Welcome to UpWork 🙂
I hope you are enjoying the platform.
As suggested and recommended its always 'Good' to go for the clients with the nice rating and best feedback. As you are in your early stage you must be concern about the type of job with success score(which is the most important thing). Both the good rating and the job you will get with the reputed client. So, be attentive at least for your first 5 jobs and focus on the client with verified payment.
I hope this answers your question, please let me know if you still have any doubts. I'll love to help you out.
It's very common that clients don't bother submitting credit card information and such until they know they're going to find someone to hire on this site. Not being "payment verified" is no more than a tiny red flag at most.
The stage where this actually matters is not the application stage but the working stage. Applying to jobs with clients who aren't payment verified is fine, but once they've chosen to hire you there's no reason for them not to go through the process of being verified, so it's highly inadvisable to start your work until they do. Don't accept excuses or promises that they're going to get verified or they expect to be verified shortly, etc.; give them nothing until they are in fact verified (and the first milestone is funded for a fixed price job).
Actually there are experienced freelancers who fudge a bit even on that, sometimes starting work if their experience gives them a good gut feeling that the client is legitimate and will in fact pay. But especially for someone who's new, it's better to have a simple rule of not working for anyone who is not verified.
My practice is to apply to jobs where the payment is unverified, but I let the client know if they hire me that I cannot and will not begin to work until payment is verified and I've been notified of that. Never had a client who had a problem with that.
@Jane F wrote:
Should I only apply to jobs with "payment verified?"
No, you can submit proposals whose accounts are verified or not verified. However, before you accept a job from a client whose account is not verified, that they verify their account BEFORE you accept their offer.
If you accept an offer from a client whose account if not verified, you risk the chance that they will disappear and you'll end up having to close the contract yourself and that can affect your JSS in the future.
Also make sure, if it's a fixed rate job, that escrow is FULLY funded for the agreed contract amount Before you start working no matter what the client may tell you or try to convince you.