Different types of moving estimates

Do you know what the following terms mean: “Non-binding estimate,” “binding estimate,” and “binding not-to-exceed estimate”? Probably not. Unless you’re a moving professional experienced with the industry’s lingo, it’s easy to get confused over all the different types of moving estimates.

However, understanding all the details of your moving estimate is crucial to a successful move. For this reason, we recommend you avoid rushing to agree to a moving quote. Never sign a contract without thoroughly doing your research on the type of estimate offered first. And that research should always include its pros and cons.

Given all of the other obligations that a move entails, though, we understand that most people simply don’t have the time to decode a confusing cost estimate. Fortunately, ReloSmart Movers Hong Kong professionals are here to explain the three different types of moving estimates. After reading this article, you will be able to make a better, more informed decision when signing your next moving contract.

Mom and daughter packing
If you can, try to move during a weekday during a less busy month to keep costs down.

Non-binding estimate

When movers offer you different types of moving estimates, they will usually first give customers a non-binding estimate. This is a quote that the movers calculate based on the weight of your belongings. However, because it is “non-binding,” this estimate is not set in stone! Remember that! That means that the price will most likely change depending on the actual weight of all your possessions.

  • In general, we don’t recommend hiring a moving company that provides only this kind of estimate to its customers. Why is that? Note that saying “yes” to a non-binding estimate could set you up to pay more than you hoped for. Which is something you don’t want especially when moving to UK from Hong Kong. That’s because if a mover gives you a surprisingly low, non-binding estimate, but your final bill ends up being higher, you’ll have to pay the price of the original estimation plus an additional 10 percent at the time of delivery. This will be a consequence of your belongings weighing more than expected.
  • According to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), customers have to pay for charges due to the total shipment. The agency points out that the moving company can (and will) bill you for the remaining charges after 30 days from delivery.
  • Bottom line: You should be wary of the non-binding estimate. Because, when it’s all said and done, you could be forced to pay more than originally expected. That’s why it’s crucial to research a mover beforehand and to be aware of red flags, such as this one.

Different types of moving estimates: Binding Estimate

A binding estimate is a type of moving estimate when the mover guarantees a fixed cost estimate. They base that on the approximate weight of the customer’s belongings. If you agree to this type of estimate, then you will pay exactly what you were originally quoted. Your pet movers Hong Kong will not be allowed to increase the price whatsoever. However, agreeing to a binding estimate also means that you won’t be able to pay any less either. If your belongings end up weighing less upon delivery, you will still have to pay the fixed cost.

Box with a Buddha statue inside
Rogue movers and scam artists may reel you in with a too-good-to-be-true non-binding estimate.

While not the most ideal choice among the three types of moving estimates, a binding estimate does have its advantages. Firstly, if you’re concerned about a mover over-charging you at the last minute, you won’t have to worry. Unless, of course, they over-charge you at the beginning. To make sure you’re getting an honest binding estimate, we recommend obtaining moving quotes from multiple movers to compare.

However, if you’re thinking this type of estimate will allow you to add additional items onto the truck on moving day without paying extra, you’re wrong. According to the FMCSA, if you decide to sneak items into your shipment then you and your mover must either:

  1. Agree to abide by the original binding estimate,
  2. Negotiate a new binding estimate or
  3. Convert the binding estimate into a non-binding estimate.

Binding Not-To-Exceed Estimate

Out of all of the different types of estimates, the binding not-to-exceed (sometimes called a “guaranteed not-to-exceed”) estimate tends to be the most popular. Especially with customers making an interstate or long distance move. It also happens to be the easiest to explain. This type of estimate means that even if the weight of a customer’s shipment exceeds the original estimate, they won’t be charged anything extra. Instead, they’ll pay the amount of the original quote. However, if the shipment weighs less than originally estimated, they will only have to pay for the cost of shipping the actual weight. This means if you agree to a binding not-to-exceed estimate, you could end up paying less than originally agreed upon.

What’s in these types of moving estimates?

When your movers are sending you a contract, they should be very clear about what type of estimate they are sending you. Your choice of moving estimate should also be in your Bill of Lading contract.

A long distance contract should include:

  • The name and address of your mover,
  • The tariff cost,
  • Miles traveled,
  • Minimum weight and estimated weight,
  • Any discounts applied,
  • Packing and unpacking service fees,
  • Storage charges,
  • Transportation charges,
  • Fuel surcharges,
  • Insurance surcharges,
  • And additional services.
Pink piggy bank for all the types of moving estimates
Another advantage of choosing this kind of estimate is that if your possessions do happen to be heavier, you won’t have to worry about paying the high price.

When evaluating the overall cost of your relocation, be sure to also consider the costs outside of the several types of moving estimates. For instance, if you’re planning to purchase cardboard boxes and moving supplies, you’ll want to take these into consideration. Also, keep in mind that the time of the week, month, and year can impact the cost of your move. For example, if you’re moving during “peak moving season” (May to September), you’ll most likely pay more. The same goes for relocations that happen during the holidays, on a weekend, and at the beginning or end of the month.

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I was hoping to avoid the struggles of having to relocate altogether, but with ReloSmart Movers by my side, I’m glad I didn’t. The team did an incredible job – they arrived on time and handled everything perfectly!

David R.