Best Payroll Software: Intuit Quickbooks Payroll vs ADP vs Paychex vs SurePayroll vs Gusto vs OnPay

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Quickbooks logo
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Gusto logo
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SurePayroll logo
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Making sure your employees get paid correctly and on time doesn’t have to be a headache. Online payroll services make it a painless part of running your small business efficiently.

Article Overview

What’s The Best Payroll Software For Small Business?

All of the payroll accounting software reviewed here is online, so there’s nothing to download or install. All of the services we’ve included in this comparison also give you plenty of mobility—you can easily run payroll online from your smartphone or tablet while you’re on the go.

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll Review

#1

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Intuit QuickBooks’s payroll service takes our top spot for the best payroll software for small businesses. They offer all the features you’ll need at three different pricing tiers. The payroll services are an add-on service to QuickBooks’ popular accounting software (an extra-base price per month and four plans to pick from depending on how many users and features you need). Paying for both services may seem like overkill, but you get a ton of value and bang for your buck (and competitive pricing).

Another reason they are our number one pick is that Intuit is a trusted leader in the accounting software space offering tax and inventory management services in addition to accounting and payroll. So you can manage all your finances under one umbrella.

The only downsides we found? They don’t offer live tech support on weekends. However, they are available 12 hours each weekday (and who does payroll after-hours anyway?). Also, QuickBooks Payroll is not compatible with QuickBooks Mac (will need to use Intuit Online Payroll’s add-on instead).

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll screenshot

Pros

Cons

  • 28 years experience in helping more than 7 million small businesses
  • Can run unlimited monthly payrolls
  • Free direct deposit or print paychecks yourself
  • Automatically calculates and fills out tax forms (easy one-click e-pay) with Enhanced version
  • Full-service tax service option with an accuracy guarantee
  • W-2 and 1099 processing
  • Easy integration with QuickBooks
  • Excellent customer support
  • Online resources include payroll calculator, small business blog, community forum, and how-to articles
 
  • No weekend or 2/47 support
  • No dedicated account specialist
  • Is not compatible with QuickBooks Mac

Pricing

Try Intuit QuickBooks Payroll before you buy with the 30-day free trial. In addition to the base price of all plan levels, you incur a fee per month per employee.

 Payroll CorePayroll PremiumPayroll Elite
Base Price/Month$45$75$125
Per Employee/Month$4$8$10

Coupon

Get 50% discount of Intuit QuickBooks Payroll for your first three months by using this link!

How Does Intuit Payroll Work?

See how Intuit helps a restaurant owner with 15 employees simplify her payroll management.

Gusto Review

#2

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Gusto comes in a close second behind Intuit QuickBooks Payroll in our battle of online payroll solutions. A relative newcomer, Gusto has made a real name for itself since its 2011 launch. Once you get into Gusto, it’s easy to see why. The simple yet modern interface is easy to set up and maintain, and their employee portal is the best we’ve seen.

Gusto offers everything you’ll need for a small business to manage payroll and related tax filings in their base price, including year-end filings, pay-as-you-go workers’ comp, compliance management, health benefits administration, and much more (most other services charge added fees for these features).
Gusto screenshot

Pros

Cons

  • Competitive pricing for a number of features
  • Best interface and we’ve seen with easy setup
  • Can run unlimited pay cycles per month for one monthly fee
  • Free direct deposit or print paychecks yourself
  • Full-service payroll tax forms and payments (accuracy guarantee)
  • W-2 and 1099 processing
  • Integrates with QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xero, and other accounting software
  • Customers report responsive, helpful tech support
  • Online resources include blog, articles, videos
  • No customer support on weekends
  • No community forum

Pricing

Gusto offers a 30-day free trial so you can try before you purchase.

 CompleteConcierge
Base Price/Month$39$149
Per Employee/Month$12$12

Coupon

There are not any Gusto codes for a discount at this time.

SurePayroll Review

#3

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SurePayroll, now owned by Paychex, is one of the oldest online payroll manager services around. SurePayroll has kept up with the times—they’re among the quickest online payroll processing services we’ve seen.

SurePayroll illustration on iPadOnce you set up your employees and payroll criteria, all you have to do is click one button to process every pay cycle. Even if you have multiple payrolls to run, it’s still a quick and easy process.

They also offer full-service payroll tax filing with their monthly pricing and hold multiple industry awards for excellent customer service. If you’re looking for more services, SurePayroll offers a few add-ons, including 401(K), Health Insurance, Workers Comp.

Pros

Cons

  • Competitive pricing for a number of features
  • Quick, simple processing each month even running multiple payrolls
  • Free direct deposit or print paychecks in house
  • Full-service payroll tax forms and payments with an accuracy guarantee
  • W-2 and 1099 processing
  • Integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, AccountEdge, and other popular accounting software
  • Award-winning customer support
  • Online resources include payroll calculators, blog and articles
  • No customer support on Sundays
  • No community forum
  • Dedicated account specialist unavailable

Pricing

SurePayroll offers a 30-day free trial.

