Payroll Services

8 Best Payroll Services of 2020

Payroll Services

Employees need to be able to rely on being paid on a regular basis without delays. Irrespective of the size of the organization, payroll plays a huge role in maintaining the morale of employees to the financial stability of the company.

Compare the costs of these payroll services by knowing the pricing ranges, features, customer support and many more.

Gusto: The Best Choice for Overall Payroll Service of Small Businesses

  • Gusto
  • QuickBooks Payroll
  • ADP Run
  • Justworks
  • Paycor
  • Zenefits
  • Surepayroll
  • TriNet

We recommend Gusto payroll for any small business—fewer than 100 employees. It’s a low-cost cloud-based payroll software service and offers benefits too. It’s best for employers who want a one-size-fits-all payroll option, which offers nearly everything a small business needs, from electronic new hire documents and health insurance to employee self-service, and quick payroll processing.

In addition to all the payroll features listed above, Gusto Core has HR and benefits options that make it feel like a full-service payroll company. For example, when someone is hired, you input the person’s basic information, and Gusto does the rest. The new hire receives a welcome email with links to payroll docs like W-4 and I-9 for e-signing.

  • Single Lavu Terminal
  • Multi-terminal Plans
  • Enterprise Plans

Gusto Pricing

Gusto Pricing

Gusto’s pricing is based on three levels of service ($6 to $12 per person,: Core, Complete, and Concierge. Comparatively, it is straightforward and affordable compared to some of the bigger names in the payroll industry like ADP and its competitors. Its basic plan cost is $39 per month, plus $6 per month, per employee.

For 10 employees, as an example, it would cost $1,188-$2000 per year for all the requisite payroll features. That’s less than $120 per employee, per year. No upcharges mean you can plan and stick to your payroll budget.

Gusto's People Tab Dashboard

Gusto offers more than just payroll

Payroll Processing

Gusto is designed with quick payroll runs of less than 10 minutes. You can set up your payroll to run automatically if all workers are salaried, and no time entry is needed. It provides direct deposit or pay card options and can set you up with a pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation program, similar to APIntego. It also offers a Cashout option you can turn on, if eligible, so employees can cash out a maximum of half of their paycheck―up to $1,000―before payday.

HR Tools With Gusto

Gusto provides HR onboarding and gives your employees access to a mobile-optimized website that allows team members to view and update their own data online. It provides e-signature and online document filing, saving you from having to maintain paper employee personnel files.

Gusto’s Employee Benefits

Gusto serves as a benefits broker in the United States. Benefits offerings include plans for health insurance at group rates most employees can afford. It also lets you set up retirement savings plans managed online like a 401(k)—all through the same portal. It’s a one-stop-shop for your employees to manage their benefits online.

Customer Support

Gusto extends customer support by phone and email. Because it’s located on the West Coast of the US, its hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time. You’ll receive HR support with the Core package, but if you want a dedicated support team, you have to upgrade to the Concierge service.

QuickBooks Payroll: Best for Companies Exceeding 50 Employees

We recommend QuickBooks Payroll as the best payroll service for small businesses who want general ledger integration because it interfaces seamlessly with QuickBooks accounting software for those businesses already using QuickBooks for bookkeeping. If you have 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, you must offer health insurance, and you can explore options with QuickBooks’ partner SimplyInsured, You can also issue same-day direct deposits and receive a penalty-free tax guarantee, even if you make the error.

QuickBooks Payroll Pricing & Features

QuickBooks Payroll has several pricing tiers with nondiscounted prices that range from $45 a month for core services up to $125 a month for the Elite plan. It usually offers a discount―sometimes up to 70%―for the first few months, so we recommend asking about it. You can get automated payroll, access to health benefits, and same-day or next-day direct deposit in any plan you choose. Employees can also use the app the clock in and out if you opt for one of the two higher-tiered plans.

