Upwork vs Freelancer: Which Is Best For You? (2023)

Mike Renaldi

Upwork and Freelancer are two of the biggest sites for freelance work. Both have differences and various ways of working that might be help or hinder you.

Let’s take a look at what they have to offer.

We’ll also check out how the Wise Business account can help when it comes to paying and getting paid.

Looking for an easy and low cost way to make or receive payments?

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preferred currency with Wise >>

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Table of Contents

Freelancer vs Upwork Comparison

So, you're looking to dive into the world of online freelance work. Both platforms can connect you with clients from all over the world and offer tons of opportunities for freelancers. However, there are some differences between the two that you should know before you sign up.

Let's talk about Freelancer. It’s considered the “world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace” based on users and projects. It's a budget-friendly option for freelancers since it has lower fees, and freelancers can bid on jobs for free. But, this can lead to more competition and potentially lower rates for freelancers. ¹ ²

On the other hand,Upwork has a higher fee structure but offers more tools and features, such as time tracking and project management tools. The platform also has a more rigorous vetting process for freelancers, which means clients can expect higher-quality work from freelancers.

The choice is yours, and it all depends on what you're looking for in a freelance marketplace. In the next sections, we'll explore these platforms in more detail to help you find the perfect match for your freelancing needs!

Trustpilot reviews ratings

Trustpilot can give us a look at what people think about each platform. Both platforms are verified on the site, but there are a few differences. While Upwork has 9030 reviews and a 4 out of 5 star rating (“Great”), Freelancer has 11,351 reviews and a 4.3 out of 5 star rating (“Excellent”). ³ ⁴

Looking at the company activity too, Freelancer is active in responding to negative reviews right away, while Upwork doesn’t respond to any of them.

When it comes to the reviews, people seem to complain most about Upwork’s fee structure, extremely rigid verification process, and poor support. On the flip side, employers speak positively about hiring great talent, and freelancers talk highly about the intuitive platform and the ability to make a career for themselves working from home.

For Freelancer, negative reviews focus on complications with arbitration, high competition, and issues with locked funds and accounts. Positive reviews talk about the helpful support team, abundance of projects, and great perks.


Upwork vs Freelancer: Quick overview of fees, commission, and other costs

Other than commission fees taken from project earnings and the hiring process, there may also be applicable taxes and withdrawal fees.

Both platforms also work a little differently than each other. Freelancer operates on a bidding system, which means that clients post jobs, provide a budget range, and freelancers bid on them. Upwork does have an optional bidding system if the client chooses to use it, but the main way freelancers get jobs is by submitting a proposal and using the on-site Connects currency.⁵ 

While Upwork doesn’t have additional services for clients, Freelancer gives clients the opportunity to tack on extras. Clients can make their posting featured at $9.99 or private at $21.99, for example. ²

Both platforms also have optional membership options.

Upwork has Freelancer Plus for $14.99 for more visibility, more monthly Connects, and other perks.

Freelancer has more of a variety:

Basic ($6.95/month)

Plus ($8.95/month)

Professional ($59.95/month)

Premier ($119.95/month)

Each level of membership level offers more bids, rewards, and other useful extras.⁷ ⁸

What percentage does Freelancer or Upwork take?

Upwork used to work on a sliding scale system for freelancers, where the platform would take a 5%, 10%, or 20% cut depending on the amount earned for the project.

From May 3rd, 2023, regardless of the amount earned, Upwork takes a 10% cut.

Clients pay a flat 5% on all transactions, whereas some eligible US clients can get a discounted fee of 3%.

There’s also a new one-time $4.95 fee for each new contract.⁹ ¹⁰

On Freelancer, clients can choose to pay a fixed price or an hourly rate for projects, where they’ll pay a fee of 3% or $3 (whichever is greatest) for fixed-price projects and 3% for hourly.

For freelancers, they’ll pay 10% or $5 of the winning bid for fixed-price and 10% for hourly. ¹¹

After Upwork’s new update, both platforms have a comparable commission.

