This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
ADP is one of the best payroll choices for businesses planning to expand and hire more employees in the near future. It has advanced HR features like new hire onboarding and background checks on top of its full-service payroll and tax services. However, ADP is not ideal for small businesses with a tight monthly budget because it charges for extra payroll runs and year-end reporting. If you don’t need robust HR features or just need to save money, a top ADP competitor may work better for your business.
In this guide, we evaluated 13 payroll software and narrowed the list down to the top seven.
- Gusto: Best overall ADP competitor for small businesses
- QuickBooks Payroll: Best for small business QuickBooks accounting users
- TriNet Zenefits (formerly Zenefits): Best for companies in heavily regulated industries needing top-notch HR support
- Paycor: Best for companies needing a fully configurable payroll tool for complex salary calculations
- Paychex: Best for solopreneurs and growing businesses looking for dedicated support
- Justworks: Best for businesses that need a reasonably priced PEO
- Rippling: Best for tech-reliant companies needing an integrated way to manage HR, payroll, and IT
Top ADP Competitors Compared
Starter Monthly Pricing
Unlimited and Automatic Pay Runs
Health Plans Available in All States
Standard Direct Deposit
Single Point of Contact
$39 + $6 per employee
Limited to 39 states
2- and 4-day
$45 + $4 per employee
$16 per employee*
Unlimited pay runs only
Hawaii isn’t covered
$99 + $5 per employee
Slow for premium plans
$39 + $5 per employee
Automatic pay runs only
Slow for premium plans
Only in premium plans
$49 per employee
Unlimited pay runs only
✔ Is a PEO
Slow for premium plans
$35 + 8 per employee**
Slow for premium plans
*Includes payroll add-on
**Pricing is based on a quote we received
If you’re unsure which ADP competitor is best for your business, answer a few questions in our quiz and we will help you decide.
“Which ADP Competitor is Right For You?”
If you’re not sure which ADP competitor is best for your business, answer a few questions in our quiz and we will help you decide.
Gusto: Best Overall ADP Competitor for Small Businesses
For small business owners needing help running payroll at a good value, Gusto is the best choice. The software is easy to use—no excess features you don’t need—and you can run unlimited pay runs at no extra cost. It files and pays federal, state, and local taxes, and automatically generates and sends W-2s and 1099s to employees and contractors at no extra cost, unlike ADP. Multiple pricing options are also available, with a starter tier that’s reasonably priced. Setup and migration are free for new users—you have to pay a setup fee with both ADP and Paychex.
Gusto also offers a wide range of employee benefits—from health insurance and 401(k) plans to commuter benefits and tax-advantaged college savings accounts. However, its health insurance coverage is limited to only 39 states (unavailable in Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming). If you want health plans that are available across the US, any of the ADP competitors in this guide (except TriNet Zenefits, whose health plans doesn’t cover Hawaii) are great options as all provide extensive health insurance coverage.
Gusto Key Features
- Ease of use: Gusto is easy to set up and use, plus it has an intuitive interface that allows you to process payroll in just a few clicks. Compared to Paychex and ADP, Gusto is more user-friendly, and you can start using its online tools without any training required—provided you have a good background on how payroll works. If you need assistance, it provides how-to guides and unlimited phone, email, and chat support.
- Payroll processing and services: Process payroll as many times as you need without having to pay extra fees. It can handle multistate payroll and tip credits, plus its automated pay runs are a very handy feature. In addition to garnishments and new hire reporting, Gusto provides payroll tax payment and filing (federal, state, and local) services. Your staff can also access their pay stubs, benefits information, and W-2s/1099s (note that year-end tax reports with ADP and Paychex cost extra) through a self-service portal.
- Multiple pay options: Gusto lets you pay employees and contractors through direct deposits, checks, pay cards, and pay on-demand (QuickBooks Payroll, TriNet Zenefits, Justworks, and Rippling don’t have this feature). You get four-, two- and next-day processing timelines for direct deposits, depending on your chosen plan. For check payments, Gusto’s software gives you the capability to cut paychecks using your printer, but the service won’t process checks for you or give you the option to have them delivered to employees. If this is something you need, then go with Paychex (or ADP itself).
