If you are ending a fixed-price contract and there are remaining funds in escrow that are no longer required for the project, you can request an escrow refund. If you want to continue with the contract, but not release all of the escrowed funds, you can instead release a partial milestone payment (including if you set the milestone at the $5 minimum). The leftover funds can then be used towards the next milestone. For instructions on how to request a refund for payments already released from escrow, click here.
Note: If a contract has not yet started and an offer is withdrawn, rejected, or expired, any funds deposited into escrow will be refunded. Refunds can take up to five business days to be credited.
To request an escrow refund
- Go to My Jobs to locate the contract
- Click the (...) options menu and select End contract
- Choose Pay nothing and request a refund or Pay another amount when ending the contract
If your final payment is less than your escrow balance, an escrow refund request will be sent to your freelancer or agency. They will have seven days to respond to the refund request.
If your freelancer or agency accepts the refund request
If the freelancer or agency approves the refund or does not respond within seven days, the money in escrow will be refunded. Refund credits can take up to five business days to appear.
If your freelancer or agency disputes the escrow refund
Your freelancer or agency can dispute the refund request if they feel a refund is not warranted. If this happens, we will notify you by email and you can either accept or reject the dispute:
- If you accept the dispute, the funds will be released to the freelancer or agency
- If you reject the dispute, an Upwork dispute specialist will provide mediation assistance to both parties to try and resolve the matter
Once a dispute is submitted you may review or update the request by logging into your Upwork account and going to the Dispute Center. The mediation period will not exceed 30 days, and if you and your freelancer or agency are unable to reach an agreement, the dispute specialist will make a non-binding recommendation. If that recommendation is rejected, the final option is to proceed to arbitration, where a decision will be made by the American Arbitration Association, a neutral third-party organization. The total cost for arbitration is $875, with the client paying $291, the freelancer or agency $291 and Upwork $293. See the Upwork Fixed Price Escrow Instructions for more details.
If the payment was released from escrow within the last 180 days you can request a refund from the freelancer or agency through Upwork. Click here to learn more about this process.
When reviewing a milestone you can choose to release a partial milestone payment (including if you set the milestone at the $5 minimum). You can then end the contract and request a refund of the remaining amount, or keep the contract open and use the leftover funds towards the next milestone.
As per the Fixed-Price Escrow Instructions, when your freelancer or agency submits a milestone for your approval, you have 14 days to review. During this period, you can release the full payment, release a partial payment, or request changes to the work. If you do not take action, that is considered approval and funds will be automatically released to your freelancer or agency. You still have the option to request a refund from your freelancer or agency through Upwork once the funds have been released.