Rush Fees: When, Why & How to Use Them as a Freelancer


All freelancers (and anyone who has worked for a living, for that matter) have been put in situations when a client wants a project to be done yesterday. These kinds of rush jobs can be very inconvenient but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be compensated for it. Here’s why and how you should be using rush fees as a freelancer.

What is a Rush Fee?

A rush fee is an additional cost paid by the client, in addition to the project cost, for when they want some work to be completed in a shorter timeframe than usual. Freelancers usually charge a percentage of the total project fee as their rush fee. The exact amount depends on how tight the deadline is. 

Every freelancer will have a different criteria for when it comes to determining what a rush job is and what the subsequent rush fee should be. Rush fees can range anywhere from 25 – 300 % of the original job cost. 

For example, if your original project cost is $5000, and you are charging your client a 25% rush fee, your total would be $5000 + 25% of $5000 ($1250) = $6250.

Rush jobs can be a great way to bring in some extra income if your workload is a little slow, and can really build your reputation as someone who is reliable amongst your clients. It’s important to remember that your client will often come to you with a rush job stressed and desperate, so remaining calm, prompt and professional in your communication is key.

Impact of Rush Projects on Freelancers’ Workload and Schedule

Rush fees are typically applied to projects that:

  • Cause you to work over the weekend
  • Result in putting other deadlines or projects off
  • Have a particularly short deadline (48 hours and under)

However, what constitutes a rush job is entirely down to you and your schedule.

Rush jobs are typically filled with stress and inconvenience, as you may need to put off other plans and work in order to accommodate a client’s request. 

Of course, saying ‘no’ is always a fair option – but if you want to take the project on, asking to be compensated for your time is only fair.

Should You Take on Rush Jobs?

Rush jobs can be fairly stressful for both parties, and will often mean you are working overtime or on weekends to fit the project in. For this reason, many freelancers may decide not to take rush jobs on, ever. 

However, a few circumstances where you may consider rush jobs could include:

  • Helping out a long-term client who you know is reliable and who you want to be on good terms with
  • When your workload is a little low and you’re looking for extra work/income 
  • If the size of the project or the deadline is not completely unreasonable for you to fit into your schedule

Factors to Consider When Setting Rush Fees

When considering what your rush fee should be, consider the following factors:

#1 Evaluation of project complexity and scope

Every project is different – some are fairly simple and won’t take up too much of your time whereas others are more complex and will require you to put in more effort. It’s important that you evaluate the complexity of your project and understand how much time and effort you’re going to be putting into a rush job. The more complex the job, the higher your rush fee should be.

#2 Assessment of freelancer’s availability and existing workload

Another thing to take into consideration is your availability and whether or not you have other projects that require your attention. If you take on a rush project, will you have to put other projects on the back burner? Or will you have to hire extra help to get the work done on time? 

If that is the case, you will need to adjust your rush fee to reflect these changes and will also have to decide how much those factors are worth to you to determine your rush fee policy.

#3 Consideration of client’s timeline and urgency

You should take the urgency of the project into consideration when setting your rush fee. For example, if your client wants you to get something done within a very short period of time, say 24 hours, your rush fee should be substantial to match the timeline request.

💡 If your client expects a turnaround time that is unreasonable and entirely too stressful, consider declining the offer. Don’t feel obligated to accept every rush job that comes your way!

#4 Comparison with standard project rates

Before setting your rush fee, consider what the standard project rates are. Doing this will allow you to uncover potential errors in your estimates and also increase your credibility. It will show your clients that you are an expert in your field and can also help you hone your communication and negotiation skills.

How Much Should I Charge for a Rush Fee?

There are varying opinions on how much freelancers should charge as a rush fee; you don’t want to end up being taken advantage of for mere peanuts, but you also don’t want to take advantage of your client (especially if you get regular work from them!).

As mentioned above, rush fees can range anywhere from 25 – 300 %of the original job cost. However, a good benchmark is to charge 25% of the project cost, though you could easily charge 50% more or even double your rate depending on the urgency and timeline of the job.

You could, of course, also opt to have a flat rate, regardless of the project size. It can save you time and make conversations about rush fees short. The downside is that you’ll have to choose a number that works well for both smaller projects and bigger ones. After all, charging $500 on a $100 project makes no sense whereas $500 for a $5000 project may not be enough compensation. 

How to Charge a Rush Fee Without Ruining Your Client Relationship

Many freelancers worry that by charging a rush fee, they’ll be putting their client off of working with them in the future. What you need to remember, however, is that every service charges a premium rate for a faster service. So why should you have to work differently? 

