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What you need to know about instant payments on gig platforms

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Learning to use a new gig platform is almost as daunting as landing your first gig on it. There are rules, of course, for both the workers and the people hiring them. And while these rules vary somewhat among platforms, there are also differences in how they pay you. When you’re a gig worker relying on your client payments to pay your bills, the timing of those payments is crucial.

Part of budgeting as a gig worker involves keeping track of when you can expect your payments to arrive in your bank account. No one wants to overdraw their account or be late on a bill because funds didn’t arrive when they were expected.

So, when a platform advertises instant payments, that can be pretty exciting! However, “instant” doesn’t always mean instant. Here’s what you need to know about instant payments, and what to check before you rely on them to pay your bills.

Each platform has its own payment timelines

Every gig platform offers you the chance to make money, but there are different rules and timelines between the time you earn the money and the time it shows up in your checking account.

If you drive for Uber, for example, you can get an “instant payout” up to five times a day, as long as your balance is over $1.00. However, it’s going to cost you 50 cents per payout, and according to their website, it may take a few days before it actually ends up in your bank account.1

Other companies may have a holding period. For example, Upwork offers instant payments for a fee of $2.00 per transfer. However, freelancers who complete a gig must wait five business days before cashing out their instant payments.

If you’re finishing a gig and relying on those funds to pay a bill in the next few days, make sure you fully understand when the money will show up at your bank and how any fees you have to pay may impact the amount you receive.

Questions to ask about gig platform payments

No one likes reading the fine print, but as a gig worker with multiple payment streams, this is one time reading the fine print can keep you from unpleasant surprises.

Here are some things to look for when you’re deciding which platforms to work for, or trying to manage your finances as a gig worker.

  • Is there a payment schedule?
  • How often will money be transferred into your bank account?
  • Do transfers happen automatically or do you need to request them?
  • Is there a minimum balance required for transfer?
  • Are there fees associated with the transfer?
  • Can you request payment sooner than the scheduled frequency if needed?

Carefully read the information when you’re setting up your account. If you’ve already done that, check the FAQ section of the platform’s website. If you’re still not sure when to expect your money, reach out to customer service directly and they should be able to help you find the answer.

Sometimes instant really can mean instant

If you’re trying to stick to a budget as a gig worker, tracking down when your payments are coming into your account is enough to make you throw your hands up in frustration. Especially if fees for “instant payments” are taking away your hard-earned cash.

With an indi account and payments from Jobble, you’ll receive payments from your gig directly into your indi account with no fees, as soon as completion of your job is validated. So not only can you make sure you can cover your bills when they’re due, but you also won’t be wasting your hard-earned cash on transfer fees.

Budget around your instant payments

Even when instant payments are available, it’s important to try to spend less than you make so you can cover your bills, save money for taxes, and maybe even set a little bit of money aside for your future. Instant payments are great when you need quick cash but try to avoid relying on them for your day-to-day bills.

Instead, build an emergency fund so you can cover unexpected expenses and keep paying your bills even during months money is tight. You won’t need to rely on instant payments to keep you afloat but knowing they’re there if you need them can still help you sleep a little easier at night.

1The Uber trademark is the property of its holder, and indi has no affiliation with this entity.