Escrow protects your deposit until the work is approved
Escrow is a neutral holding place where we put money aside until the project, or piece of the project, is done. The funds stay there until your freelancer or agency fulfills their obligations and you say you are satisfied those obligations are met and release them.
On Upwork, you deposit the funds for fixed-price jobs into escrow (one contract, or milestone, at a time) and release them to your freelancer or agency once you’ve received and reviewed the agreed upon work. The freelancer or agency can see you are willing and able to pay as promised, while you know you don’t have to give them the money until you are satisfied with the work.
Your initial deposit at hiring can be for the full contract amount or the first milestone. There is a $5 minimum payment for milestones. You can then add and fund additional milestones as agreed with the freelancer or agency throughout the contract. If you ever release less than the agreed milestone amount, including if the agreed amount is the $5 minimum, the extra funds in escrow will roll forward to the next milestone. The funds stay in escrow until the agreed upon work is completed.
If you fail to respond to a submission within 14 days, the escrowed funds are automatically released to your freelancer or agency as your failure to respond is deemed approval. Therefore, it is important to mark Request Changes on the contract in Upwork if you would like your freelancer or agency to edit their submitted work.
Learn more about
- Milestones for fixed-price jobs
- Fixed-price job offer deposits
- Review a milestone
- Approve a milestone
- Pay a bonus on a fixed-price job
- Reject or ask for changes on a milestone
- Add and activate more milestones
- End a fixed-price contract
- Fixed-price transaction history
- Inactive fixed-price contract gone dormant
Helpful articles about what escrow means for you
- Fixed Price vs. Hourly: Which Pricing Structure is Right for Your Freelance Project?
- If you choose to release less than the agreed amount for a milestone, your freelancer or agency may file a dispute for the remaining amount.
- When you end a contract with funds left in escrow, you’ll need to request an escrow refund. If the freelancer or agency rejects your request, it also becomes an escrow dispute.
- If both parties can’t agree on who should receive the remaining escrowed money, the dispute will go to mediation (see the escrow instructions for details).