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 paying 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 for small businesses make processing payroll easy, but it’s not as simple to quickly find the right option for your 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 software 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.
1. Gusto: Comprehensive Payroll Software For Small Businesses
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. ‘Contractor Only’ starts at $6 per person, ‘Core’ at $39/month and $6 per person, ‘Complete’ raises the per-person rate to $12/month, and the top-tier ‘Concierge’ plan comes in at $149/month plus $12 per person for larger businesses that still want payroll software with competitive rates. Businesses with more complex payroll needs should opt for the ‘Select’ plan to work with a Gusto representative to find the right Gusto solution for their needs.
Gusto’s integrations with other popular software, such as QuickBooks Time, Xero, and QuickBooks, allow for more advanced features, including time-tracking for contractors with multiple pay rates or job-costing calculations. With over 120 integrations and an API for software developers, Gusto can cover everything from accounting and expense tracking to POS and project management. These integrations and 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 post on Gusto’s pricing plans and features. To keep calculations and the information it stores secure, Gusto uses 256-bit SSL encryption, firewalls, and multifactor authentification as well as physical security (such as anti-fraud measures) to protect its data center.
Gusto receives high praise from users and maintains a rating of 4.7/5 stars on Capterra (based on 3,100+ ratings) and 7.5/10 stars on TrustRadius (based on 170+ 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. Other complaints cited slow-paced error resolution and difficulties troubleshooting issues through customer service.
- Transparent pricing
- 120+ integrations
- Strong security measures
- Limited reporting
- Limited time tracking
2. Square Payroll: Affordable Payroll Software For Foodservice & Retail Businesses
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 Square POS software and its credit card processing services to create an all-in-one online payroll service that costs only $35/month with a $5 per-employee fee and no flat subscription price on its ‘Employees and Contractors’ plan. The software’s ‘Contractors Only’ plan costs $5 per employee with no monthly base rate. Restaurants and retailers that already use Square can look forward to an easy setup and 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 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 that already use Square, as well as its transparent and straightforward pricing. Square’s positive reception is reflected in its 4.7/5 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, such as benefits administration, reporting, and schedule management for larger businesses.
- Integrates with Square POS hardware
- Automated tax support and filing
- Excellent security standards
- Square Team mobile app support
- Limited features for larger businesses
- Limited payroll functions
3. OnPay: Payroll Software For On-The-Go Businesses
Best for business owners on multiple devices.
OnPay offers arguably the best mobile experience for businesses that need eCommerce and in-person features. 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/month with a $4 monthly per-person fee.
OnPay organizes payroll processing for small businesses with its core set of multistate payroll services that come at no extra cost to business owners. It also offers QuickBooks/OnPay integrations for further consolidation of 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 360+ reviews) and why it made it into our article, The 8 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.
- Strong online and mobile platform
- Single service plan with many features
- Good customer support
- Poor scalability for larger businesses
- The mobile version is limited compared to the desktop version
4. SurePayroll: Cheap Payroll Software With The Best Security
Best for small businesses dedicated to security.
As one of the most 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. Business owners can access core modules for payroll runs and reporting, pay stub management, and time tracking from the dashboard. SurePayroll also integrates easily with popular software such as 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/month 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. Plus, at its current price, this online payroll software ranks among the least expensive options available.
Where SurePayroll truly shines is its dedication to security, which we discuss in more detail in our SurePayroll review. This dedication contributes to its average Capterra review of 4.2 (based on 200+ reviews) and Trustradius review of 8.2/10. Users repeatedly cite SurePayroll’s commitment to data security, which is evident in penetration testing, annual audits, and more standard security measures, such as double-encryption of data and virus and malware detection. Additional praise points to SurePayroll’s helpful customer service, making it doubly simple to run payroll and pay payroll taxes on time.
- Impressive data security protection
- Easy to use dashboard
- Strong tax support for small businesses
- Non-transparent pricing
- One software integration
5. Patriot Payroll: Easy To Use Payroll Software For Small To Mid-Sized Businesses
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 further enhances payroll processing with advanced scheduling, time, and attendance functionality. 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/month with a per-person fee of $4 through its ‘Basic’ plan. Patriot Payroll’s ‘Full Service’ plan starts at $30/month 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.
- Two affordable payroll plans
- QuickBooks integration
- Quick and simple onboarding
- ‘Basic’ plan has limited features
- Poor scalability for large businesses
Choosing The Most Affordable Payroll Software For Your Business
Choosing affordable payroll services starts with assessing your business’s payroll needs — whether that’s comprehensive tax support, QuickBooks integration, or anything in between. Once you have a list going, you can narrow down the number of payroll software contenders to include only those that meet all your requirements, including a low price point. This strategy can help you avoid the pitfall of sacrificing function and service for a lower price point. If you’re paying for payroll software that doesn’t do what you need it to do, then you’re essentially tossing money away.
Save your hard-earned dollars by figuring out where your business’s needs stand on the following payroll software features:
- Security features
- Ease of use
- Mobile app offerings
- Number of users per plan allowance
- Customer support options
- Tax support
If you find that you’d rather do away with trying to figure out payroll software, there’s always the DIY option. Running payroll manually can help your business save on payroll software costs, but it increases the chance of human error in your payroll process and can take tons of time. Moreover, as your business grows and employs more individuals, you may find that manual payroll isn’t scalable. With that said, if you’re determined to make a go of it, check out our post: How To Do Your Own Payroll In 11 Easy Steps for detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to run payroll manually.
Cheap Payroll Services FAQs
In Summary: 5 Best & Cheapest Online Payroll Services
- Gusto: Comprehensive payroll software for small businesses
- Square Payroll: Affordable payroll software for foodservice & retail businesses
- OnPay: Payroll software for on-the-go businesses
- SurePayroll: Cheap payroll software with the best security
- Patriot Payroll: Easy to use payroll software for small to mid-sized businesses