As a freelancer, you’ll pay a sliding fee based on your total lifetime billings with a client. Because we want to give you the flexibility to change contract types as you work together, we count all your contracts with a client –– whether hourly, fixed-price, or a Project Catalog project. (There are a few exceptions, see here).

Here’s how it works:

  • $0-$500 in earnings from a client: 20% service fee applied to earnings
  • $500.01-$10,000 in earnings from a client: 10% service fee
  • $10,000.01 or more in earnings from a client: 5% service fee

Example: On a $600 project with a new client, your freelancer service fee would be 20% on the first $500 and 10% on the remaining $100. Your earnings after fees would be $490.

You can check your progress toward reduced fees under ReportsLifetime Billings by Client.

Note:

If you worked with someone under two different companies, those are considered different relationships and your lifetime billings with each company will be counted separately. However, working with someone under two different teams within the same company is considered a single relationship and therefore combined in your lifetime billings.

Agency Service Fees

Agencies working with non-Enterprise clients are subject to the same service fee structure as above. We calculate agency service fees based on total agency billings with a client across all contracts. This means that all agency contracts that any of the agency’s freelancers have had with a single client count towards an agency’s lifetime billings with that client.

An agency freelancer's non-agency contracts with a client, whether as a non-exclusive freelancer or prior to joining the agency, will not count towards the agency's lifetime billings with that client.

Rounding Estimated Earnings

The rate calculator estimates your net take-home pay after fees to assist you in bidding accordingly. We charge the client the exact billing rate you enter, but sometimes the resulting fee is a number with more than two decimal points that must be rounded to the nearest cent with each transaction.

Rounding results in earnings slightly less than estimated

Example: You want to take home $20 per hour after fees, so you charge the client $22.22 per hour. 10% of that rounds to $2.22 per hour. Let’s say you bill 12 hours.

  • Your client is charged $266.64 (12 hours x $22.22)
  • The 10% fee is $26.664 or $26.66 when rounded down
  • Your net earnings are $239.98 ($0.02 less than estimated, 12 x $20 = $240)

Rounding results in earnings slightly more than estimated

Example: You want to take home $25 per hour, so you charge the client $27.78 per hour. 10% of that rounds to $2.78 per hour. Let’s say you bill 12 hours.

  • Your client is charged $333.36 (12 hours x $27.78).
  • The 10% fee is $33.336 or $33.34 when rounded up.
  • Your net earnings are $300.02 ($0.02 more than estimated, 12 x $25 = $300).

Exceptions

Featured Jobs

Freelancers hired for Featured Jobs pay a reduced freelancer service fee if they are Top Rated or a Rising Talent.

Upwork Payroll

Freelancers participating in the Upwork Payroll service are paid through a third-party staffing firm and are therefore excluded from paying Upwork freelancer service fees.

Enterprise Clients

These sliding fees don’t apply to contracts with Enterprise clients. This is because Upwork negotiates individual contracts with those companies on a case-by-case basis. In general, Enterprise contracts have a flat 10% service fee. Enterprise clients are designated by a badge on their client profiles.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do I pay a freelancer service fee?

As a freelancer, you pay the freelancer fee on all billings, including hours, milestones, projects, and bonuses. It is included in the amounts clients see on your proposals, contracts, and profile. Most of your reports show only total charges, inclusive of fees—the same as what the client would see.

Fees are broken out in your Transactions and Earnings Reports. The total billed to your clients is your income and the fees paid may be deductible business expenses.

What happens if I cross a fee threshold in a single payment?

All contracts that cross a fee threshold will be charged at a blended rate. For example, if you begin an hourly or fixed-price contract with a new client for $600, you’ll be billed 20% on the first $500 and 10% on the remaining $100. The same is true of a $15,000 contract – you’ll be billed 20% on the first $500, 10% on the next $9,500, and 5% on the last $5,000.

We will automatically apply the lower service fee if our system detects that your total billings with a client have exceeded a fee threshold. You can verify this by checking the service fee invoice breakdown in your Transaction History.

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