Projects don’t always go exactly as planned and budgeted. When you end a fixed-price contract with remaining funds in escrow, you can request an escrow refund from your freelancer.

You must end the contract to request the escrow refund. If you don’t want to end the contract, you can use the remaining escrow funds for the next milestone.

Good to know: If you’re paying a milestone on an active contract and don’t want to release the full amount, you can release a partial milestone payment. You can then use the leftover funds for the next milestone or end the contract and request a refund.

To request an escrow refund


This process only applies to fixed-price contracts with amounts still in escrow. For refunds on fixed-price contracts where the funds have been released, go here. For refunds on hourly contracts, go here.

To request an escrow refund, you must end the contract and choose whether to make a payment to your freelancer or to pay nothing. If your final payment is less than your escrow balance, an escrow refund request will be sent to your freelancer or agency, who will then have seven days to respond.

Follow the steps below to end the contract and request your escrow refund:

  1. Go to All contracts to locate the contract
  2. Choose the (...) options menu and select End contract
  3. Choose Pay nothing and request a refund or Pay another amount and enter the amount you want to release

After you submit an escrow refund request

The freelancer or agency will have seven days to respond and can either approve or submit a dispute if they disagree with the amount paid. Select a dropdown option to learn more.

If your freelancer approves the escrow refund request or doesn't respond

If your freelancer approves the refund or does not respond within 7 days, we will refund the money in escrow. Refund credits can take up to 5 business days to appear.

If your freelancer disputes the escrow refund request

Your freelancer or agency can submit a dispute if they feel they aren’t receiving the funds that were promised for the work. They will be able to enter how much additional payment they are seeking and the reason why. If this happens, we will send you a notification and an email. It is important that you either accept or decline their dispute within 5 days.

  • If you approve the response or don’t respond, we will release the funds requested to the freelancer or agency
  • If you decline the response, you will need to describe how the freelancer didn’t meet requirements and attach any supporting evidence. IMPORTANT: this is your opportunity to provide all the necessary information and documents to support your dispute claim. You won’t be able to edit details after submission.

Once you reject the response, we will step in to review the dispute details provided by both parties and provide a non-binding resolution (typically within 2 days).

Responding to Upwork’s non-binding resolution

Freelancers and clients are usually able to reach an agreement. When you and the freelancer receive the non-binding resolution, you each have two calendar days to accept or reject it

  • If you both accept, we will move funds accordingly
  • If you or the freelancer doesn’t respond within 2 days or one party rejects the non-binding resolution, you will receive a Notice of Non-Resolution. The final option (should you choose to pursue it) is to proceed to binding arbitration (meaning the decision of the arbitrator will be final) by our neutral third-party arbitration provider. Learn more about arbitration here
The money has already been released from escrow — can I still get a refund?

You can request a refund of released funds from the freelancer directly for up to 180 days after payment is released, but you will only be able to get mediation assistance for 30 days after payment is released by contacting Upwork Support. Upwork mediation specialists will serve as neutral escrow agents, meaning we cannot guarantee or enforce refunds or delivered work.

Remember to only release funds after you have received the work and feel satisfied with it. Once payment is made, the work is considered approved so your payment is not refundable unless the freelancer provides a refund directly.

Can I release a portion of the funds and get a refund for the rest?

When reviewing a milestone, you can choose to release a partial milestone payment. You can then end the contract and request a refund of the remaining amount. If you’d like to continue working together, keep the contract open and use the leftover funds toward the next milestone.

Why was money released from escrow without my approval?

When your talent or agency submits a milestone for your approval, you have 14 days to review and approve. This is set in the fixed-price escrow instructions. During this period, you can release the full payment, release a partial payment, or request changes to the work. If you do not take any action within those 14 days, that is considered approval and funds will be automatically released to your freelancer or agency.

You still have the option to reach out to Support for mediation assistance as long as the funds were released within 30 days. We can’t guarantee or enforce any refund or work once funds are released, but we will contact your freelancer to discuss a resolution. After 30 days, you can request a refund for up to 180 days, but it is up to the freelancer or agency. You won’t be able to receive Upwork mediation assistance after 30 days.

When will my refund be given back to me?

Refunds can take 5 business days to appear.

Can the escrow refund be added to my balance?

The escrow refund will be returned to its original source. If it was charged to your billing method, it will be returned there.

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