Do I Have to Tip the Movers?

Military move packout list.
Familiar sights during a household goods move. (U.S. Navy/Russell Stewart)

I've heard that some military families give their packers and movers cash tips during a PCS. Now I'm worried that if we don't give them money, they are going to break our stuff on purpose. No one talked about tipping during the transportation briefing. What should I do? Do I have to tip the mover?

Whether to tip the movers is one of those timeless debates among military families. From what I can tell, most military families choose to feed their packers and movers lunch or dinner in lieu of giving them cash. In a poll on's SpouseBuzz blog, over 58% of readers said they never give cash tips, while almost 22% said they do, and about 20% said it depends on the movers and the quality of work they are doing.

According to moving industry officials I've spoken with, tipping is considered common and even expected in the civilian moving world. Those experts suggested giving cash -- as much as $20 per packer and mover -- to each person at the end of the job. But for military families, that can really add up if you have two different teams doing the packing and unpacking, as is often the case.

That may be why, in lieu of a cash tip, many military families make sure there is pizza, sandwiches or some other meal and drinks provided for the packers and movers every day that they are there. I've also heard of some families giving the movers the liquor they didn't plan to take with them as thanks (after the job is done, obviously).

Personally, I think whether you decide to give a cash tip depends on what kind of move you are doing. Tipping after your pack out is done isn't going to win you any good graces from folks you're never going to see again. But if you are doing a door-to-door move, you may have the same team on both ends. In that case, giving each person $20 after the packing but before the actual moving for a job well done could buy some happier movers. And happier movers could equal less broken stuff. It's worth a shot.

Good luck with your move!

Keep Up-to-Date for Your Next PCS

Get the inside information from those who know. Get PCS help and all the news and benefits information you need delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to now.

Show Full Article
PCS Benefits