The Complete Gusto VS QuickBooks Online Payroll Comparison
|Pricing||Starting at $39/mo. + $6/mo. per user||Starting at $45/mo. + $4/mo. per user|
|Ease of Use||Excellent||Good|
|Reviews & Complaints||Excellent||Fair|
|Best For||Small businesses looking for easy-to-use benefits administration and payroll processing as well as HR resources||Small- to medium-sized businesses that already use QuickBooks for accounting and want health insurance benefits for multi-state employees|
Small businesses in 2021 can breathe easy knowing that there are tons of affordable, feature-rich payroll and HR software to choose from. Among the most popular of these platforms are Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll, each of which offers different plans and prices depending on your business’s size and goals. Of course, it’s tough to know which software solution makes the most sense for you without some digging into their finer details, which is exactly what this article aims to do.
Table of Contents
- Gusto VS QuickBooks Online Payroll
- Ease of Use
- Customer Service & Support
- Reviews & Complaints
- The Key Differences Between Gusto & Intuit Online Payroll
- Which Is Best For My Business Needs: QuickBooks Payroll Or Gusto?
- Gusto VS QuickBooks Online Payroll Comparison: The Final Verdict
Gusto VS QuickBooks Online Payroll
Gusto works best for new companies that need full-service payroll processing and HR resources, while QuickBooks’s strong accounting, time-tracking, and health insurance options are great for companies with lots of hourly employees who work in multiple states and want quick access to their list of benefits.
Before we go for a deep dive into how Gusto and QuickBooks Online’s price points and features compare, let’s zoom out for a bird’s eye view of their biggest selling points and ideal audience.
Gusto, which started as ZenPayroll in 2012, is a cloud-based payroll and HR platform that aims to make it easier for businesses to focus on growth and scaling. As of 2020, Gusto serves more than 100,000 U.S.-based companies via four main plans for salaried employees. And with its seamless combination of benefits administration, 401(k)s, HR, and onboarding services — packaged into a software platform that’s valid for use in all 50 states — it’s easy to see why this payroll solution has gained such a large user base.
Gusto’s plans, even its lowest-priced ‘Core’ plan, do a superb job of balancing payroll management functions with processes that can help small businesses streamline HR. The most robust features available, such as time-tracking capabilities and an on-call center of HR professionals, are unfortunately barred until you purchase the higher-level (read: more expensive) plans. With that said, Gusto still offers a range of functionality for payroll processing and employee management even with its most affordable plan.
For up-and-coming businesses that need some help streamlining payroll calculations and tax filing processes, Gusto is an absolute godsend. The platform’s automated payroll service, Gusto AutoPilot®, can easily save smaller businesses (those with fewer than 100 employees) untold hours of time and unnecessary levels of stress. And since Gusto is totally cloud-based, employees in multiple states can use Gusto’s services no matter where they’re located.
- Stellar track record for customer service support
- Full-service payroll and worker’s comp across all pricing plans
- Lower base starting prices than Intuit Online Payroll
- Simple interface that’s easy to get started with
- Direct-deposit times slower than Intuit Online
- Lackluster reporting and time-tracking capabilities compared to Intuit
- Health benefits limited to certain U.S. states
Intuit Online Payroll Overview
Intuit Online Payroll integrates directly with QuickBooks online for an intuitive payroll solution. The online platform balances an interface that’s familiar to existing QuickBooks users with many added integrations and a large selection of features. Business owners must ensure they have an existing QuickBooks Online account before they can begin using Intuit Online Payroll, after which they can enjoy an easy setup to get started.
Intuit Online Payroll makes it particularly easy for businesses to track and provide benefits for employees who operate in multiple states. Unlike with Gusto, businesses can use QuickBooks Payroll to cover employees with health insurance benefits in any U.S. state. And, also unlike Gusto, Intuit Online Payroll has highly robust time-tracking tools that businesses can use for non-salaried, hourly employees.
