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Gusto payroll is a top payroll solution for many — even most — small and midsize businesses that run payroll in house. Its reasonable starting price, built-in employee benefits and helpful blend of HR and payroll tools set it apart in the crowded field of payroll software. But if Gusto doesn’t work for you, you do have other options.

Rippling is the best Gusto alternative for growing businesses with complex payroll needs. We also recommend Roll by ADP for micro-businesses that want fast, easy and affordable chat-based payroll. Keep reading to learn more about whether Gusto or an alternative is the best payroll choice for you.

Top Gusto competitors and alternatives: Comparison table

*Starting price for businesses with 101+ global employees. Price decreases to $20/employee with 501+ employees and $15/employee with 1,001+ employees.
Plan and pricing information up to date as of 3/25/2024.

Top Gusto competitors

Gusto primarily targets small and midsize businesses, though it can work well for some large businesses that use separate HCM or HR software for people management. For the most part, though, the Gusto competitors we review below target the same audience — with a few exceptions.

Growing businesses and international companies should prioritize Rippling and Papaya Global. If you need a heftier payroll and HR solution, look into our review of the best payroll software for enterprises, which covers more comprehensive payroll software like Workday HCM.

Rippling: Best overall Gusto alternative

The Rippling logo.
Image: Rippling

Our star rating: 4.3 out of 5

Like Gusto, Rippling calculates employee paychecks, remits state and federal taxes on behalf of employers, and offers health benefits and built-in benefit administration. From there, the two payroll providers diverge drastically: Rippling is more scalable, more customizable and more expensive than Gusto.

Rippling also has more features than Gusto, making it better suited for growing businesses with complex financial and HR needs. While Gusto focuses almost entirely on payroll with some HR features, Rippling’s all-in-one approach consolidates payroll, HR, expense tracking, IT management and financial forecasting.

Why we chose it: Because Rippling’s modular plans are so customizable, the software can accommodate all business sizes and budgets. It can serve small businesses that need payroll for one or two employees as well as enterprises that manage payroll and benefits on a global scale. In contrast, Gusto is better suited to businesses that want payroll features, employee benefits and easy time tracking without any extra bells and whistles.

For more information, read our full Rippling review.

Pricing

Rippling payroll starts at $8 per employee per month on top of an unlisted monthly base fee. Apart from its per-employee payroll fee, Rippling doesn’t list its prices online. Contact Rippling directly to assemble a custom plan with custom pricing.

Features

  • International payroll processing for global employees and contractors.
  • Fully integrated HR, payroll and finance tools.
  • Thorough learning management suite.
  • Optional PEO solution.

Pros

  • Extremely scalable solution that accommodates businesses with two to 2,000 employees.
  • Fully customizable plans.
  • Integrations with top third-party business apps, including PayPal, Trello and Jira.
  • Unique HRIS features like remote device management and corporate cards.

Cons

  • Per-payee fees for each module can cause monthly fees to add up quickly.
  • Customer complaints of slow setup.
  • Frequent, ongoing changes and software updates can be confusing for users.

Roll by ADP: Best for micro-businesses

Roll by ADP logo.
Image: Roll by ADP

Our star rating: 3.7 out of 5

Roll by ADP is a chat-based payroll service from global payroll provider ADP. Roll by ADP distills payroll down to the basics by automatically calculating paycheck amounts, making payroll tax deductions, remitting taxes to the correct agency and paying your employees through automatic direct deposit.

Why we chose it: Roll by ADP lacks benefits administration and any HR tools beyond basic employee self-onboarding features—tools that most micro-businesses don’t need. As a result, Roll by ADP is best suited to incredibly small businesses with just a handful of employees. It’s a solid Gusto alternative for employers who want to minimize payroll expenses and who primarily run their businesses from their phones.

For more information, read our Roll by ADP review.

Pricing

Roll by ADP costs a flat fee of $39 per month plus $5 per employee paid. All new Roll users get three months free.

Features

  • App-first payroll system with optional laptop or desktop access.
  • Built-in integration with QuickBooks Online.
  • Multi-state payroll processing.
  • AI-based audits, compliance and alerts.

Pros

  • Extremely streamlined app for simple hassle-free payroll runs.
  • One flat fee with no unexpected or add-on fees.
  • Simple self-guided setup for employers and employees.
  • Three-month free trial.

Cons

  • No benefits options or HR tools.
  • Limited scalability (one plan only with limited features).
  • Chat-based customer support.

SurePayroll by Paychex: Most affordable option

SurePayroll by Paychex logo.
Image: SurePayroll by Paychex

Our star rating: 4.7 out of 5

SurePayroll by Paychex is an exceptionally affordable payroll provider for small and midsize businesses, especially when compared to ADP, Paychex and other top Gusto competitors. Even better, SurePayroll doesn’t skimp on essential payroll features in the name of lower prices: It’s nearly as fully featured as Gusto in terms of payroll tools.

