Best Payroll Services

Do you want to get straight to the answers? Gusto and OnPay are the best online payroll services for most people.

Both the tax obligations and payroll processing for employees can be stressful tasks for HR managers and business owners. Mismanagement of payroll can lead to employee disillusionment and even tax penalties.

This is the best way for you to manage your risks. Automating your payroll using an online payroll service is the best option. Each solution on my list was chosen for a different reason.

The top five picks can handle common payroll tasks such as scheduling, reporting on new hires, security, and other related tasks.

They are able to differentiate themselves by how they perform in key categories that most users consider critical. These include reporting, tax management, employee self-service, reporting, and ease of administration.

We interviewed real users to find out how our recommendations work in practice. We interviewed them to learn about the pros and cons of each payroll service and share insights that you won’t find elsewhere.


ZenPayroll was the original name of Gusto in 2012. Gusto has evolved to meet the needs of clients and offer more than just payroll services.

Gusto currently processes payroll for over 100,000 US businesses. Some companies have localized workers, while others have remote workforces with employees scattered across the 50 states.

Gusto simplifies managing dispersed workers with an engaging user interface. It makes payroll, HR and benefits simple for employees and administrators.

Gusto excels

Gusto is similar to OnPay. They focus on the user experience and make complicated topics easy to understand and manage. With a playful approach to design, they make it enjoyable.

Gusto is different from OnPay in the way they approach this, while also including core functionality required by larger businesses. Gusto’s unique combination of simplicity and robust functionality is the reason I chose it to be on my top five and why it’s great for remote teams.

These are the top areas where Gusto shines:

  • Simple to use. It can be difficult to manage remote workers and interact with them. Gusto makes it simple for a new company to start up, and it makes it easy to get new employees up to speed.
  • Streamlining onboarding and hiring processes is essential if your company is growing. Gusto makes it easy to hire new employees in an automated way. Gusto is great for remote employees.
  • Built-in time management tool (in higher levels) If you need to track your time with your workforce, you can subscribe for a higher level of Gusto and get this feature. You can also skip the integration with third-party tools, unlike OnPay which only allows integrations and has no native time tracking functionality.

Gusto’s simple and clean design is a big hit with users. Gusto’s cartoon illustrations and prancing animated pigs may not be for everyone, but they are loved by many. One user who we spoke to said, “Thank God that we have Gusto. This is how simple it is. Yay!”

With simple checklists and templates for basic tasks like offer letters, onboarding new staff is easy with digital signatures. Gusto makes it so simple for employers to make in-person staff onboarding a thing of past for even localized workers.

Gusto, a Gusto HR manager who manages multiple $1 million companies, explained how her company’s employee onboarding process has changed. Her team created an explainer video showing how the employee’s tablet works. Instead of spending time with the new hire to go over all the features, her team shared that video via Gusto.

Remote workers also appreciate the ease of onboarding new employees. An automated email series can be sent to guide the employee through the onboarding process. This allows employees to work with smaller chunks of information rather than experiencing data overload on their first day at work.

Gusto is easy to understand for anyone on staff, even those with limited tech skills, which saves her time and helps solve common issues.

She said that the same people who use Gusto also use other platforms. “I hear all this stuff on all these platforms, but not Gusto.”

Gusto offers unlimited payroll runs and flexibility for running your payroll monthly. Like OnPay, there are no predetermined payroll cycles and you won’t be charged extra for processing more payroll. Gusto allows you to adjust your payroll processing needs as they change or when you have to deal with a specific situation.

Gusto offers automated payroll, which is a great alternative to OnPay. This feature is especially useful for businesses that have static payrolls such as an all-salaried staff.

After you have set up your initial payroll information you can make it run automatically for every pay cycle. Do you need to make a change? This feature can be turned on or off using a simple toggle switch.

Gusto also makes it simple to submit local taxes withholdings if your business is subject. Gusto is able to offer this service in a way that OnPay doesn’t.

All of the Gusto’s strengths make it an excellent tool for businesses that have dispersed workers.

Gusto could improve

Gusto is a great product, but there are some flaws that need to be noted.

  • Gusto’s customer service is poor. It fails to keep customers happy. Although they may respond quickly to your initial call, customers consistently stated that it can take several calls over several days or weeks to resolve the problem.
  • Integrations can be difficult: Gusto claims that it “plays nicely with your favorite software” but the user experience is a completely different story. Users had difficulties integrating Gusto with popular accounting packages such as FreshBooks, Sage, and Xero.
  • No PTO requests, approved-PTO sync (on the basic plan): To get the same PTO functionality as OnPay, Gusto users must subscribe to a higher-tier plan.

