Flat Rate Movers vs. Hourly Movers

As if choosing a moving company is not already stressful enough, you also have to decide whether a flat or hourly rate is better for you. One is not necessarily better than the other. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and are more suited to specific moves and circumstances. Therefore, just because a friend went through a move that charged by the hour does not mean that option is right for you. You should get comfortable with both terms and evaluate your needs to make your decision.

Hourly Rate
The majority of professional movers you will encounter charge by the hour, especially with local moves. Prices typically vary from one state to the next, and the time of the month, week, and day can affect the price. Billing generally begins upon arrival to your home and ends when the move is complete. Hourly rate typically includes drive time, so keep this in mind when you schedule your move during morning rush hour traffic.

Flat Rate
A flat rate almost always requires an in-home evaluation of your belongings. The individual surveys your belongings to figure out an estimated weight and value of the items being moved. The distance of the mover and layout of the environment where the move takes place plays roles as well. An estimator then offers a “price point” guaranteeing that the move will not exceed that amount.


Hourly Rates Pros and Cons
Most moves are done with an hourly rate. As long as you are honest about any heavy furniture pieces you have, and if you have stairs or if they will have to park far from the door, then it is easy to get a pretty close estimate over the phone or online. This is generally the option you want to choose for local movers.

The concern comes with elements that can delay the move, thereby raising the price. A rollover accident on the highway that forces the movers to sit in traffic for an hour is going to cost you. If you are moving into an apartment where they have to park down a long alley or far away in a parking lot, you have to be prepared for the move to take longer, and you will likely be charged a long-carry fee.

Flat Rate Pros and Cons
Although it is a bit of an inconvenience to deal with someone coming into your home to figure out an estimate, this is really your best option for a long distance move. They may need to factor lodging and fuel into the equation, but you do not want an hourly rate when you are moving across the country because there are so many things that could affect the time it takes to get there.

This can also be the best option if you know the movers will need to haul your belongings a long distance on either end or deal with stairs or service elevators. On the downside, if you have a lot of heavy items, this will significantly increase your rate due to the increased weight.

Both hourly and flat rates might seem like a fixed price but they are still moving estimates that can change on the day of your move. Unpakt offers Guaranteed Prices which means prices are fixed and transparent based on each mover’s rates. You can see exactly how much it will cost to add or remove an item or service.

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COVID-19 Update

As a COVID-19 essential service, we are open for business and are committed to providing safe and efficient moving services to our customers.

Our Commitment to You

We are committed to moving you safely. In these unprecedented times, we take our role as essential service providers very seriously. We will continue to provide services while following recommendations from the CDC and the WHO while working to protect our customers and front-line employees.

Limiting in-person contact is the best practice when limiting the spread of COVID-19. While our business requires we enter the residence to provide packing and loading services, we can conduct the quote process via virtual survey.  While the staff is working remotely, they are available to customers, agents and drivers during the same business hours and in the same manner as if they were working in the office.

As you plan and prepare for your move, here are some steps you can take:


  • Rather than greeting the crew with handshakes, greet them in some other way, verbally for instance.
  • To ensure everyone’s health and safety, if you or anyone within your household may have contracted Coronavirus, or are isolating due to exposure to the virus, call us and explain the situation; in many cases, we will try to work with you
  • If you must cancel your move, be sure to ask questions about how we are managing cancellations now
  • Your health and the health of your family is important. If you are in a vulnerable group, over 60 or have a compromised immune system, schedule your move after the pandemic is over if it is at all possible.
  • Provide the moving crew access to a sink, soap and paper towels throughout your move. If this isn’t practical, and it is readily available, provide hand sanitizer
  • Purchase new moving boxes and tape; this isn’t the time to use recycled boxes from online sources and free sites or from stores
  • If you have not already purchased food for the next couple of weeks, you’ll want to stock up on items that you eat regularly. Any shelf-stable items can be donated to Move For Hunger before your move to lighten your load
  • When moving long distances, you may want to fly in to meet your moving truck. Be sure that you book refundable plane tickets and select hotels that offer free cancellation. Ask about cancellation policies before you book, and remember to read