You’ve waited for weeks, hoping to one day wake up and see the good news but nothing. It’s still the same story of Upwork pending payment. So you begin to wonder what’s happening.

You’ve struggled to get the first job, you’ve invested a lot of hours in putting up a good job,

Now comes the big moment, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the moment to see the money you’ve worked hard for in your local bank account but things are now going the other way round.

Why is Upwork pending my payments? You asked.

You don’t understand what’s going on.

Why is this happening to me after all the effort Ive invested

Fear sets in.

Before you know it, you begin to worry unnecessarily.

This worry would be intense when you have an urgent need for money.

If this is your case, worry not because this piece, why Upwork payments are pending, and how long it takes to approve would come to your aid.

Worry no more. All you need do is read further

Why Upwork payments are pending

If you have pending payments on Upwork, then there are mainly two reasons why this is so.

  • The 5-17 standard payment schedule of work
  • Disputes

How to see your pending payments

To view your pending payments, navigate to the Reports tab. Under the Reports tab, hit the Overview button from the drop-down menu. This displays your current week, pending payments, and current balance.

The 5-17 standard Upwork payments

It takes 5 to 17 days for Upwork to process and drop the money in your local bank account. This is terrible news for you if you are not the patient type.

Your payments would be processed between 5 to 17 days unless there is a dispute, but more later.

The factors that determine the number of days before your payments lands in your local bank account are:

  • Contract type, whether fixed or hourly rate
  • Top-rated status
  • Promptness of milestone approval

Hourly Rate Contracts

This type of contract takes the longest days to process. You should expect your money between 5 to 17 days intervals. If you receive your money on the 5th day, consider yourself lucky.

This duration applies to both the Upwork time tracker and time billed manually in the Upwork diary.

As sad as this may sound, this type of contract is still the best in cases where disputes arise.

Hourly rate processing goes like this:

The first step is the billing period which starts on Monday at midnight UTC and stops on Sunday at 23:59 UTC. This applies to non-Upwork payroll hourly payments.

The second step is for review. In this phase, the client is charged according to hours and is also allowed to review the work. This review stops on Friday.

Clients are also allowed to lay complains and file disputes during this period.

The review step is swiftly followed by the security stage, in which Upwork is allowed to resolve any pending disputes and clear payments.

This period, the security stage, lasts for about 5 five days, after which the funds would be made available in your local bank account the following Wednesday.

If your details are set up correctly, you will receive a balance above $100 in your local bank account, which should be your moment of relief.

Fixed Rate Contracts

This processing period of this type of contract is quicker. Your money should be in your local bank account 5 days after the approval of a milestone.

Upwork gives a breakdown of this contract type duration such that if payments are processed on a Monday, your money would be available in your local bank account on Saturday; for Tuesday payment processing, your money would be available on Sunday; for Wednesday payment processing, money would be available on Monday; for Thursday payment processing, money would be available on Tuesday; for Friday payment processing, money would be available on Wednesday; for Saturday payment processing, money would be available on Thursday;  and for Sunday payment processing, money would be available on Friday.

No additional week is needed to review approved milestones, which shortens the payment period.

Top-Rated Status

In the spring of 2020, Upwork announced removing a 5 days security period for Top-Rated freelancers.

These guys have stood out from the crowd, so there is no point in delaying their payments.

If you want to fast-track your payments, work hard to get a Top-Rated status.

If you are a Top-Rated freelancer and want to request early payment, navigate to Reports and select Overview from the drop-down menu.

Hit the Available tab, then search and click the Get-paid Now button

This is one of the privilege you get from being a Top-Rated freelancer so enjoy it.

Promptness of Milestone Approval

If you are lucky to have a client who approves your milestone immediately after completion, this will go a long way to shorten the overall payment cycle period.

When clients approve milestones immediately, your payments begin to process, but if there is a dispute, it will result in a payment delay.


This is another reason why payments may be pending. Disputes can go a long way to delay your payments, especially for contracts not covered under Payment Protection.

Examples of contracts not covered under the payment protection are contracts in which the work time is entered manually in the Upwork diary. Therefore, you have no payment protection, so resolving disputes is problematic.

With payment protection, you can access a mediation specialist in case of a dispute. The function of this mediator is to find common ground that benefits both the client and freelancer.

For example, suppose the mediator cannot handle the dispute.

In that case, it goes to the arbitration stage in which a third-party arbitrator is assigned from the American Arbitration Association with fees payable.

To know more about resolving disputes, you may want to check out what to do when an Upwork client refused to pay you.

You may do a very good job but there’s still the question of:

What if a client doesnt approve your milestone?

This is something to take into consideration when going for jobs. You can put your best into a job but get frustrated with the client’s approval. This is one of the advantages of hourly-rate contracts over fixed-rates contracts.

Some freelancers have a terrible experience with Fixed-rates contracts to the extent that they only stick to hourly contracts. Don’t be surprised to hear a client say they don’t know how to approve milestones, cannot remember their login details, and so many other excuses. Clients can be challenging to deal with if you are unlucky.

Fixed-rates contracts require a client to log in and manually release the milestones.

Your money remains in escrow until the client releases the payment by approving the milestone.

And to approve a milestone is when all the excuses mentioned above may arise.

How do you get around such clients who refuse to approve your milestone?

This can be very frustrating. If you are in this situation, Upwork still has you covered. Here are some things to do.

Request Formal Milestone Approval

This is one of the things to do when a client refused to approve your milestone.

To request formal milestone approval, go to your account and click on My Jobs

Search for the contract and click on Request Milestone Approval.

When you request milestone approval, this will initiate a 14 days period in which the client is required to either approve the dispute or ignore the request.

This will make the client take action, but if they ignore the request, your money will be released automatically when the 14 days elapse.

Contact Customer Support

As an Upwork freelancer, customer support is always at your disposal. Customer support plays the role of the cops. They are your first responders and can be very handy in resolving issues of this nature.

Go to customer support and lay your complaint. Explain the situation clearly and include some proof to back your claim.

You maybe told to file a dispute if that’s the only way out.

Again, check out what to do when an Upwork client refuses to pay you to know more about handling disputes.

Pending payments are never a good thing to experience, not only on Upwork but in life. It leads to demotivation and obstruction of work schedule. Imagine you have to buy internet data or pay some bills when this is happening. Not funny.

Are you experiencing any pending payments right now? Is your client refusing to approve your milestone?  Have you had to deal with the experience of pending payments? Kindly share them in the comment section below.


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