How to get paid on Upwork

Panna Kemenes
25.01.22
5 minute read

The most exciting part of every job is getting paid. But without doing enough research, you might end up paying a fortune on fees just by withdrawing your hard-earned money from Upwork.

This article will guide you through how to get paid on Upwork and help you find a cost-effective way of withdrawing your earnings using the Wise Business account.

Get paid however you need with Wise

📝 This article will cover:

How to get paid on Upwork

Set up a payment method on Upwork

The first step to getting paid on Upwork is to set up a method to receive payment. To withdraw your earnings, you must set up a method and enter your tax information.

  1. Go to 'Settings' then 'Get Paid';
  2. Click 'Add Method';
  3. Click the 'Set-up' button for your chosen method and enter the information;
  4. Choose a payment schedule and click 'Next'.

The new payment method that you added will be active in three calendar days.

Set up an automatic Upwork payment schedule

Once you’ve set up the payment methods, Upwork automatically pays your earnings according to your preferred Upwork payout schedule.

You can update or change your Payment Schedule under Settings > Get paid.

There are 4 payment schedules available:

  • Quarterly (last Monday of each quarter)
  • Monthly (last Wednesday of each month)
  • Twice per month (1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month)
  • Weekly (every Wednesday)

You’ll be asked to set a withdrawal limit for when the funds get automatically disbursed. If the balance is less than the limit, the funds won’t be disbursed. You can adjust your automatic withdrawal limit in your 'Get paid' settings under 'Edit Schedule'.

Withdraw your Upwork earnings manually

Setting up an automated payment schedule might not be the best option for you, especially if you’re just starting on Upwork, so you don’t have to be restricted by the minimum withdrawal amount.

You can manually withdraw your available balance at any time using the 'Get Paid Now' option.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to the 'Settings' > 'Get Paid'
  2. Click the 'Get Paid Now' button
  3. Choose the amount to withdraw
  4. Click 'Get Paid Now'

Make sure you qualify for Upwork payment protection

Upwork payment protection ensures that you get paid for hourly and fixed-price projects. It also gives peace of mind to the client, as they can see the hours logged for their project.

But not all cases qualify for payment protection.

If you have an hourly contract, you must:

  • Work with a client who is using a verified billing method;
  • Use an Upwork account in good standing;
  • Log your hours with the Upwork Desktop App;
  • Have contract-related activity in your Work Diary;
  • Update your Work Diary with accurate memos or activities labels that describe the activity performed;
  • Maintain adequate and fair activity levels;
  • Stay within the contract's weekly limit.¹

In a fixed-price contract:

You agree on the project price in advance. Your client deposits the funds into escrow, and once you finish the project, you can request payment. To make the payment request, go to ‘My Jobs’ and click 'Request Milestone Approval'.

The client has 14 days to review and request changes or approve the milestone. After 14 days, Upwork will automatically release the amount held in escrow.

It is important to set a fair amount for the project to be held in escrow. Fixed-price protection doesn’t cover any amount above this that you may have been promised by the client.²

Upwork payment protection

How does Upwork pay? Payment methods

If you’re wondering, ‘how do I get paid on Upwork?’ - the answer is that it depends on the payment method you choose. Upwork offers some flexibility in how you withdraw your earnings.

If you’re paid in USD and have a US bank account

You can use the following methods:

1. Direct to U.S. Bank (ACH) – It's free to withdraw your earnings.

2. Direct to Local Bank – $0.99 per transfer.

3. U.S. Dollar Wire Transfer – $30 per transfer.

4. Upwork Instant Pay for US Freelancers - $2.00 per transfer. To use Instant Pay, you must be based in the U.S. and have a Visa or Mastercard debit card linked to your bank account.³ Check with your bank to see if your account is eligible for this payment method.

If your earnings are in a different currency

It would make send to use the multi-currency functionality of the following services to avoid steep exchange rate mark-up.

1. PayPal - There’s a small transaction fee from Upwork plus the minimum and maximum transaction fee PayPal charges (minimum of $1.00 and a maximum of $10,000).