- Full range of payroll and basic HR features: Aside from payroll, Gusto has solutions for hiring, onboarding, health benefits administration, PTO management, and simple time tracking. It also offers a robust selection of benefits such as medical, dental, vision, retirement, flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), college savings plans, and pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation.
- Expert HR support: If you subscribe to its highest tier, you are granted access to HR professionals who can give expert advice on how to handle payroll and HR issues. And while Gusto doesn’t assign a dedicated specialist to its clients like Paychex does, it offers unlimited chat, phone, and email support to all its users.
QuickBooks Payroll: Best for Small Business QuickBooks Accounting Users
QuickBooks Payroll can handle most employee pay processing functions, from payroll onboarding to tax preparation, although it doesn’t report new hires to the state—a feature that other solutions in this guide (as well as ADP) offer. Aside from paying contractors and employees, you can run auto payroll with either next- or same-day direct deposits (provided you sign up for at least its Premium plan).
It also automatically calculates, files, and pays federal and state taxes (local tax filings available in premium tiers), including submission of year-end W-2s/1099s. And unlike ADP, QuickBooks Payroll has an internal accounting program specifically for small businesses—QuickBooks—that integrates seamlessly with its payroll system.
QuickBooks Payroll Key Features
- Intuitive interface: The software has intuitive controls that allow you to set up and run payroll in a few easy steps. It doesn’t have a complicated-looking interface, and if you have questions about its functionalities, QuickBooks Payroll has how-to articles that can guide you through its features. Plus, compared to Paychex and ADP, this software doesn’t have a steep learning curve.
- Efficient pay processing: Set payroll to run automatically so you have more time to focus on business-building projects. With its full-service payroll, you can efficiently pay both employees and contractors, although you have to subscribe to its higher tiers if you want local payroll tax filings.
- Tax accuracy guarantee and tax penalty protection: All plans are covered by a tax accuracy guarantee, where QuickBooks will file and pay payroll taxes correctly and on time. In case there are penalties due to late submissions, QuickBooks will pay for all fees—provided that you forwarded the correct tax details well beyond the submission deadlines and have sufficient funds in your account to pay taxes. In addition, signing up for its Elite plan entitles you to its tax penalty protection (wherein QuickBooks will pay all tax penalties, max of $25,000 per year) that covers tax errors that you make. Neither ADP nor the other providers in this guide offer a similar program that includes client tax filing mistakes.
- Fast direct deposits: QuickBooks Payroll is the only software in this article that allows you to pay employees quickly. Aside from next-day direct deposits, it offers same-day direct deposits—provided you subscribe to either its Premium or Elite tier.
- Seamless integration with QuickBooks: While QuickBooks Payroll doesn’t integrate with a lot of third-party software, its native integration with QuickBooks Accounting allows for seamless data transfers between Intuit QuickBooks products. This means that your payroll information can flow directly to the general journal, plus you can use wage-related information for analytics and other reports using QuickBooks.
- HR advisory services: You get an HR professional you can contact to provide expert advice—provided you subscribe to QuickBooks Payroll’s highest tier. However, if you need a dedicated payroll specialist, consider Paychex.
TriNet Zenefits: Best for Businesses in Highly Regulated Industries
TriNet Zenefits (formerly Zenefits) offers an end-to-end employee management solution that streamlines and automates HR, payroll, and benefits administration. It’s best for businesses in highly regulated industries because it has robust compliance tools to help keep them up to date with the latest regulations. Aside from built-in overtime safeguards and pay stubs that conform with most state requirements, its online “Compliance Assistant” monitors your HR, payroll, and benefits compliance status and the unique form submission deadlines that are critical to your business.
Unlike ADP and the other software in this guide (except Rippling), which provide payroll as a base product and have no minimum user requirements, TriNet Zenefits offers its employee pay processing solution as an add-on tool and requires a five-employee minimum. However, if you need time tracking tools, all its plans come with a time and attendance solution at no extra cost; under ADP, this is a separate product.
Did you know?
