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Gusto vs. ADP: Which Software Is Best for Your Business?

Updated Oct 23, 2023

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Dachondra Cason
Contributing Writer at
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If you’re an employer or a small business owner considering hiring employees, it’s time to start thinking about which payroll software is right for you. Payroll software is a solution for managing payments issued to your employees. While some business owners may prefer hiring a CPA to handle employee payments, you’d be surprised at how much your business can save by choosing payroll software instead. 

Once you’ve decided to go the software route, it’s time to choose which payroll service is best for you. Several options are available, and we decided to do some research on two of the best payroll software providers. Keep reading to see what we came up with in our Gusto vs. ADP comparison, where we dive into what these software companies have in common and which one would be best for your business. 

Gusto vs. ADP

Automated direct depositYesYes
24/7 HR supportNoYes
Health insuranceYes (varies by state)Yes
Flexible spending accountYesNo

Here’s what Gusto and ADP have in common:

  • Both payroll services support direct deposit payments.
  • Both companies automatically report newly hired employees.
  • Both companies provide health insurance options. 
  • Both offer simple integration with other apps you may use.

While Gusto and ADP offer mainly the same services, we managed to find a few differences in their features:

  • Gusto offers a wider variety of employee benefits than ADP.
  • ADP offers assistance with employee handbooks.
  • ADP offers background checks for new employees.
  • Gusto only offers health insurance for employees in 27 states.

Who should use Gusto?

If your small business is scaling at a slow, steady pace, our Gusto payroll review explains why it might be the best payroll service provider for you. While Gusto is most popular for its payroll services, the company also offers substantial benefit options for your employees, as well as features like unlimited pay runs and flexible payroll schedules. Let’s take a closer look at all the extras Gusto has to offer small business owners.

Gusto Cashout gives employees access to funds between paydays

If you own a very small business with employees in only one state, it’s a good idea to enroll in Gusto’s Basic plan. This plan offers self-service options for employees, full-service payroll and four-day direct deposit for a monthly fee of $19.

If your business needs a little more, like health benefits, Gusto’s Core plan is worth considering. This plan has all the features of the Basic plan, but it also includes health insurance and workers’ compensation administration. 

Editor’s note: Looking for the right payroll software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

If you want help with onboarding employees for your small business, you’ll need more than the Core plan has to offer. That’s where the Complete plan comes in. This plan has the same features as the Core option, of course, but it also takes care of PTO requests, product permissions, and employee onboarding assistance. If you have a lot of employees, you may also enjoy the employee directory that comes with this plan. 

For small business owners who need HR assistance, Gusto offers the Concierge plan. As the most comprehensive package, this one has all the features of the lower plans, and subscribers also get virtual HR assistance. The HR help in this plan includes a full HR Resources Center and access to certified HR professionals. 

Did You Know?Did you know

Gusto does not charge for pay runs outside of your regular pay schedule.

Here’s an overview of each plan Gusto offers, including pricing details:

Payroll featureBasicCoreCompleteConcierge
Full-service payrollYesYesYesYes
Health insuranceNoYesYesYes
Employee onboardingNoNoYesYes
HR supportNoNoNoYes
Monthly cost$19$39$39$149
Additional fee per employee$6 per month$6 per month$12 per month$12 per month

Gusto’s pricing is definitely competitive, but small business owners have to consider if its packages are worth the sacrifice of certain features that may be useful. Gusto may not be the best option for a small business that’s scaling at a fast pace, because it’s only designed to handle up to 100 employees. 

Who should use ADP?

Our ADP payroll review makes clear why the company has gained a reputation as one of the best payroll software providers; it’s been a leader in the industry for decades. But does that automatically mean ADP is the best payroll service provider for your business? If you own a very small business and are only interested in basic payroll services, maybe not. On the other hand, if your goal is to scale your business as quickly as possible and hire a lot of employees, ADP might be a perfect match for your needs. Let’s discuss all there is to know about ADP’s plans.

The most basic is the Essential plan. This plan provides only basic payroll services and is most suitable for startups and very small businesses.

For business owners who would like help with wage garnishment and state unemployment insurance, ADP offers the Enhanced plan. This plan also includes the same payroll services that the Essential plan does. 

If your business would benefit from HR assistance, the Complete plan may be a good option for you. In addition to payroll services, this plan includes access to ADP’s HR Help Desk. Enrollees in this plan also have access to HR forms, documents and tracking. 

The largest plan ADP offers is the HR Pro plan. As the name suggests, this plan is a full combination of payroll services and HR. It includes all the features of the Complete plan, with the addition of training resources, employee assistance services, and several employee management tools. HR Pro clients also have access to the software’s Enhanced HR Help Desk. Here’s a brief recap of all the features in ADP’s plans:

Payroll featureEssentialEnhancedCompleteHR Pro
Full-service payrollNoNoYesYes
Wage garnishmentNoYesYesYes
HR supportNoNoYesYes
Employee assistanceNoNoNoYes
Monthly costCustom quoteCustom quoteCustom quoteCustom quote

ADP is definitely the winner for small business owners who are focused on expanding their HR capabilities, such as time and attendance tracking. ADP also excels at payroll tax administration, helping employers track their obligations and withhold the correct amount in taxes from employee paychecks. 

On the downside, if you make employee payments outside of regular payroll, like commissions, ADP may not be the best option for you. While the software has this capability, there is an additional fee for the service. ADP does not have set prices, but you can expect rates to start at $150 to $180 per month for very small businesses with fewer than 10 employees. 

Here’s a look at the ADP dashboard.

ADP vs. Gusto recap

As you can see, both ADP and Gusto are great payroll service providers, so small business owners have to really focus on the additional features they offer to make the best decision. 

Gusto is best for very small businesses.

If your company is still very small and keeping expenses low is your primary focus, you’ll probably benefit more from Gusto. With the Basic package, you won’t have all the latest features the big companies use, but it will take care of your basic payroll needs. 

ADP is best for growing businesses.

On the other hand, if your business is growing and you can afford to really invest in your payroll services, ADP is the way to go. With the HR Pro plan, you’ll have not only your payroll covered, but also tons of HR support for tasks like background checks and employee training. These features will come in handy for any business owner who is ready to begin hiring multiple employees.

The ultimate winner in ADP vs. Gusto is up to you. The most compatible option depends heavily on the current size of your company and the number of employees you plan to hire. Of course, budget may also play a major role in your decision. Keep in mind that both are great payroll service providers capable of meeting any small business owner’s expectations. 


What does ADP offer besides payroll? 

In addition to payroll services, ADP offers a number of HR services. Its most expensive package, HR Pro, includes background checks, employee training resources, and 24/7 access to its HR Help Desk.

Does Gusto offer full-service payroll?

Gusto does offer full-service payroll. However, the availability of its full service varies by plan. Gusto’s Basic plan only offers full-service payroll for employees in a single state, while all others cover full-service payroll in all 50 states. 

How much does ADP cost?

ADP pricing is customized based on the package you select and other factors of your business. On average, the company’s smallest package costs $150 to $180 per month. 

Dachondra Cason
Contributing Writer at
Dachondra Cason is a freelance writer and business consultant in Atlanta, GA. She has over 8 years of professional experience, with a focus on finance and small businesses. Topics she has covered include creating effective business plans, fraud prevention, and digital marketing. She has also written creative content including celebrity cookbooks, plays, and social media campaign material.
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