What Are the Different Types of Estimates You Can Get from a Mover?


When planning a move, one of the most crucial steps is obtaining an estimate from a moving company. Understanding the different types of estimates available can help you budget effectively and avoid unexpected costs on moving day. Moving companies generally offer three main types of estimates: binding, non-binding, and not-to-exceed estimates. Each type has its benefits and conditions, and choosing the right one can significantly impact the financial and logistical aspects of your move. This article will explore these different types of estimates, helping you make an informed decision when selecting a mover.

moving van moving and getting estimates

Binding Estimates

Definition and Features

A binding estimate guarantees that the cost quoted by the moving company is the total amount you will pay for all the services outlined in the estimate. This type of estimate is appealing because it provides financial certainty. No matter how heavy your shipment turns out to be or how long the loading and unloading take, the cost won’t change, provided you don’t add services or items not included in the original agreement.


The primary benefit of a binding estimate is budget certainty. It allows you to plan your finances precisely without worrying about unexpected increases in moving costs. This can be particularly advantageous for long-distance moves where the weight and handling requirements can significantly affect costs. With a binding estimate, as long as the scope of your move remains the same as what was initially agreed upon, the price you were quoted is the price you will pay.


While binding estimates provide budget stability, they are typically higher than non-binding estimates because movers take a risk guaranteeing a price without knowing the exact weight or time requirements. Additionally, if your actual moving load is less than estimated, you will still be required to pay the full amount quoted. It’s essential to have an accurate inventory of your belongings when obtaining a binding estimate to avoid paying for capacity you do not need.

Non-Binding Estimates

Definition and Features

Non-binding estimates are based on the moving company’s projected cost of your move, given the estimated weight of your belongings and the services you require. However, the final bill you receive can be higher or lower than the estimate, depending on the actual weight of your shipment and the services performed.


Non-binding estimates often appear lower than binding estimates, which can be attractive if you’re trying to keep initial costs down. They offer flexibility; if the actual weight of your belongings is less than estimated, you could end up paying less than the initial quote. This setup encourages efficiency from both the homeowner and the moving company.


The major drawback of a non-binding estimate is uncertainty in budgeting. The final cost can exceed the estimate, sometimes by a substantial margin, if the actual weight or required services are greater than initially projected. This can lead to unexpected expenses, making it difficult to manage your moving budget. It’s crucial to discuss how the final charges will be calculated and what the maximum potential cost could be before agreeing to a non-binding estimate.

Not-to-Exceed Estimates

Definition and Features

Also known as “guaranteed not-to-exceed,” these estimates are somewhat of a hybrid between binding and non-binding estimates. In this arrangement, the quoted price is the maximum you will pay, but if the actual weight of your shipment is less than estimated, you will only be charged for the lower weight.


This type of estimate is often considered the most customer-friendly. It provides cost certainty in the sense that you know the maximum you will have to pay, yet it also allows for the possibility of paying less if the shipment weighs less than anticipated. This can be particularly beneficial for those who are unsure about the total weight of their belongings or for long-distance moves where weight can significantly influence the cost.


While not-to-exceed estimates are advantageous for customers, they are not offered by all moving companies. It’s important to verify whether your chosen mover provides this option. Additionally, as with any moving service, it’s essential to ensure that all potential charges and services are clearly outlined in your contract to avoid any surprises.


Understanding the different types of moving estimates can help you make better financial decisions and choose the right moving company for your needs. Whether you opt for a binding, non-binding, or not-to-exceed estimate depends on your preferences for cost certainty and flexibility. By carefully reviewing each estimate type and assessing your specific moving requirements, you can select an estimate that offers the best balance for your situation, ensuring a more controlled and satisfying moving experience.

FAQ: Understanding Moving Estimates

1. What should I do if the actual weight of my shipment is less than what was estimated in a binding estimate?
With a binding estimate, the price you were quoted is fixed, regardless of the actual weight of your shipment. This means that even if the weight is less than estimated, you will still be required to pay the price originally agreed upon. It’s important to ensure your inventory is accurate when getting a binding estimate to avoid overpaying.

2. How can I ensure a non-binding estimate is as accurate as possible?
To get the most accurate non-binding estimate, provide the mover with detailed information about the quantity and type of items you need moved. It’s also a good idea to have the mover perform an in-home inspection. This allows them to see exactly what needs to be moved and assess any potential challenges, such as stairs or narrow doorways, which might affect the final cost.

3. Can the final price of a non-binding estimate exceed the original quote?
Yes, the final price of a non-binding estimate can exceed the original quote if the actual weight of the shipment is greater than estimated, or if additional services are required during the move. It’s crucial to discuss how final charges will be calculated and understand the potential maximum costs before the move.

4. What are the advantages of choosing a not-to-exceed estimate?
A not-to-exceed estimate offers the benefits of both binding and non-binding estimates. It provides a cost ceiling to protect you from paying more than the original quote, while also allowing you to pay less if the shipment weighs less than estimated. This type of estimate is customer-friendly, offering flexibility and financial protection.

5. Are there any additional fees I should be aware of with moving estimates?
Always ask your mover about potential additional fees that might not be included in the estimate. These can include charges for packing materials, long carry fees if trucks can’t park close to your door, stair fees for moving items up or down many flights, and storage fees if your belongings need to be stored temporarily. Getting clarity on these fees upfront can help prevent surprises on your final bill.

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