Payroll Processing

With the Premium and Elite plans, you can have a QuickBooks Payroll expert review your initial setup or complete it for you, which is very helpful if you’re transferring from another provider. You can also run the payroll on autopilot, similar to Gusto’s automated feature; however, the employee must be salaried.

One feature that separates QuickBooks from the pack is the tax penalty-free guarantee that the two premium plans offer. Unlike Gusto and other payroll providers, QuickBooks Payroll will cover any tax penalties resulting from payroll errors even if your business makes the error. Other providers only cover the mistakes they make.

Another defining feature of QuickBooks Payroll is the same-day direct deposit feature included with all plans. Many providers have at least a two-day processing window for payments, meaning your employees have to wait until 48 hours after you submit payroll to receive their funds. QuickBooks Payroll does this automatically and doesn’t charge extra or require approval for it.

HR Tools

QuickBooks Payroll now offers an HR Support Center for its Premium and Elite users. You can find answers to your federal and state wage and overtime law questions, in addition to learning best practices on common HR tasks like hiring, performance, and termination.

If you need a live person to give you more personal consultation, you will have to purchase the Elite plan. It comes with an HR Advisor who will provide you with professional guidance as well as custom handbooks personalized for your business.

Employee Benefits With QuickBooks Payroll

QuickBooks Payroll gives you access to health benefits through its partner, SimplyInsured. Unlike Gusto that offers these benefits directly, you’ll need to work with SimplyInsured to figure out which insurance packages will work for your team, and there may be additional fees, but you can manage the initial setup with the QuickBooks Payroll software. Additionally, you can set up benefits in all 50 states vs Gusto’s limited reach.

Customer Support

QuickBooks Payroll’s customer support is US-based and is available by phone and chat from Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. You can get help with troubleshooting, tips, and access to additional resources. There’s also a payroll support center that provides helpful online tutorials and user guides.

ADP Run: Best Payroll Service for Growing Startups

We recommend ADP Run for startups planning to scale their business in the future significantly. It offers multiple service options―for businesses with one to 49 employees, 50 to 1,000, and up―and price points and requires you to request a quote. There’s also an impressive mobile app you and your employees can use from anywhere.

ADP Run Payroll Pricing & Features

So you can see the difference in price points depending on the level of services you need, we requested quotes for two versions of one of ADP Run’s top tier plans―ADP Run Complete Payroll and HR package. We were quoted $107.05 per payroll process and $126.35 per process. The only difference between the two prices is the number of job postings per month on ZipRecruiter—one posting vs two—and the number of background checks you get—five vs 25.

Payroll Processing

With ADP Run, you run payroll using its ADP Run software. It’s easy to get started, especially if you’re using its do-it-yourself (DIY) plan. Once you enter your name, email address, and company name, you can start setting up your service in minutes. You can also run payroll from your computer, a mobile app, or by placing a phone call.

You will need to enter your employees’ hours worked, but you can set it up for employees to enter if you purchase the Time and Attendance product. Once you review and approve it, you’ll see how much cash you need to fund the pay run and make any adjustments as needed. Employees can access basic information like pay stubs, and direct deposit is free.

Employee Benefits

You can manage your employee benefits through ADP Run as you can with most payroll software. With ADP Run, it costs extra. It has an affiliate company you can use to help you choose health and other insurance plans you can integrate into your ADP Run payroll process, making deductions automatic. You can also offer retirement benefits, like 401(k) plans and executive deferred compensation plans for your top performers.

HR Tools

Like Gusto and Justworks, ADP Run provides new hire reporting to the state with all of its plans. However, if you upgrade, you can use cool features like federal compliance resources and a “tip of the week.” It gives you an Employee Handbook Wizard and a ZipRecruiter account for posting jobs.

It can even provide background checks. If you opt for the ADP Run Complete Payroll + HR package, you’ll have access to consulting services from HR certified representatives so that you can call and ask basic HR, benefits, and payroll questions.

