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6 Gusto Payroll Alternatives

Max Freedman
Max Freedman
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Oct 19, 2021

Gusto's combined payroll and HR services are widely praised, but they're not right for every small business. One of these six Gusto payroll alternatives may better suit your needs.

  • Gusto is renowned for its low-hassle payroll processing and extensive HR features, but it’s not perfect for every business.
  • Gusto can’t process international payrolls, and small businesses with robust HR and accounting departments may find its advanced services unnecessary.
  • Prominent Gusto alternatives include Paychex, OnPay, ADP, Rippling, Intuit QuickBooks Payroll and Square Payroll.
  • This article is for small business owners seeking Gusto payroll alternatives in their search for the best payroll service.

Gusto’s prominence in the payroll world largely stems from its being far more than just a payroll service. The company is renowned for its full-service HR platform that couples payroll with advanced features such as workforce costing and employee handbook templates. At its highest pricing tier, it also offers access to a certified HR professional. But for some small businesses, Gusto alternatives may prove superior. Here’s a look at Gusto and its features, along with overviews of six Gusto alternatives that might be right for your business. 

Gusto overview

After launching in November 2011, Gusto quickly rose to prominence among payroll services, given its seamless coupling of payroll processing with high-level HR features. When you choose Gusto to run your payroll, Gusto can also oversee your benefits administration, time and attendance tracking, compliance, and successful onboarding. For small businesses that can’t quite afford an in-house HR staff, these features are often game-changing.

On the other hand, Gusto’s extensive HR features might prove redundant for small businesses with robust accounting and HR departments. Additionally, Gusto can’t process payroll for international employees. If either of these facts makes Gusto an improper fit for your company, then one of the below Gusto payroll alternatives should better suit you. As you go through this list, you may want to consult our Gusto payroll review and payroll software best picks list.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: When it comes to picking the right payroll service for your business, Gusto payroll alternatives may be better for small businesses with full accounting or HR departments and international employees.

6 alternatives to Gusto

These are some prominent Gusto payroll alternatives:

1. Paychex: Best for larger businesses

Paychex has been a prominent payroll service provider for half a century, in which time it has developed a specialty for working with larger businesses. It includes basic payroll services alongside features that large teams might need, such as online marketing, time and attendance tracking, and incorporation assistance. 

If you choose Paychex, you’ll also be paired with a dedicated account specialist and receive 24/7 customer support.

These are some of the best Paychex features:

  • Basic payroll calculations
  • Payroll tax calculation and payments
  • Direct deposit and pay cards
  • Several hundred payroll reports
  • Numerous accounting integrations
  • New-hire reporting
  • Benefits administration
  • Employee financial wellness program administration
  • Employee training
  • Background screening and onboarding
  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Performance reviews and tracking
  • Unemployment insurance program coordination
  • Secure document storage
  • Online marketing
  • Business incorporation services

Paychex is available in three pricing plans: Go, Flex Select and Flex Enterprise.

  • Paychex Go: $59 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. Services include basic payroll processing, tax services and new-hire reporting.
  • Paychex Flex Select: $90 per month, plus custom per-employee fees. Services include income verification, mobile app use, and access to a dedicated account specialist.
  • Paychex Flex Enterprise: $160 per month, plus custom per-employee fees. It includes all the features of the other plans, accounting software integration, state unemployment insurance services, tools for screening and onboarding employees, and an employee handbook builder.

TipTip: To learn more about Paychex, read our Paychex payroll service review.

2. OnPay: Best for very small businesses

Extremely small businesses with fewer employees than can be counted on one hand might lack the resources to oversee payroll directly. OnPay is designed with these businesses in mind. It offers only one pricing tier and feature set, and that’s intentional. 

All OnPay users get equal access to the company’s extremely user-friendly payroll processing and tax services, not to mention robust customer service. This all comes free of long-term contracts and hidden fees.

All OnPay users get these features:

  • Full-service payroll processing and tax payments 
  • Direct deposit and pay cards
  • Full coverage of any tax penalties or interest resulting from OnPay’s work
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Multiple pay schedules
  • Five levels of employee access
  • New-hire reporting
  • Onboarding services
  • Extensive integrations
  • Paid time off (PTO) tracking
  • Offer letters
  • HR resource center
  • Benefits and workers’ comp administration

You’ll pay a monthly fee of $36, plus $4 per employee, for OnPay. The only other fees that come into play pertain to year-end tax forms. For OnPay to print and mail these forms to your workplace, you’ll pay $5 plus shipping. OnPay can also mail these forms directly to your employees for $6 plus shipping. Alternatively, you can print your own W-2 forms for free. 

TipTip: Read our OnPay payroll software review to learn more.

3. Rippling: Best for ease of use

Although payroll services are supposed to save you innumerable hours on payroll, taxes and HR, some payroll software platform interfaces complicate the process. Rippling, on the other hand, allows you to run payroll in just 90 seconds. That’s why it’s our pick for small businesses prioritizing ease of use.

These are some important Rippling features:

  • 90-second payroll runs
  • Automated compliance and tax filing
  • Global payroll
  • Multiple pay rates
  • Direct deposit
  • Time tracking software
  • PTO management
  • Customizable payroll reports and templates
  • Job costing
  • Wage garnishments
  • Several hundred integrations
  • Benefits administration (if you register for Rippling HR)

Rippling pricing plans start at $8 per user per month. Your actual price will vary based on many factors, and you’ll need to get a custom quote to start using the service. 

