This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
The best payroll apps make it easy for employers to manage payroll directly from their smartphones or tablets. Most are free to download, although you have to pay providers’ subscription fees to use their software. Some mobile payroll apps won’t let you e-file payroll taxes through its system, whereas others have full-service functionality so that you can run payroll, pay employees and taxes, and approve time all via the app.
To find the best payroll apps for small businesses, we evaluated 15 solutions and narrowed the list down to our top six recommendations:
- Square Payroll: Best overall, especially for restaurants and retail shops using Square POS
- Paychex: Best for solopreneurs and growing businesses that require flexible plans and dedicated payroll support
- Fingercheck: Best for startups needing solid HR payroll tools and access to payroll financing services
- Paycom’s Beti: Best for businesses looking for a self-service app that allows employees to run payroll themselves
- Roll by ADP: Best for tech-savvy small business owners that want a low-cost, chat-based mobile payroll tool
- SurePayroll: Best for employers with simple payroll needs (no major reporting or customization requirements)
If you want mobile payroll without taking up more space on your phone, consider payroll software with mobile-responsive platforms. These solutions don’t require you to download apps because its system can run on mobile web browsers, enabling you to process payroll and even access all of the HR tools that it offers.
- Gusto: Solid payroll, multiple payment options, and basic hiring tools
- QuickBooks Payroll: Full-service payroll, fast direct deposits, and seamless integration with QuickBooks Accounting
- Rippling: Unlimited pay runs, advanced HR and IT tools, and robust workflow automation to streamline processes
Since Our Last Update: QuickBooks Payroll previously was our top-recommended payroll app, but we removed it from this guide given the provider’s decision to discontinue its mobile payroll apps for iOS and Android devices effective August 2022. However, QuickBooks Online Payroll users can still access pay-related data and run payroll while on the go through mobile web browsers.
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Square Payroll: Best for Retailers & Restaurants Using Square POS That Need Fast Employee Payments
The seamless integration between Square Payroll and Square POS makes it easy for retail shops and restaurants to accept payments and track employees’ work hours from mobile devices. That data is transferred directly to its payroll system, which can even handle tip reporting. This is much simpler than signing up with a provider like QuickBooks Payroll and having to research and install POS systems that integrate with it manually.
Square Payroll earned an overall score of 4.08 out of 5 in our evaluation. It got ratings of 3 and higher in nearly all of our criteria, given its affordability, ease of use, efficient payroll tools, instant payment options―if you have a Square Payments account―and helpful HR features that include benefits and basic timekeeping. The criteria where it got low scores (2.5 and below) are reporting―fewer than 60 standard reports―and popularity, as the average user reviews online are below 500.
Note, also, that the Square Payroll app is available only for employers. Your employees will have to download the Square Team App to check their pay stubs, view their hours worked, and access tax forms (W-2s and 1099s). This is unlike Fingercheck, Roll by ADP, and Paychex, which offer a single app for both employers and employees. However, many users still appreciate its straightforward interface that makes mobile pay processing quick and easy. Meanwhile, some users said that its app is glitchy and that its customer support isn’t always responsive.
Square Payroll Standout Features
- Affordability: Pricing is one thing to consider when finding the right payroll solution. Compared to the other payroll app providers that we reviewed, Square Payroll―as well as Roll by ADP and SurePayroll―has one of the cheapest plans, costing only $35 plus $5 per employee monthly.
- Mobile payroll processing: Pay hourly and salaried employees, including contractors, via Square Payroll’s mobile app for Android and iOS. You can even run payroll as many times as you want in a month, and Square will handle all your payroll tax filings and payments. It even provides the quarterly and year-end tax reports you need.
- Multiple pay options with instant payments: Apart from manual checks, which require a printer, and four-day direct deposits, you can pay employees instantly through Square’s Cash App or the next day via direct deposit—provided you have a Square Payments account. If you’re not a Square Payments user but want fast direct deposits, we recommend Roll by ADP, since it offers next-day direct deposits as its standard processing timeline.
- Complete tax compliance: Square Payroll handles all payroll tax payments and filings for you. It also provides quarterly and annual tax forms, such as W-2s and 1099s.
- Time tracking: With Square Payroll’s time tracking feature, employees can clock in/out through the Square POS or the Square Team mobile app. Then, you can view and edit digital time cards through your Square dashboard. Other providers will require you to pay extra for time clock integrations, like SurePayroll, and time-tracking tools, as with Paychex.