We interviewed users who were unanimous in their disapproval of Gusto’s customer service. Gusto customer service representatives are accessible Monday through Friday during extended business hours. However, they seem unequipped to answer user questions.

Many users also complained about long wait times and the need to make several calls over many days or weeks in order to resolve their questions.

One former Gusto user said that they “ran me around in circles actually.” “I believe it’s because…they didn’t understand their services.” He left Gusto after he realized he preferred a simpler approach to payroll management.

This is a problem if you’re a startup that doesn’t have a dedicated HR department but needs more support. Gusto is also outperformed in this area by OnPay and the other top five offerings.

Gusto’s performance in this area is not great. Gusto has built a strong, one-stop-shop that provides HR and payroll services. However, this comes with a price. Gusto encourages you to switch to Gusto and one of its preferred brokers, according to many of the users we interviewed.

One former Gusto user said, “I wanted to set up HSA benefits…and I was given a lot of runaround about it.” They said they would handle my health insurance portion of my payroll. They were actually offering to act as a broker for my group plan and a healthcare reseller. This is not what I wanted. They should handle the payroll. I did not want them to be my group manager for healthcare.

Gusto’s HSA/FSA benefits are also not available in all 50 states. Payroll and 401(k), while available throughout the United States, are not available in all 38 states. HSAs or FSAs are only accessible in 38 additional states. This will be a problem if your employees or business are located in one of 12 states that is not yet covered.

Gusto, like OnPay, relies on an optimized website instead of a mobile app. This is not a major issue, but it does make me curious about why a product that places so much emphasis on user experience has neglected this feature.

Gusto offers a limited employee-facing app called Gusto Wallet. The app allows employees to view their pay information and tax documents. All other tasks must be completed in Gusto’s web version.

Gusto’s inability to integrate with third-party software, especially accounting software, is the most surprising thing on this list. Gusto was not able to be connected with Xero by one of our interviewees. He eventually gave up and left Gusto for a different service. He noted that although they said it would sync between them, they didn’t play well together.

Gusto Pricing

Gusto uses a traditional pricing approach, similar to ADP Paychex and QuickBooks Payroll. In stark contrast to OnPay’s single-price model, Gusto offers multiple tiers.

Gusto has three levels: Core, Complete, and Concierge. Each tier has a flat monthly cost and a per-employee rate. You can also choose a Select option that allows you to customize the price and other details.

  • Core $39/month plus $6/per employee per month. Core includes employee self-service, worker’s compensation administration, and health benefits, as well as PTO policies. This basic tier does not include PTO and time tracking, unlike OnPay.
  • Complete – $39 per month plus $12 per employee. This tier includes all Core features plus employee offers, onboarding, time tracking and time-off requests. It also offers a survey and employee directory.
  • Concierge $149/month plus $12 for each employee per month. All Core and Concierge features included. Also includes access to HR professionals certified and an HR resource center.

Gusto allows you to add additional services to any package, regardless of what it is.

  • Plans with 401(k).
  • 529 College Savings Plans
  • HSAs and FSAs are not available in all states.
  • Workers’ compensation

Gusto offers an exclusive contractor-only option to companies without W-2 employees. The cost is $6 per person and comes with limited services such as:

  • Unlimited contractor payments in all 50 States
  • 4-day direct deposit
  • 1099-NECs
  • Reporting on new hires is required

Gusto gives you a 30-day free trial so that you can get a feel for it without making any financial commitments.


OnPay was born out of this desire to simplify the complex world of payroll.

Is there no dedicated HR or payroll person in your company? No problem. No matter your level of experience, OnPay can help you master payroll management.

Where OnPay excels

OnPay is ideal for inexperienced payroll users because it delivers in many key areas.

  • Simple payroll management: OnPay is a simple tool that anyone can use. Its laser-focused focus on making payroll easy to understand makes it an accessible tool. To run payroll successfully each month, you don’t need to be an experienced HR professional.
  • OnPay’s website makes it easy to access and onboard employees. This reduces frustration and saves time.
  • Stellar customer support: OnPay focuses on simplifying payroll for everyone. It makes sense that they are focused on helping customers. OnPay responds quickly to issues and does not require long wait times unlike other companies on this list.

We spoke with many users who loved how easy OnPay was to use, particularly those without any HR or payroll experience.

One user who spoke to us said that it was easy for someone who isn’t necessarily an accountant to use this system, similar to when a business owner will be doing this stuff.

