Find The Cheapest Payroll Service That Delivers What You Need
Each of these popular payroll apps offers both reasonable prices and robust features.
Online payroll services make the typically time-consuming task of running payroll by yourself faster and more efficient. An intuitive payroll process is particularly important for small business owners who have no room for error when they need to pay their employees. Small businesses, therefore, require a payroll option that has a great balance of features and a price point that doesn’t break the bank.
Feature-rich and cheap payroll software makes processing payroll easy, but it’s not as simple to quickly find the right option if you run your own small business. Thankfully, these days, business owners have a lot of options when it comes to inexpensive payroll software that still makes it easy to navigate taxes and benefits and pay employees on time.
Make your next payroll software purchase more informed with our list of the cheapest payroll services that deliver benefits small business owners are after.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
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5 Best & Cheapest Online Payroll Services
These five cheap payroll services also happen to be some of the best. From payment options and tax filing to direct deposits and more, these payroll services are great choices for small businesses. Each of these payroll software providers offers the necessary features, plus some extras, to satisfy nearly all payroll needs.
Best for small businesses overall.
When it comes to cheap and user-friendly online payroll services that still offer lots of features, Gusto reigns supreme. Gusto payroll software’s many features include a simple dashboard that displays upcoming payroll dates and deadlines, support for off-cycle payroll schedules and bonuses, and employee and contractor management to account for various deductions, earnings, and garnishments. Gusto’s four affordable plans are paid every month: ‘Basic’ starts at $19/mo and $6 per person; ‘Core’ at $39/mo and $6 per person; ‘Complete’ raises the per-person rate to $12/mo; and the top-tier ‘Concierge’ plan comes in at $149/month plus a rate of $12 per person for larger businesses that still want payroll software with competitive rates.
Gusto’s integrations with other popular software like TSheets, Xero, and QuickBooks allow for more advanced features such as time-tracking for contractors with multiple pay rates or job-costing calculations. With 60 integrations and an API for software developers, Gusto can cover everything from accounting and expense tracking to POS and project management. These integrations, as well as the core features that ship with Gusto’s software, are easy to set up and use for a high level of user-friendliness, which we discuss in more detail in our Gusto review. To keep calculations and the information it stores secure, Gusto uses 256-bit SSL Encryption, firewalls, and multifactor authentification as well as physical security measures to protect its data center such as anti-fraud measures.
Gusto receives high praise from users and maintains a rating of 4.7/5 stars on Capterra (based on 2,700+ ratings) and 8.8/10 stars on TrustRadius (based on 100+ ratings). Among the user reviews that do bring down Gusto’s average rating, complaints often center around a relative lack of reporting and time tracking capabilities compared to other online payroll services. The pros and cons of Gusto include:
- Transparent pricing across all main plans
- Integration options that enable many payroll features
- Modern data security standards like MFA and 256-bit SSL encryption
- Limited reporting
- Limited time tracking
2. Square Payroll
Best for foodservice retail businesses.
Foodservice and retail business owners who invest in their brick-and-mortar locations, as well as their online stores, should be eyeing Square’s payroll solution with interest. Square Payroll integrates with the Square POS software and its credit card processing services to create an all-in-one online payroll service that costs only $29/mo with a $5 per-employee fee and no flat subscription price. Restaurants and retailers who already use Square can look forward to an easy setup as well as multiple benefits from Square’s integrations and equipment such as tip calculations, timecard syncing, and even employee management from mobile devices.
When it comes to crunching numbers, Square Payroll makes things much quicker with automation. Automated tax management means that business owners with their hands full can sit back while Square automatically calculates withholdings and payment amounts. Square also automates its tax submissions to federal and state contacts so that businesses don’t forget about deadlines and incur fees. Square Payroll takes care of quarterly and year-end filings as well, as long as you remember to keep your business and employee information up-to-date in your software. The payroll software protects the information it processes with industry-leading data security and privacy standards that include HIPAA and PCI compliance.
User reviews tend to praise Square Payroll and its ease of use, especially for restaurants and retailers who already use Square, as well as its transparent and straightforward pricing. Square’s positive reception is reflected in its 4.6/5 star review on Capterra (based on 500+ reviews), which we cover in more detail in our Square Payroll review. Square Payroll isn’t without fault, though, and limits owners who are looking for a more expansive set of payroll functions like benefits administration, reporting, and schedule management for larger businesses.
