All moving companies fall into one of three categories:
- Brokers (also called brokerages)
- Carriers (sometimes called van lines)
- Broker/carrier hybrids
Brokers outsource their moving services to companies they have partnerships with. After you tell your broker about your move, it will post your information to a marketplace-type community board where its partners can bid on the job. Since multiple companies compete for your business, working with a broker can result in lower prices for you.
However, working with a broker also has its downsides.
For one, a crew from a different company than the one you talked to will actually show up to load and drive your belongings to your new home. It’s possible that this crew never even spoke to the broker. This can result in miscommunication and even additional costs and fees on moving day.
Carriers handle all of your moving services with their in-house staff, so your experience will almost always be more seamless than working with a broker. However, it can cost you a little extra.
Broker/carrier hybrids handle some moving services with in-house staff, but they outsource specialty services—typically jobs like auto shipping or piano transport—to other companies.
Before you work with a mover, it’s important to know how they operate and if a different company will actually be handling your belongings. Learn more about the different types of moving companies by checking out our guide to brokers and carriers.