Alternatives To QuickBooks Payroll
QuickBooks offers a myriad of business products and services, but is arguably best known for its accounting software: Intuit QuickBooks. QuickBooks Online Payroll is another useful tool for small businesses looking for assistance filing payroll taxes and paying employees on time.
If you’re already a QuickBooks customer, integrating accounting, payroll, and HR functions can help streamline operations. This convenience, along with easy setup and month-to-month contracts, is why QuickBooks ranks well in our in-depth payroll review. Yet, payroll options abound and there are notable differences in cost and features to consider when looking for the best payroll software for your small business.
To help narrow your search, we’ll break down the best alternatives to QuickBooks Payroll. For each, we’ll highlight their top qualifications and scenarios when they might be a better fit for small business customers.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
Best Payroll Software Alternatives To QuickBooks Online
Finding the best payroll software can be overwhelming, so we’ve focused on the top QuickBooks payroll alternatives. We’ll evaluate features, pricing, business size, and other factors for each QuickBooks competitor. For reference, here is how QuickBooks Payroll currently stands in terms of pricing:
QuickBooks Payroll Pricing
- Core: $45/month + $4/month per person
- Premium: $75/month + $8/month per person
- Elite: $125/month + $10/month per person
Read on for our complete review of the best alternatives to QuickBooks Payroll.
Best for smaller businesses and flexible payroll schedules.
Since launching in 2012 as ZenPayroll, Gusto has amassed over 100,000 business customers for its payroll and HR services. Gusto has four plans to choose from: Core, Complete, Concierge, and Contractor.
- Core: $39/month + $6/month per person
- Complete: $39/month + $12/month per person
- Concierge: $149/month + $12/month per person
- Contractor: $6/month per person
Gusto’s affordable and transparent pricing structure is a key reason for ranking among the top alternatives to QuickBooks payroll. For smaller businesses with fewer than nine employees, Gusto’s mid-tier Complete plan is cheaper than QuickBooks Online Payroll’s Complete package. When comparing each company’s Core plans, the pricing comparison tips in favor of QuickBooks for businesses with more than three employees. Meanwhile, Gusto’s Contractor plan is a great deal for employers exclusively paying 1099 workers.
What with new hire reporting, tax filing, and scheduling pay periods, there’s a lot that goes into running small business payroll. Gusto’s low-cost Core plan can handle all these tasks, whereas QuickBooks customers will have to upgrade to a higher-level plan or pay extra fees for comparable features. Although Gusto’s two-day direct deposit falls short of QuickBooks’ same- and deposit option, the Payroll on AutoPilot feature makes it easy to pre-schedule payroll to run automatically. Gusto doesn’t charge per pay run, so businesses can schedule pay periods according to their needs without extra fees.
One of QuickBooks Online’s main benefits is its seamless integration with QuickBooks accounting programs. However, Gusto can integrate with a dozen accounting platforms (including QuickBooks) as well as software used for time tracking, point of sale, training, and business analytics.
- Gusto has more comprehensive included features and integrations than QuickBooks
- Supports unlimited payroll runs
- Incorporates more HR tools and integrations than QuickBooks
- Gusto’s pricing can be less competitive for mid-size small businesses
- Unlike QuickBooks, Gusto does not have a dedicated mobile app
Best for growing businesses and customized features and integrations.
From Fortune 500 companies to Main Street businesses, ADP can customize payroll and HR solutions to a business’s size and needs. For small businesses with up to 49 employees, ADP RUN is the applicable payroll package. ADP RUN includes four different plans: ADP Essential, ADP Enhanced, ADP Complete & HR Plus, and ADP HR Pro—and multiple options for add-on features. Pricing is not advertised upfront for any ADP payroll plan. Instead, small businesses will receive a custom quote based on number of employees and desired add-on features.