OnPay is also highly rated on the side of employee use. We found that employees find it easy to use and navigate the platform in all reviews. They can self-onboard and print their paystubs.

This is an enormous benefit for small businesses that don’t have dedicated HR teams, as it removes many of the repetitive questions or tasks usually associated with these activities.

OnPay includes the essential HR tools that small businesses need, such as automated onboarding workflows and customized PTO tracking. It also provides reporting for compliance with new hires.

OnPay can seamlessly integrate with select third-party apps to manage your accounting, time management, and compliance. OnPay has the smallest number of third-party integrations among my top five products.

OnPay will guide you through the process of connecting two tools from its current integration library.

The small clinic’s business manager stated that OnPay was integrated with Deputy, a time management software. It’s very simple.

OnPay provides quick answers to any questions.

The owner of a busy veterinary clinic told us that the longest time they had me on hold was probably 10 minutes. They are very polite and helpful. “Their response has always been, “We’ll take care of this for you,” and it never fails to happen.”

OnPay is there to help if you make a mistake in your payroll tax calculation. One user that we interviewed said, “If I get a message saying there is a tax miscalculation, I go straight To OnPay. They’re like, No worries, they’ll explain what happened, why it happened, and you shouldn’t have to worry.”

OnPay’s reporting functionality is another area that shines, particularly its pre-built reports. We heard from many users that OnPay reports were easy to find, and especially the year-end reports.

OnPay’s Report Designer makes it easy to create customized reports when needed. Drag-and-drop interface allows you to add or delete up to 50 data points and adjust date ranges. You can also set filters and create custom views for each user.

OnPay allows you to customize your payroll cycle. OnPay allows you to run unlimited payroll cycles each month, unlike other options on my list.

This is especially important for small businesses. One user said that he forgot to add a new employee prior to running payroll.

She recalled that she had forgotten to click a button. After running the direct deposit payroll, she realized that the new employee was missing. She was able go back in and quickly cut a check manually to ensure that the new employee got paid on-time. OnPay is a great tool because I sometimes forget to click a button.

OnPay does a great job by eliminating the guesswork from payroll.

What can OnPay do to improve?

OnPay is not an ideal online payroll service. OnPay’s goal to make payroll as simple as possible creates gaps in functionality. These gaps may not be a problem depending on your specific needs.

  • There is no automatic payroll option. While OnPay allows you to run unlimited payroll cycles per month, there’s no “set-it-and forget-it” feature. Payroll approval must be done manually each time, even though the data isn’t changing from cycle to cycle. This is possible with all five of the top products.
  • Some functionality can be difficult to master: Despite the simplicity of the software, many users find it too complicated, especially when they are trying to set up their startup or extract specific information.
  • Integrations are limited. Although OnPay integrates seamlessly with third-party tools listed at its website, these options are very limited. At last count, there were only 20 third-party programs. The other products in this list offer far greater integration options.

A notable flaw is the inability of a payroll administrator set up payroll once and have it run continuously. Each time you run a Payroll Cycle with OnPay, you will need to manually go through two screens as well as a confirmation page.

For small businesses with fewer employees or a fluctuating payroll, this is not a major problem. This can quickly become a burden for companies with many salaried employees. Gusto, Paychex and ADP also offer this convenience.

OnPay tries to make it easy, but there are certain aspects that users may find difficult or frustrating.

One interviewee mentioned that they were trying to find individual information about 401(k). “I need to go into my 401(k), listing and unclick everyone that I don’t want. I would rather just click the person I wish to run the report.

OnPay users have also reported difficulty with the onboarding process for more complicated situations. One user we spoke to said that it was difficult to set up benefit accrual for different types of compensation. Another user had difficulty getting long-term employees on the right benefit accrual schedule. This was due to OnPay’s “a lot of back and forth” required.

There is also the absence of a mobile app that can be used by employees or administrators. OnPay claims that its website allows users “just one bar to reception” for payroll. However, a well-designed mobile app is more intuitive and simpler. Both Paychex, as well as ADP, offer robust mobile apps. Gusto also offers basic employee self-service via a mobile app.

Businesses that are located in areas with municipal taxes face a slightly different problem. OnPay cannot handle local taxes. If your business is subject to them, you will need a payroll service that can help you. This service is offered by all the other options on my list.

OnPay is a little behind the curve with less than 20 third-party integrations. This is a significant gap from its competitors. This leaves OnPay users new to the service with a significant gap in their ability to use tools such as time management, accounting, and 401(k), which aren’t listed.

