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Square Payroll and OnPay are top payroll software solutions for independent business owners, solopreneurs, small businesses and some midsize businesses. While neither provider is particularly scalable — they each offer one plan only — both payroll products are reasonably priced with a full suite of features that can help growing businesses onboard and pay top talent.

Recommended Alternative: Gusto SPONSORED

Need payroll software with more features than Square and more third-party integrations than OnPay? Consider looking into Gusto. Its optional international contractor plan expands your access to a global workforce while its unique employee benefits options help your business stay competitive.


Square Payroll vs. OnPay: Comparison table

Square Payroll OnPay Gusto (sponsored)
Starting base price $0/mo.* $40/mo. $40/mo.
Starting per-payee price $6/payee/mo. $6/payee/mo. $6/payee/mo.
Free trial None listed 30 days None listed
Multi-state payroll With employee plan Yes With higher-priced plans
Benefits administration With employee plan Yes Yes
Mobile payroll app Yes No No
Next-day direct deposit With employee plan No With higher-priced plans
Our star rating 4.2 out of 5 4.7 out of 5 4.6 out of 5
Learn more Visit Square Visit OnPay Visit Gusto

*Applies to contractor-only payroll plan. Full-service employee payroll plan starts at $35 per month.
Plan and pricing data up to date as of 2/14/2024.

Square Payroll vs. OnPay: Pricing

Square icon.
Image: Square

Square Payroll’s pricing

Square’s payroll service has two payroll plans only: One for paying contractors and one for paying both contractors and employees.

Square Full-Service Payroll costs $35 per month plus $6 per employee or contractor paid. The plan includes Square Payroll’s full slew of payroll features, including the following:

  • Unlimited multi-state payroll runs, including off-cycle runs.
  • Two-day, four-day and next-day direct deposit.
  • Self-guided employee onboarding with self-service portal.
  • Timecard import (via Square POS or the Square Team App).
  • State unemployment insurance tax management.
  • HR resource library access.
  • Benefits administration.

Square’s contractor-only payroll service costs just $6 per contractor paid per month. You’re only charged for the contractors you pay each month, not for the total number of contractors on your roster.

The contractor-only payroll plan has notably fewer features than Square’s full-service plan — which makes sense, as business owners generally need fewer tools to manage contractor pay. The plan does still include payroll tools like basic contractor onboarding and instant pay access via the Square Cash app.

To learn more about Square Payroll and see its full list of features, read our in-depth Square Payroll review.

OnPay icon.
Image: OnPay

OnPay’s pricing

OnPay’s full-service payroll plan costs $40 per month plus $6 per contractor or employee paid. Unlike Square Payroll, OnPay doesn’t have separate plans for contractor and employee payroll management. And in contrast to OnPay’s top competitors, OnPay itself doesn’t have multiple plans with expanded feature lists that businesses can scale up to as they hire more employees. What you see on OnPay’s list of features is exactly what you get.

However, it’s worth noting that OnPay’s single payroll plan includes more features for no additional cost than just about any other payroll service does. At that one-employee starting price of $46 per month, OnPay includes the following payroll features:

  • Unlimited multi-state payroll runs.
  • Wage garnishment.
  • State unemployment insurance tax administration.
  • Custom reporting.
  • Self-guided employee onboarding.
  • Automatic state new-hire reporting.
  • Custom PTO policy creation with in-app time-off requests and approvals.

To learn more about OnPay and see its full list of features, read our comprehensive OnPay review.

Square Payroll vs. OnPay: Feature comparison

Full-service payroll

Winner: Tie

Square Payroll and OnPay are equally excellent payroll tools for getting your employees paid on time. Both payroll software companies automatically calculate federal and state payroll taxes, withhold them and remit them to the correct tax agency. They also enable you to automate other paycheck deductions (such as health insurance premiums) and to pay your employees via direct deposit.

That said, each software provider has unique payroll features that can benefit different types of companies. When trying to choose the right payroll service for you, consider these unique tools.

Square’s unique payroll features OnPay’s unique payroll features
  • Autopilot feature lets you schedule payroll runs in advance.
  • Next-day direct deposit gets your people paid on time.
  • The Square Team App for Employers lets you run payroll on the go.
  • Custom reports showcase only the payroll and HR data you need.
  • Industry-specific plans include tools for nonprofits, churches, farms, restaurants and more.
  • Multiple pay options let you pay employees by check, debit card or direct deposit.

Employee scheduling and time-tracking

Winner: Square Payroll

The easiest way to pay hourly employees and avoid payroll calculation mistakes is choosing a payroll program that syncs with time-tracking software to accurately generate employees’ paychecks based on their hours worked. Once you sign up for Square Payroll, you can invite employees to the Square Teams App, which they can use to clock in and out and request time off. That data will automatically update in Square Payroll, where you can also generate time-clock reports, import tips and create schedules.