Consider implementing the following strategies to avoid ruining your relationship with your client:

#1 Establish clear rush fee policies

Before taking on a project for a client, make it clear in your contract that the client will be charged extra for faster-than-usual work. Be clear and communicate upfront about why a rush fee is added. This way, if any last-minute task comes up, your client won’t feel blind-sided by any extra fees mentioned at the last minute.

The key here is to be fair, polite, and professional when discussing your rush fee. Use positive words to show you would be happy to help your client out of a difficult spot, and then state your rush fee without elaborating or apologising for it.

#2 Communicate expectations 

The next step is to communicate the expectations and limitations of your work with clients upfront. Not only will this ideally avoid any rush projects, it can help you avoid scope creep, missed deadlines, cost overruns, and much more.

#3 Provide clients with options 

As we’ve said above, what you charge your clients depends on various factors that depend on your unique circumstances. However, it’s always a good idea to provide your clients with price options that depend on when they want the work to be completed. 

For example, you can tell your client to choose between 2 options. Option 1 is where your rush fee is 50% of your original project price for a 24-hour work turnaround and option 2 is where your rush fee is 25% for a 48-hour turnaround period. 

#4 Try and negotiate 

Compromise is an essential part of negotiations for freelancers. Sometimes, you must adjust your rush fees to best suit the circumstance and project in question. For example, if you’re working with a new client who you think will lead to a long-term, profitable relationship, you could consider lowering your rush fee from what it is in the contract.

But always let your clients know what this type of rush job would normally cost. This will help them understand the value of working with you and not give them the impression that you provide rush jobs at a discount all the time.

#5 Consider waiving rush fees 

If charging a rush fee to a new or first-time client still worries you, you could let the client know that you do have a rush fee, but you are happy to waive it as a courtesy to a first-time client. 

That way, they’ll know that you do have a rush fee (and what it is) in the future, but you won’t have to risk damaging your relationship right at the beginning.

Benefits of Implementing Rush Fees

The benefits of implementing rush fees as a freelancer include:

  • Compensation for additional time and effort required to meet urgent deadlines: A quality job done in the shortest period of time, shouldn’t be cheap. 
  • Encouragement of more realistic client expectations and timelines: Rush fees deters clients from expecting high-quality work with fast turnaround time on every project. 
  • Protection against burnout and overcommitment: Not implementing a rush fee is like essentially saying your personal life and health are not important. It can be a slippery slope to freelance burnout and poor work-life balance.
  • Enhancement of freelancer’s overall professionalism and value perception: Implementing rush fees lets clients know that your time is valuable and that you are a professional who expects compensation for their expertise and services.

Handling Client Objections and Negotiations

Objections are bound to arise when you’re charging your clients extra – even if it is justified. Here’s how you can handle client objections to rush fees:

#1 Address common concerns

To keep things smooth with your clients, you should be open to addressing the most common concerns about rush fees. Let them know why it’s a necessity and how it can benefit you and the work.

#2 Offer alternate solutions or compromise

Everyone loves options – it’s human nature. Offering your clients with alternative solutions (such as payment options as seen above) can keep them happy or at least willing to pay. 

Also, don’t be afraid to strike a compromise when necessary.

#3 Emphasise the value and benefits of rush services to clients

If your clients are hesitant about having to pay your rush fee, be sure to emphasise the value you can bring them with your rush service. Not only can they get their project completed on time, they have the added benefit of being the top priority of your current workload.

#4 Negotiate mutually beneficial terms and agreements

Last but not least, negotiate respectfully. Find a solution that works well for both parties and is on mutually favourable terms for both you and the client.


To sum up, there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on what your rush fee should be or if you should even say yes to a rush job. Because although the additional money can be tempting, it is not your responsibility to bend to your clients requests every time, especially if it is at the cost of your well-being. 

If you do say yes to rush jobs, make sure you choose a rate that is acceptable for the project in question and reflects the urgency and timeframe of it. 

Also, don’t forget to establish clear rush fee policies beforehand and let clients know about the increased cost of the project and the reason for this decision of yours. All-in-all, it is up to you to create an effective rush fee strategy that aligns with your workload and business.

Stefania Volpe

Stefania joined the international team at freelancermap in 2020. She loves marketing, the digital world, foreign languages and meeting different cultures. She moved from Italy to Germany thanks to an exchange program at the university and worked as marketing manager for several startups. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at

By Stefania Volpe

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