OnPay Pricing

OnPay excels in pricing for a variety of reasons. Don’t worry about complicated pricing tiers or customized quotes. OnPay charges one monthly fee for all services. This makes it one of the most affordable options I have.

They also get rave reviews from users about their pricing approach. The small-sized health clinic’s business manager says, “If you are a small business, it is an incredible value.”

OnPay is only $36 per month and $4 per person per year. That’s it. No contracts. No hidden fees. No uncertainty.

OnPay even has a calculator that allows you to see how much you will pay without having to speak to any sales representative.


Paychex ranks among the top five. Paychex has been around for decades, and workers from all generations have seen it on their paychecks.

Paychex’s 50-year history has seen it grow to offer a complete suite of payroll, HR and time tracking services.

This solid service offering is a reflection of the market Paychex serves best. They will accept small businesses with less than 10 employees. However, they are more interested in larger companies with many employees and dedicated HR staff.

Paychex is different from Gusto and OnPay in that it does not focus on the user’s aesthetics or hand-holding. They offer services that are tailored to companies with complicated payroll and HR requirements.

Paychex Excels

  • High-quality customer service A company of this size can provide 24/7 customer support, and Paychex does. Paychex also provides a dedicated payroll specialist to each customer at the higher subscription levels. This specialist acts as the point of contact for all customer queries.
  • Paychex has a wealth of knowledge about payroll tax law. With all the resources available to them, you would expect them confidently manage tax laws at every level, including local. They do. ADP, Paychex’s heavyweight counterpart, can’t do the same.
  • Integrated time-tracking services: Paychex is focused on making it simple to track employee time regardless of the tier you choose. The Time Clock feature functions like a punch in/punch out system. Paychex Flex Time is a cloud-based solution that allows for more flexible time and attendance. Both time management options transmit data seamlessly to payroll and HR systems.

Surprised at how enthusiastic Paychex users were about their customer service, I was. They were particularly impressed by the speed at which issues can be resolved. This applies to all customer service levels, not just the payroll specialist. Even if a company doesn’t select a tier with an assigned specialist, they still get great service.

One Paychex user, who runs a 35-person business, noted that “usually I will call if there’s a payroll problem. If my payroll specialist isn’t available, I can go to anyone in the pool. 99%, if not even 100%, the person I speak with is extremely knowledgeable and will solve it for me, without me having to go to my particular payroll specialist.”

Paychex is also a top-rated company when it comes to accurately process taxes. Paychex is a long-standing company that can accurately process taxes.

According to the owner of a 100-person company, Massachusetts recently established a state-funded family and medical leave law. “So, that was a new payroll tax that Paychex handled without any problems.”

Users were quick to point out that Paychex was responsible for the error and resolving it swiftly on behalf of the customer. Paychex also credits them with several months worth of fees to compensate for the inconvenience, according to one interviewee.

Paychex places a strong emphasis on mobile payroll in two ways. Paychex offers a mobile app for administrators, which is different from OnPay and Gusto. Administrators can process payroll anywhere, anytime.

Paychex also offers time tracking options for mobile and local workforces.

One Paychex user stated that one of the main reasons they moved to Paychex was to use the online Time Clock. It is extremely useful to have an automated system for checking in and checking out. It is much simpler. This saves you time.

Paychex users have many positive comments about reporting, which is an essential component of any payroll service. Users loved the Employee Earnings Report and Payroll Journal.

Users were impressed with the ease of custom reporting. This feature is unique among all customized reporting products on my list.

Paychex clearly understands its target audience’s sophisticated needs and does an excellent job of meeting them.

Paychex could improve

Paychex does an excellent job overall but there are some areas that could be improved in order to remove some of the recurring complaints.

  • The user interface is complex: Although the design is simpler than OnPay and Gusto, Paychex complicates it with too many options. Again, this is a sign that their target audience is not the “hand-holding” type but seasoned HR professionals. Paychex is easy for experienced HR professionals, but it can be difficult for users who are less familiar.
  • Many integrations but hard to integrate. Paychex has more than 100 third-party integrations. This makes it easy to use Paychex with any tool that you may already be using. Many users have found it difficult to get the two tools to work together.
  • Pricing is a big secret: Paychex is extremely cautious when it comes down to disclosing pricing. Paychex, unlike any other service on the list, makes it difficult to find pricing and packages. They want you to sign-up for a complimentary consultation to receive a customized quote.

There are two types of people when it comes to learning new payroll software: those who have a lot of knowledge and are willing to do the research on their own; and those who don’t know much about payroll but want personalized attention.

