Payments and Productivity on Upwork

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Upwork is on a mission to connect clients and freelance professionals from around the world to get more work done and achieve amazing results together. Our platform offers a ton of features to make remote work easier and faster—the greatest of which is arguably our secure system for payments.

Upwork’s billing and payment services boost your productivity while protecting you every step of the way. We accept payments from over 180 countries and deliver earnings to freelancers in over 170 countries, all through industry-leading payment security infrastructure.

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Here’s a quick rundown of all of the benefits you can get by using Upwork’s payment system.

Fees on Upwork

It’s free to post a job on Upwork. Freelancers pay a sliding service fee (between 5%-20%) based on their billings with each client. Keep in mind that your freelancer considers this fee when setting their rates. As the client, you’ll be responsible for payment processing fees. You can read more about fees on Upwork here.

Upwork provides two significant benefits: payment protection and business tools.

First, you are protected on Upwork, meaning you only pay for work that is done as part of your contract. Second, Upwork offers productivity boosting business tools like:

  • Quick talent sourcing
  • Invoicing and time tracking
  • Communication and file sharing
  • Easy payments
  • Reporting

Let’s take a closer look at these two key benefits.


Upwork’s payment process provides a window for clients to confirm that freelancers are paid for the work outlined in the contract. Clients can choose to pay on a weekly basis for hourly projects, or by project milestones for fixed-price jobs.

A strong job post attracts top freelancers. It also becomes part of the contract with your freelancer, so the more details, the better. Communications and files sent through Upwork Messages can be quickly referenced if a dispute arises. Upwork offers dispute resolution services to help you and your freelancer should any issues arise.

For hourly projects, timesheets are automatically generated as a record of what work was done on your project. Records of the work are easy to access anytime you need them.

Example of a timesheet

Hourly Payment Protection

Tracking: Hours for your project are reflected in automatically-generated timesheets. Clients can also allow freelancers to enter hours manually.

Payment: Hourly projects are automatically paid on a weekly basis. There is a one-week window for clients to review timesheets. If there’s a discrepancy, you can file a dispute during this window. Otherwise, the client’s payments become available to the freelancer 10 days after the end of each weekly billing period.

Payment timeline

Fixed-Price Protection

Deliverables: When a project is started, clients set up milestones. These should be discussed with and approved by the freelancer. Deliverables for each milestone are submitted via Upwork Messages or other collaboration tools like Google Drive or Dropbox. If the deliverables meet the requirements outlined in the contract, the client releases the milestone, and the funds are available to the freelancer. The client then creates a new milestone or closes the job.

Payment: Clients and freelancers agree on a dollar amount for each milestone when it is created. The client is immediately charged this amount, and it is placed into escrow. Once a freelancer meets requirements for the specific milestone, the client releases funds from escrow, and they become available to the freelancer.

Example of milestones


The minute you post a job, Upwork’s algorithm automatically highlights freelancers with the skills you’re looking for to make talent sourcing a breeze. Once you click “Hire,” your project contract is generated. Upwork then streamlines payments to make invoicing and payment processing effortless.  

Records are automatically generated so clients can track spend by project or department and freelancers can easily file taxes (including VAT compliance for specific countries). On Upwork, all reports are organized and stored in one place.

Simple & secure payments

Upwork offers industry-leading security for all of your personal and payment information. You can pay by:

  • Credit card
  • PayPal

Freelancers can collect their earnings through:

  • ACH Direct Deposit
  • Local Funds Transfer
  • U.S. Dollar Wire Transfer
  • PayPal
  • Payoneer
  • Skrill

Pay with ease, boost your productivity

By using Upwork, you get peace of mind that you’re easily and safely paying only for work done. You also get access to great tools to help boost productivity and make sourcing talent, invoicing, and reporting a snap.

Over 5 million clients have chosen Upwork for the security, convenience, and choice offered through our payment options. Working with—and paying—high-quality global freelancers has never been easier.

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Kevin Bechtel

by - Product Marketing & Customer Education

Kevin Bechtel lives in San Francisco, CA and is the Director of Product Marketing at Upwork. He has worked at a variety of education and… more