TipTip: Read more about Rippling in our Rippling HR software review.

4. Intuit QuickBooks Payroll: Best for small businesses

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll is a great choice for small businesses of all stripes, given the company’s prominence in accounting software. QuickBooks Payroll seamlessly integrates its payroll and accounting platforms, giving you complete control over your employee payments. You also have the option to choose between hosting your software online or on your desktop.

These are some of the best QuickBooks Payroll features:

  • Full-service payroll processing 
  • Full-service payroll tax filing and payment
  • Direct deposit
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Multiple pay schedules
  • Mobile time tracking
  • Full coverage of tax penalties or interest (on select plans)
  • Seamless QuickBooks accounting integration
  • HR services alongside designated account HR advisor
  • Workers’ comp administration
  • Health insurance administration through SimplyInsured
  • 401(k) administration through Guideline

QuickBooks Online Payroll is available in three plans: Core, Premium and Elite.

  • Core: $45 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. You’ll get full-service payroll and benefits administration services.
  • Premium: $75 per month, plus $8 per employee per month. You’ll get all Core services plus workers’ comp administration, mobile time tracking, direct deposit, HR center access and expert setup assistance.
  • Elite: $125 per month, plus $10 per employee per month. You’ll get every service in the other plans plus 24/7 expert product support, tax penalty protection and a personal HR advisor.

QuickBooks Desktop Payroll also has three plans: Basic, Enhanced and Assisted.

  • Basic: $29 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, with rates discounted 20% for your first six months. Services include direct deposit, instant paycheck printing and live support.
  • Enhanced: $45 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, with rates discounted 20% for your first six months. Services include everything in Basic, plus tax calculation and the ability to print W-2s. However, you still must pay your taxes manually.
  • Assisted: $109 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, with rates discounted 40% for the first six months. It includes all the above services, along with advanced reports and inventory management, integration with Salesforce CRM, simultaneous access for up to 40 users, and more.

TipTip: You can read more about the many tiers and services of QuickBooks Payroll in our QuickBooks Payroll review, or read our comparison of Gusto vs. QuickBooks Payroll.

5. Square Payroll: Best for payroll tax prep

Square is best known as a leader in credit card payment processing and point-of-sale (POS) systems, and its payroll services are excellent too. In fact, we’d say Square Payroll is your best bet if payroll tax prep is your primary concern. Square Payroll combines payroll data with compliance standards to make sure you hit all your deadlines and avoid fees. It does so through a platform as user-friendly as its beloved payment processing and POS tools.

These are some of Square Payroll’s features:

  • Basic payroll processing
  • Emphasis on timely, compliant payroll tax payments
  • Automatic tax form creation
  • Employee and contractor payments
  • Seamless POS and time and attendance tracking integrations
  • Employee payment through Square Cash app
  • Phone, email and live chat customer support
  • Team management tools

Square Payroll is highly affordable. Its rates start at $29 per month, plus $5 per employee per month. Notice that the phrasing here is “per employee.” If you pay contractors only, the base monthly fee disappears. Instead, you’ll pay just $5 per contractor per month. Whether you’re paying contractors or employees, you won’t have to sign any binding, lengthy contracts.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: Paying only contractors through Square Payroll, as opposed to full-time employees, is highly cost-effective.

6. ADP: Best for complex payrolls 

ADP’s diversity of payroll and HR services make it an ideal choice for complex payrolls. If your company hires numerous employees and contractors at wildly different pay rates and hours, ADP can handle that. Plus, it’s the most popular payroll service: When we surveyed businesses as we researched payroll services, nearly 1 in 4 told us they use ADP.

These are some of ADP’s features:

  • Complete payroll processing
  • Payroll tax calculation and filing
  • Online, phone and mobile app payroll runs
  • Year-end tax forms
  • Direct deposit and paper checks
  • Paper check signing and stuffing
  • Employee self-service portal
  • Standard payroll reports
  • New-hire reporting
  • Hiring and training services
  • Forms and documents
  • Background checks
  • Employee handbook wizard
  • Applicant tracking
  • Performance management
  • Marketing tools
  • State unemployment insurance management
  • HR professional access
  • Legal assistance

All ADP prices are entirely customized. You can choose from among four plans: Essential, Enhanced, Complete and HR Pro. No matter which plan you choose, you’ll also pay a flat $200 setup fee.

ADP Essential includes basic payroll services with some nice-to-haves such as onboarding and marketing tools. The Enhanced plan adds more services, including paper check stuffing and state unemployment insurance management. The Complete and HR Pro plans add more HR services to the mix, with HR Pro providing legal assistance unavailable with other payroll services we evaluated.

To get the full scoop on ADP, read our ADP payroll services review. Learn more about how it measures up to Gusto in our Gusto vs. ADP payroll comparison.

Don’t be afraid to consider other Gusto payroll alternatives as your search continues – this list is just a starting point. 

Image Credit:

Chainarong_Prasertthai / Getty Images

Max Freedman
Max Freedman
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.