When and How Should You Pay Your Movers?

If you’re moving to a new home or apartment, you’ve probably asked yourself the following questions: When do you normally pay movers? And can you pay with cash at the time of delivery?

The quick answers are:

  • You typically pay movers at or near the end of your move.
  • Most movers will take cash at delivery, but many prefer credit cards.

However, there are exceptions to these generalities, so it’s vital to know your payment options early in the screening process, long before signing a contract.

Whether you’re working with some of the best interstate movers or the best moving container companies or doing a different type of move, here’s what you need to know about payment.

When to pay movers

Wondering when to pay movers? As a rule of thumb, you pay movers at the end of your move. That’s when all of your belongings are brought to or unpacked into your new place and the movers are ready to head out. In some cases, you may pay movers a deposit at the beginning, but most reputable moving companies take final payment at the end of move day.

Now let’s talk about how to pay.

Most professional movers accept cash or credit for local, intrastate, and interstate relocations.

However, it’s important to note that some (especially long-distance movers) only accept payment via credit card.

If you’re moving locally and your estimated charges are less than $1,000, paying with cash may be the way to go. However, credit cards are usually a better option for long-distance cross-country moves for which full-service moving costs often run into the thousands.

Carrying a large amount of cash is dangerous, while most credit card companies have programs designed to help fraud victims.

If you’d rather use cash to avoid paying interest, consider using a credit card and paying the balance off the following month.

Moving scams: What to know about demands for cash upfront

“Give us your cash…or else!” If your mover demands you pay for the whole move in cash at the beginning, that’s a huge red flag.

Frustrating (and terrifying) demands are usually only made by shady movers and brokers.

In general, moving companies will ask for full payment at the end of or just before your move. Many movers do ask for a deposit up front, especially during the busy summer season, but most don’t expect you to pay for the full move until everything has been signed off and completed.

That’s great for consumers since there is incentive for the movers to do a good job in order to receive the full payment and avoid issues. Scammers that demand payment up front put consumers at a disadvantage since you no longer have leverage if something goes wrong.

Paying for moving services doesn’t need to be stressful or contentious. Check out our guide on how to avoid moving scams so you can keep an eye out for red flags — like scam movers demanding full cash payment up front.

Addressed payment on the front end with your moving quote, that way everyone knows what to expect.

While screening and hiring movers, evaluating your moving process, and obtaining moving estimates, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Which payment options are available?
  • When are you expected to pay?
  • Is a deposit required?

It’s essential to get all of this in writing. Reputable professional moving companies will usually provide you with a free quote. Remember, your estimate/order for service should contain all the relevant payment information, so make sure you read and understand it before signing on the dotted line.

If any prospective movers are wishy-washy about payment or make statements like “we’ll worry about it at delivery,” politely cross them off your list—there are plenty of other more trustworthy movers out there.


Want to avoid scams and make your move easier? Work with these best interstate movers! They have years of experience and thousands of satisfied customers.

Learn More

Payment options for long distance moves

It’s a common myth that you pay movers after they’ve unpacked your household goods on long-distance state-to-state moves.

The truth is that most van lines require customers to pay once the moving truck arrives at their new home—before the crew begins unloading.

At that point, they know:

  • How much your shipment weighs
  • Whether you required packing supplies and/or unpacking/packing services
  • Any additional services they’ve provided
  • Your total move charges

Most truck operators will only unlock the trailer or get the walk boards out once payment has been settled, because that’s what they’re instructed to do.

Though this may sound fishy, don’t worry: It’s a perfectly legit and safe way to conduct business.

Customers can get scammed by rogue movers, but moving companies also have to protect themselves against being taken to the cleaners by ne’er-do-well customers on moving day.

Once a moving company has unloaded everything, they have no leverage (short of filing a lawsuit) if the customer decides not to pay.

Payment options for local moves

On local moves, payment usually occurs when the crew is nearly or completely finished unloading and setting everything up. Payment methods are typically agreed upon beforehand, but cash and credit cards are both usually OK.

Remember that companies tend to “hold” a few items on the moving truck until they’ve been paid in full. Again, this gives them a measure of protection against customers who can’t or won’t pay.

The low-down on moving deposits

Most movers don’t require deposits, but it’s not necessarily a red flag if one of the companies you’re considering does.

After all, some customers cancel their moves at the last minute, so crews and trucks may go unexpectedly unused. This idle equipment amounts to lost revenue for moving companies, so some require upfront pre-move deposits to hedge their bets.

If you’ve thoroughly vetted your movers and you’re confident you’ve hired a reputable and experienced company, a 10% deposit may be reasonable.

On the other hand, if a prospective mover informs you they require a 25% or 50% deposit or even the total amount up front, that should probably be seen as a dealbreaker.

As a rule of thumb, shady movers and internet brokers are more likely to require deposits (especially large ones) than legitimate moving companies.


Should I ever pay all my moving costs up front?

Never. If a moving company requires a deposit greater than 10%, you should refrain from doing business with them.

Can you pay movers in cash at delivery?

Yes, most movers will gladly accept cash at delivery. However, movers should never demand payment in cash, especially if you’ve already agreed on another payment method.

Can you pay movers by credit card at delivery?

Yes, most reputable movers prefer you pay via credit card at delivery time.

Do movers carry change?

Paying with $100 bills usually isn’t a problem. Nonetheless, it’s also essential to have plenty of $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills on hand for tipping movers. Also, depending on your move cost, the driver may need more cash to make change.

Is it a scam if a mover asks for more cash at delivery?

If you’ve been given a non-binding estimate, there’s no guarantee your actual move charges won’t exceed that estimate. However, specifically regarding interstate moves, you’re protected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 110% Rule.

Can I withhold payment until my claims are resolved?

No, you can’t legally withhold payment because you’ve experienced damage to fragile items (or any other items, for that matter) on your move.

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