Business owners who want to save money on payroll services can opt for SurePayroll by Paychex’s self-service plan, which includes automatic tax calculation but leaves withdrawal and remittance up to you. However, even SurePayroll by Paychex’s full-service plan — which includes automatic tax calculation, remittance and filing — is cheaper than most competitors (with the exception of Patriot Payroll, which is slightly cheaper than SurePayroll with the trade-off of fewer HR tools).

Why we chose it: While SurePayroll by Paychex doesn’t have Paychex’s comprehensive HR add-ons or Gusto’s impressive suite of third-party integrations, it includes HR library access, built-in benefits administration and multiple time-tracking options. Through its parent company, Paychex, SurePayroll can offer high-level benefits in all 50 states without charging abysmal prices.

For more information, read our SurePayroll by Paychex review.

Pricing

SurePayroll by Paychex has two payroll plans and a handful of add-on services:

  • Self-Service Payroll: $19.99 per month plus $4 per employee per month.
  • Full-Service Payroll: $29.99 per month plus $5 per employee per month.

SurePayroll doesn’t charge an additional fee to integrate your benefits and workers’ compensation insurance with its payroll service.

Additionally, new customers get six months free with either payroll plan.

Features

  • Payroll autopilot feature.
  • Health insurance benefits in all 50 states.
  • HR library access.
  • Optional workers’ compensation insurance and pre-employment screening tools.

Pros

  • Affordable self-service and full-service payroll plans.
  • Up to six months free for new customers.
  • Expanded customer support hours and overall positive customer service reputation.

Cons

  • Two plans only with limited scalability.
  • Fewer HR features than OnPay, Paychex and other payroll competitors.

Paychex Flex: Best HR features

The Paychex logo.
Image: Paychex

Our star rating: 4.0 out of 5

Compared to most other Gusto alternatives — as well as to Gusto itself — Paychex Flex is the heftiest all-in-one payroll and HR solution on our list. Each Paychex plan includes labor posters, solid employee onboarding tools and access to a comprehensive HR document library. Higher-tier plans add HCM features like performance management and LMS access.

However, Paychex charges far more for crucial payroll and HR features that competitors (including Gusto) typically offer at no additional fee. For instance, unlike Gusto and OnPay, Paychex charges an extra fee for benefits administration, general ledger integration, state unemployment insurance administration, e-document management — and more.

Why we chose it: While Paychex isn’t a particularly affordable or scalable option for small businesses, it’s a robust, fully featured tool for growing midsize and large businesses. If you need comprehensive HR features and thorough, ongoing support, it’s hard to do better than Paychex.

For more information, read our Paychex review.

Pricing

Typically, Paychex Flex lists the pricing for just one of its plans online. However, during the company’s sales periods, it lists the discounted pricing for its two most expensive plans as well:

  • Paychex Flex Essentials costs $39 per month plus $5 per employee.
  • Paychex Flex Select requires a custom quote.
  • Paychex Flex Pro requires a custom quote.

Features

  • Legally compliant labor posters with every plan.
  • Thorough HR and HCM add-ons like recruiting and applicant tracking, pre-employment screening and job-posting site integration.
  • Well-reviewed mobile payroll apps for both employers and employees.
  • Multiple payroll and HR solutions, including payroll software and PEO service.

Pros

  • High-quality employee benefits options in all 50 states.
  • HR library access with thorough HR templates and documents.
  • International payroll through third-party partner FMP Global.

Cons

  • Far more add-on fees than most Gusto competitors, including fees for benefits administration, online document storage and accounting software integration.
  • Expensive software.
  • Poor customer service reputation and complaints of slow response times.

Papaya Global: Best for multinational companies

The Papaya Global logo.
Image: Papaya Global

Our star rating: 4.2 out of 5

Does your U.S.-based business need payroll software for domestic and international employees alike? Papaya Global is a global payroll service and EOR that lets businesses pay both contractors and employees in 160+ countries. Like Paychex, Papaya has multiple payroll solutions — including its global payroll product and employer of record service — making it a more flexible payroll company than a software-only company like Gusto.

For instance, Papaya’s Employer of Record service allows it to become your workers’ legal employer, taking the most complicated legal and HR aspects of international employment and payroll off your plate. Smaller companies with a more limited budget can use Papaya’s payroll platform licensing to pay global employees without switching payroll providers for just $3 per payee per month.

Why we chose it: With coverage in 160+ countries and payments in more than 120+ local currencies, Papaya Global is one of the most expansive international payroll solutions for growing businesses. Its built-in payment processing system ensures you can run payroll and pay employees directly within the same system, which saves you time and minimizes your company’s liability.

For more information, read our full Papaya Global review.

