How to get paid on Upwork

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 the process of getting paid on Upwork and help you find a cost-effective way of withdrawing your earnings using Wise Multi-currency account.

Let’s get started!

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 their own mode of payment which is either hourly or per project.¹

Hourly contracts

Are based on the weekly billing cycle. When working hourly contracts, freelancers need to keep a time log in 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

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.

Ways to get paid

  • If you’re paid in USD and you have a bank account that is held in the US, you can use the following methods:

1. Direct to U.S. Bank (ACH) – It's free to withdraw your earnings but it’ll take longer to receive them (2 - 5 working days).
2. Direct to Local Bank – $0.99 per transfer. Transfers take 0 - 4 working days to be received.
3. U.S. Dollar Wire Transfer – $30 per transfer. Takes 24 hours to arrive.
4. Instant Pay for U.S. 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. 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 service 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). Transfers typically clear instantly but in rare cases can take up to 24 hours.
2. Payoneer - small transaction fee from Upwork. Payoneer might charge a 0 - 1% fee from their side. Transfers take place in 2 working days.²
3. M-Pesa (Kenya only) - Upwork transaction fee. In most cases, your payment transfers immediately. However, there are occasions when it may take up to 24 hours.

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

How to set up a payment method on Upwork

  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.

Setting up payment schedules

Once you’ve set up the payment methods, the earnings will be disbursed automatically according to your preferred payment 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.

Withdrawing your 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

How to avoid Upwork’s exchange rate mark-up

If your client paid in a different currency, Upwork’s payment partner uses an exchange rate that is below the market. This means that you lose over 3% of the converted amount. To avoid losing money on poor exchange rate, you can set PayPal as your preferred payment method and once the funds are available in your PayPal account, withdraw the same currency to 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 Wise price page to see how much you can save on fees.

He’re how to set up a free international account:

  1. Create an account with Wise
  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 AUD, EUR, GBP, NZD, USD, and PLN.
  • Add and hold some money in 40+ currencies
  • Convert money between your currencies in seconds whenever you need at the real exchange rate with a low conversion fee.
  • 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 an accounting software called Xero to help ease tax reconciliation.


  1. Upwork help center
  2. Payoneer price page

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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