Which method should I use to withdraw cash from Upwork, PayPal or Mpesa?

This is a very relevant question especially if you’re a freelancer in Kenya and you want to maximize on the amount you receive when you withdraw money from Upwork.

In this blog post, I will breakdown the best method to withdraw money from Upwork with the final destination being Mpesa.

Technically, there’s only one method that offers a direct Upwork to Mpesa withdrawal, Upwork to Mpesa.

Unfortunately, the exchange rate for $1 to Kenya Shillings is always lower when compared to using PayPal to Mpesa.

Here’s where PayPal comes into play.

3 Factors that Will influence whether to withdraw cash from Upwork via Mpesa or Via PayPal to Mpesa.

1. Exchange Rate for the Day.

This is a very important factor when it comes to determining what method to use when withdrawing money from Upwork.

Normally, Upwork to Mpesa has a lower exchange rate compared to PayPal to Mpesa. There’s always a 4 -6 Kenya Shillings difference with PayPal to Mpesa having better rates.

PayPal to Mpesa Exchange Rate
PayPal to Mpesa Exchange Rate

Upwork to Mpesa Exchange Rate
upwork-to-mpesa-exchange-rate

Note: Exchange rates vary and the figures indicated above are not constant. 

2. Time (How fast you need the money.)

If you’re in a hurry or have an emergency, Upwork to Mpesa is the best method to use to withdraw cash from Upwork.

Normally, you have your money instantly or in under 30 minutes. Pretty cool, right?

Occasionally, delays do occur especially on weekends and holidays but they don’t last more than 24 hours. If they do, contact Safaricom and Upwork and they’ll sort the issue out.


If you decide to send the funds available on Upwork to PayPal then Mpesa, expect to wait for about 2 hours for amounts less than $200 to get your money available via Mpesa.

time-it-takes-paypal-to-mpesa
PayPal to Mpesa transaction to be processed in 2 hours.

3. How much are you withdrawing from Upwork?

six hundred dollars upwork mpesa withdrawal limit

Upwork to Mpesa has a maximum limit of $600 per transaction and normal Mpesa fees and limits apply.

Even though it is possible to send huge amounts from Upwork to PayPal, PayPal to Mpesa has a $200 limit per day if you want to receive your money in 2 hours and if you transact an extra amount, this will be deposited to your Mpesa in 24-72 hours.

PayPal to Mpesa doesn't really work well when you have an emergency 
or you're paranoid about leaving money in your PayPal account.

A detailed breakdown of withdrawing from Upwork to Mpesa versus Upwork to PayPal to Mpesa.

For these transactions I’ll use a placeholder amount of $200, to calculate with the fees and exchange rates available above how much I should get in my Mpesa.

Let’s begin!

1. Upwork to Mpesa.

Withdrawing money from Upwork to Mpesa comes at a fee of $0.99 and then, we have to multiply the resulting amount with the exchange rate of the day on Upwork.

The exchange rate is $1 = 95.0025 Kenya Shillings

Here’s the amount to expect when you withdraw from Upwork to Mpesa.

$200 - $0.99 = $199.01

Multiply the difference with the exchange rate of the day to see how much
should be deposited your Mpesa Wallet.

$199.01 x 95.0025 = 18,906 Kenya Shillings

18,906 Kenya Shillings is the amount that you should expect when you withdraw $200 from Upwork to Mpesa.

2. Upwork to PayPal to Mpesa

It costs $2 to send money from Upwork to PayPal.
$1.01 more than it costs to send money from Upwork to Mpesa.

The exchange rate is $1 = 99.14 Kenya Shillings

So here’s how much money you should expect when you transact using this method.

Upwork to PayPal

$200 - $2 = $198

$198 is the amount that should get to your PayPal account.

Multiply the difference with the exchange rate of the day to see how much
should be deposited your Mpesa Wallet.

$198 x 99.14 = 19,629 Kenya Shillings

19,269 Kenya Shillings is the amount that you should expect when you withdraw $200 from Upwork to PayPal to Mpesa.

The difference is over 700 Kenya Shillings with Upwork to PayPal to Mpesa 
having better rates.

Whatever method you decide to withdraw money from Upwork with, the final destination being Mpesa is really up to you. Be the judge and let the factors highlighted guide you.

Finally, if you receive money via PayPal from other freelance sites, it makes economic sense to withdraw your funds via PayPal to Mpesa to ensure that you capitalize on the favorable exchange rate.

Now it’s your turn!
Comment with the method that you prefer to withdraw money from Upwork.

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