Intuit Online Payroll is most attractive to businesses that don’t want to focus so much on their HR-related processes and services as much as they do on their accounting-specific needs. Intuit’s plans focus predominantly on payroll processing and speedy direct-deposit capabilities, which make the most sense for companies that disperse personnel and have varying pay runs and pay dates.
- Fast direct deposit compared to Gusto
- Familiar interface for existing QuickBooks users
- Health insurance benefits valid in all 50 U.S. states
- Superior time-tracking and recording options
- Requires existing QuickBooks account to use
- Weak benefits options in relation to Gusto
- Spotty track record for customer service
|Pricing||Starting at $39/mo. + $6/mo. per user||Starting at $45/mo. + $4/mo. per user|
|Health Insurance||Available in 27 States||Available in Every U.S. State|
|Human Resources||Varied; onboarding and new hire resources available in all plans; HR resource center, templates, employee directory available with ‘Concierge’ Plan||Limited HR resources and options for HR advising|
|Integrations||Integrates with popular third-party softwares (QuickBooks, Xero, TSheets)||Integrations limited primarily to other Intuit software as well as TSheets|
|Customer Support||Unlimited online chat and phone support on weekdays with great track record of reviews||Online chat and phone support on weekdays with mixed track record of customer reviews|
The features that come with both QuickBooks Payroll and Gusto include the basics you’d likely expect from a modern, internet-enabled payroll solution. QuickBooks has recently expanded the options it provides for reports and features, although Gusto also offers a large number of features as well, such as an employee portal, HR resources, and options for employee management. Take a look at the main features you can expect with both Intuit Online Payroll and Gusto:
Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll use employee portals that are similar in that they show previous and upcoming payday dates for employees. However Intuit Online requires that your employees log in to their portals using either the email address they have registered with TurboTax or the one you provided when first setting QuickBooks Online Payroll. You can also configure the Intuit Online Payroll portal to display only the information you want employees to see while you’re going through the setup process.
Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll both share payroll tax processing capabilities on their lowest-priced plans; however, Gusto can process local-level tax payments in addition to federal and state-level taxes. With Gusto, businesses can calculate and automatically process federal, state, and local taxes, and can safely and securely report tax payments for new hires as well as important employee tax documents, including W2 forms and 1099s.
Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll both offer benefits administration capabilities, although QuickBooks has a larger focus on growing its benefits options. Currently, Intuit Online Payroll offers benefits available through Simply Insured, and continues to roll out updates slated for the future via Mammoth, Inc. (including additional HR administration integrations). This is significant since QuickBooks does not often integrate with systems outside of the QuickBooks Suite, which can often force businesses to go back and forth with their record-keeping.
Gusto’s benefits administration options, while more limited at lower-priced plans, still makes it easy for companies to manage benefits from a single online portal.
Time Tracking & Reporting
Reporting capabilities with Gusto include view/export options for payroll-related documents as well as documentation related to important tax and employee information. Gusto’s mid-tier ‘Complete’ plan allows for simple time-tracking capabilities and the ability for business owners to sync up their time-tracking to their payroll.
In comparison, QuickBooks Online Payroll offers more mature time and project-tracking capabilities that allow you to track projects by hours as well as by billed labor expenses. The software also allows for reports that generate activity feeds complete with notes, custom project updates, and photos.
Gusto’s ‘Concierge’ plan includes an HR resource center of on-call, certified HR professionals who can supplement your business’s existing HR department and processes. The plan also includes an HR and compliance support option, as well as a custom employee handbook, employee relations advising, and HR guides and policy templates to expedite the creation of your internal HR resources.
Intuit Online Payroll has comparatively few HR options and related services, although its premium plan does offer an HR support center that includes resources on HR compliance as well as best practices to follow.