The pros and cons of Square Payroll include:
- Easy integration with the Square POS
- Automated tax support and filing
- HIPAA and PCI-compliant security standards
- Huge amount of integrations with Square equipment
- Limited features for larger businesses
- A relatively small range of payroll functions
Best for business owners on multiple devices.
OnPay offers arguably the best mobile experience for businesses that need features for eCommerce as well as in-person customer experiences. OnPay’s features such as unlimited payroll runs, employee self-service portals, and time management options are all available through a sole service plan that costs $36/mo with a $4 monthly per-person fee. OnPay organizes payroll processing for small businesses with its core set of multi-state payroll services that come at no extra cost to business owners and offers QuickBooks/OnPay integrations to further consolidate accounting and payroll tasks on multiple devices.
OnPay’s online platform complements its availability on different devices with a high level of usability and easily navigable custom fields and forms that are backed up by industry-standard SSL high-grade encryption connected to a 24/7 data facility. The high praise that Onpay receives for its mobile experience, intuitive online platform, and strong customer support contribute to its average score of 4.8/5 on Capterra (based on 300+ reviews) and is why OnPay made it into our article, The Best Payroll Software For Small Businesses. OnPay’s rating is slightly brought down by complaints from businesses about the single service plan option and lack of scalability for larger businesses. The pros and cons of OnPay include:
- Strong online and mobile platform
- A single service plan offers a relatively high amount of features
- Good customer support
- Poor scalability for larger businesses
- Mobile version is limited compared to desktop version
Not Yet Rated
Best for small businesses dedicated to security.
Among the simpler and more straightforward online payroll systems, SurePayroll is the go-to choice for small businesses that don’t need lots of bells and whistles. What SurePayroll lacks in advanced features, though, it more than makes up for with a user-friendly dashboard from which business owners can access core modules for payroll runs and reporting, pay stub management, and time tracking. SurePayroll also integrates easily with popular software like Xero and QuickBooks, which augments its relatively sparse set of core features and consolidates payroll and accounting calculations for businesses. SurePayroll makes itself a competitive option in its price range, currently $29/mo and $4 per person, although this pricing can be difficult to find as SurePayroll doesn’t publish its prices online.
SurePayroll gets the job done when it comes to straightforward processing with full tax support, and at its current price, this online payroll software ranks among the least expensive options available. Where SurePayroll truly shines, and which contributes to its average Capterra review of 4.2 (based on 200+ reviews) and Trustradius review of 8.2/10, is its dedication to security, which we discuss in more detail in our SurePayroll review. User reviews cite SurePayroll’s dedication to data security which is evident in penetration testing and annual audits, in addition to more standard security measures like double-encryption of data and virus and malware detection. Additional praise points to SurePayroll’s helpful customer service which makes it doubly simple to run payroll and pay payroll taxes on time. The pros and cons of SurePayroll include:
- Impressive data security protection methods and standards
- Easily navigable user dashboard with essential payroll processing features
- Strong tax support for small businesses
- Non-transparent pricing
- A relatively limited set of features without software integrations
5. Patriot Payroll
Best for quickly growing small businesses.
Patriot Payroll’s solid range of features aims to streamline payroll for small and growing businesses. Business owners can calculate multiple employee pay rates, track employee hours worked (as well as sick and leave days), and offer their employees direct deposit payments that don’t come at an extra cost. QuickBooks/Patriot Payroll and Workforce.com/Patriot Payroll integrations further enhance payroll processing with expense sorting by tax categories and advanced scheduling, time, and attendance. For quickly growing small businesses, Patriot Payroll’s fast onboarding and handling of payroll setup and employee data entry are perfect for busy business owners.
Patriot Payroll is an affordable option for small businesses looking for online payroll services. It starts at $10/mo with a per-person fee of $4 through its ‘Basic’ plan. Patriot Payroll’s ‘Full Service’ plan starts at $30/mo to include options for tax filing and depositing while maintaining the same per-employee rate. However, even at its highest plan, the software lacks some typically standard features such as benefits administration, time-keeping, and extra filing options for 1099 employees (this is only the case at the ‘Basic’ level, though). Overall, Patriot Payroll is highly praised on Capterra with an average rating of 4.8 (based on 2,600 reviews) by small businesses hungry to scale their operations with a price-conscious and cheap payroll service. The pros and cons of Patriot Payroll include:
- Two payroll plans offer flexibility for rapidly growing businesses
- Integrations with popular software augment feature set
- Fast onboarding and new employee data entry process
- Limited features with ‘Basic’ service plan
- Poor scalability for large businesses