In February 2022, Zenefits was acquired by TriNet, which offers full-service HR solutions and professional employer organization (PEO) services to small and midsize businesses. The acquisition comes with some changes to the company, including its name.
TriNet Zenefits Key Features
- Feature-inclusive: While ADP and most of the providers in this list (except Justworks and QuickBooks Payroll) have a wide range of HR solutions, TriNet Zenefits’ platform is more robust, helping you manage the entire employee lifecycle—from hiring to retirement. In addition to payroll, it offers hiring, onboarding, time tracking, benefits, compensation planning, performance reviews, employee information management, engagement surveys, compliance support, and even communication tools through its “TriNet Zenefits People Hub.”
- Integrated payroll: TriNet Zenefits automatically syncs employee data, including actual work hours, PTO details, and benefits information from its other solutions directly into payroll.
- Efficient pay processing: From employee and contractor payments to tip reporting and wage garnishments, TriNet Zenefits has all the essential tools you need to accurately process payroll and payroll taxes. Tax payments and filings are also automatic, with TriNet Zenefits handling all federal, state, and local tax submissions on your behalf. It even has dynamic pay stubs (accessible through its mobile apps) where you can add messages in case there are salary changes and special payouts (none of the providers in this guide, or ADP, offer this feature).
- Robust integrations: Unlike Rippling, which integrates with 500+ business apps, you can only connect TriNet Zenefits to 40+ popular applicant tracking, time and attendance, accounting, productivity, legal, and learning software. Some of its integration partners include Greenhouse, JazzHR, Deputy, QuickBooks, Xero, Lessonly, Slack, and Asana.
- Access to HR and payroll experts: While it provides HR and payroll advisory services, you have to pay $10 per employee monthly for this feature. If you want a dedicated payroll specialist, consider Paychex.
Paycor: Best for Businesses Needing a Fully Configurable Payroll Tool
Paycor, like ADP, has a robust suite of HR and payroll tools that can cater to all business sizes. It’s great for those with complex payroll needs because you can configure its pay grid to fit your requirements. It even lets you create customized pay slips, although TriNet Zenefits allows the inclusion of pay messages to its online pay stubs. And like many of the providers in this guide, it offers automatic tax calculations, payments, and filings, including W-2 and 1099 processing.
However, Paycor isn’t great for those with very limited budgets. With a starter plan for small businesses (up to 49 employees) priced at $99 plus $5 per employee monthly, Paycor is the most expensive ADP alternative on our list.
Paycor Key Features
- All-in-one HR platform: Paycor’s all-in-one platform combines several HR tools together, from hiring and time tracking to payroll and performance management. ADP competitors like Justworks and QuickBooks Payroll don’t have a robust HR solution suite.
- Flexible payroll: Run payroll the way you want it with Paycor’s customizable pay grids. You can add and remove earning/deduction columns that you need, including selecting whether or not you want its system to display the applicable amount or hours per earning/deduction type. It even offers multiple payments options—from pay-on-demand to direct deposits and even check stuffing services.
- Payroll tax compliance: Aside from year-end reporting and payroll tax filings (federal, state, and local taxes), Paycor has a team of tax experts to keep you compliant and up-to-date with the latest tax regulations.
- Starter tier has robust payroll tools: Unlike Rippling and TriNet Zenefits, which offer payroll as an add-on solution to their core platforms, Paycor’s Basic plan comes with all the tools you need to pay employees and process taxes accurately. However, its Basic plan lacks the PTO tracking and onboarding solutions that TriNet Zenefits has in its starter Essentials tier. If you want these HR tools and more advanced features (such as employee surveys and performance management), upgrade to Paycor’s higher packages.
Paychex: Best for Solopreneurs & Growing Businesses Looking for Dedicated Payroll Support
Like ADP, Paychex is a full-featured payroll system that provides different packages for small to enterprise-level businesses, including solopreneurs and the self-employed—an option none of the other solutions in this list offer. If you want a single point of contact for your employee pay processing and payroll tax requirements, sign up for one of Paychex’s premium plans to get a dedicated payroll specialist.