Paychex is definitely a service that caters to the former, according to one interviewee when we discussed the onboarding process for new employees.

She said, “My problem is that I haven’t been given anything that tells me how it should work from beginning to finish.” It would be great to have everything provided for me.

The administrator interface can still be confusing, even though it is very basic. While experienced HR professionals will enjoy the ride, someone who doesn’t have any HR or payroll knowledge may feel overwhelmed and intimidated by all the options. Although it is possible, it will take several payroll cycles before you feel comfortable with the process.

I was surprised by user complaints about the difficulty of some integrations, especially with time tracking software. Paychex customers may find additional work due to difficult integrations.

One user explained that “Paychex has its own time-in reporting product. Because we are a federal contractor, we don’t need it. Paychex is likely DCA-approved. But why bother? It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. We have a separate system, and I must manually enter the PTO to Paychex.

Paychex’s online price information sharing is also a mystery. It is unclear if they want you to engage with their sales team or both.

One Paychex user said that this was probably the biggest complaint he had about Paychex. They do advertise a low upfront price because they include a variety of discounts. But, those discounts eventually disappear.”

The Paychex sales team was also subject to scrutiny. Paychex salespeople can be just plain pushy. Paychex has been criticized for its aggressive sales tactics, including repeated phone calls, emails, and text messages to customers. Even for customers who are already paying them, their sales tactics leave much to be desired.

Another Paychex user that we interviewed said, “The only problem I’ve ever had is their salespeople.” This is the only product that gets so many complaints.

Paychex Pricing

Paychex pricing information is like looking for the Holy Grail. Although it might be out there, it can be very difficult to find. It’s amazing to feel like you did something special when you finally find it.

This approach is completely different from Gusto, OnPay and QuickBooks which all place their pricing front-and-center.

  • Flex Essentials – $39 per month + $5 per employee. This covers the basics. This service is less expensive than OnPay or Gusto but offers more services.
  • Flex Select – Custom quote only All the Flex Essentials services plus a dedicated payroll specialist and mobile app for payroll administrators. Access to e-learning services and additional employee pay options.
  • Flex Pro is available for custom quotes only. All the services are available in Essentials and Select. These services are usually only required by larger businesses. You will need to upgrade to this tier in order to receive basic services such as accounting integrations or garnishments. These services are offered at a lower price point by other top five tiers.
  • Paychex offers a 30-day free trial. However, Paychex occasionally has specials that give you three months for free. You’ll need to do some searching to find them.

Paychex pricing is not perfect. Numerous user reviews have shown that prices can rise quickly, especially when a la carte options are added. Many people abandon the service because of rising prices.


ADP is my top-five favorite product. It offers every possible payroll-related service that a business might need. ADP probably offers everything you need to manage or track payroll and HR within your company.

ADP is the perfect fit for companies that have significant workforce growth plans. ADP will not allow your business to outgrow it.

ADP Payroll Excels

You can be a giant in the payroll services industry by consistently delivering big wins. This is where ADP excels.

  • Flexible payroll processing: ADP allows you to easily segment and run payroll for any group, set custom payment dates, and manage custom fields without limitations. ADP is my top choice in this area among the five I have listed.
  • Mobile apps galore! ADP has apps for Android and iOS on both the employee and administrator sides. Administrators can manage their payroll and HR from anywhere and on any device. Employees have access to the information they require on-demand.
  • Integrations are practically limitless: ADP lists hundreds of third-party tools that it integrates with. These tools range from simple accounting software to sophisticated enterprise resource planning tools. This is the leader in its field.

ADP is a tool that supports your business at all stages of its growth. This is evident in the flexibility offered by payroll automation. ADP can handle complex payroll requirements, even if your payroll plan is simple today.

ADP also makes it easy to change payroll cycles if your payroll data is changing frequently, as one college payroll administrator that we interviewed said.

One user shared that “Every semester we must change it,” It’s easy and user-friendly. It’s also self-explanatory.

ADP makes it easy to onboard new employees. The interface isn’t flashy and fun like Gusto, but it is simple. It does the job.

Both employees and administrators find it easy to use. We had no issues. “I honestly didn’t get one email.” One administrator stated, in regards to getting employees on ADP after switching from Paychex.

ADP’s mobile apps are another area that stands out. Separate apps are available for employees and administrators. ADP Mobile Solutions focuses on functionality and makes it easy for everyone. This is also a standout product among all the ones I have covered.

ADP’s reporting has been rated by users as excellent, just like the other products in my list. ADP’s built-in reports are some of the most thorough among all the providers I have reviewed.