  • Self Service: $19.99 per month +$4 per employee per month
  • Full Service: $29.99 flat rate per month +$5 per employee per month
  • Time clock integration: $4.99 per month + $3 per employee per month
  • Accounting integration: From $4.99 per month

Coupon

Looking for a SurePayroll promo code? Click here for the best deal we could find.

Comparison Table

See our side-by-side table to help you compare all of our reviewed online payroll software features, pricing, and more. *In this table, monthly pricing is an estimate for a small business with 10 employees being paid at a semi-monthly rate.

Some of the companies we reviewed have base rates and an added fee per month per employee; some give you an instant quote based on the number of employees and the frequency of payroll runs. We created the monthly estimate so you can best compare pricing across the board.

 Winner: QuickBooks2nd Place: Gusto3rd Place: SurePayrollADP PayrollBenefitMallOnPayPaychexSage PayrollSquare Payroll
Base Monthly Price*$45$39$19.99Contact ADP$186.51$76Contact Paychex$49.95$79
Base Price Per Employee Per Month$4$12$4Contact ADP$11.50$4Contact Paychex$4.99$5
Out-of-State Tax$12$0$0$0$0$10$0Unlisted$0
Free Trial30 days30 days30 daysNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNone
Hourly, Salary & Contracted PayCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Unlimited Pay Runs Per MonthCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Direct DepositCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
In-House Check PrintingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
PTO Accrual CheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Payroll DeductionsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
ReportingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Employer ContributionsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Wage GarnishmentsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Employee PortalCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
New Employee ReportingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Automatic Payroll TaxesCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
End Year Tax FilingAdded feeCheckmarkCheckmarkAdded feeAdded feeAdded feeAdded feeCheckmarkCheckmark
Mobile AppsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Accounting Software IntegrationCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
24/7 Tech SupportCheckmarkCheckmark
Dedicated Account SpecialistAdded feeAdded feeCheckmarkAdded fee
Winner: QuickBooks2nd Place: Gusto3rd Place: SurePayrollADP PayrollBenefitMallOnPayPaychexSage PayrollSquare Payroll

Other Contenders

The following payroll companies didn’t make our top 3, but you may discover a service that fits your needs. Click on a link below to jump to that review.

ADP Payroll Review | BenefitMall Review | OnPay Review | Paychex Flex Review | Sage Payroll | Square Payroll

ADP Payroll Review

ADP Payroll logoVisit Website

ADP is one of the most popular and well-known services for workforce management, including payroll services online. They offer three plan levels, Essential, Enhanced, and Complete Payroll+HR. When comparing these levels to other best online payroll services we’ve reviewed, the features of their Enhanced plan more closely match what other services offer.

ADP’s pricing is higher than most services in our reviews (even their lowest plan). ADP is a reliable, strong contender in online payroll, but its high cost may deter small businesses looking for more affordable options with a robust set of features. If your business is mid-sized, however, you should consider ADP.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy and unlimited payroll runs each month
  • Full-service payroll tax forms and filing with an accuracy guarantee
  • Free direct deposit and in-house check printing
  • W-2 and 1099 processing
  • Integrates with QuickBooks and other popular accounting software
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Good online resources for businesses of all sizes
  • Customers report higher pricing than many other small business payroll services (must contact ADP for pricing)
  • Added fee for year-end tax filing
  • No dedicated specialist

 

Pricing

You must contact ADP Sales to get a price quote for your small business. They do offer 2 months free when you sign up for a payroll plan.

BenefitMall PayFocus Review

BenefitMall logoVisit Website

BenefitMall is a service with a strong focus on human resources and workforce management. This online software, PayFocus + HR Software, gives small businesses a combination of payroll processing and human resources services.

They offer three payment tiers, including the option of PayFocus Full Service, where your account specialist takes processing off of your hands.

BenefitMall bases its pricing per payroll for weekly, bi-weekly or monthly cycles. With pricing on the high side, even for their basic plan, it can get pretty expensive depending on your needs. But if you’re looking for payroll and more specialized HR assistance, BenefitMall is a solid choice.

Pros

Cons

  • Free direct deposit or print paychecks in house
  • Full-service option with dedicated specialist and accuracy guarantee
  • W-2 and 1099 processing
  • Integrates with many accounting software
  • Good variety of add-ons, including 401K, Worker’s Comp, ACA Compliance, and more (added fees)
  • Higher than average pricing
  • Additional fee to file the end of year tax forms
  • Doesn’t offer 24/7 customer service
  • Online resources not as extensive as many other services

Pricing

BenefitMall’s pricing differs from other services — their monthly charges differ based on the frequency of your pay cycles per month.

