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The 5 Best Gusto Competitors For Your Payroll 

    Kevin Brouillard
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Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

Handling payroll for employees can be challenging when running a small business. To save business owners time and stress, a wide range of payroll companies offer to streamline the process by calculating withholdings, filing taxes, and cutting paychecks. 

If you’re looking for a user-friendly payroll solution, Gusto has likely come up in your search. Although Gusto pricing is a big draw for many small business customers, it’s also important to consider what features, HR functions, and software integrations are needed for your business. Gusto is an excellent HR and payroll solution, as you can see in our full review of Gusto, but depending on the unique needs of your small business, an alternative to Gusto might meet your needs better.

To help decide what payroll software is best for you, we’ll explore the five best Gusto alternatives and evaluate when they may be a better fit for a business.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyBest ForNext StepsBest For
ADP Payroll

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Best for customized features and integrations.
Best for customized features and integrations.

Get A Quote

Read More

Paychex

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Best for analytics and reporting.
Best for analytics and reporting.

Visit Site

Read More

Paycor

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Best for growing small businesses.
Best for growing small businesses.

Visit Site

Read More

Square Payroll

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Best for small businesses that employ only independent contractors.
Best for small businesses that employ only independent contractors.

Visit Site

Read More

Zenefits

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Best for HR integrations.
Best for HR integrations.

Start Trial

Read More

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Payroll Companies To Consider For A Gusto Alternative

There are seemingly endless options for running payroll. These top Gusto competitors could be a solid choice depending on business size, available features, and other factors. Read on for our in-depth review of when to consider these Gusto alternatives. 

1. ADP

ADP Payroll



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Best for customized features and integrations.

With nearly 700,000 small business customers, ADP has made a name for itself among payroll processing companies. 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. Starting with the Essential plan, ADP covers core payroll functions, including tax filing, direct deposit, automated processing, new hire reporting, and 24/7 customer support. Upgrading to the Enhanced plan gives businesses access to a suite of other payroll and HR services, such as a ZipRecruiter subscription, employee background checks, and assistance complying with local labor laws. ADP’s top-tier plans provide the greatest level of customization to a business’s individual needs. For instance, ADP can develop employee handbooks and training

There’s a lot that goes into managing a small business, and ADP makes it easy to integrate a variety of software with its payroll services. Businesses that do their accounting with QuickBooks, Wave, or Xero can simply connect their software. There are also options to integrate software related to time and attendance, benefits administration, point of sale, and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Even if a specific software program isn’t listed, ADP may be willing to make accommodations for their payroll customers.

Business owners who are new to ADP (or to payroll software, in general) will appreciate the platform’s organized interface. Additionally, ADP staff are on hand to walk customers through the setup process. ADP’s employee portal is very user-friendly as well, and makes it easy for workers to access pay stubs, tax forms, and other HR information. This level of support is reflected in numerous positive reviews from small business customers. On the flipside, some customers have expressed frustration with less than straightforward pricing structures.

Read our full comparison of Gusto and ADP for more details about how the two differ.

Pros

  • Round-the-clock customer support
  • Comprehensive payroll and employee management features
  • Flexibility for integrating other software

Cons

  • Pricing for ADP plans is not transparent
  • ADP charges a fee per payroll run

Get Started with ADP Payroll

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

2. Paychex

Paychex



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Read our Review

Best for analytics and reporting

Paychex has been providing full-service payroll for businesses of all sizes for half a century. There are three Paychex plans available to accommodate a diverse range of payroll and HR needs for small businesses. The most basic plan, Paychex Go, can take care of essential payroll functions and payment of employees by direct deposit, paycard, or check. This plan also includes basic analytics, time tracking, tax administration, and new hire reporting. Moving up to either the Flex Select or Flex Enterprise plans will grant access to a dedicated payroll specialist, employee wellness programs, and integrations with a variety of accounting, POS, and productivity tools. Paychex provides 160 standard reports and options for customized analysis with top-tier plans. This detailed information on payroll, HR, and more can be invaluable for strategic planning and decision-making.

Paychex’s decades of experience also translate to strong customer support and an overall user-friendly product. Paychex staff will handle the entire setup process for you, including entering tax and employee data. New users generally find Paychex’s desktop interface and mobile app easy to use. If customers encounter any problems later on, a Paychex representative is available 24/7 by phone or live chat. And with over 100 brick-and-mortar offices, in-person assistance may be feasible based on where your business is located. Small business employees can also get the support they need through Paychex’s Help Center.

