This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
Gusto is an excellent choice for small businesses as it offers reasonably priced plans―starting at $40 plus $6 per employee monthly―and has a wide range of payroll and basic human resources (HR) functions. However, it may not fit every company’s needs and budget. In that case, a top competitor’s product may be the best option.
For this guide, we looked at a dozen payroll software and narrowed the list down to nine best Gusto competitors.
- TriNet Zenefits (formerly Zenefits): Best for small businesses that need an all-in-one HR payroll system
- Square Payroll: Best for small retailers and restaurants, especially those using Square POS
- QuickBooks Payroll: Best for employers and QuickBooks accounting users wanting fast direct deposit options
- Rippling: Best for tech-heavy companies needing HR, payroll, and information technology (IT) tools with robust integrations
- Paychex: Best for businesses that require a full-service payroll solution that can grow with them
- OnPay: Best for employers looking for robust tools to delegate payroll tasks and analyze labor costs
- Patriot Payroll: Best for startups and small companies that need flexible payroll plans
- SurePayroll: Best for budget-conscious small businesses and household employers wanting affordable payroll tools
- Homebase Payroll: Best for one-location businesses looking for a payroll system with free time tracking, scheduling, and hiring solutions
Top Gusto Competitors Compared
All the Gusto alternatives on our list (and Gusto) offer full-service payroll, automatic tax calculations and tax filings, paid time off (PTO) tracking, and a self-service portal where employees can view pay stubs and access their personal information. Below are each software’s standout features.
Starter Monthly Pricing
Special Contractor Payroll Plan
Unlimited Pay Runs
Year-end Tax Filings
Standard Direct Deposit Timelines
Health Benefits Available in 50 States
Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Option
Other HR Tools
$6 per employee + $40 base fee
$6 per contractor monthly
Two and four days
39 states only
$16 per employee (includes payroll add-on)
Hawaii isn’t covered
$5 per employee + $35 base fee
$5 per contractor monthly
Four days; instantly with Square payments
$5 per employee + $45 base fee
$8 per employee + $35 base fee*
$5 per employee + $39 base fee
$6 per employee + $40 base fee
Two or four days, depending on risk assessment
$4 per employee + $37 base fee**
$5 per employee + $29.99 base fee**
$6 per employee + $39 base fee***
Four days; two days for qualified companies
*Monthly fee is based on a quote we received.
**Pricing is for the Full Service payroll plan. Note that the provider also offers a low-cost self-service option with do-it-yourself (DIY) payroll tax filings.
***Homebase Payroll isn’t available in Nevada (as of this writing). It’s also a paid add-on to the Homebase scheduling and time tracking platform, which has a free plan for one-location businesses.
Want to compare costs? Use our online calculator to compute the estimated monthly and annual fees for Gusto and our top-recommended Gusto alternatives.
Since our Last Update:
Homebase Payroll and OnPay have increased their software fees, while QuickBooks Payroll changed the per-employee fee of its Core plan—from $4 to $5 per employee monthly (plus the same $45 base fee). Gusto also revamped its plans, replacing its four tiers with three new packages.
TriNet Zenefits: Best Gusto Competitor for Small Businesses Looking for an All-in-One HR Payroll Solution
At its core, TriNet Zenefits is primarily an HR software with payroll capabilities. Similar to Rippling and Homebase Payroll, it offers its pay processing tools as a paid add-on. It’s ideal for small businesses needing an all-in-one HR payroll software because it has a wide suite of HR solutions—more robust than those of Gusto and the other providers in this guide. It helps you hire, onboard, and pay employees while allowing you to track PTO, plan work schedules, and monitor staff attendance. It even comes with compensation planning tools and custom salary benchmark reports to help you understand how much to pay employees.
While its per-employee monthly fees may seem budget-friendly, you may end up having to pay more, especially if you have many employees. This makes TriNet Zenefits one of the most expensive Gusto alternatives on our list―Rippling is another―with estimated annual fees of $1,920 for a business with 10 employees.