      • $115.06/month (based on 10 employees and monthly pay cycles)
      • $186.51/month (based on 10 employees and bi-weekly pay cycles)
      • $302.80/month (based on 10 employees and weekly pay cycles)
      • View all options

OnPay Review

OnPay logo

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OnPay is a simple yet sleek and affordable online payroll service best geared toward small- to mid-sized small businesses. You’re not going to find many add-ons with OnPay, but that’s not their niche. They offer solid, unlimited payroll cycles each month, and they do all the payroll tax forms for you (including filing), with no additional fees. 

Pros

Cons

  • Very competitive monthly pricing
  • Quick, easy processing with unlimited pay schedules per month
  • Print paychecks in house and free direct deposit
  • Full-service payroll tax forms and payments with an accuracy guarantee
  • W-2 and 1099 processing
  • Integrates with QuickBooks and Xero
  • No weekend customer service hours
  • No dedicated account rep
  • Online resources are very limited compared to others

Pricing

Your first month is free with OnPay.

      • $36 per month
      • $4 per month per employee

Paychex Flex Review

Paychex Flex logoVisit Website

Paychex, the parent company of our number three pick SurePayroll, has been an industry-leading payroll, human resources, and benefits outsourcing company for several decades. Its Paychex Flex online payroll service is a solid, reliable choice for businesses of all sizes

This service, however, tends to be more expensive for smaller-sized businesses than many other payroll services we’ve reviewed here—and with a few missing features (most notably, you can’t run unlimited payrolls each month, and you can’t print checks in-house).

If you have the budget, definitely look into Paychex Flex. They offer 24/7 customer support and a dedicated specialist.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy processing once you get set up
  • Full-service payroll tax management with an accuracy guarantee
  • Free direct deposit
  • W-2 and 1099 processing
  • Integrates with QuickBooks, Sage, Kashoo, and more
  • 24/7 customer service and a dedicated specialist
  • Good online resources for all business sizes
  • Many customers say they’re more expensive than competitors (you have to contact Paychex for a price quote)
  • Can’t run unlimited payrolls each month
  • Year-end tax filing is an added fee

Pricing

You have to contact Paychex for an individual price quote.

Sage Payroll Review

Sage logo

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Sage is a popular accounting and HR platform that also provides separate payroll services. Sage Payroll Essentials Plus gives you unlimited processing, tax filing, and direct deposit for up to 10 employees — at a low $49.95 per month fee.

Their other option is Payroll Professional, a fully-managed service for businesses with more than 10 employees. You can also add to Sage’s accounting and HR management software, which includes timekeeping, ACA compliance, recruiting, and more.

Although the price is right, Sage Payroll’s clunky and outdated interface makes the payroll process more difficult than other platforms we review here. Several users also say that it lacks advanced functionality that larger organizations need.

Pros

Cons

  • Very affordable for small businesses
  • Tax filing and direct deposit included in the base price
  • Strong employee management tools
  • Integrates with QuickBooks and other Sage accounting software
  • No-tax-penalty promise
  • 6-month money-back guarantee
  • The interface is dated and difficult to navigate
  • Many user complaints about poor customer support
  • Doesn’t have 24/7 support

Pricing

Sage Payroll Essentials Plus

  • $49.95/month up to 10 employees

Full-Service Payroll

Square Payroll Review

Square logo

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Square, a major player in the POS (point-of-sale) and online credit card processing industries, is also a solid contender as an affordable, cloud-based payroll software — especially if you’re already using it for your retail or restaurant business.

Square Payroll gives you automatic tax filings, time and PTO tracking, direct deposit, new-hire reporting, worker’s comp, and much more without any added fees. If you only pay contractors, they only charge you $5 per contractor per month (with a $0 base price), which includes 1099-MISC processing and filing.

You’re not going to find many bells and whistles with Square Payroll, but if your small business has basic payroll processing needs, Square is certainly worth consideration.

Pros

Cons

  • Very competitive pricing
  • Easy processing with unlimited pay schedules per month
  • Free direct deposit
  • Payroll tax payments and filings automatically filed
  • W-2 and 1099 processing
  • Integrates with QuickBooks
  • Time tracking and overtime calculations with Square POS integration
  • No dedicated account rep
  • Lacks advanced features and HR management you get with many other services
  • Online resources are very limited
  • Doesn’t have 24/7 tech support

Pricing

When Is It Time To Switch Your Accounting Software?

Payroll software is only one piece of the accounting pie. As your business grows and adapts to new technologies, you may need some of the new cutting-edge features offered by new entrants in the accounting software space, or you may realize you’ve been paying too much. Find out who’s best and why in our comprehensive review of the best small business accounting software.

If you are involved in retail shares, you may also be interested in our coverage of POS systems and online payment processing services.

What’s your biggest struggle with payroll or accounting in general?

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations in the late 1990s, Sally began a long career researching and writing about business, technical and scientific topics.

Her decades of experience as well as a passion to stay on top of the latest online tools and resources combine to help small businesses (and freelancers like herself) flourish. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

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