Pros and cons

When it comes down to weighing your options, Freelancer.com and Upwork both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Upwork Pros:

  • Quality work: Upwork has a strict vetting process for freelancers, so clients can expect high-quality work from the freelancers on the platform.
  • Useful tools: Upwork offers advanced features like time tracking and project management tools, making it easier to collaborate with your freelancers.
  • High-quality clients: The platform features high-caliber clients such as Fortune 500 companies and up-and-coming startups.

Upwork Cons:

  • Expensive Connects system: Freelancers without the premium plan only get 10 Connects each month, which is low considering jobs can require 2 to 8 Connects to apply.¹¹
  • Extra costs to start new contracts: The one-time $4.95 fee for each new contract can add up if you’re constantly starting new contracts with freelancers

Freelancer Pros:

  • Easy to get started: Freelancer doesn't have a strict vetting process, so it's easier for new freelancers to join and start working right away.
  • Quick turnaround projects: Unlike Upwork, there is the option to expedite projects if you need them done quickly.
  • Contest feature: The contest feature on Freelancer lets clients post a project and receive multiple submissions from freelancers, ultimately selecting one as the winner and awarding them the project.¹⁴

Freelancer Cons:

  • Lower quality work: With a lower barrier to entry, there is potentially lower quality work available on Freelancer.com.
  • High competition: As bidding is free and there is such a saturated amount of freelancers, it can be difficult to find work.
  • Limited payment methods: Freelancer has limited payment options compared to other freelance platforms, which can be inconvenient for clients.¹²


Both Freelancer.com and Upwork have got you covered with a ton of amazing features to make your hiring or freelancing journey smoother than ever before. These platforms offer a variety of tools to help you find work as a freelancer or find the perfect talent as a client, some of which include:

Features of Upwork

  • Wide range of freelance talent: Upwork has over 12 million freelancers from various fields, such as writing, design, programming, marketing, and more.
  • Payment protection: Their own payment system ensures protection for both clients and freelancers, making sure freelancers receive payment for their work and clients only pay for work that meets their standards.
  • Robust communication tools: Built-in communication tools such as messaging and video conferencing help clients and freelancers to communicate easily and effectively.
  • Time tracking and invoicing: Upwork has time tracking tools that allow clients to monitor the progress of their projects, and the platform generates invoices automatically based on the hours worked.
  • Project management: The built-in project management system is perfect for tracking project milestones and deadlines.

Looking for a simple way to withdraw funds from Upwork? Start here!

Connect Wise and Upwork >>

Features of Freelancer

  • Large talent pool: Freelancer has over 50 million freelancers from various fields, such as writing, design, programming, marketing, and more.
  • Contest feature: The contest feature allows clients to set a prize for the best submission, giving them access to multiple entries from talented freelancers.
  • Time tracking and invoicing: Time tracking tools allow clients to monitor the progress of their project, and the platform generates invoices automatically based on the hours worked.
  • Project management: The project management system allows clients to track the progress of their projects, making sure work is completed on time.
  • Premium plans: The array of premium plans can be useful when wanting to upgrade, where you’ll get access to priority support and additional features.

How many jobs are available?

Freelancer.com boasts over 65 million employers and freelancers worldwide. The platform doesn’t mention the number of jobs available but features a dense list of categories, including programming, translation, legal, telecommunications, manufacturing, writing, and more.¹

There are 10,000 jobs posted daily on Upwork. Job categories are a little more typical on the site, including web development, mobile development, design, writing, marketing, and customer service.¹³ 

Upwork vs Freelancer for employers

Both Upwork and Freelancer offer clients the ability to find quality freelance talent quickly, easily, and securely. Both platforms have a large selection of freelancers from various fields, robust communication tools, time tracking, and invoicing capabilities, as well as project management systems.