As the lowest-cost option, ADP’s Essential plan is well-suited for emerging small businesses and those interested in just the payroll basics. The Essential Plan encompasses core payroll functions, such as tax filing, direct deposit, and automated processing, as well as HR tools like new hire onboarding and employee access. Upgrading to ADP’s Enhanced plan affords additional payroll and HR features, including check signing, employee background checks, labor law compliance, and a complementary ZipRecruiter subscription. Moving up to either ADP’s Complete & HR Plus or HR Pro plans provides access to a suite of HR tools and features. For instance, the Complete & HR Plus plan comes with employee performance tracking, a dedicated HR support team, and access to a database of HR documents. Meanwhile, the HR Pro plan adds customized employee handbooks, comprehensive HR training, and legal consulting services.
ADP is a top choice for QuickBooks payroll alternatives for customers looking to integrate additional software needed to run their business. Whereas QuickBooks limits users to its sister accounting products, ADP can integrate with other platforms such as Wave and Xero. ADP also makes it easy to sync with numerous applications related to point-of-sale, benefits administration, time tracking, productivity, learning management, and recruiting. ADP prides itself on customization, so even if an integration isn’t expressly advertised, small businesses may be able to negotiate its inclusion as part of a payroll package.
ADP’s customer-oriented approach extends beyond customized payroll packages. Small businesses can take advantage of 24/7 customer service by phone and live chat across all four RUN plans. Additionally, ADP can provide hands-on assistance and guided tutorials for the setup process. Once payroll is up and running, the employer and employee portals make it simple to access pay stubs, tax forms, benefits, and other information. According to small business reviews, ADP’s main drawback is the pricing structure, which can come with a mix of variable fees for unsuspecting customers.
- Strong customer service and knowledgeable HR support staff
- Extensive HR and payroll features
- User-friendly and intuitive interface
- Pricing for ADP plans is not disclosed online
- ADP charges extra fees for integrations and every time you run payroll
Best for analytics and reporting.
Paychex has been a leader in the payroll industry for decades. Currently, small businesses can choose from three plans to address their payroll needs: Paychex Go, Flex Select, and Flex Enterprise. The Paychex Go plan is designed to simplify payroll and HR basics, including tax administration, new-hire reporting, time tracking, and analytics and reporting. With a price tag of $59/month plus $4/month per employee, the Paychex Go plan is in the ballpark of QuickBooks’ Core plan ($45/month + $4/month per employee).
Small businesses interested in upgrading to either the Flex Select or Flex Enterprise plans will have to obtain a custom quote based on their needs. Moving up to Flex Select grants access to Paychex’s mobile app, employee wellness programs, HR integrations, a dedicated payroll specialist, and $1,000 in prepaid digital marketing services. Paychex’s premier Flex Enterprise plan affords additional perks, such as garnishments, workers’ compensation payment services, employee background checks, and customized reporting and analytics.
In a head-to-head comparison, Paychex has some clear advantages over QuickBooks payroll. For starters, Paychex’s selection of 160 standard reports and options for customized analysis are among the main reasons why Paychex ranks among the leading alternatives to QuickBooks payroll. With Paychex, employers have the additional option to pay employers with prepaid debit cards rather than simply paycheck or direct deposit. This can save on printing and mailing expenses, as well as help employees without bank accounts to retain more of their earnings instead of paying to cash their paycheck every pay period. Additionally, Paychex takes care of the setup process for you, while QuickBooks only offers this service for its Premier and Elite plan customers.
However, Paychex has some disadvantages when measured against QuickBooks that may rule it out as the best payroll software for certain businesses. Although Paychex makes it easy to integrate employee benefits and HR in one place, customers have limited integrations to choose from outside Paychex’s own add-on features. On the other hand, QuickBooks boasts over 400 integrations with various types of small business software and applications.
- Customer support is available 24/7
- Payroll plans can be scaled as businesses grow or their needs change
- Extensive reporting and analytical
- Aside from the Paychex Go plan, Paychex’s pricing structure is not transparent
- Limited options for integrations compared to QuickBooks.
Best for comprehensive HR features and integrations.
While the other QuickBooks payroll alternatives on this list are primarily payroll providers, Zenefits is first and foremost a benefits administration system. Zenefits only offers payroll as an add-on module to one of its three HR software plans: Essentials, Growth, and Zen. Tacking on payroll costs an additional $6/month per employee with any Zenefits HR plan. Zenefits syncs payroll and HR features, which provides greater convenience for time-strapped small business owners. For example, when an employee enters their hours worked, breaks, and PTO in Zenefits time tracking tools, this information is automatically connected to payroll. Zenefits payroll features are extensive, including direct deposit, setting multiple pay rates, garnishments, automatic tax filing, and payroll reporting.