TriNet Zenefits Features
Comprehensive HR solutions
TriNet Zenefits’ HR solutions make managing the entire employee lifecycle easy for HR teams. It has offer letters and self-onboarding tools to help automate hiring processes. Scheduling and performance management solutions are also available, allowing you to monitor your employee’s schedules and goals at work easily. It even has compensation planning tools to help you identify whether your staff’s salaries are on par with the market and your competitors—a functionality that none of the software in this guide has, including Gusto.
While it provides access to employee benefits options, the coverage of health plans is limited—it isn’t available in Hawaii as of this writing. For employee benefits that cover all 50 states in the United States, consider any of the providers in this list except for Homebase Payroll and Patriot Payroll, as neither has this feature. Rippling and Gusto are also good choices, but the former’s employee benefits are paid add-ons, while the latter’s health plans are not available in 11 states: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Robust compliance tools
What sets TriNet Zenefits apart from Gusto and the other competitors in this guide is its compliance solutions, which include built-in overtime safeguards and pay stubs that comply with most state regulations. It even has a “Compliance Assistant,” which alerts you of important form submission deadlines and monitors your compliance with HR, payroll, tax, and benefits rulings.
Time and attendance solutions in every plan
Similar to Homebase Payroll and Square Payroll, TriNet Zenefits includes time tracking functionalities in all payroll plans. Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll also have similar features, but these are included in their higher tiers. Rippling, Paychex, and Patriot Payroll offer this as paid add-ons, while SurePayroll and OnPay don’t have built-in time tracking tools.
TriNet Zenefits has all the essential tools you need to compute and process employee and contractor payments. It comes with unlimited pay runs, supports direct deposit payments, and handles multiple pay rates and schedules with ease. Aside from calculating and withholding payroll taxes, it also remits tax payments and files tax forms for you at no extra cost―SurePayroll and Paychex charge additional fees for some of their tax filing services.
Square Payroll: Best Gusto Competitor for Small Retail Shops and Restaurants
Square Payroll is a popular payroll system for small retailers and restaurants, especially those already using Square’s point-of-sale (POS) solution. It handles payroll for both contractors and employees, calculates and files taxes, manages benefits, and has free time tracking—a bonus for those who employ hourly workers. However, its standard four-day direct deposit timeline is slower than Gusto’s and most of the other competitors in this guide.
The provider made our list of best Gusto alternatives because it offers unlimited pay runs at no extra charge and imports tips and commissions from Square POS automatically into its payroll module for processing. It also syncs seamlessly with QuickBooks Online and other third-party timecard partners. Plus, unlike the other Gusto competitors we reviewed, Square Payroll has a low-cost contractor-only plan that’s slightly cheaper than Gusto’s at $5 per contractor monthly vs $6 per contractor monthly.
Square Payroll Features
Square Payroll Features
If you’re only processing contractor salaries, Square Payroll won’t charge you its base monthly fee of $35 and will only charge you a per-person monthly rate of $5 per contractor. This is similar to Gusto’s contractor plan―although Square’s is slightly cheaper―and is great for companies that primarily contract work out vs hiring employees. Note that the other providers on this list charge you the same price as you’d pay for an employee, which includes a monthly base and per-employee fees.
Multiple employee payment options
Square Payroll lets you pay employees and contractors through manual checks, aside from four-day direct deposits. You can also pay employees via Square’s Cash App, which allows you to process two-day direct deposits and even send payments instantly—provided you use Square’s Instant Payments feature.
Tax payments and filings
Square Payroll will file your quarterly and annual taxes automatically and prepare and submit W-2 and 1099 tax forms. This is unlike OnPay and Paychex, which charge extra fees for some of their payroll tax administration services.
Import tips and commissions
A unique feature that Square Payroll offers, which Gusto and the eight other competitors in this guide don’t, is that tips and commissions import from Square POS automatically into its payroll solution. This makes it easy for you to process employee payments without manually extracting and uploading tip and commission data from one system to another.
With Square Payroll, you can offer benefits to employees like health insurance, retirement plans, and pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation. Similar to the other Gusto alternatives in this guide—except Homebase Payroll and Patriot Payroll, which don’t have this feature—Square Payroll’s health benefits are available across the US. In contrast, TriNet Zenefits’ isn’t available in Hawaii, while Gusto’s is limited to only 39 states.
