Toptal Review: Competitors, Features, and Alternatives

by James Sowers | Last Updated:  March 26, 2021

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Several online freelancing platforms are available today but none so exclusive as Toptal. Toptal claims to hire only the top 3% of independent contractors and boasts high-profile clientele such as Airbnb and Shopify. Every candidate is put through a rigorous screening process, meaning that they only hire the most elite freelancers in their respective fields.

If you are looking to hire only the best remote contractors for your project, you would naturally start your search on Toptal. The platform’s reputation is high, but is it accurate? That’s what we’re here to talk about today.

Let’s take a look at what Toptal offers and how the competition measures up.

The Toptal Experience: Best Features

As a company that claims to hire only the best freelancers, Toptal offers several features that reflect their high standards and reputation.

IP Protection


Toptal guarantees that clients’ sensitive information, including their IP, is completely safe with their team of freelancers. The privacy and security promised are ideal for high-profile clients; other platforms do not boast the same protection guarantee.

Strict Vetting Process

Any freelancers hoping to join Toptal’s elite team must be go through a tough screening process to join the platform.

First, these applicants must pass a phone interview to gauge their grasp of the English language as well as their personality and ability to communicate effectively. If they pass, they must demonstrate their skills in three separate tests, including a demo project. Only after completing this process will they be allowed to join the platform.

Remote Work

Any individual or team hired works remotely, meaning that they have no central location to come to. There is no need for office space. If clients would prefer to work with their team in person, however, arrangements can be made to accommodate this.

No-Risk Trial

Every time a client begins a project with a new freelancer, there is a trial period in which the client can gauge their satisfaction with the freelancer’s work. If they are not satisfied, they are not required to pay for any work completed and can even keep the work, however unsatisfactory it may be.

The Toptal Experience: Not the Standard Platform


The features that Toptal offers give you the general idea of their platform’s value but it doesn’t quite give the whole picture. For any freelancing site to be head and shoulders above the rest, it must offer features most others do not. There are a few things that Toptal provides for clients that make it unique.

Toptal is the perfect platform for high-profile clients and large companies with complex projects. The platform is also best suited for those freelancers looking to make this their serious career path.

Toptal Alternatives: What They Offer

Toptal has earned its reputation for high-quality service but not every client is best suited for what the platform primarily offers. Honestly, less esteemed clients may not be able to afford the high rates that come with the service. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to consider when searching for qualified freelancers.



Upwork is one of the longest-running freelance platforms on the Internet and it has withstood the test of time for several reasons. It used to be called Odesk and Elance.

Upwork offers different types of freelance services for a wide range of clients. The platform focuses on being accessible to all freelancers and clients with the full spectrum of experience and pay rates.

Though there is no strict screening process, Upwork’s user-friendly tools and features ensure that both freelancers and clients receive quality work. One particularly useful tool is the rating system. After a project is finished and the contract is terminated, both parties have a chance to rate their experience with the other. These ratings are public. As a result, future partners go into the contract with a clear picture of what to expect.



Gigster is one of the newer freelance platforms, established in 2016. Unlike Upwork and similar to Toptal, project owners are given a team of freelancers to work with instead of individuals. This is ideal for large or complicated projects that need special attention and care.

Gigster focuses primarily on app development so it doesn’t quite meet the range of needs that Upwork does but freelancers on this platform’s team are vetted, though not quite as thoroughly as Toptal.

Coding Ninjas


Coding Ninjas is a highly-rated alternative to Toptal if you are searching specifically for developers. This platform also vets the freelancers hoping to join their team as Toptal does but they do not offer the ability to work with a team.

One downside to Coding Ninjas is that its developers work mainly in Eastern Europe. If you were hoping to work with one face to face or at least in a compatible time zone, you may be disappointed.

Overall, Toptal does live up to its reputation. Whether you are a freelancer or client looking to hire, you can’t go wrong by joining their platform. For those who can’t afford these high rates or can’t currently prove the extensive knowledge and experience required to join, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from that yield satisfactory results. Remember, choose the platform that focuses on your needs, not the one with the best reputation. There are pros and cons to all freelance websites. You may find what you need on Toptal but you can find it somewhere else, too!

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Meet The Author

Hey there! I'm James Sowers, and I run things around here. My mission is to create 1,000 self-sustaining entrepreneurs...and I'd love for you to be one of them! Have thoughts on this article? Reach out on Twitter and let me know.