Aside from payroll and payroll tax filing services, it has several HR solutions for managing new hire onboarding, background screening, and employee training. While both ADP and Paychex offer workers’ compensation and employee benefits plans, only Paychex provides access to a financial wellness program with access to short-term loans, educational resources, and other tools to assist employees in achieving their financial goals.
Paychex Key Features
- Flexible system: Paychex allows you to review, edit, and submit payroll from desktop computers and mobile devices (for iOS and Android). You can start running payroll on your smartphones/tablets and then resume it on your computer, and vice versa. Unlike Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll, Paychex and ADP can grow with your business, providing you with efficient pay processing tools and robust HR solutions regardless of whether you have 10 employees or more than 500.
- User-friendly payroll features: Its easy-to-use online tools are designed to simplify the way you pay employees and contractors. Aside from automatic pay runs and customizable earning/deduction types, Paychex handles payroll tax payments and filings (federal, state, and most local taxes), including year-end tax reporting for you—although you have to pay extra for these. This is unlike ADP, which only charges add-on fees for W-2 and 1099 reporting. And while QuickBooks Payroll also offers automated tax filings, you have to sign up for its premium plans if you want the provider to file local taxes on your behalf.
- Multiple pay options: You can pay employees through pay cards, direct deposits, and paper checks. Like ADP, Paychex also offers check signing and stuffing services. If your staff requests early access to earned wages before a payroll date, you can use its pay-on-demand feature to help employees with their financial needs.
- Robust reporting: The reporting options of other providers in this guide aren’t as robust as Paychex’s. Aside from offering customizable reports, it has over 60 options that you can use for payroll and analyzing HR data.
- Full range of HR and payroll features: In addition to payroll, it has a full-featured HR solution suite that includes new hire onboarding, time and attendance, employee benefits, garnishment payment services, workers’ compensation, learning management, and hiring tools. QuickBooks Payroll and Justworks don’t offer a wide variety of HR solutions.
- Dedicated support: Paychex has a team of compliance experts, HR professionals, and payroll experts who can provide knowledgeable advice on labor regulations and HR-related issues. Similar to Justworks, you also get 24/7 phone and chat support. And if you get one of its higher tiers, Paychex will assign you a dedicated specialist to help you handle HR and payroll issues.
Justworks: Best for Businesses Looking for Affordable PEO Services
For business owners with limited HR and payroll experience, Justworks is a co-employer providing PEO services to help you efficiently manage day-to-day HR administrative tasks. Similar to ADP’s PEO solution, ADP TotalSource, it offers full-service payroll, tax payments and filings, essential HR tools, and access to HR experts. Its employee benefits even include fitness and wellness perks in addition to the usual health and retirement plans. What’s also great about this provider is its reasonably priced plans and flexible pricing matrix, wherein monthly fees go down as you add more employees to your business.
However, it lacks the hiring solutions that Gusto, Rippling, and Paychex offer. Further, its platform isn’t as full-featured as TriNet Zenefits, which even has compensation management tools and robust employee engagement tools.
Justworks Key Features
- Solid payroll tools: Justworks’ simplified payroll process makes paying employees easy for payroll administrators. It can handle payments for hourly and salaried employees, including contractors and vendors. And like the other ADP competitors in this guide (except Paychex), Justworks lets you run off-cycle payroll at no extra cost. However, if you prefer biweekly and weekly pay runs, note that Justworks only pays employees on Fridays; for semimonthly payroll, it pays on the 15th and last day of the month (or the closest business day before each date). Plus, it only supports payments via paper checks and direct deposits. If you want multiple pay schedule options, consider Gusto, Paychex, and Paycor.
- Robust employee benefits options: Apart from workers’ compensation, health, and retirement plans, Justworks has a wide range of non-standard benefits options like health advocacy services, wellness perks, and fitness memberships. Although it doesn’t have Gusto’s college savings plans and ADP’s employee discount program.
- Customer and HR support: Justworks may not have Paychex’s dedicated payroll specialists, but it has a team of HR professionals that can provide expert advice. Plus, you don’t need to pay for HR advisory services (as you would with Rippling and TriNet Zenefits) because this feature is included in all of Justworks’ plans. It even offers 24/7 support, with customer reps you can contact either through email, phone, chat, SMS, and Slack.
