Fixed-price contracts require clients to put funds into escrow in advance so that once a freelancer successfully completes the project or a portion of it (we call these milestones), the money will be available to be paid to the freelancer.

At times, the scope of a project may change and you, as a client, might have put more money into the escrow account than needed. For example, say you paid $500 into escrow to cover the cost of a freelancer writing five articles ($100 each) but you and the freelancer agree to change the contract terms to complete only four articles. In this case, you end the contract once the agreed articles are delivered and ask the freelancer to refund the $100 that is in escrow for the unneeded fifth article.

 

To request an escrow refund

  1. Go to My Jobs and select the contract name in the list.
  2. Select the "Cancel Contract" or "End Contract" button at the top right.
  3. End the contract. If your final payment is less than your escrow balance, an escrow refund request will be sent to your freelancer

Your freelancer will then have seven days to respond to the request. If they approve the refund or fail to respond within the seven days, the money in escrow will be returned to you.


If your freelancer disputes the escrow refund

Your freelancer can also dispute the refund if they feel a refund is not warranted. If this happens, you will be notified by email and given the chance to do one of two things:

  • Accept the dispute and release the funds to the freelancer
  • Reject the dispute and work with an Upwork dispute specialist to resolve the matter, per Upwork Fixed-Price Protection

Typically, we see clients and freelancers come to an agreement. But if the parties are unable to agree in a reasonable period of time, the dispute specialist will make a non-binding recommendation. If that recommendation is rejected, the final option is to proceed to arbitration. See the Upwork Fixed Price Escrow Instructions for more details.


Important facts about escrow refunds

  • You will receive a refund of any payment processing fee as long as the money stayed in escrow and was never released to the freelancer.
  • Escrow refunds will be returned to the billing method you used for the deposit. The credit can take up to five business days to appear. Funds held more than 60 days may instead be returned to your balance for reuse if we cannot credit your billing method (some billing method vendors don’t allow credits to be applied after a certain number of days).

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