Aside from its core payroll functions, Paychex is reputed for offering benefits administration from “hire to retire”. Small businesses offering health insurance, retirement plans, and other comprehensive benefits may prefer Paychex’s in-depth offerings and ability to integrate everything in one place. It’s worth noting that the extra cost for these add-on features can accumulate quickly. To stay in the ballpark of Gusto pricing, Paychex Go is the closest Gusto alternative. Customers pay a base fee of $59 a month plus $4 per additional employee.

Pros

  • Ability to consolidate payroll and HR in one easy-to-use interface
  • Extensive reporting and analytic capabilities
  • Payroll solutions can be scaled for growing businesses
  • Strong overall payroll features

Cons

  • Pricing for Flex Select and Flex Enterprise is not publicly advertised
  • Limited integrations outside Paychex

Get Started with Paychex

Read our in-depth review

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3. Paycor

Paycor



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Read our Review

Best for growing small businesses.

Employers with 1 to 39 employees have three plans to explore in Paycor’s small business bundle: Basic, Essential, and Complete. The Basic plan includes payroll processing, tax filing, a mobile app, and basic reporting. Stepping up to the Essential plan provides custom reporting, PTO administration, employee onboarding, compliance assistance, and support with deductions for garnishments and child support. Paycor’s top-tier Complete plan gives small businesses access to one-on-one HR support, employee benefits integrations, and advanced analytics. Additionally, Paycor supports several dozen integrations which can further round out a business’s payroll and HR management. Some examples include expense management apps, point of sale, accounting software, and background screening.

Ease of use is another major selling point for Paycor. Employers or HR staff can personalize the dashboard by adding or removing features as they see fit. Whether onboarding new employees or growing your team’s skillset, learning can be important to a business’s success and long-term growth. Paycor offers a Learning Management System to conduct training and courses on a variety of topics. This can help with employee retention and staying competitive in the marketplace. As employees continue with a business, Paycor’s software can track their performance with data on workflow and completed tasks

When it comes to pricing, Paycor is a major Gusto competitor. Paycor’s Basic plan costs a flat rate of $99 a month for up to 10 employees. A side-by-side comparison with Gusto’s most affordable Core plan reveals that Paycor can be cheaper. For instance, a business with 10 employees would pay $109 for Gusto ($39 base fee + $6 per employee) and $99 for Paycor. Small businesses with just a few workers will likely find this software too costly compared to Gusto, but could save money as businesses expand.

Pros

  • Pricing is very competitive for businesses with close to 10 employees
  • Both the employer and employee portals are easy to navigate.
  • Strong employee learning and performance tools

Cons

  • Pricing structure is not transparent for businesses with 11+ employees
  • Limited benefits administration outside the Midwest

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

4. Square Payroll

Square Payroll



Visit Site

Read our Review

Best for small businesses that employ only independent contractors.

Square payroll has two options for small business customers: the Pay Contractors Only Plan or Pay Employees & Contractors Plan. The former costs just $5 a month per independent contractor paid. The latter comes out to a base fee of $29 a month plus $5 per person paid, making Square very competitive with Gusto pricing. In exchange for these cost savings, Square requires a more DIY approach than other payroll processing companies. Employers are responsible for inputting their business and tax information, structuring employee pay rates and PTO accrual, and setting up any integrated software. Once it’s up and running though, Square’s employer and employee portals are both intuitive and user-friendly for accessing tax forms, payroll history, and basic reporting.

Square takes care of core payroll functions, including direct deposit, tax withholdings, and the ability to automate payroll runs. More complex features, such as benefits administration and employee management, are available at an additional cost. Square payroll is very compatible with its sister products. Any business already using Square POS and Square Appointments, for example, would be able to coordinate payroll, sales, and time tracking in one place. There are a handful of other possible integrations outside the realm of Square, including QuickBooks, ZipRecruiter, SimplyInsured, and TSheets.

Whether a small business pays independent contractors or employees will influence payroll processing requirements. To clarify, independent contractors are typically hired on a per-project basis and have greater autonomy as to when and how they work. Meanwhile, employees receive wages and benefits like health insurance and sick leave for working under an employer’s direction and control. Employers are only responsible for withholding taxes and other deductions for their employees, not independent contractors. So, if paying independent contractors is the extent of your payroll needs, Square’s pricing ($5 per person) has a slight edge on Gusto pricing ($6 per person).

For more details and a comprehensive comparison, read our post: Square Payroll vs Gusto: Which Software Is Better?

Pros

  • User-friendly mobile app
  • Competitive and transparent pricing
  • Works seamlessly with other Square products

Cons

  • Limited features and reporting included in either payroll
  • Limited choices for integrations

Get Started with Square Payroll

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

5. Zenefits

Zenefits



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Read our Review

Best for HR integrations.