Pricing options for Intuit Payroll and Gusto both come in different tiers with starting base prices and per-month fees for eligible employees who are added to plans. The biggest factor to consider between the two is the monthly per-person fee, depending on how many employees you staff. For instance, Gusto likely makes more sense than Intuit Online Payroll for companies that only have independent contractors on their payroll.
Gusto’s pricing plans begin with the ‘Core’ plan, starting at $39/month with a $6 monthly per-person fee, and go up to the highest-priced ‘Concierge’ plan, whose base price starts at $149 per month plus a $12 per-person monthly fee. QuickBooks Payroll follows a similar pricing structure and also includes three main plans for salaried employees, the first of which, also named ‘Core, starts at $45 per month with a $4 per-employee monthly fee. Intuit Online’s plans go up to the ‘Elite’ plan, with a base starting price of $125/month and a per-employee monthly fee of $10.
A few add-on payments are available for both Intuit Online Payroll and Gusto pricing plans. For Gusto, members can choose to purchase add-ons for certain benefits like 401(k) retirement plans and savings accounts. These add-ons all include their own base starting prices with per-employee monthly fees, the same as the three main pricing plans.
With Intuit Online Payroll, users can also purchase add-on features that become part of their QuickBooks Payroll subscription, including 1099 electronic filing and TSheets mobile access. Both Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll offer 30-day free trials that don’t require any contract sign-ons or requirements, so you can get a feel for plans and prices that work best for you and your business’s bottom line.
Ease of Use
Both Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll have strong ease of use and intuitive user interfaces. Both software apps are well-organized, with main dashboards that clearly point you to the most important payroll information. In terms of getting started, however, there’s a bit to be desired from both software solutions. When it comes to Gusto, there’s no option to help users with the implementation process; Intuit Online Payroll has an equally tedious onboarding process that only gets better with higher-tiered plans that have experts available to help.
Previous QuickBooks users will likely have a smoother implementation and onboarding experience than those who have never used the platform. Although Intuit Online Payroll is well-organized with a navigable UI, it may seem unfamiliar to someone who’s never used QuickBooks Online.
Gusto users may be turned off by the fact that they only have access to written instructions to assist with the implementation and onboard process, although customer support is available if you get stuck or end up with questions.
Customer Service & Support
Gusto provides users with a range of support resources and multiple ways to get in touch with a customer support representative. In fact, Gusto’s customer support team is one of its most commonly praised features, no matter which pricing plan customers are using. Gusto’s plans all offer unlimited phone, chat, and email support that’s available any time between 6 AM to 5 PM, Mondays through Fridays. The software also provides premium, on-call HR support that comes with the ‘Concierge’ plan. Other available Gusto support options for customers include in-software support, an ‘Ask Gusto’ service tool for FAQs and how-tos, and customer service presences on social media.
Intuit Online Payroll makes it easy to chat with customer service representatives both via phone and online chat. For all of its pricing plans, Intuit Online provides online chat and telephone support available on Mondays through Fridays from 6 AM to 6 PM PT. Additionally, the software makes premium support available with its ‘Elite’ plan, as well as a help center that includes FAQs and how-to forms. Like Gusto, Intuit Online Payroll maintains customer support options on its social media presences such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Reviews & Complaints
Gusto has received an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 on Capterra, based on more than 2,000 ratings, and is the clear winner against Intuit Online Payroll when it comes to reviews and complaints. Gusto has relatively few negative user reviews levied against it, most of which are concerned with the software’s admittedly limited reporting capabilities, a lack of privacy when it comes to payroll processing, and poor scalability for larger, growing businesses.
Intuit Online Payroll maintains a solid overall rating on the Better Business Bureau site, but unfortunately has a significant amount of negative comments regarding misfiled taxes, payment miscommunications, and a generally poor level of quality in customer service representation. The most significant complaints against QuickBooks Online Payroll regard nontransparent pricing and fees and poor communication from customer service reps.