It excels in extracting data for complex purposes such as audits. This ease was evident in a bank audit response. One interviewee stated that it was easy to collect the data and send it to the bank.

ADP’s integrations are also extremely functional. ADP offers hundreds of third-party tools you can use to integrate with their payroll service if you don’t find the right product from ADP.

The list is so long that you are likely to find a tool that isn’t on it.

ADP Payroll could be Improved

  • No guidance during onboarding: Despite its powerful functionality, ADP is not the best option for new companies to join. Reviewers and users alike have noted that the software is difficult to learn and offers little support during onboarding.
  • Custom reports can be difficult to use. While ADPs prebuilt reports are popular, custom reports are a different story. Many users complain about non-intuitive fields and slow system performance. They also report that they did not get the results they desired.
  • Secret pricingADP makes it mandatory that you speak with a sales representative to receive a personalized quote. ADP, however, is not like Paychex, which offers pricing information online for the most basic package.

ADP is not for people who like to be guided through the onboarding process. Many ADP users felt independent, unlike the OnPay or Gusto handholding.

One user said that she was not given any guidance regarding how to implement the system, referring to her initial onboarding experience.

For a seasoned HR professional, this issue is unlikely to be a problem. However, for someone with little experience in payroll, it could prove to be a major obstacle. For a more stress-free onboarding experience, novices might prefer Gusto or OnPay.

ADP’s tax issues are another area that is at risk. Multiple reviewers in the last 12 months have claimed that ADP did not make a necessary change to the law, or the compliance rules, and caused an issue. These complaints were echoed by both former and current ADP users.

In our reviews and interviews, we frequently heard about the difficulties in using custom reports. Sometimes, customers were motivated to switch payroll services because of the difficulties.

This was made clear by a user who left. She noted that this was “one of the main things I had problems with ADP about.” Custom reports were not intuitive or easy to use. There were many standard reports that I could run, and they would suffice. But then I started using custom reports, which can be a bit more difficult.

ADP also provides the most pricing information than any other product on this list. ADP doesn’t have pricing information online and requires you to speak with a sales representative to create a package that suits your needs. This is a vastly different approach to how QuickBooks, Gusto and OnPay present their services.

ADP is something you should consider if you are interested in it. A sales representative will be necessary, and ADP, like Paychex has a reputation of being pushy. ADP users are also very vocal about their dislike of overselling.

When you engage with a sales rep, you may not get the exact functionality that you were promised. One user that we interviewed stated, “During our negotiations the sales rep said, ‘Oh yeah. You can definitely do it.’ But we couldn’t.”

ADP Pricing

ADP is similar to Paychex. You can give them your contact information and get things moving. This alone may turn off small businesses that want simple and straightforward payroll services at a fair price.

You should expect this if you are a payroll or HR manager for a larger company. Negotiating for procured service is part of your job. ADP lists small businesses as their target audience, but this indicates that they are really interested in mid-to enterprise customers.

ADP still makes every effort to attract businesses of any size by offering two levels of service. Each tier has different packages.

We have gathered some basic information about Run so that you don’t need to go through ADP’s website or give out your contact information.

  • There are four levels of RUN with more services at each level.
  • RUN Essential – $59/month plus $4 per person per month. Includes payroll processing, reporting, direct deposit
  • All RUN Enhanced, Run Complete and Run HR Pro pricing is subject to consultation.

ADP Workforce now is available to companies with 50 employees or more.

Workforce Now includes all the RUN features plus compliance reports, customized service and custom implementation, and country-based recordkeeping. Consultation is required to determine the price.


It is impossible to underestimate the power of a brand, and QuickBooks is a well-known name in accounting software.

It is obvious that QuickBooks Payroll is a great option for those who already use QuickBooks. With just one click, you can integrate both from QuickBooks accounting software.

But QuickBooks Payroll is also perfect for any small business that wants a standalone, trimmed-down product for payroll management–something that’s easy to use and gets the job done without unnecessary bells and whistles.


Where to find QuickBooks Payroll Excels

QuickBooks Payroll has many great features for solopreneurs and business owners who are responsible for managing small teams.

  • It’s very intuitive.QuickBooks payroll is a great tool for anyone with a low to no payroll background. The new dashboard for the Payroll Tax Center makes it easier to use the service.
  • Tax penalty protection unique among the products on my wish list, QuickBooks Payroll provides monetary protection up to $25,000 per annum to cover interest and tax penalties. This type of insurance is not available to small businesses, but it can help them avoid financial ruin.
  • Time tracking simplified: QuickBooks Time lets users track their time via a website or mobile app. The data is then automatically fed back into QuickBooks Payroll.