Pricing

Papaya offers multiple global payroll solutions starting at the following price points: 

  • Global Payroll: Starts at $25/employee/month for businesses with 101+ employees, $20/employee/month with 501+ employees, or $15/employee/month with 1,001+ employees.
  • EOR: Starts at $650/employee/month.
  • Contractor Payments & Management: Starts at $30/contractor/month.

Features

  • Payments in local currencies.
  • Thorough workforce analytics and payroll reporting.
  • Comprehensive country-specific compliance audits and alerts.
  • Optional contractor-only payroll plan.

Pros

  • Transparent online pricing.
  • Versatile payroll options, including PEO and EOR services.
  • Competitive location-specific benefits in 160+ countries.

Cons

  • Fewer third-party integrations than most national and international payroll competitors.
  • High pricing may be outside small and midsize businesses’ budgets.
  • Email-only customer support.

Justworks: Best PEO solution

The Justworks logo.
Image: Justworks

Our star rating: 4.2 out of 5

Justworks isn’t a payroll software provider like Gusto and OnPay. Instead, Justworks is a PEO that assumes co-ownership with your company to manage payroll and HR on your behalf. The service includes a built-in time tracking tool (available at an additional monthly fee) to streamline payroll for hourly employees. Its HR consultation services keep you compliant with state and national employment laws, and its new EOR service helps global companies hire and pay employees internationally.

Why we chose it: Justworks is an affordable payroll solution for U.S. companies that want to outsource as many aspects of human resources as possible. If you’d like to spend more time on daily business operations and less time juggling the ins and outs of employee pay and benefits, Justworks is an excellent Gusto alternative.

For more information, read our Justworks review.

Pricing

Justworks has two plans:

  • Justworks Basic: $59 per month per employee for less than 50 employees and $49 per month per employee for 50 or more employees.
  • Justworks Plus: $99 per month per employee for less than 50 employees and $89 per month per employee for 50 or more employees.

Most PEOs require would-be customers to reach out for a custom quote, so Justworks’ transparent pricing structure is a breath of fresh air for small businesses concerned about paying too much for HR and payroll.

Features

  • Hands-on compliance management to help you avoid costly payroll mistakes.
  • Bi-weekly and weekly pay schedules with no additional fee for off-cycle runs.
  • Unique health and wellness benefits.
  • Multi-state payroll at no additional fee.

Pros

  • Notably streamlined, user-friendly software.
  • 24/7 customer service available via live chat, SMS, Slack, email and phone.
  • High-quality benefits options in all 50 states.
  • More affordable than many PEO competitors like ADP TotalSource.

Cons

  • Fewer payroll features than Gusto and other payroll-specific competitors.
  • Comparatively few payroll reports.
  • Limited accounting integrations (Xero and QuickBooks Online).

Square Payroll: Best contractor payroll

Square logo.
Image: Square

Our star rating: 4.2 out of 5

Like Gusto, Square Payroll has a contractor-only payroll plan with no monthly base fee. However, Gusto waives its base fee for only six months. After that point, users pay a base fee of $35 a month plus a $6 per-payee fee.

In contrast, Square Payroll permanently waives its base fee for business owners who use Square to pay only contractors. Plus, Square charges you for the contractors you pay each month, not by the number of freelancers on your payroll, and allows for free seasonal inactivity.

Why we chose it: Square Payroll doesn’t integrate with as many third-party business apps as most Gusto alternatives on our list, but it does sync perfectly with Square Point of Sale, which doubles as a time-clock system for employees. If you’re already using Square’s products, especially its point of sale service, Square Payroll is a logical, user-friendly payroll choice.

For more information, read our Square Payroll review.

Pricing

Square Payroll has two plans:

  • Square’s Pay Contractors Only plan costs $6 per month per contractor paid.
  • Square Pay Employees & Contractors plan costs $35 per month plus $6 per payee.

Features

  • Multiple employee pay options including direct deposit, paper check and Cash App payouts.
  • Highly rated mobile payroll app for employers.
  • Optional workers’ compensation insurance and employee health insurance benefits with no additional fees for integration.

Pros

  • Affordable payroll plans, especially for contractor-only payroll (no base fee).
  • No additional fees for services like end-of-year W-2 and 1099 filing.
  • Extended customer service hours (weekdays only).

Cons

  • One plan only (limited scalability for growing companies).
  • Fewer HR features than most payroll software for small businesses.
  • Fewer third-party integrations than most Gusto competitors.

Is Gusto worth it?

The Gusto logo.
Image: Gusto

Our star rating: 4.6 out of 5

Gusto is a good payroll software choice for many small and midsize businesses in any industry. Its user-friendly interface should appeal to new employers who want a simple, straightforward tool to pay their workers.

