Freelancers are charged a sliding fee based on your lifetime billings with each client (across all contracts you’ve ever had with that client company). Service fees are the same whether the contracts are hourly or fixed-price.
- 20% for the first $500 you bill a client across all contracts with them
- 10% for total billings with a client between $500.01 and $10,000
- 5% for total billings with a client that exceed $10,000
Example: On a $600 project with a new client, a freelancer’s service fee would be 20% on the first $500 and 10% on the remaining $100 for earnings after fees of $490.
Check your progress with a personal report of client-specific lifetime billings. Upwork also has an in-product rate calculator available to help you estimate your net earnings when submitting proposals.
As a freelancer, you pay the Upwork Service Fee on all billings, including hours, milestones, 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—same as what the client would see. Fees are broken out in your Transactions and Earnings Reports. The total billed is your income and the fees paid may be deductible business expenses.
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.
- Reports > Transaction History
- Click the Ref ID
- Choose View Invoice
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.
Agencies working with non-Enterprise clients are subject to the same pricing structure. We calculate agency service fees based on total agency billings with a client across all contracts. This means that all agency contracts 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 independent or prior to joining the agency) will not count towards the agency's lifetime billings with that client.
All non-Enterprise contracts opened before the pricing takes effect are grandfathered in at their current service fee until the freelancer has billed over $10,000 with the client. Then the fee will automatically lower to 5%. Any contracts opened after the pricing went into effect in your category are subject to the new sliding fees, including new contracts with existing clients.
We continue to honor the Elance rate for freelancers who will begin or have begun an Upwork contract with a client they’ve worked with before on Elance. When applicable, this fee will also decrease to 5%.
Freelancers participating in the Upwork Payroll service are paid through a third-party staffing firm and are therefore excluded from paying Upwork Service Fees.
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.
Rounding Estimated Earnings
Anytime you see the rate calculator, it will estimate what you’ll earn (net take-home pay after fees) to help you bid accordingly. We say “estimated” because rounding may occur when the hours are invoiced (see examples below). We charge the client the exact billing rate you enter. Sometimes the resulting fee is a number with more than 2 decimal points that must be rounded to the nearest cent with each transaction.
Example Fee Calculations
Rounding is far more common at the 10% fee tier than at 20%, and may not kick in until you reach 10%, so we’ll assume you’ve already reached that earnings threshold with the client for these examples.
Rounding results in earnings slightly less than estimated.
You want to earn $20 per hour, 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.
You want to earn $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).