To create a place where both you and your freelancers feel financially safe as you collaborate, we use an escrow system. This protects your funds while also giving your freelancer the peace of mind to focus on your project.

As part of this process, we require you to deposit funds when you send an offer on a fixed-price job. You may deposit funds for either the whole contract or a lesser amount to cover the first milestone ($5 minimum per milestone). On a new contract, you’ll also pay the one-time contract initiation fee.

We’ll hold this deposit in escrow until you receive the work, are satisfied, and release funds to the freelancer or agency.

When a freelancer or agency submits work, you’ll have 14 days to review it and either approve payment or ask for edits. If you do not respond within 14 days, we consider that as approval and automatically release payment to the freelancer or agency from the deposit in escrow.

Pro Tip:

When you fund the contract or milestone, you also need to describe the work that you expect the freelancer to complete on this contract or milestone. Be as specific as you can. This is your chance to formalize the agreement between you and your freelancer or agency about what is to be delivered, when, and for how much money. If there’s a dispute later on, the description will be the basis for mediation.

How the offer deposit and work description look

How to deposit Escrow and hire

Your deposit will trigger three transactions on your Reports › Transaction History: one credit and two debits. You can see what these will look like in the example below. Learn more here.


Transaction Type +/- Where is the money going?
Payment Credit Into your account from your billing method
Fixed Price Debit To escrow to fund the milestone (or full contract)
Client Transaction Fee Debit To escrow to fund the one-time contract initiation fee (new contracts only)
Marketplace Fee Debit To Upwork for site access and administrative and processing services related to this contract or deposit

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to my deposit if the work doesn’t meet the agreed standards?

We encourage you to discuss your concerns with your freelancer to try to resolve the issue. You may request changes to the work during the 14 day review period after the freelancer submits it. You may also request an escrow refund. If the freelancer disputes the refund, we will provide non-binding mediation to both parties. If that fails, the final step is arbitration.

Can I make deposits for multiple milestones at once in one contract?

No, you can only fund one milestone at a time. You may set up the details of other milestones, however.

The freelancer messaged me that the work will cost less than expected. Can I change the amount of the milestone?

No, once you have funded a milestone, the amount stays the same until it is released. However, you can release a partial payment and apply the rest of the money to the next milestone or request a refund for the remainder.

Do bonuses come out of my deposits?

No. If you decide to pay the freelancer or agency a bonus, we’ll charge your regular billing method.

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