Integration capabilities are essential for payroll and HR solutions that need extra features. Both Intuit Online Payroll and Gusto can integrate with additional software and partner add-ons such as benefits and savings options for employees. Gusto edges out Inuit Online Payroll in terms of integrations, though, since it lets users integrate with third-party platforms (including QuickBooks Online!) and time-tracking tools. Intuit Online Payroll limits its users to only other Intuit integrative tools and forces them to manually input data from third-party accounting software.
The Key Differences Between Gusto & Intuit Online Payroll
Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll both do a great job of simplifying a business’s payroll processes. Here are the biggest differences between Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll to help you decide which solution is best for you:
- Human Resources: Gusto is decidedly the stronger contender when it comes to available resources to streamline HR processes. With its higher-tiered plans, Gusto gives businesses direct access to industry-certified HR professionals as well as templates and resources that companies can incorporate for internal use. Intuit Online Payroll has a relative dearth of HR resources; only its premium plan offers HR support with resources and compliance tools.
- Pricing: QuickBooks Payroll’s monthly, per-employee fee for each added eligible employee is lower than what Gusto can provide. Therefore, depending on how many (or few) employees you staff, QuickBooks Online Payroll does come out as the more affordable of the two software solutions. However, companies who predominantly or exclusively staff independent contractors (1099s) will be hard-pressed to find a payroll processing software more affordable than Gusto, which offers a ‘Contractor’ plan with zero base starting fees and a low per-employee fee of just $6/month for your hired contractors.
- Add-Ons: Gusto offsets its relatively expensive per-employee monthly fees with fewer purchasable add-ons. This is partly due to the fact that Gusto includes more free features than Intuit Online Payroll does. Intuit Online Payroll, on the other hand, charges users for add-ons such as tax filing for 1099 forms as well as same-day direct deposit for independent contractors, which come standard with Gusto’s lowest-priced plan.
- Integration: Gusto objectively offers more integration options for third-party tools. QuickBooks Online has a poor history of playing nicely with other software, and limits users to integration with other Intuit Tools. Gusto robustly integrates with third-party platforms such as Xero, TSheets, and even QuickBooks, and even includes an open application programming interface (API).
Which Is Best For My Business Needs: QuickBooks Payroll Or Gusto?
Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll overlap with each other in more ways than one. But at the end of the day, the one you choose for your business will depend on your immediate and long-term focuses, as well as what you’ll be using the software for most often.
Choose Gusto If…
- You staff fewer than 100 employees and need to streamline their payroll system
- You employ mostly 1099 contractors who work in multiple states
- You value top-notch, easy-to-reach customer service support representatives
Choose Intuit Online Payroll If…
- You already use QuickBooks for your functional accounting and want to quickly and easily integrate it with Inuit Online Payroll
- You want faster direct deposit options for your employees, which is especially helpful for out-of-state employees on different pay runs
- You mostly employ W2 employees for whom you want low per-employee fees.
Gusto VS QuickBooks Online Payroll Comparison: The Final Verdict
Gusto’s seamless combination of payroll processing, new hire onboarding, and HR and benefits management services makes it one of the most robust and affordable software solutions for small businesses. Its transparent pricing model and structure provide clients with peace of mind no matter which plan they choose. And, its 401(k) and savings plans are all easily accessible through the software’s benefits options.
Intuit Online Payroll’s value is most apparent in its solid health insurance options and integration with other Intuit tools. If you and your team already use QuickBooks and want options for health insurance benefits, it probably makes sense to use Intuit Online. Intuit Online Payroll may also be the more affordable option if you don’t staff any independent contractors and are looking to grow your business past 100 employees.
Ultimately, you can make your decision as easy as possible by simply assessing how many staff you employ and determining whether you need to scale your HR and benefits options. Businesses that require reliable and customizable HR resources as well as payroll processes should consider purchasing a plan with Gusto. If your company staffs more than 100 employees, especially if they’re working in different states and need access to health insurance benefits, then Intuit Online Payroll is likely your best bet.