The Best Time To Pay Your Movers To Avoid Scams

The Best Time To Pay Your Movers To Avoid Scams

A customer paying movers cash after a move

Last updated 6/4/24

Moving can be both an exciting and a stressful experience. A move marks a new chapter in your life, but getting the logistics right can feel daunting. First, you’ll need to select the right moving company. There are plenty of reliable movers to choose from, but like any industry, scammers look for uninformed customers to swindle. Moving scams come in many forms like asking for deposits before the move, adding fees after the move, altering inventory forms, or even withholding your belongings for ransom.

The best way to prevent moving scams is simple: pay your movers the day of, upon completion, if possible. If you are planning a move, it pays to do your research beforehand. Be sure to read their contracts carefully. Remember you can also evaluate a company further by asking direct questions about the services they provide. Continue reading our guide to learn more about the best time to pay movers and how to avoid potential scams.

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When Do I Pay My Movers?

Most times, legitimate movers will have you pay on the day of the move. As a general rule, do not pay movers the full amount until the move is completed. Moving fraud and scamming is real, especially for interstate movers. Read any contracts and bills thoroughly before you sign or pay anything.

Settle the bill right after you have ensured you have all of your items and they are undamaged. Do not agree to pay after the movers leave, as they could add more fees to your bill. Like any significant purchase, be sure the company provides a bill and receipt for the services you are paying for.

Ultimately, when you pay your movers will depend on which kind of moving service and which company you work with. But the short answer to this question is you almost always pay your movers after the move. Though a moving company may ask for a deposit, they will not demand lots of money upfront.

Pay After the Move is Completed

While not always the case, moving companies often do in-home estimates so they can fairly charge you for their services. This estimate is meant to give the movers an idea of how many items they need to move and how much they weigh. Sometimes, estimates will be performed via a self assessment. Meaning, the customer will tell the moving company how many boxes they have and any heavy or awkwardly shaped items. This will also give moving companies an idea of if they need to use more movers or equipment like dollies and straps. Any company that asks you to pay before or during an estimate is probably a scam.

When you get your moving estimate, you reserve a future date with the company to complete the move. Even legitimate companies do ask for a deposit before the move to prevent cancellation fees. But you should never pay the full amount before the move is complete.

Mover uses tablet in front of moving truck with boxes

Peak moving season is usually when movers require deposits. This is in the summer, between the months May and August. This is because moving companies are in high demand and don’t want to miss out on any jobs. A deposit makes cancellation less likely to occur. It also gives the movers confidence that they will still receive some pay in the event of a cancellation.

If a moving company does not provide an estimate or does not ask questions during their estimate, they may be a scam. They do this to charge you more on the day of the move by changing the quantity or weight of the items they’re moving. You can further determine the legitimacy of a mover by asking if they offer a flat rate or charge any hidden fees.

Don’t Let Movers Leave Without Paying

Pay your movers right after all your items are accounted for and intact. Make sure you have all your items and they are not damaged before letting movers settle the bill. Good moving companies have moving insurance policies and tell you about them in their contract. 

Let’s say your movers just dropped off your stuff in your new home. You need to make sure all of your items are present. Moving scammers will hold your items hostage until you pay them extra. If a mover were to damage your things, you should note this before you pay to ensure you are compensated.

How Should I Pay My Movers?

All companies have different policies, so double-check the website or fine print for any specific payment information. Both cards and cash are acceptable forms of payment for many moving companies. But if your mover doesn’t accept cards, this may be another sign of fraud.

Paying with Card

Most movers accept debit or credit cards, so this is the best method of payment. However, you may want to ask your moving company if there is an additional charge if paying with a card as the company will have to pay merchant fees which usually range from 2%-5% with the most common fee being 2.9% + $.30.

Paying with Cash

Some legitimate movers accept cash payments, but it can be hard to distinguish until it’s too late. Plus, many companies are moving to digital platforms and accept only cards. Rely on card payments over cash because some companies are card-only.

If you felt your moving experience was pleasant, movers usually prefer a cash tip. While it is not mandatory to tip your movers, offering cash directly to the person who is laboring for you is a polite gesture.

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How Do I Detect Moving Scams?

It’s not always easy to tell if a company is trying to scam you. A scamming company can look and act just like any other company, so how can you tell if a company is legit? You can always search for licensed movers in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration database if you’re unsure. While it’s not always a comprehensive list, it is a good starting point.

If you see any red flags about the company you are moving with, determine if the company is real or not. Real companies can still create scams, but some companies may not even be permitted to move your items in the first place. Real movers are federally required to provide you with written information about your rights and responsibilities. Avoid companies without certifications or who do not provide paperwork like contracts or receipts.

Only Trust Moving Companies With Transparent Rates

Companies that do not present transparent rates for their services are likely untrustworthy. If they do not list consistent prices or their pricing varies by customer, they could upcharge you.

Two people shaking hands in a movers office

Reputable movers offer flat rates and will provide their prices before asking you to pay or sign anything. Be wary if a company does not provide a solid rate for their services until after the move. Establish a solid estimate beforehand and then pay after the move has been completed.

Don’t Fall for Lowball Estimates

Fraudulent moving companies may grab your attention by offering unrealistically low estimates. People who have never used a moving company may not know what to expect from a moving company. Fraudulent companies are aware of this and are looking to take advantage of new movers. 

Be warned that these “lowball” prices are oftentimes indicators of a scam. After accepting their services, they could tack on extra fees or keep your belongings hostage until you pay more. In general, steer away from any prices that seem too good to be true.

Research Your Moving Company

Research the company you’re looking at and check their reviews. If a lot of people are consistently rating them three or four out of five stars, they’re probably a legitimate company. Be mindful if reviews are too good because sometimes companies write their own reviews.

Overall, trust your own instincts. You can probably sense a scam if you’re looking for one. Avoid moving fraud by informing yourself about common scams.

Conclusion

We recommend you settle on a mover who asks for payment after the conclusion of your move. Companies who demand early payment or very large deposits could be trying to take advantage of you. Don’t pay before or after your move. Remember you can usually pay with either a card or cash, but some companies are now card-only.

Staying aware of common red flags is the first step in avoiding moving fraud. Steer clear of companies that don’t provide estimates, don’t provide transparent rates, or try to fool you with lowball strategies. Once you know how to spot a fraudulent moving company, you don’t have to worry about being scammed.

When should I pay my moving company to avoid scams?

Most moving companies will only ask for payment after they have completed the move. Some movers may ask for a deposit after an estimate. Beware of a company that asks you to front the whole payment before a move.

What forms of payment do moving companies take?

Most movers accept cash or cards, but many companies are card-only these days. Movers typically do not take checks.

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Ashlyn is a homegrown Iowan (go Cyclones!). She graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 2023 with a degree in Business Administration, Marketing, Public Relations, and Communications. Now, she serves as UniMovers' Community Outreach Manager. In her free time, she loves to try new restaurants, travel, watch baseball, and spend time with her dog!

To get in contact with her regarding blog partnerships at UniMovers please email blog@unimovers.com.

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I am from Sacramento, California and earned my BA in Literature from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. I am currently enrolled in the English MA program at University of Oregon, researching forest management policy and environmental studies. In my free time I enjoy watching basketball, cooking, reading, gardening, and trying new hot sauces.