Customer Support

ADP Run doesn’t have the best customer support reputation, but it is available 24/7. However, be aware that it sends its overflow support calls to India. In addition, if an employee loses their password, ADP Run will refer that person to you, the employer. It will not assist your employees with basic issues like password resets.

Justworks: Best Payroll Service for Less Supervising Payroll Processing Using a PEO

We recommend Justworks as a PEO payroll service that’s best for small businesses that want to offer employee benefits and services that match their larger competitors—everything from new hire onboarding to benefits offerings. We found that Justworks offers the best payroll service value among the PEOs we compared. You can sign up for Justworks with just two employees.

Justworks Pricing

Justworks pricing ranges from $44 without benefits to $89 per month, per employee, with benefits for 10 employees. Therefore, Justworks is at the lower-cost end of PEOs with rates that are well below TriNet. Also, the per-employee rate drops as you scale up and add more staff. Even at only $89 per month, per employee, you get full-service payroll, with HR and benefits included.

Justworks Features

Since a PEO is a co-employer, it’s more than a payroll service or payroll software. The employees work for you and the PEO. For example, you manage their schedules, their work instructions, and interact with them like any other employee. However, they’re employed by the PEO, getting their paychecks, tax documents, and benefits from the PEO. You pay a per-employee fee for the outsourced payroll services.

Payroll Processing

Justworks includes time tracking in addition to automated deposits, one-off payments, payroll tax filings, and auto notifications. Like Gusto, it can process contract-employee (1099-MISC) payments as well so that you don’t have to manage those in a different system. It allows you to pay employees on a weekly or biweekly basis, and you can process payroll completely online.

Justworks’ HR Tools

Like Gusto, Justworks offers an employee self-service dashboard that allows them to see their own information. That saves you time as you no longer have to print copies of their forms or pay stubs. Justworks also manages your business compliance, which is helpful as each state, and many localities have their own labor laws. Justworks, like Gusto, can provide you with HR consulting services to help manage employment issues.

Employee Benefits With Justworks

The benefits of a PEO, like Justworks, is that they leverage their buying power when it comes to benefits—for example, a health insurance plan, workers’ compensation, or a 401(k) savings plan. Justworks can pool employees into a larger buying group and get group rates that a small business would be unlikely to obtain on their own. That allows your small business to provide big company benefits.

Customer Support

Justworks offers support via phone or live online chat Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. In addition, Justwork’s Help Center provides solid information in an easy-to-digest format on topics for employers and employees alike, such as benefits, payroll, and taxes.

Paycor: Best for Businesses That Need HR Tools for Managing Growth Gaps

We recommend Paycor as best for businesses that are currently growing and need HR support along with payroll. In addition to being able to pay employees and have support paying federal, state, and local payroll taxes, you’ll get access to tons of HR tools and modules you can use to keep track of job applicants, employee performance, and so forth.

Paycor Perform Pricing

Paycor’s pricing is straightforward like Gusto but costs even less if you have 10 or fewer employees. It’s only $49 per month. Adding employees costs only $3 per employee, per pay period, similar to Gusto, which charges an additional $6 per employee, per month. If you run every bimonthly payroll, Paycor’s per-employee price is the same as Gusto.

Paycor Perform Features

Unlike Gusto, which doesn’t have an ATS or online performance reviews a company will need as it grows, Paycor has it all. One of the primary benefits of Paycor as a payroll service provider is that its software uses widgets. You can customize it to your needs and turn features on as you need them. That prevents your interface from being cluttered with payroll, benefits, or HR tools you’re not ready to use.

Paycor’s Payroll Processing

Paycor, like ADP, was built around the payroll process and provides all required payroll options from multiple pay cycles to direct deposit. However, it functions more like a full HR information system (HRIS) with visually stimulating online reports and graphics. When you’re ready to review payroll before it officially processes, you can see the total cash needed to complete the run, similar to how most payroll providers operate.

HR Tools

Paycor has easy-to-use modules that function together seamlessly, such as electronic document storage and human capital management tools like applicant tracking, learning management, and workforce insights that employers may need as their business grows. Furthermore, it can be customized to your business based on your industry or brand.

