Do You Need to Tip NYC Movers?

You tip your waiter and hairdresser, but what about your mover? Regardless of whether you’re hiring professional movers in NYC or elsewhere, chances you have probably dealt with this dilemma. Do you need to tip, and if so, how much?

Do You Have to Tip Movers?

Depending on who you ask, the answer will vary. Remember, tipping is a way to show your gratitude. You might feel like you have already paid enough money to your NYC movers, and that you shouldn’t have to tip. However, there aren’t too many people who work harder than movers. Not only are they saving you time, they are also making a stressful situation like moving a piece of cake, for the most part. Plus, there’s a lot more riding on your movers’ job performance than a waiter’s or barber’s.

With that in mind, you should budget some money for a tip. In general, you want to tip movers around $4-5 per person for each hour of work. A good rule of thumb is to follow the below guide:

  • A half-day move (4 hours or less) – $20 per person
  • A full 8-hour move – $40 per person
  • 12+ hours – $50-60 per person

Avoid tipping a percentage of the cost as the overall total also includes travel time and other fees such as stair fees and even long carry fees depending on who you use. Depending on the size of your move, the tip might vary due to the amount of crew and time necessary. If you’re tight on money, you should ask the movers over the phone how many workers they expect to have on the move and how long it should take. That way, you can mentally add in the total tip beforehand so you don’t go over budget. You might budget a bit higher than the recommended amount in case your movers do a really good job.

When choosing your tip amount, you should pay close attention to the movers and how they treat and interact with your belongings. A tip should reflect the level of service you receive. You might want to tip your movers more if you notice that they

  • Handle fragile items with care
  • Move large, heavy items up multiple flights of stairs
  • Move quickly
  • Are extra friendly and helpful to you and your family
  • Help with assembly and set-up of furniture

For interstate moves, chances are you aren’t going to be dealing with the same crew between your moves. You might then be tempted to do a percentage-based tipping, but don’t do it as some interstate moves can cost up to $4,000. Instead, you can use the same formula as above. Just make sure to tip both moving crews.

When Not to Tip Movers

While tips are customary, they are not mandatory. You should tip at your discretion and should not feel intimidated by the movers to give them money if you feel like they did not do a good job. You can adjust the tip or even not tip if they:

  • Show up late
  • Damage your new apartment
  • Do not treat your belongings with care
  • Damage your furniture or other belongings
  • Unload your boxes to the wrong rooms
  • Take a lot of breaks and not move much stuff

Of course, accidents happen so you should carefully gauge how the movers react if any of the above happens. If they are apologetic and inform the main office immediately to help you, then it might still be worth it to tip them (but a bit less) as it shows that they take their job seriously. However, if they are unapologetic and rude, then it’s up to you to decide how much you reduce the rate or if you even tip at all.

The Best Way to Tip Movers

If you want to encourage your movers to work a bit harder, you can always promise them tips at the end of the move if they do a good job. If you want to back up your claim, you can hand them each a $10 bill ahead of time as an added incentive. If you don’t feel comfortable with this, just stick to the rule and then tip them once the job is done. That means after everything has been unloaded from their truck and placed in the appropriate rooms. If you also paid for unpacking services and assembly of some items, make sure that also gets completed before you give them a tip. Once you’ve signed the final paperwork, you can give the tip.

You want to show appreciation to everyone who helped with the move, so give each worker their tip. While there’s no written ‘rule’ of who to tip first, in general you should tip each mover according to their level of service, attitude, and performance. Never give the lump sum to the foreman. There might be some not-so-honest foremen who may end up pocketing the entire amount and not redistributing it to the rest of the workers. It might mean breaking up larger bills into 20s, 10s, and 5s, but you want to make sure that everyone receives proper compensation for their work.

Treat Your Movers Well

Just as you have been observing the movers, they have also been observing you. While the NYC movers can’t give you a bad review on Yelp, they might not put in their best effort if you’re being overbearing or acting like a taskmaster. Movers are humans too and will eventually experience fatigue, thirst, hunger, and other bodily functions. It’s up to you to show them that you’re a good host and you appreciate the service that they are providing to you.

Treating your movers well can go a long way in motivating them to provide excellent service. It can help keep their morale and energy levels high and doesn’t require much from you besides generally being a good person. Some nice things to offer movers include:

  • Non-alcoholic beverages – a nice cold bottle of water in the summer can help keep your workers energized and alert. Avoid offering alcoholic drinks as most moving companies have a policy against drinking on the job.
  • Food – depending on how long the move is you can offer some small snacks like a bag of chips or cookies or potentially lunch or dinner for the crew if they had a full day’s work. Ask them what they would like to have for lunch instead of buying a pizza as some might have dietary restrictions.
  •  Bathroom access – when you have to go, you have to go. Get a bathroom ready and equip it with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels. Even if they don’t end up using it, you’ll have a bathroom to use immediately upon moving in.
  • Share a review – if you were really happy with the move, take some time a day or two after the move to write a review. This goes a long way in building up trust in the company and helping them get more work in the future. Feel free to recommend them to family members and friends as well! Many moving companies in NYC rely on word-of-mouth for business so you’ll really be helping them out.


You might not want to spend extra money on tipping movers, especially since hiring professional movers in NYC isn’t cheap, but remember that being a mover is an incredibly hard job. Plus, they are doing you a huge service! Reliable movers provide excellent service and can make even the most stressful move much easier to manage. It makes sense to compensate movers with tips.

The following guide should help you with customary tipping practices. With that said, you should go with your gut and tip based on what you think they deserve. If they did a great job, tip them more. If they were rude or unprofessional, don’t be afraid to tip them less or not at all depending on their attitude.


Can I add the tip to the final bill?

While some companies do offer that option, you should tip the workers separately to ensure that they actually receive the money.

Do I have to pay by cash or can I pay the tip by credit card?

Some moving companies do allow tip payment by credit card, but the workers might not get the full amount as some of it will be eaten up by credit card fees. It’s easier for you and the movers to deal with cash when it comes to tips.

The movers tried to intimidate me to give them a larger tip. What should I do?

Call up the main office for the movers and let them know what happened. Good moving companies will reprimand the workers and might even offer a small refund. If that doesn’t work, make sure to leave a review so that other potential customers don’t run into the same issue.