All of the users that we interviewed used QuickBooks Payroll with QuickBooks. All users agreed that QuickBooks Payroll helped them save significant time each month. It also reduced expenses.

One user shared that they used to spend at least an hour every month processing payroll before using QuickBooks Payroll. Their processing time has decreased to minutes since converting.

And, as another interviewee noted, “It’s saving me money from having to pay my accountant/bookkeeper.”

QuickBooks Payroll’s tax penalty coverage can save users who are willing to pay more every month. Things can quickly get complicated when you’re on the IRS radar. It can be worth paying more for a higher-tier package if you know your payroll software is there for you.

Pre-built reports were also praised in both the reviews and conversations we had with users. Although 20 pre-built reports might not seem like much, they are a great compromise for users who have simpler needs.

It’s also a big win to track time. You can track hours accurately with the QuickBooks Time mobile app on iOS and Android, regardless of where an employee is working. The app even includes geofencing technology, which is a unique feature among our top five products.

QuickBooks Time is also easy to use and versatile. One user even adopted it internally to manage client billable hours.

One user who spoke to us said that QuickBooks Time works for them in a way it wasn’t intended for. We are a marketing agency and have many customers. So we track how much time we spend on each account and day. This is internal tracking to ensure we aren’t over-serving or under-serving clients.

QuickBooks Time can be purchased as an a-la-carte service at the lowest QuickBooks Payroll subscription tier and is included at higher tiers.

What QuickBooks Payroll could improve

QuickBooks Payroll can be used for many purposes, but not all.

  • Limitless integrations If you don’t use QuickBooks Online for your accounting, there are very few third-party tools that you can integrate with QuickBooks Payroll. Intuit products cannot be integrated with yours.
  • Customer service is lacking: Slow to respond, slow follow-up, and difficulty to reach were just some of the complaints we heard about QuickBooks customer support.
  • Very few HR tools: QuickBooks Payroll is a bit behind the rest, especially when compared with what the top five offer. This is a problem for users who need both payroll and human resources.

QuickBooks Payroll’s biggest problem is its inability to be used for accounting purposes by anyone who isn’t already using it or is willing to do so. Users can’t use the 650+ integrations that QuickBooks Payroll boasts about.

QuickBooks Payroll cannot be integrated with any other accounting software. This is a major limitation for anyone who wants to do more than basic payroll.

QuickBooks Payroll is the worst product on our top five list for customer service. Numerous reviews have repeatedly criticized QuickBooks Payroll’s customer service, pointing out that they are slow to respond and provide poor support.

One person who spoke with us said that if you have a problem in QuickBooks, they will be unable to help you.

Users often turn to third-party resources when they have unexpected problems. This was something one interviewee first-hand.

He noted that the direct deposit payment was supposed to be made on the 30th. However, it never arrived. I sent it, and discovered through the QuickBook forums that it was a QuickBooks problem.

Many users have reported significant problems with employees being not paid or tax-related issues at the IRS. These complaints date back to 2016. These unexpected problems can prove to be frustrating for payroll managers who are not experienced.

Another problem is the lack of HR tools. Gusto and OnPay are not easy to use. ADP and Paychex don’t offer the same benefits for higher-ranking employees.

QuickBooks Payroll’s top-tier plan is not affordable, so you can only capture a portion of these services.

For some businesses, tax calculations can also be a problem. For workers performing services in multiple states, QuickBooks Payroll requires manual entry.

This is true even for employees who move frequently. QuickBooks Payroll can only track two states. QuickBooks Payroll may not be able to track your multi-state workforce.

For most solopreneurs and small businesses, this is unlikely to be an issue. This is an example of why QuickBooks Payroll isn’t ideal for large companies with many employees.

QuickBooks Payroll Pricing

QuickBooks Payroll has some of the lowest pricing, with 50% off the first three months. After the three-month discount, OnPay is less expensive than OnPay.

QuickBooks Payroll’s affordability makes it a great choice for small businesses and individuals who only need to manage small payrolls but don’t want to spend extra money.

QuickBooks Payroll provides clear pricing on its website, in line with its target audience of individuals and small businesses. With just a few clicks, anyone can easily understand the options and begin service.