As its name suggests, benefits are a core component of a payroll solution with Zenefits. In fact, payroll is an add-on module that must be purchased in combination with one of the company’s three HR software plans: Essentials, Growth, and Zen. Payroll comes at an additional cost of $6 per employee with any of these options. A robust HR platform has its advantages for Zenefits payroll customers. For example, new hire reporting, time tracking, PTO, and benefits deductions are all automatically synced between the HR and payroll modules. Zenefits also covers direct deposits, tax filings, multiple pay rates, garnishments, reporting on tipped earnings, and issuing bonuses. Zenefits can integrate with a host of productivity, accounting, and learning software too. Meanwhile, extensive reporting options can provide insight into business operations and payroll topics.

Determining which Zenefits HR plan to pair payroll with is an important consideration. The Essentials plan costs $10/month per employee and is the most rudimentary in terms of workforce management. Its main features are employee onboarding, document management, scheduling, and a mobile app for recording hours worked and accessing HR information. Upgrading to the Growth plan increases the per employee cost to $18/month, but provides compensation and performance management for employees. Ponying up for the Zen plan, which costs $27/month per employee, gives access to top-level HR management tools and employee benefits. Given that Zenefits starts its pricing at five employees, small businesses with four or fewer workers might find this payroll option less cost-effective than other Gusto alternatives, such as Square or Paycor.

Pros

  • Convenient integration of HR and payroll services
  • Extensive mobile app capabilities
  • Straightforward interface

Cons

  • Pricing structure isn’t ideal for businesses with 1-4 employees
  • No option for stripped-down payroll processing

Get Started with Zenefits

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

Looking For Something That Didn't Make The Cut?

There are plenty of payroll processing companies to choose from, though not all can be classified as true Gusto competitors. The five payroll providers outlined on this list each rival or surpass Gusto in regard to pricing, business size, type of employee, or available features. So, which popular payroll companies didn’t make the cut?

Intuit Online Payroll

Intuit is a leader in the accounting software realm, but is less of a standout when it comes to payroll services. Anyone experienced with QuickBooks will find Intuit Online’s interface familiar and easy to use. However, Intuit Online comes with some notable drawbacks. Namely, health insurance is the only type of employee benefit that is supported, whereas Gusto covers life insurance, flexible spending accounts, retirement, and more. Admittedly, there are a handful of states where Gusto cannot include health insurance coverage, so Intuit Online may have an edge depending on business location.

It’s worth noting that Intuit Online Payroll only supports automated payroll for salaried employees or those with default hours. If workers’ shifts and hours fluctuate, employers will have to manually input information and stay on top of their payroll schedule. Finally, the requirement to purchase a QuickBooks Online accounting subscription could be a barrier for businesses that are happy with their existing provider.

Our full and comprehensive comparison of Gusto and QuickBooks Online Payroll provides more details.

Payroll Companies For Small Business: FAQ

How much do payroll companies charge?

Payroll pricing varies considerably by company and type of plan. Payroll companies may charge a flat monthly fee, a variable rate based on the number of employees, or derive a custom price according to these and other factors.

How do payroll companies work?

Payroll companies provide software and technical support to calculate and run payroll. These firms may also offer HR and employee management services with a payroll plan.

Which is the cheapest payroll company?

The cheapest payroll company will differ between businesses, as pricing can be influenced by business size and other details. Comparing options is a helpful way to find a cost-effective payroll provider. 

What is the best Gusto alternative?

Whether one or more Gusto alternatives are a better fit for a small business will depend on their budget, goals, and characteristics.

Finding The Best Payroll Processing Company For Your Business

What with taxes, time tracking, and deductions, there’s a lot that goes into payroll. Getting set up with a trusted payroll company can save both time, money, and risk for small businesses.

While these five Gusto competitors could be a great fit in some scenarios, determining the best payroll software for any small business will always come down to individual needs. Start by assessing what employee benefits you offer (or plan to offer), your HR systems, and projected business growth before you begin your search for the best payroll processing company for your business, and you’ll be far more likely to find what you need.

In Summary: Payroll Companies To Consider For A Gusto Alternative

  1. ADP Payroll: Best for customized features and integrations.
  2. Paychex: Best for analytics and reporting.
  3. Paycor: Best for growing small businesses.
  4. Square Payroll: Best for small businesses that employ only independent contractors.
  5. Zenefits: Best for HR integrations.
Kevin Brouillard

Kevin Brouillard

Kevin Brouillard is a writer, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, aspiring goat farmer, and finance specialist based in Upstate New York. In addition to covering small business topics for Merchant Maverick, he has experience writing about environmental issues, travel, and personal finance.
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Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.

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