Seamless payroll tools integration
Aside from unlimited and automatic pay runs for both employees and contractors, Square Payroll seamlessly integrates with Square products, like Square POS and Square Team Management. It also connects with third-party software, like QuickBooks Online and partner timecard solutions.
QuickBooks Payroll: Best Gusto Competitor for QuickBooks Users
QuickBooks Payroll is a great payroll software for small business owners already using or planning to use QuickBooks accounting. Data flows seamlessly between the two solutions, making it easy to capture payroll details for your accounting ledgers. QuickBooks Payroll offers online employee onboarding tools, access to employee benefits, and more. However, it doesn’t handle local tax filings automatically unless you upgrade to its higher tiers—a feature that Gusto and the other providers on our list offer in their starter plans.
What sets QuickBooks Payroll apart from Gusto and its alternatives is its robust tax penalty protection. This program, which is included in the premium Elite plan, covers all tax penalty fees and interests up to $25,000 per year, regardless of who made the error. Note that most providers may have a similar penalty protection program, but it’s only for tax filing mistakes that they make.
QuickBooks Payroll Features
Efficient pay processing
Running payroll with QuickBooks Payroll is easy—you can even set it to run automatically. Aside from unlimited payroll, it handles tax filings and year-end tax reporting on your behalf. However, you have to get either its Premium or Elite plan if you want the provider to handle local tax filings. Plus, QuickBooks Payroll doesn’t have a low-cost contractor-only plan that both Gusto and Square Payroll offer.
Fast direct deposits
Unlike Gusto, which provides next-day direct deposits in its higher tiers, QuickBooks Payroll offers this in its basic Core package, plus a same-day option included in its premium plans. Square Payroll also offers next-day and even instant payouts through its Cash App, but this requires a Square Instant Payments account. Meanwhile, the other Gusto alternatives in this guide have either two- or four-day direct deposit options.
Seamless integration with QuickBooks
While QuickBooks Payroll doesn’t integrate with many third-party software, its native integration with QuickBooks accounting allows 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.
You are granted access to payroll experts that you can contact via phone and chat. If you subscribe to its highest tier, you get an HR professional who can provide expert advice. This is unlike Square Payroll and Patriot Payroll, which don’t offer access to HR experts, and Rippling and Homebase Payroll, which charge extra for it.
Rippling: Best Gusto Competitor for Tech-heavy Businesses Needing HR, IT & Payroll Tools
Rippling offers a wide range of integrated and modular HR, payroll, and IT products. Its core platform is a workforce management solution, wherein payroll and other modules like benefits, app management, and HR help desk are paid add-ons. It offers an excellent payroll feature set with automatic tax calculations, tax filing services, and year-end tax reporting. It also has online tools to help you handle onboarding and offboarding, time and attendance, document management, and benefits administration.
The program also has essential IT solutions for managing business apps and company computers assigned to employees, and it can store units in its warehouse for you. The downside of using Rippling is that you have to pay for each module, so it can get expensive as you get more features. You also have to pay for its HR help desk feature, which lets you call or email HR professionals if you need expert support. Its live chat function has been praised by users though, and the company now shows the customer service wait time live on its site.
Rippling has an integrated HR platform in which all of its solutions connect with the other automatically. It lets you manage your employees’ payroll, benefits, devices, and apps in just one platform. Although the other Gusto alternatives in this guide also offer similar HR and payroll features, the comprehensive app and device management tools are unique with Rippling.
Efficient pay processing
Rippling can handle both your US and global payroll needs while providing your employees easy access to online pay stubs and tax forms through a self-service portal. It also calculates and files payroll taxes automatically, along with year-end tax reporting for you. Note that QuickBooks Payroll requires you to upgrade to its higher tiers if you need local tax filings, while OnPay and Paychex charge extra for some of their tax services.
When looking for a more solid set of HR features with robust third-party integrations, you can choose Rippling over Gusto since the former integrates with more than 500 systems. Rippling is also the only provider in this guide with an extensive partner network, which includes accounting, time and attendance, expense management, recruiting, training, and office management solutions.
One-on-one support from certified HR professionals is available at an extra cost. If you don’t want to pay extra, consider any of the other Gusto competitors (except Square Payroll, Homebase Payroll, and Patriot Payroll) in this list—although you have to get their higher tiers.
