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  • Debbie Dugan

How much should I pay for massage?


Sometimes it can be difficult to navigate the appropriate price point for massage therapy. Here is a guide to give you an idea of what to expect, and even how to save on the price of massage.


Pricing: then and now

For many years, the standard pricing for massage across the country came to about a dollar a minute. This pricing has changed slightly with the boost in the economy, and can fluctuate depending on where you live. For Lincoln and Omaha, it is not uncommon to find this price point, but typically it will be offered by therapists who are just getting out of school and very new to the profession.


Average price of experienced therapists

For more experienced therapists who specialize in techniques such as deep tissue, Thai, prenatal, hot stone, or myofascial release, prices of $65-$80 per hour are more common. For example, I have practiced massage for nearly 14 years, and my baseline rate for a therapeutic massage is $70 an hour. I charge $80 an hour for deep tissue, sports, and Thai massage, and $90 an hour for sculpting massage. Some massage therapists may charge addition rates for “add-on” services such as aromatherapy, cupping, or hot packs. These add-on services typically range from $5-$10 per add-on.


Mobile massage pricing

Mobile massage therapy is the practice of bringing massage chairs or tables to the client’s home or office. You can expect to pay an additional $10-$20 per hour on top of a therapist’s baseline rate for this service. Some massage therapists may charge a mileage fee and specify how many miles they are willing to travel. If you hire The Relaxation Corporation to come to your office or event and do chair massage, our base rate is $85 an hour. This hourly rate is subject to decrease when additional hours of massage are added. Always inquire to mobile therapists if they adopt a similar tiered pricing structure…you may be able to save on the hourly cost.


To tip or not to tip?

What about tips? Massage therapy is a service where tipping is common, but it is definitely at the client’s discretion. In the last decade, the massage industry has worked very hard to educate the public and the medical community that massage is a health related service (as opposed to a “luxury” to only be enjoyed sporadically). As such, a client should never feel pressured to tip, especially when they are using massage as a regular part of their healthcare. Most massage therapists now use a service such as Square to check out their clients, which usually gives the client the option to either leave a tip or not. If a massage therapist asks you directly for a tip, it may be time to find a new one.


Massage, insurance, and HSA/FSA (Health Savings Accounts/Flexible Spending Accounts)

Massage therapists by and large would love to be able to accept insurance, but the sad truth is that most do not. This is primarily due to insurance notoriously not accepting massage as a form of health care, lack of research, and the complicated process of trying to navigate the claims process. It is always worth asking however! If a massage therapist works in any sort of medical establishment (hospital, physical therapy clinic, chiropractic office, etc.), chances are much higher that they have the support and resources they need to bill insurance.

Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts are a different story. All of my clients with an HSA/FSA are able to use those funds for massage therapy. To take advantage of your HSA/FSA, you must get a prescription from your doctor stating a need for massage therapy. If you have chronic headaches, low back pain, cancer, any neurological disorder, fibromyalgia, arthritis, anxiety, etc., this should not be a problem. You will submit that prescription to the manager of your HSA/FSA, and your massage therapist can provide receipts and even documentation from each session to ensure coverage.


Ways to save on massage

If you would like to get a massage but are on a budget, consider checking out local massage schools. Massage therapy schools typically offer student massages for $30-$40 an hour.

You can also inquire about memberships or packages. Many massage therapy establishments offer a membership where you are auto-debited every month at a discounted rate, and are able to redeem a massage in exchange. Some places offer a package or series of massages at a discounted hourly rate as well.


Black Friday, Small business Saturday, and the entire Christmas season are also good times to stock up; most massages therapists run great promos at these times for gift certificates.


What are you paying for massages in Lincoln and Omaha? Have you successfully had massage therapy covered by insurance? Do you use your HSA/FSA? Let me know in the comments!


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