Freelancer has a contest feature that allows clients to set a prize for the best submission, giving them access to multiple entries from talented freelancers. Upwork, on the other hand, offers more protection with their own payment system and also provides premium plans to help employers find better talent with priority support and additional features.

In terms of pricing, both Upwork and Freelancer have different fee structures depending on what type of project you’re looking for, but generally speaking, Upwork charges a slightly larger fee than Freelancer for clients at 5% vs 3%.

How to sign up on Freelancer.com and Upwork

No matter which platform you end up choosing, you’ll need to know how to sign up.

To sign up for Freelancer.com:

  1. Visit the Freelancer.com website and click on the "Sign Up" button in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.
  2. Select whether you want to work or hire.
  3. Fill out the required information, including your email address and password.
  4. Click on the "Create Account" button to finish the sign-up process.
  5. You might be prompted to complete your profile by adding additional information, such as your skills and work experience.¹⁴

To sign up for Upwork:

  1. Visit the Upwork website and click on the "Sign Up" button in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.
  2. Select whether you're signing up as a freelancer or client.
  3. Fill out the required information, including your name, email address, and password.
  4. Click on the "Create My Account" button to finish the sign-up process.
  5. You'll be prompted to complete your profile by adding additional information, such as your skills and work experience.
  6. Upwork may also require you to verify your identity by submitting a photo ID and a video selfie.¹⁵

Both Freelancer.com and Upwork have similar sign-up processes, and both platforms require you to complete your profile before you can start bidding on jobs or posting your own job listings. Make sure to fill out your profile completely and accurately to increase your chances of being hired for a job!

While neither platform allows you to take clients or freelancers off the site (Upwork does with a fee), having a freelance contract can be beneficial to protect you and clarify the terms of the job.¹⁶

Upwork vs Freelancer Fees and Price Comparison

Let’s break it down, shall we? Here’s a comparison of the sign-up costs, payment fees, additional fees, and subscription fees for Upwork vs Freelancer.

Sign-up costsFreeFree
Payment fees10% commission to freelancers for each contract, employers pay 5% on all transactions and a one-time $4.95 fee for each new contract.10% flat fee or $5 on all payments to freelancers and a $3 or 3% fee for fixed-price projects. For hourly projects, there is a 3% fee.
Additional feesUpwork charges a fee for withdrawing earnings, ranging from $0.99 to $30, depending on the withdrawal method. Clients can make their job a featured job for $29.99Freelancer charges additional fees for optional features like highlighting your job listing, increasing its visibility, or extending its duration.
Subscription FeesUpwork offers two subscription plans: a Basic plan that is free and a Plus plan that costs $14.99 per month. The Plus plan offers additional features like lower fees and improved visibility for job listings.Freelancer offers multiple subscription plans, including a free plan and paid plans ranging from $9.95 to $49.95 per month.

Payments on Upwork and Freelancer

Payments on Upwork and Freelancer.com are handled differently, so let's take a closer look at how each platform handles payments.

Getting paid on Upwork is done through the platform's payment system, which offers several payment methods, including credit card, Wise, PayPal, and direct bank transfer. Upwork also offers Escrow for fixed-price jobs, so clients can fund a project upfront and release payment to the freelancer after they complete the project’s milestones.¹⁷ ¹⁸

For hourly projects on Upwork, freelancers use the Upwork desktop app to track their time and activity while working on the project. Clients are then billed automatically based on the tracked time, and they can review and approve the time before payment is made.

Like Upwork, Freelancer has the same setup, where they have their own Milestone Payment System and a Transfer Funds option, where the client directly transfers money on the platform to the freelancer. Freelancer has fewer withdrawal options, including Wise, PayPal, bank transfer, wire, and Skrill.¹⁹ ²⁰ ²¹

The best part? Upwork and Freelancer.com offer dispute resolution services for milestone payments in case there is an issue with payment or project completion.