In case your HR needs have grown, but you don’t want to hire or expand your HR team, Rippling and Paychex offer PEO services to help you manage day-to-day HR and payroll operations. Gusto and the other alternatives in this guide don’t have this option. However, unlike Paychex, Rippling allows you to easily turn its PEO services on and off and switch back to using its software again.
Paychex: Best Gusto Competitor for Businesses Needing a Scalable Payroll Solution
Paychex is a full-featured payroll system with different packages to meet the needs of small to large businesses. Its plans and HR products are flexible enough to handle your growing HR requirements, and it even has a PEO option for when you need expert help in handling day-to-day HR and payroll tasks. In addition to paying employees and contractors, it can handle online onboarding, staff benefits, and payroll tax administration. Subscribing to its premium plans even grants you access to a dedicated payroll specialist and check signing and stuffing services.
Gusto and most alternatives on this guide have fully transparent pricing. However, Paychex and Rippling don’t list full pricing on their websites. Both show the starter monthly fees, while the rest of their payroll plans and products are custom-priced. Plus, with Paychex, you need to pay additional fees for some of its quarterly and annual payroll tax filings. Note that these are available for free in almost all the other options we reviewed—except for SurePayroll, which charges extra for Ohio or Pennsylvania local tax form submissions, and QuickBooks Payroll, which requires you to upgrade to its higher tiers for local tax filings.
Compared to Gusto and the other providers listed in this guide, only Paychex has the system that can grow with your business. It provides efficient pay processing tools regardless of whether you have 10 employees or more than 1,000 workers. You just need to reach out to a Paychex representative who can recommend a package that fits the changing HR needs of your business.
Efficient payroll features
Its easy-to-use online tools aim to simplify the way you pay employees and contractors. You can even set your payroll to run automatically. In addition, it provides automatic W-2 and 1099 tax reports and handles payroll tax calculations, payments, and filings for you. Note, however, that some of its payroll tax administration services may cost extra.
Multiple pay options
Like Gusto, you can pay employees through pay cards, direct deposits, and paper checks. Furthermore, Paychex is the only provider that offers check signing and stuffing services among all the Gusto alternatives on this list. However, it doesn’t have QuickBooks Payroll’s fast direct deposit options and Square Payroll’s instant payments.
Full range of HR features and services
In addition to payroll, Paychex has a suite of HR solutions and services to help you manage hiring, new hire onboarding, time and attendance, workers’ compensation, garnishment payments, business insurance, employee benefits, and a financial wellness program. None of the Gusto competitors we reviewed have financial wellness tools you can offer your employees.
Aside from its team of compliance and HR professionals who can provide expert advice, you get dedicated support from a highly trained payroll specialist who will help you with your payroll and tax needs. While the other Gusto competitors in this article may offer HR advisory services, they don’t provide dedicated payroll support.
OnPay: Best Gusto Competitor for Delegating Payroll Tasks & Analyzing Labor Costs
OnPay is a good Gusto alternative, especially for small companies (with up to 200 employees) that need an efficient way to view and analyze labor costs. In addition to its premade reports, it has a report designer for creating custom payroll reports. This allows you to set up filters, add/remove 50+ data points, and save report templates. The other providers on our list may have customizable reports, but OnPay’s is more robust.
OnPay even has customizable checklists and onboarding workflows, including six levels of system permissions for delegating tasks and controlling HR and payroll access. Aside from providing a modern interface that rivals Gusto’s, OnPay offers unlimited pay runs, manages employee benefits, and files payroll taxes on your behalf.
While Gusto and most of the providers in this guide require you to upgrade to higher tiers to get all of their tools, you get full access to all of OnPay’s functionalities for a flat monthly fee of $40 plus $6 per employee. This makes OnPay one of the three most affordably priced Gusto competitors on our list—Patriot Payroll and SurePayroll are the other two—with sample annual fees costing $1,200 for a company with 10 employees.
However, its tax penalty guarantee only covers mistakes OnPay representatives make—unlike QuickBooks, which covers any tax errors. Plus, its direct deposits have a longer turnaround than some of its competitors—with either a two- or four-day option depending on OnPay’s risk assessment.