Rippling: Best for Tech-reliant Companies Managing HR, Payroll & IT
Rippling is the only provider in this guide with IT solutions for managing company-issued computers and apps. It even integrates with more than 500 apps. This makes it ideal for companies that want to automate their computer provisioning and deprovisioning processes while streamlining essential HR and payroll tasks.
However, you have to pay for each HR, payroll, and IT module in addition to its core employee management platform, which is a required solution. Further, it doesn’t have free live phone support like there is with ADP. If you want one-on-one HR support, then subscribe to Rippling’s HR Help Desk module, which comes with phone and email support.
Like TriNet Zenefits, Rippling’s payroll product comes as an add-on to its HR platform. Aside from IT and HR management tools, it offers an extensive payroll feature set with automatic tax calculations and filings and direct deposit payment options. You can also print manual checks, but there are no payroll cards and on-demand pay options that you would get with ADP, Paychex, or Gusto. It does automatically sync your HR data with payroll, though, which can be a time saver.
Rippling Key Features
- Unified platform: Similar to TriNet Zenefits, Rippling has an integrated HR platform in which all of its solutions automatically connect with the other. This helps you save time since you don’t need to input employee data twice to capture staff information (like salary changes, time sheet data, and benefits) that will affect payroll.
- Full range of HR and IT features: You get a full HR suite with robust employee management, benefits administration, time and attendance, and applicant tracking. It also has onboarding/offboarding automation and IT management tools. Note that none of the software in this list, including ADP, have IT functionalities.
- Efficient pay processing: Rippling offers full-service payroll that lets you pay employees and contractors in just a few clicks. It also provides your staff easy access to online pay stubs and tax forms through its mobile apps (for iOS and Android devices). You don’t have to worry about payroll taxes because it automatically calculates and files federal, state, and local taxes for you. And, compared to competitors like Gusto and Zenefits, Rippling’s pay processing capabilities are a bit more robust since, like ADP, it can handle international payroll.
- Robust integrations: In addition to application programming interface (API) access, you can connect Rippling to more than 500 third-party systems that include accounting, expense management, recruiting, training and onboarding, and office management software among others. ADP and the other providers in this article don’t integrate with as many third-party solutions.
- Flexible PEO: For businesses that need expert assistance in managing day-to-day HR and payroll tasks, Rippling offers PEO services. You can even turn it on and off directly from your account and easily transition to using Rippling’s platform again. While ADP, Justworks, and Paychex provide PEO services, neither have a flexible program like Rippling.
- HR support: With Rippling’s HR Help Desk add-on, you can call and email HR professionals if you need expert advice. This feature also includes real-time compliance updates, but you have to pay $100 monthly for these services. However, you can contact its support team via email and chat for free if you need assistance. Consider either Justworks or Paychex if you want 24/7 support and a dedicated specialist.
How We Evaluated the Top ADP Competitors
To determine the ADP alternatives you should consider, we compared several options and focused on software that offers a robust set of payroll and HR tools vs just low-budget solutions. Note that ADP isn’t the cheapest payroll service on the market, and neither are many of its top competitors.
We also looked at several low-cost payroll software just in case you don’t need all of the features ADP offers and don’t anticipate needing a huge upgrade soon. Then, we chose the top seven software most similar to ADP, yet better in some aspects to help you decide which payroll software is best for your business.
ADP is an excellent payroll service, but there are also several other great options to choose from depending on your requirements. All the ADP competitors in this list offer full-service payroll with tax filing services, direct deposits, onboarding and employee self-service, and tax and benefits calculations. Some primarily cater to small businesses, while others are more suited to a range of business sizes. HR support is included with most options but is limited under the most affordable plans.
Overall, we found Gusto to be the best ADP competitor for payroll services. It has the essential features that small businesses need, such as full-service payroll, multiple pay options, and expert HR support. It even has a variety of employee benefits you may want to offer, plus a special low-cost plan for paying contractors—an option that ADP doesn’t offer. Sign up for a Gusto plan today.