Employee Benefits With Paycor

Paycor, like Gusto and ADP, provides Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant benefits and manages benefits administration like your annual enrollment. It can also manage your employee 401(k) plan through the same interface, meaning employees can manage their own plan changes.

Customer Support

Paycor receives excellent feedback on its customer support. It can be reached by phone or online. It also provides an HR Center of Excellence with resources on topics like recruiting, labor costs, and employee experience. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday. There’s no support on the weekend.

Zenefits: Best for Those Who Want to Offer Performance Benefits

Zenefits is a payroll service that focuses on providing a full range of employee benefits to your staff. Unlike a PEO, it’s not a co-employer. Instead, it’s a service that provides a full suite of solutions in addition to payrolls, such as HR tools like organizational charts, and benefits like health insurance and a mobile app.

Zenefits Pricing & Features

Zenefits starts at $40 per month with monthly per-person fees that range from $6 to $12 per month. However, those prices go up as you add features, you’ll need in a payroll service like payroll processing. Its standard package includes an HR platform with employee data, an org chart, and onboarding while the advanced package adds on-time tracking and ACA compliance.

Apart from the Standard and Advanced plans, there are add-on features that users can opt to include in their subscription. Each of these services is billed based on the number of employees you have.

Add-on services charged per employee per month:

  • Payroll: $6
  • Time & attendance: $5
  • HR advisor: $5
  • Payroll advisor: $5
  • Ultimate advisor (HR & payroll): $8
  • Employee performance management: $4
  • Therefore, to get payroll processing with the standard package, you’d pay $40 per month plus $12 per month, per employee, similar to what you’d pay if you went with Gusto’s higher tier. Also, you’d still have to pay for add-ons like a payroll advisor, which Gusto includes at no extra charge.

Zenefits Features: In-depth Look

Unlike ADP Run and Paychex that began with payroll as its core platform, Zenefits is built around employee self-service and employee benefits. That makes its interface easier to use from the employee point-of-view. It also has a performance management add-on like Justworks can provide, but it costs more.

Payroll Processing

Zenefits offers payroll in the US only. It provides a mobile app for you and your employees to manage online data like pay stubs and year-end tax forms, which it files on your behalf. Timekeeping is available as an add-on, or you can interface with free time and attendance software like Homebase. It does everything payroll software should do.

Zenefits’ HR Tools

Zenefits provides an excellent array of HR features, including processes to onboard new hires and manage their data. It also has an employee directory and org chart as well as HR reporting that lets you visualize your HR data. In addition, it provides a compliance assistant to ensure you’re on track with federal and state labor laws. That’s useful once you begin hiring employees in more than one location.

Employee Benefits

Benefits are what Zenefits is all about. It provides everything from employee healthcare to commuter benefits without you having to worry about interfacing your software with multiple benefits providers. It’s all in one place, available to your employees through its mobile payroll app.

Customer Service With Zenefits

Zenefits provides multiple levels of support for you and your employees. It offers an HR advisor or payroll advisor service that can help you manage everything from retro pay to questions about at-will employment. However, unless you pay for one of its advisory services, your only help options are online. You send an email or fill out a form, and someone from the company will get back to you.

SurePayroll: Best for Small Organizations in Niche Industries

SurePayroll targets small organizations in niche industries, such as churches, household for nannies and babysitters, and agriculture by offering payroll features specific to their needs that some payroll providers don’t offer. It helps churches manage housing allowances for clergy, household employers pay their nanny taxes on time, and farmers file Form 943 in addition to getting payroll tax credits.

SurePayroll Pricing

For basic small business and nonprofit payroll services, the price is $29.99 monthly plus $4 per employee. If you’re a household employer, the price is $39.99 monthly for one employee; there’s an additional $10 fee per extra household worker.