Since Gusto is one of the most popular payroll providers in the U.S., it syncs with top business software products problem-free. Its easy-to-use, versatile payroll system is preferred by accountants and HCM software providers around the country.

Still, Gusto’s popularity doesn’t automatically qualify it as the best payroll software solution for you. Consider factors like how many employees you have, how much growth you’re counting on, which benefits you want to offer and what features you can’t do without while you weigh Gusto against its competitors.

Learn more about Gusto’s pros, cons, features, plans and prices in our Gusto review.

Gusto’s pricing

Gusto has three main payroll plans:

  • Gusto Simple costs $40 per month plus $6 per employee.
  • Gusto Plus costs $80 per month plus $12 per employee.
  • Gusto Premium requires a custom quote.

Gusto’s plan for contractors costs just $6 per payee for the first six months of service and $35 a month plus $6 per payee for every month after that. Gusto also offers international contractor payments in 120+ countries. The exact fee for global contractor payroll differs from country to country.

Gusto also has an EOR service, Gusto Global, which enables U.S.-based businesses to hire in Canada with limited time and expense. (More countries will be added as Gusto expands the service). Pricing isn’t clearly listed on Gusto’s site, but previous posts on the site suggest the price will start at around $699 per employee per month.

Gusto pros and cons

Gusto is primarily a payroll solution — so if payroll is all you need, Gusto is a fantastic tool. It includes features that many of its key competitors leave out (or include at an extra fee), such as state unemployment insurance management, state new hire reporting, workers compensation integration and wage garnishment.

But if you’re looking for a more complex HR solution, Gusto might not be the right fit for you. Unlike Paychex and ADP Workforce Now, Gusto doesn’t offer employee management tools like a learning management system. (It’s worth noting that Gusto does sync with plenty of third-party LMS, ATS and other HR tools. Paychex and ADP work better than Gusto if you want to tackle all things HR and payroll within the same system.)

Additionally, while Gusto’s three plans might make it more scalable than single-plan alternatives like OnPay and Square Payroll, its base price and per-employee fee double between the cheapest and mid-tier plan. The price jump might be too much for a small business’s budget.

Gusto pros Gusto cons
Fully automated payroll. Limited HR features with cheapest plan.
No additional fees for employee benefit integration. Health insurance in 37 states only.
Hiring and onboarding tools with each plan. Expensive higher-tier plans.
Thorough third-party integrations. Limited customer service with cheapest plan.
International contractor payments in 120+ countries. Mid-tier plan is double the cost of the entry-level plan.

Do you need an alternative to Gusto?

The best way to find out if you need Gusto or a Gusto alternative is to try the software yourself. While Gusto doesn’t have a free trial, it does offer free account creation, and you won’t be charged for anything until you run your first payroll. SurePayroll, OnPay and Roll by ADP all offer free trials while the other Gusto payroll competitors on our list provide free demos.

The payroll software you pick impacts how satisfied your employees are with their pay, what benefits you can offer and how much time you spend on payroll each pay period. While signing up for free trials and scheduling multiple demos might sound like a hassle, the time and effort are worth it to find the perfect payroll product.

Consider Gusto for payroll if . . .

  • You want a payroll-first software solution with some HR tools.
  • You want payroll software that integrates with most HRIS and HCM software.
  • You’re comfortable running payroll without dedicated or on-demand customer service.
  • You want user-friendly software with a low learning curve and plenty of time-saving automations.

Consider a Gusto alternative for payroll if . . .

  • You need a more robust HR solution, not a streamlined payroll-centric tool.
  • You want industry-specific payroll software.
  • You’re part of a large corporation or global enterprise.
  • You want payroll software with guaranteed nationwide benefits (or global benefits).

Our methodology

To calculate star ratings for Gusto and its top competitors, we rely on an in-house algorithm. Our research, review and rating process involves rigorously assessing each brand according to the following categories:

  • Pricing, which is weighted to 25% of our final star rating and includes factors like lowest and highest listed prices, pricing transparency, extra fees and free trial availability.
  • Core features, which is weighted to 35% of our final star rating and includes factors such as unlimited payroll runs, tax service, benefits administration, mobile app access, third-party integrations and more.
  • Ease of use, which is weighted to 15% of our final star rating and includes factors like workflow automations, overall user friendliness, scalability, employee self-service portals and more.
  • Customer service, which is weighted to 15% of our final star rating and includes factors like dedicated account managers, 24/7 availability, response times and more.

Our expert’s experience researching and testing each brand comprises the final 10% of our overall algorithm and review methodology.

We tested each product for ourselves whenever possible by setting up free accounts and scheduling demos. Our hands-on experience was a pivotal part of assessing each brand, determining use cases and evaluating a product’s overall efficacy. We also took verified user reviews into account to make sure more experiences than our own were reflected in our review.

For more information, see our comprehensive payroll software review methodology.

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