Elance is one of those freelance sites where both, Free and Paid, membership is available. You can start as a free member and then you can upgrade to a paid member: this is because free membership comes with some restrictions.
Some users in our forum have asked the question that whether they can work at EL without investing any money or not?
By the looks of things, a new user may think that EL is not free to join. Also, the way bidding works at EL is different than how things work at some of the other freelance sites.
At EL, users need to have certain amount of Connects in order to qualify for placing a bid on a job.
Different jobs may require a different amount of Connects. This is little complex bidding system for the new comers and they may think that they need to pay money in order to get Connects.
Anyway, a free membership is available at EL: the number of connects that a free member currently gets is ten.
If you are worried about online scams and/or you want to start making money via investing no cash: then signup as a non-paid member. Later on, after you earn some money, you can consider upgrading the membership.