sometimes get awkward. As we said, though, there may be multiple crews working on relocation day, so you can either give the tip amount to someone in charge of the team and let them divide it or to each mover separately.

You Can Express Gratitude to Movers With Nourishment, Too

If you’re short on cash and simply cannot afford to tip anyone, don’t worry. It isn’t some kind of moving mistake or anything that will warrant a lesser quality move. Moreover, it would be forbidden to purposely make the relocation day more challenging and longer than usual because someone can’t afford to tip. FMCSA’s Consumer Rights best show what rights and responsibilities customers have, and you’ll get this booklet of regulations from your relocation provider.

There are other ways to show gratitude, and what’s better than providing nourishment? Snacks and water are relocation essentials even for you, and relocation crews aren’t any different. A glass of water can’t replace a good tip, but it can replenish a mover’s strength and give them the energy they need to provide a high-quality service. If you’re leaving a big home, the move is likely to take a while. You can ask them what they’d like to eat for lunch and order that. It won’t cost as much as a tip would, but it’d still show appreciation.

You can watch the video below to see how a delivery worker reacts to getting refreshments. Since relocation workers stay on their feet all day long, they’d likely feel similar, if not the same, as the person in the video.

YouTube video

Tipping the Moving Crew Is Only Good If They’re Legitimate

Of course, if you requested door-to-door auto transport but instead got terminal-to-terminal car shipping, that’s reason enough not to tip. You have the option to not give any bonuses for efforts, but don’t let that be an excuse to nitpick.

Generally, if a client doesn’t receive a service that was part of the contract, they could be facing a relocation scam. Unfortunately, these happen often and no one is immune to them. Well, the people who vet and verify information about their movers are immune, but this could sometimes backfire, too.

Your best bet is to use the FMCSA website and get all the information on a relocation provider. This isn’t one of the things to do after moving, either. Check for license plates and other permits on the site before even considering hiring someone.

A List of Red Flags In a Relocation Company

Here are some of the most common red flags before and after hiring a relocation crew that could prove they’re scammers:

  • Taking care of everything over the phone instead of meeting up with you,
  • Going under different names,
  • Not having a USDOT number (checked on the FMCSA website),
  • Asking for payments in advance or credit card information for no reason,
  • Not having visible company markings on their outfits or transportation vehicles,
  • Changing their rate in the middle of the move,
  • Piling on extra fees after the move,
  • Not providing relocation insurance.

There are comprehensive lists on recognizing scammers and making sure not to hire an unlicensed company. It is up to you how much effort you’ll put into this since the outcome can be different based solely on that.

A woman, off-screen, giving money to a man, also off-screen
You can't think about giving out tips before checking if the long-distance relocation company you wish to hire is legitimate

When Not to Provide or Even Consider Tipping Movers (Because That’s Possible, Too)

Obviously, giving a tip to the team that helps you move isn’t mandatory if they made many mistakes. When you hire services for moving to a new home, you expect crews to do a good job because they’re trained for that. If they don’t prepare your car for shipping properly or forget to load some boxes into the truck, that isn’t the type of work you expect, and more importantly, pay them to do.

Your household inventory list determines the cost of relocating. If that is already a price too steep for you, getting bad services will be like adding gasoline to the fire. This is the opportunity to not only skip giving the workers a tip but to never hire them for that sort of job again. We’ll emphasize it one more time, though – don’t make the movers’ behavior on relocation day be the excuse for nitpicking and deciding who did better than the rest.

If Anything Gets Damaged, You’re Free from Giving Any Tips at All

So, to recap – a relocation and car shipping company doing a bad job is reason enough not to tip them. Many USA auto transport companies transport cars from state to state and provide enough safety and care for the vehicles. If it just so happens that the workers you chose made huge mistakes, it is your right to get the money back through insurance.

Here’s a list of other things relocation workers could do that would warrant not tipping them:

  • Being late or not showing up at all,
  • Damage on any of the furniture and household items that weren’t in boxes,
  • Damage inside boxes,
  • Being generally unpleasant and rude,
  • Not accepting responsibility for their mistakes,
  • Loss of items or packages during the move.

Wrongly Done Car Shipping Counts into Moving Mistakes, Too

So, if any of your belongings get damaged during transport, you don’t have to tip the relocation and auto transport company. This applies to the workers that have the job of delivering your car, as well. Cars are probably among the most valuable things on your relocation list (and in your life, too) so damaging them hurts a lot. Driving is an expensive lifestyle, with repair and maintenance costs that are always steep and don’t provide a lot of wiggle room when it comes to finances.

You didn’t pay a steep relocation cost to avoid driving stress and other people’s road rage for your vehicle to arrive scratched and bruised. That’s not the kind of work worth paying for, let alone giving a tip. Of course, you should keep common sense in this situation, too. That means looking objectively at what might have been the movers’ fault and what was simply accidental in shipping your car to another state.

An enclosed auto transport trailer driving cars across the country
It's tough to determine what sort of damage could be a long-distance mover's fault when it comes to car shipping, but you can discuss that with them

Consider Your Budget and Decide in Advance How Much You Can Set Aside for the Relocation Team

Your moving budget is your business only. If your point of view at the end is that there’s no room for giving tips, you can discuss with the relocation workers about the best ways to repay them. Everyone has different reasons to move and they all cost differently, so when you decide where to live, you can also decide how much you’re willing to pay for the relocation process.

If you find something extra in your budget to treat the workers that do a good job, that’s great. However, probably the best way to help is to give them a good review online or on their website. Reviews are what makes a business consistently get (or not get) work, so they’ll appreciate this gesture more than anything. And giving reviews is free, too, so you don’t have to worry about seeing seismic shifts in your bank account.

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