2. Payoneer - Small transaction fee from Upwork. Payoneer may charge a 0 - 1% fee from their side.⁴

3. M-Pesa (Kenya only) - Upwork transaction fee.

⚠️ Note: It's important to remember that the account you’re withdrawing to has to be under your name.

How long does it take for Upwork to pay?

The time it takes for Upwork to pay will depend on the payment method. It can take from just a few minutes, to eight days. Here are some examples:⁵

MethodPayment time
Upwork Instant PayA few minutes (after your card has been linked)
ACH Direct to U.S. BankOne business day
Wire TransferUp to eight business days
PayPalUp to 24 hours
PayoneerUp to 24 hours
M-PesaUp to 24 hours

How do I get paid immediately on Upwork?

You can set up Upwork Instant Pay as a US freelancer to get paid in minutes.

  • Go to 'Settings' and then 'Get paid';
  • Select ‘Add method’;
  • Click on ‘Set up’ and choose the Instant Pay option;
  • Enter your debit card details and ‘Continue’;
  • You’re all set up!

Once set up, you can use Instant Pay to withdraw your earnings in the same way as other payment methods. Bear in mind that Upwork charges a $2 processing fee for each Instant Pay withdrawal.⁶

Upwork immediate payment

Types of payment contracts

There are two modes you could get paid by on Upwork. If you apply to a certain job post, the employer usually has the contract set to hourly or per project.

Hourly contracts

Are based on the weekly billing cycle. When working hourly contracts, freelancers need to keep a time log in the Upwork desktop app and Work Diary. This gets automatically invoiced to the client using the schedule.

The billing period for hourly contracts begins on Monday and ends on Sunday. Your funds are available 10 days later (the following Wednesday).

The first week is the billing period where the freelancer keeps the time log. Second week is the time allotted to the client to review the work until Friday and on Wednesday of the third week, the earnings become available.

Here’s how to find the Work Diary:

  1. Go to the 'My Jobs' tab on Upwork;
  2. Find the contract in the list and click the 'View Work Diary' button.

How to log your time:

  1. Open the Upwork Desktop App;
  2. Choose a contract;
  3. Toggle the tracker’s 'On/Off' switch to 'On';
  4. Enter a memo and/or activity.

Fixed-price contracts

Fixed-price contracts are based on milestones. Once the client approves a milestone, the funds are available for withdrawal after a five-day security period has passed.

In order to withdraw your earnings, you’ll need to add a payment method and set your tax status. If you work under an agency, you’ll need to arrange payments from them directly.

Avoid Upwork’s exchange rate mark-up with Wise

Upwork provides a global network that freelancers can, and do, tap into. It’s not uncommon to end up receiving payments in a different currency.

You can set PayPal as your preferred payment method if your earnings are in a different currency. To avoid losing money on poor exchange rates, once the funds are available in your PayPal account, you can withdraw the same currency to your Wise Multi-currency account.

It's free to receive the payment, and there’s no exchange rate mark-up for conversions to USD. Only a small and upfront fee. Check out the Wise price page to see how much you can save on fees.

Once the funds are in your Wise Account, you can check your account, move money, and manage transactions. All in one place.

Register your Wise account for free

Here's how to set up an international account:

  1. Create an account with Wise Business

  2. Go to the ‘Balances’ tab on your Wise account on the computer, or the ‘Activity’ tab in the app. You'll need to add some money and verify your identity first to keep your account safe.

  3. Choose which currencies you’d like to hold money in by clicking ‘Open a balance’.

Once you're all set up, you're ready to:

  • Receive money to your own unique account details and get paid like a local in 10 major currencies;
  • Add and hold money in 50+ currencies;
  • Convert between currencies in seconds, at the real exchange rate;
  • Send money directly from any currency in your account to pay bills, send money to friends and family, and more;
  • You can also connect the account to accounting software, such as QuickBooks, to help ease tax reconciliation.

Meet Wise Business: A great PayPal alternative

Sources:

  1. Hourly Protection – Upwork Customer Service & Support
  2. Fixed-Price Protection – Upwork Customer Service & Support
  3. Instant Pay for US Freelancers – Upwork Customer Service & Support
  4. Payoneer price page
  5. Upwork payment times
  6. Instant Pay for US Freelancers – Upwork Customer Service & Support

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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