There are also plentiful options for integrations, including productivity tools, accounting software, business insurance, and travel apps. The recent launch of a platform to compare healthcare benefits rivals QuickBooks’ partnership with SimplyInsured to select and administer health, dental, and vision benefits for small business employees.
Given that payroll features and pricing are constant across all three plans, determining which Zenefits HR plan is right for your business requires more consideration. The Essentials plan costs either $8 or $10/month, depending on if a business signs up for an annual or monthly subscription. As Zenefits’ most basic HR plan, this covers employee hiring and onboarding, time scheduling and tracking, documents management, employee management, and a mobile app. Stepping up to the Growth plan sees an increased cost of $14 or $18/month for the annual and monthly options, respectively. The Growth plan delivers more in-depth tools and features for performance and compensation management. Finally, upgrading to the Zen plan delivers employee engagement surveys, tools for employee productivity and well-being, and easier channels for team collaboration through the People Hub platform.
- Pricing is transparent and annual subscriptions provide significant savings
- Convenient integration of HR and payroll services
- Comprehensive HR and payroll features
- No option for simple payroll packages
- Pricing is structured for a minimum of 5 employees
Best for mobile-friendly payroll and HR solutions.
Rather than simply offering payroll processing services, Paylocity provides tailored payroll and HR solutions to streamline small business operations. Paylocity offers three levels of payroll services: Effortless Payroll, Efficient Tech, and Modern Workplace. Similar to ADP’s customized payroll packages, small businesses must request a quote from a Paylocity sales representative. Paylocity’s most rudimentary plan, Effortless Payroll, still packs an abundance of features, including direct deposit, unlimited payroll processing, tax filings, garnishments, new-hire reporting, poster compliance, and QuickBooks accounting integration. Paylocity’s second-tier plan, Efficient Tech, gives customers additional HR support, such as customized PTO tracking systems, unemployment management, and benefits administration. The Modern Workplace plan affords higher-level employee management tools such as background checks, job performance reporting, and learning management systems.
Compared to other QuickBooks payroll alternatives, Paylocity stands out for its in-depth employee management features from “hire to retire”. Notably, Paylocity’s expense management tools can let employees upload receipts on-the-go for approval and fast-track employee reimbursements. Additionally, Paylocity’s mobile app is reputed for letting business owners easily run payroll from anywhere and allow employees to do everything from manage benefits enrollments to check their paycheck contributions. On the other hand, Paylocity can be less user-friendly than QuickBooks payroll, especially for business owners and employees without an HR background. Some user reviews note that the multitude of features and integrations takes time to learn and navigate properly.
- Customized payroll and HR plans
- Hands-on tax filing assistance
- Excellent expense tracking tools
- Paylocity can be overwhelming for businesses without a dedicated HR staff member
- Pricing is generally not competitive with QuickBooks payroll
Which Alternative To QuickBooks Online Payroll Is Right For You?
Small businesses have a lot on their plates. Besides paying employees and filing payroll taxes, employers are also tasked with managing productivity, balancing the books, and providing employee benefits. The best small business payroll software can integrate payroll processing with these additional aspects of running a business, saving time, money, and stress.
While QuickBooks has built a strong reputation on its accounting and business software, its payroll services may not be the best fit for some small businesses. Depending on a business’s budget, desired features, and number of employees, one of the five aforementioned alternatives to QuickBooks payroll could better equip your business for success.
If you’re new to payroll and still weighing options, consider getting your feet wet with one of these free payroll software providers.
In Summary: Best Payroll Software Alternatives To QuickBooks Online
- Gusto: Best for smaller businesses and flexible payroll schedules.
- ADP Payroll: Best for growing businesses and customized features and integrations.
- Paychex: Best for analytics and reporting.
- Zenefits: Best for comprehensive HR features and integrations.
- Paylocity: Best for mobile-friendly payroll and HR solutions.