Efficient payroll features
OnPay supports multiple pay rates and schedules, including multistate payroll with no extra cost—SurePayroll and Patriot Payroll charge additional for this. It also enables you to pay employees through direct deposits, manual checks, and pay cards.
However, you can’t choose the direct deposit turnaround time of two or four days because OnPay will identify this for you following the results of its risk assessment. If you want to choose a direct deposit that fits your payroll needs, consider any of the providers in this guide or Gusto. If you need next-day or instant payouts, then QuickBooks Payroll or Square Payroll, respectively, are great options.
Special payroll services
OnPay caters to specific niches, including churches and nonprofits, restaurants, and farms. It calculates wages and tip payments (for restaurants) and processes the applicable tax filings for these particular industries at no extra cost. For small agricultural companies with workers on H-2A visas, OnPay can handle the applicable tax calculations. in addition to Form 943 reporting.
Similar to the other Gusto alternatives in this guide—except Patriot Payroll and Homebase Payroll—OnPay offers benefits plans from most major providers like Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare. Aside from retirement plans, it has health and dental benefits available in all 50 states—Gusto’s is limited to 39 states, while TriNet Zenefits health plan doesn’t cover Hawaii.
The other providers on our list may offer customizable reports, but OnPay’s reporting tools are more robust. It has a report designer that lets you add and remove over 50 data points. You can set up filters, select date ranges, and move columns to fit your reporting requirements. It also lets you save custom reports, and if you don’t want to create your own, OnPay has over a dozen built-in payroll reports to help you analyze and plan labor costs.
Patriot Payroll: Best Gusto Competitor for Startups Looking for Flexible Payroll Plans
Patriot Payroll is a cost-effective small business payroll software that’s perfect for those looking for a budget-friendly solution. It offers reasonably priced full-service payroll plans and a basic DIY option that costs only $17 plus $4 per employee monthly—provided you file your own payroll taxes. All plans come with unlimited pay runs, multiple payroll frequencies, and customizable hours, money, and deduction types. And you can pay your employees through manual checks and direct deposits. However, the turnaround time for direct deposits (four days) is longer than that of Gusto and the other providers we reviewed.
Like SurePayroll, Patriot Payroll will handle the payments and filings of all federal, state, and local taxes if you get its full-service plan. Also, it offers a penalty-free guarantee in case of tax filing errors, but only for its representatives’ mistakes. This is unlike QuickBooks Payroll, which covers all mistakes regardless of who made them. While it lets you add custom deduction types, like benefits contributions, into its system, Patriot Payroll doesn’t offer employee benefits options and manage benefits plans for you.
Patriot Payroll Features
Self-service and full-service plan options
If you are on a budget and would prefer to let Patriot take care of your payroll and then file your employees’ taxes on your own, then you can opt for its Basic plan. If you don’t want to handle payroll tax filings yourself, then you should sign up for its Full Service option. What’s great about this package is that it’s more affordable than Gusto’s offering. For a company with 10 employees, you have to spend $1,200 per year with Gusto. Patriot Payroll, on the other hand, will only charge you annual fees of $924.
Efficient payroll system
Patriot allows you to run unlimited payroll and pay your employees with different pay schedules, such as weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, and monthly. You can also use its standard hours and money types or create your own, including employee deductions and other company-paid contributions, all for free.
Net-to-Gross Payroll tool
If you are unsure how to calculate bonuses for employees and don’t want to do gross-up calculations for taxes yourself, then you can use Patriot Payroll’s net-to-gross payroll tool. Simply input the bonus amount to be paid out, and it will automatically gross it up for you. None of the other Gusto competitors on this list have a similar feature.
SurePayroll: Best Gusto Competitor for Budget-conscious Small Businesses & Household Employers
Similar to Patriot Payroll, SurePayroll offers a full-service payroll package and a self-service option, which lets you handle payroll tax filings yourself. While the latter is great for those with a small team that prefer DIY tax filings, the former has all the essential tools you need to process payroll for both employees and contractors. It comes with payroll tax payments and form submission services, including year-end tax reporting.