In contrast, OnPay syncs with third-party time-tracking tools like QuickBooks Time, Deputy and When I Work so you can accurately pay hourly employees, but it lacks a built-in time-tracking solution of its own. Similarly, you can’t use OnPay to schedule shifts without integrating a third-party tool.

However, you can use OnPay to create custom PTO policies, track PTO, and submit and approve time-off requests.

Employee benefits and benefits administration

Winner: Tie

Both Square Payroll and OnPay include built-in benefits administration. Unlike providers who charge an extra service fee to integrate employee benefits with payroll software, Square and OnPay let you integrate benefits for free, so you shouldn’t pay for anything besides the policy itself.

HR tools

Winner: OnPay

OnPay and Square Payroll have some of the same HR tools in common, including employee onboarding and automatic compliance alerts. Both companies also include access to a basic HR library with templates and guidelines that can help you stay legally compliant.

However, OnPay ultimately offers more HR tools than Square. With OnPay, you’ll get e-signature capabilities, in-app offer letters, customizable personnel checklists, built-in HR document templates with cloud-based document storage, a searchable company directory and more.

SEE: Payroll Services Comparison Tool (TechRepublic Premium)

Square Payroll does have two optional add-on HR services that OnPay doesn’t offer: An employee handbook wizard and access to certified HR experts. Both services cost an additional fee.

Third-party integrations

Winner: OnPay

While some Square products sync with a wide range of third-party products, Square Payroll itself only integrates natively with QuickBooks Online. OnPay doesn’t integrate with many third-party apps — especially compared to popular alternatives like Gusto and Paychex — but it does sync with more providers than Square Payroll, such as the following:

  • QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Time.
  • Xero.
  • Deputy.
  • When I Work.
  • Mineral.
  • PosterElite.

Square Payroll pros and cons

Square Payroll’s pros

  • No base fee for contractor-only payroll.
  • Optional health insurance benefits in all 50 states.
  • Excellent integration with Square’s full product suite.
  • Industry-specific features such as direct-tip tracking.

Square Payroll’s cons

  • One full-service plan only (limited scalability).
  • Integrations are limited to QuickBooks Online and Square products only.
  • Additional fees for some HR tools, including employee handbook access.
  • Customer support available over the phone and through live chat (weekdays only).

OnPay pros and cons

Pros of OnPay

  • Free account migration and setup.
  • Completely comprehensive full-service payroll features.
  • No additional fee for multi-state payroll runs.
  • Optional health and dental benefits in all 50 states.
  • No service fees for integrating health benefits, 401(k) accounts or workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Full suite of small-business-friendly HR tools, including compliance audits, custom PTO policy creation, org charts, personnel checklists and more.
  • Live phone, chat and email support on weekdays with as-needed email-based emergency support on weekends.

Cons of OnPay

  • One full-service plan only (limited scalability).
  • Limited third-party integrations compared to competitors like Gusto, Paychex and ADP.
  • No mobile payroll app for employers.
  • Time-tracking available through third-party integrations only.
  • No autopilot payroll feature.

Should your organization use Square Payroll or OnPay?

On the whole, it’s hard to go wrong with either Square Payroll or OnPay. With both payroll companies, new employers and one-employee businesses will benefit from low pricing, fully featured plans and user-friendly interfaces.

However, if you’re having a hard time choosing between the two payroll services, we have specific recommendations that can help you make up your mind.

Choose Square Payroll if . . .

  • You pay contractors only.
  • Affordability is your top consideration in terms of choosing a payroll provider.
  • Mobile payroll access for yourself and your team members is essential to your business.
  • You already use Square POS, the Square Cash App or Square Teams as part of your daily business operations.
  • Instead of comprehensive all-in-one payroll and HR software, you’re happy sticking with separate payroll and HR solutions.

Choose OnPay if . . .

  • You want the no-fuss, no-frills simplicity of a single payroll plan.
  • You don’t want to pay extra for multi-state payroll.
  • You want a hands-on customer service experience that includes white-glove setup, data migration and integration assistance.
  • You work in a niche industry and prefer payroll software that can be tailored to your unique needs.

Methodology

Whenever possible, we sign up for free trials to get hands-on experience with the software we review. We also view guided demos, reach out directly to sales representatives, research product specs and consider input from verified users on third-party review sites like the App Store, Google Play and Gartner Peer Insights.

To calculate star ratings, we assess payroll brands based on their pricing, payroll features, ease of use and customer service. Our expert reviewer’s first-hand experience using and researching the software also factors into our final star rating score.

To learn more, read our software review methodology.

Frequently asked questions

Can Square be used for payroll?

Yes, Square can be used for payroll if you sign up for Square’s standalone payroll product, Square Payroll. Square Payroll is generally considered a good payroll solution for businesses that want full-service payroll software to pay contractors, employees or a combination of both types of workers.

Can you use Square Payroll without using Square Point of Sale?

Yes, you can use Square Payroll without using Square Point of Sale. However, integrating Square POS or Square Teams with Square Payroll is the easiest way to automate payroll processing to quickly pay your hourly employees and contractors.


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