Save while making and receiving payments with Wise Business

Saving money is always a great idea, especially when it comes to your business finances. As there can be withdrawal fees and conversion fees on Upwork and Freelancer, Wise Business can help you make or receive international payments without breaking the bank.

Freelancer and Upwork both operate in USD, which can complicate the withdrawal process. By opening a Wise Business account in USD, you can withdraw your money and use Wise’s amazing, low conversion fees to get more out of your hard-earned cash.


Other Freelancing Alternatives and Competitors

Upwork and Freelancer are great all-around platforms, but there are also some other alternatives and competitors out there in the freelance world:


Fiverr is a popular freelance platform that offers a wide range of services, from graphic design and programming to writing and marketing. Unlike Upwork and Freelancer, Fiverr is focused on providing small-scale projects and tasks, making it an ideal choice for businesses and individuals who need quick and affordable work completed.

Freelancers on Fiverr create "gigs," which are specific tasks that buyers can purchase for a set price, starting at just $5. In comparison, Upwork and Freelancer are more suitable for larger-scale projects and ongoing work.


Guru is another popular freelance platform that connects freelancers with clients in a variety of industries One key difference between Guru and Upwork/Freelancer is that Guru focuses more on quality over quantity. While Upwork and Freelancer have millions of registered freelancers, Guru boasts a smaller pool of high-quality talent.

Guru allows freelancers to keep more of their earnings (5% - 9% depending on your membership), but the catch is that their paid memberships offer a lot more for freelancers, such as access to certain features and jobs.²² If you value a more selective and personalized approach to finding work, this one might be for you.

How Wise Can Help With Payments

If you’re tired of losing money on currency conversions and transaction fees when you get paid for your hard work, Wise Business can help you save big on those pesky fees.

Plus, with Wise's low and transparent fees, you'll always know exactly what you're paying for. But the best part? Wise Business also gives you access to the mid-market rate, which means you'll save even more money on currency conversions. So whether you're using Upwork, Freelancer, or any other freelance platform, Wise has got your back when it comes to payments!

Looking for an easy and low cost way to make or receive payments?

Withdraw and spend in your
preferred currency with Wise >>

Free account opening for US-based accounts

Learn more:

Upwork Fees and Payment Review: Complete Guide (2023)


  1. https://www.freelancer.com/about?w=f&ngsw-bypass=
  2. https://www.freelancer.com/feesandcharges
  3. https://www.trustpilot.com/review/upwork.com
  4. https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.freelancer.com
  5. https://www.freelancer.com/support/Project/how-to-bid-1633
  6. https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062888-Freelancer-Plus
  7. https://www.freelancer.com/membership/?ngsw-bypass=&w=f
  8. https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062538-Freelancer-Service-Fees
  9. https://www.freelancer.com/support/payments/project-fees/
  10. https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/4660220468499-Client-Marketplace-Plan#:~:text=What%20are%20the%20Client%20Marketplace,eligible%20clients%20in%20the%20U.S
  11. https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062898-Understanding-and-Using-Connects
  12. https://www.freelancer.com/support/freelancer/payments/withdrawal-methods
  13. https://www.freelancer.com/support/general/contests-vs-projects
  14. https://www.upwork.com/resources/in-demand-jobs-and-skills#:~:text=Plus%2C%20more%20than%2010%2C000%20freelance,matches%20your%20skills%20and%20goals
  15. https://www.freelancer.com/support/general/how-to-get-started-at-freelancer-com
  16. https://www.upwork.com/resources/how-to-get-started-on-upwork-as-a-freelancer
  17. https://www.freelancer.com/support/freelancer/general/communicating-or-paying-outside-freelancer-com
  18. https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211060918-Manage-How-You-Get-Paid
  19. https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211068208-Escrow-for-Fixed-Price-Jobs
  20. https://www.freelancer.com/support/project/how-do-i-get-paid/
  21. https://www.freelancer.com/support/payments/how-to-withdraw-funds
  22. https://www.guru.com/pricing-freelancer/

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 Wise Payments 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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