You can sign up for Paychex today to get a special offer, as you can see from the above image. The regular pricing is as follows

  • Core – $45/mo plus $4/employee. This plan is entry-level and includes auto payroll, 1099 E-file and Pay, product support, and next-day direct deposits.
  • Premium – $75/mo plus $8/employee. All Core offerings plus same-day direct deposit and expert payroll review. Mobile time tracking
  • Elite – $125/mo plus $10/employee. All Premium and Core offerings plus expert setup, mobile tracking, 24/7 support, tax penalty defense, HR advisory services

QuickBooks Payroll offers several a la carte services including:

  • Plans with 401(k).
  • Health benefits
  • App for time tracking
  • Administration of worker’s compensation (higher tiers)
  • HR Support Center (only for higher tiers)

Wave Payroll

Wave Payroll is the best pricing option because it has a flat rate that changes depending on where you are in the country, rather than increasing the cost by adding features. Wave Payroll also includes free accounting and billing software, which you can combine with it. This makes it an even more affordable option. Wave provides a simple payroll program that you can use for free for 30 days. Only 14 states have the option to receive free tax filings.

Here is a detailed explanation of Wave’s payroll services:

  • Pricing$35 per Month in the 14 States they File Taxes in, $20 per Month in All Other States, + $6 Per Employee or Independent Contractor per Month
  • Easy of Use: It’s very easy to use, especially if Wave’s accounting software is used.
  • Tax Services Free tax filings, W2s for employees, and 1099s for contractors, available only in 14 states, but includes California, New York, Texas, and Texas
  • Year-End fees: Issues year-end W2s and 1099s are included in the price
  • Accounting Integrations,Wave Accounting.

Wave’s customer service ratings online are average. Wave is not regarded as a very helpful team by many users who call them. However, most of the reviews are related to Wave’s payments product. Customers can submit support tickets, chatbots, live chat, or submit support tickets. They also have a Help Center that includes tutorials and articles.

The Review Process

Each product had to meet multiple criteria to be included on my list.

What it took to be included

Software must meet the following criteria in order to be included in the top five.

  • Consolidate or offer integrations: This goal is to simplify payroll and reduce the number required for basic tasks like payroll, onboarding, taxes, etc. It had to seamlessly integrate with third-party software if it couldn’t do everything.
  • Be widely utilized There are many solid payroll automation tools, but not all of them are suitable for use in niche markets. I chose tools that are used by small and medium-sized companies with regular payroll needs.
  • ranks highly in user reviews. No software is perfect and all have their flaws. There is a big difference between an occasional problem and a bad tool. Any online payroll service that received consistently poor overall reviews was eliminated.
  • Is well-known online: There might be unicorns that can do the job when it comes processing payroll. It’s difficult to determine if the tools live up to the hype if there aren’t any reviews or online discussions. If the tool was not regularly mentioned by users, major product review websites and other internet resources, it wasn’t worth my time.

All the software I have included in my top five can be used to manage basic payroll tasks. These are the basic requirements:

  • Security Keeping your personal data safe is paramount. All of the tools that I have chosen use high-level security to protect sensitive information.
  • Scalability – Any online payroll service must be able to scale with your business. Although not all tools on my list can take your company to enterprise-level growth, they can all keep up with your company’s employees as they grow.
  • Payroll scheduling All my top picks can handle a variety common payroll schedules including bi-monthly and weekly, biweekly and custom.
  • Reporting a new hire: Notifying the government of any new employees as they are added to your team is a legal requirement. I made sure that all my top picks did this.

What was Excluded

I haven’t considered any software that:

  • Targeted enterprise-level companies: In my research and evaluation, I mainly focused on tools that are most useful for small- to mid-sized businesses with less than 1000 employees. If a tool can be scaled to enterprise-level, I noticed that in my review.
  • was niche-focused. While some services are specific to certain industries (farms or churches), the majority of the top five choices I made are applicable for all businesses in any industry.

After narrowing down the possible top candidates for software, my research team conducted extensive interviews with real users of the software. Here are some insights into the process of my research team.

How we found active users

My team searched public review sites and social networks to find people who shared their experiences with the platforms on our shortlist.

The LinkedIn team verified the identities of the users. This was crucial, as there are many fake reviews online. This made sure that we dealt with people who actually work for real companies.

After we made contact, they confirmed that they were either actively using one of the tools in our list or that they had used it before. Their firsthand experience was crucial to verify the accuracy of their comments.

Who were we interviewed?

We interviewed a range of users, from solopreneurs who manage a few contractors to business owners with less then 10 employees to HR professionals with teams of 20-60 people to operations managers with more than 100 staff.

The interviewees were between the ages of 30 and 60. All had different levels of payroll experience. Some had little while others had extensive HR experience.