However, unlike Gusto and the other providers we reviewed, you have to pay extra if you require local tax filings in Ohio or Pennsylvania. Accounting and time tracking software integrations also cost extra, plus the choices are limited compared to Rippling’s 500-plus partner apps. While you get two-day direct deposits with SurePayroll’s full-service option, it doesn’t have Square Payroll’s instant payments and QuickBooks Payroll’s same- and next-day options.
Efficient payroll tools
With little prep work, SurePayroll lets you start unlimited and even automatic pay runs while it deducts payroll taxes and benefits contributions accurately. Its system also supports multiple pay rates and pay schedules.
Automated tax payment and year-end report filing
Unlike QuickBooks Payroll, which only includes federal and state payroll tax filings in its basic plan, SurePayroll’s full-service option comes with quarterly and annual tax filing services on federal, state, and local levels—provided your business isn’t located in Ohio or Pennsylvania. If it is, you have to pay an additional $9.99 per month.
SurePayroll’s employee benefits options include workers’ compensation, 401(k) plans, and health insurance—available in all 50 states. Gusto’s benefits are limited to 39 states, TriNet Zenefits health plans aren’t available in Hawaii, and Patriot Payroll doesn’t offer employee benefits.
Unlike Square Payroll and Patriot Payroll, SurePayroll grants you access to an HR advisor if you need expert guidance on managing employee issues. However, if you want a dedicated payroll specialist, consider Paychex, as it offers this in its higher tiers.
Homebase Payroll: Best Gusto Competitor for One-location Businesses
Homebase Payroll is a paid add-on to its core HR platform, like Rippling and TriNet Zenefits, but more budget-friendly than these two providers. This is mainly because of Homebase’s Basic plan (for its core system) that allows one-location businesses to use its time tracking, scheduling, hiring, and onboarding tools for free—you just need to pay $39 plus $6 per employee monthly for payroll. With TriNet Zenefits, you have to pay per-employee monthly fees for its core platform ($10 per employee) and payroll module ($6 per employee), which can get pricey if you have a large team.
Despite having a feature-rich payroll plan, Homebase’s HR tools aren’t as robust as Gusto’s. It lacks the performance management, employee benefits, and survey tools that Gusto offers. It also doesn’t assign dedicated payroll specialists to its clients as Paychex does. Plus, it only provides two-day direct deposits to qualified companies (its standard processing timeline is four days), unlike most of the Gusto competitors we reviewed that have this as its standard processing timeline. QuickBooks Payroll and Gusto even have same-day options included in their higher tiers.
Homebase Payroll Features
Homebase Payroll offers a reasonably priced payroll plan with several HR features. Aside from full-service payroll and tax filing services, you get job postings, applicant tracking, new hire onboarding, scheduling, and time tracking tools—all for only $39 plus $6 per employee monthly (provided you have only one business location and subscribe to its core platform’s free plan). The other software in this guide may have similar functionalities, but these tools are either included in its higher tiers or available as paid add-ons.
Unlike Paychex, Homebase Payroll offers unlimited pay runs so you can process employee payments as many times as you need in a month without having to pay extra. While its software has the capability to print paychecks, you have to do this yourself. You can also send payments via four-day direct deposits—it only offers its two-day options to qualified companies.
For payroll taxes, it calculates, withholds, and remits taxes for you automatically. Homebase will even prepare and file your quarterly and year-end tax forms. W-2 and 1099 tax reports are also available for viewing through its self-service portal, making it easy for your employees to access and print their tax forms online. Plus, you don’t have to pay extra for these services (Paychex charges additional fees for tax filings).
Early access to wages
While it doesn’t provide benefits plans you can offer to employees, Homebase Payroll offers an employee perk that grants your staff early access to wages. Similar to Gusto and Square Payroll, your staff can transfer a portion of their salary to their bank account before payday to help pay for emergency expenses.
How We Evaluated the Best Gusto Competitors
We considered a dozen top payroll services, looking at how they competed with Gusto. Apart from comparing each software’s pricing, we looked for features and HR tools that are most important to small businesses. Finally, we chose the top nine Gusto competitors to help you decide which payroll software is best for your business.
Gusto is an excellent payroll service, but there are several other great options that you can explore depending on your needs. Like Gusto, its competitors automatically run payroll and offer paycheck and direct deposit services, onboarding and employee self-service, tax and benefits calculations, and HR support. They are all competitively priced as well.