If you need other features like benefits and HR tools, you’ll have to speak with a representative to get pricing specific to your business. You can add on a time clock for an extra $9.99 monthly.

SurePayroll Features

SurePayroll has basic payroll processing features like automated payroll and tax remittance the proper agencies. There’s also a payroll tax guarantee, so you don’t have to worry about paying penalties for mistakes its representatives make. It has some HR features available at an additional cost. If you need help, there’s live customer service available six days a week.

Payroll Processing

SurePayroll handles basic payroll processes, like paying employees via direct deposit and submitting tax payments to the proper agencies―federal, state, and local. There’s a two-day processing time, so you have to run payroll at least two days in advance of the date you want employees to receive it, but you can request a shorter turnaround when necessary.

You can also set payroll to run on autopilot and pay out multiple pay rates when employees work in two or more different positions.

HR Tools

SurePayroll offers limited HR tools, but if you need a feature like new hire reporting, you can get it by purchasing it as an add-on. There are also pre-employment screening options if you need to run background checks before issuing a job offer.

Employee Benefits

SurePayroll offers basic employee benefits like insurance, 401(k), and so on. It connects you to health insurance providers through its parent company, Paychex, so regardless of what state you’re in, you’re covered. Its 401(k) plans range from safe harbor to solo (k) plans, so you can purchase what makes sense for your business structure.

Customer Support

You can speak to a live representative six days a week, unlike many payroll providers targeting small businesses. They usually provide support five days a week. Hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central time, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central time.

TriNet PEO: Best for Multistate Employers

We recommend TriNet as best for companies with employees in multiple states that want hands-off payroll services. It’s great for those who want to offer employees an excellent onboarding experience, group rates on benefits, and self-service all in one place. TriNet is the PEO that we use at Fit Small Business because of the features, like its insurance buying power, which provides great rates for our staff.

Like Justworks and ADP, TriNet can leverage hundreds of thousands of employees across multiple companies to negotiate better insurance plan rates. TriNet offers a good range of coverage plans in all states in the US, even providing medical, dental, and vision insurance in small communities. One of the main benefits of TriNet, and why Fit Small Business uses it, is because it offers big-name health insurance plans to our remote employees and discounts to our distributed team.

TriNet PEO Pricing

TriNet’s pricing varies based on location and size. A New York-based rate might range from $125 to $155 per employee, per month. Based on our comparison company of 10 employees, TriNet’s prices ended up being $16,800 a year—more than double that of Justworks, which would come to less than $6,000 per year for the same 10 employees.

As TriNet’s pricing varies based on location and number of employees, you’ll want to contact it for a customized quote. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the available features before the call to ensure you receive the best quote.

TriNet Features

In addition to all the standard features you’d expect of a payroll service, TriNet offers a wide variety of PEO employer extras. Most notable is the all-in-one easy-to-navigate user interface for both employer and employees. Employees, for instance, can manage everything from downloading year-end W-2s to looking up information about their benefits programs and providers themselves.

TriNet’s Payroll Processing

Unlike some of the other payroll services, TriNet has a mobile application in addition to its portal. It can manage unemployment, time off, and expense reimbursement through the mobile app, saving you and your employees time and frustration.

HR Tools

TriNet stores employee data, signed forms, and provides employees with a self-service dashboard. Some standout features include your company organizational chart and people directory. If you set up and manage employee training, such as food safety, you can track that in TriNet as well.

Employee Benefits

TriNet offers a huge range of employee benefits and also manages Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) processing for terminated employees. It also offers you business practice liability insurance, keeping all your employee and insurance information in one system. It operates like your in-house HR and benefits department, in addition to managing payroll.

Customer Support With TriNet

TriNet provides customer service via phone and email. It also offers online case management that allows you to open a ticket on its website. It even has a separate email for employee questions. What it lacks is online chat, and its hours are limited: Monday to Friday, 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific time.

Key Takeaways

Let's be honest—most payroll companies seem like they're doing the same thing. That's why it's overwhelming to figure out which one is the best.