- Employee benefit plans: The Square Payroll app provides easy access to employee health insurance and retirement plans, including workers’ compensation. However, it lacks the financial wellness services that Paychex offers.
- Payroll expertise: For new subscribers who switched payroll providers, Square offers the assistance of a payroll specialist to help guide you through the system setup. You can also contact Square’s support team on weekdays via phone and email, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Pacific time, and through live chat, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time.
Read our Square Payroll review to help you gauge whether or not it fits your business’s requirements.
Paychex: Best for Solopreneurs & Growing Businesses That Require Flexible Plans & Dedicated Payroll Support
Paychex is great for solopreneurs and growing businesses because it offers flexible payroll and HR plans. You can start with its Paychex Solo solution for solopreneurs and then transition to Paychex Flex—and maybe even its professional employer organization (PEO) option—if you need to offer competitive benefits or want to outsource more of the HR and compliance function to a team vs doing it yourself.
Paychex’s mobile app is for its Paychex Flex product, and unlike the other providers on this list except for Roll by ADP, it has functionalities for both employers and employees. Aside from processing payroll, employers can use the mobile app to access staff profiles, pay slips, tax documents, and health insurance enrollment information. Meanwhile, employees can check their pay stubs, Form W-2s, PTO balances, health insurance benefit details, and more.
Scoring 3.93 out of 5, Paychex received high marks in nearly all the criteria with perfect scores in HR, user popularity, and reporting features because it has more than 60 canned reports. It received the lowest score in pricing given its nontransparent fees. User feedback about its mobile apps is also mixed—several reviewers commented that it is convenient to use while some said that it is glitchy, crashes a lot, and loads slowly at times.
Paychex Standout Features
- Flexible payroll processing: Review, edit, and submit payroll for employees and contractors via the Paychex Flex mobile app for Android and iOS devices. Even if you started running payroll on your desktop computer, you can resume pay processing on your smartphones and tablets easily. None of the payroll apps included in this guide have this functionality.
- Early access to wages: Aside from direct deposits and pay cards, Paychex supports paper checks with check signing and stuffing services. It also has a pay-on-demand feature that provides employees access to earned wages before a payroll date.
- Tax compliance: Paychex offers accurate and efficient payroll tax calculations, payments, and filings for federal, state, and most local taxes. It also provides automatic W-2s and 1099s for your staff. Unlike the other providers we reviewed, Paychex can help you claim tax credit incentives in case your business is eligible for tax credits.
- Self-service tool for employees: Paychex Flex’s app has different permission settings for employees. This allows them to use the same mobile program to access and view their employee profiles, benefits information, retirement balances and contributions, pay stubs, and W-2s. This is unlike SurePayroll, which requires your employees to download a separate app to access this information.
- Reporting: Paychex is the only provider in this guide with 60-plus reports you can use to evaluate your payroll detail. Plus, the reports are customizable.
- Dedicated payroll support: Subscribing to Paychex’s higher tiers grants you access to a dedicated payroll expert who can help with all of your tax and pay processing needs. In addition, you can contact Paychex’s support team by phone and via its 24/7 US-based live chat service.
To learn more about its pay processing functionalities, check out our review of Paychex Flex.
Fingercheck: Best for Startups or Small Businesses Needing HR Payroll Tools & Payroll Financing Services
Fingercheck has a well-rounded HR platform and mobile app for startups and small businesses. Apart from payroll, it has all the essential tools you need to manage employee attendance, schedules, benefits plans, hiring, and onboarding. It’s the only provider on our list that offers payroll financing—a great option for startups to secure funds in time for payroll.
Fingercheck’s mobile app is packed with features. Employers and employees will use the same app with different features according to the role. For employers, the app lets you process or cancel payroll, run all reports, edit staff information, view time sheets and punch details, modify or create schedules, and onboard new employees anytime. Employers will also set up their employees’ access to the app. The app even lets administrators switch seamlessly between the administrator and employee accounts without logging out.
In our evaluation, Fingercheck scored an overall rating of 3.9 out of 5, with high marks (4 and up) in HR and payroll functionalities, as well as pricing. While it earned good ratings in ease of use, reporting, and mobile-specific features, its low number of user reviews on popular websites brought its overall score down. However, those who left feedback on Google Play and the App Store like its simple, yet efficient mobile app, while others said that it can be clunky to use and has occasional bugs.
Fingercheck Standout Features
- Unlimited and affordable payroll: Like all other providers in this guide except Paychex, Fingercheck allows unlimited payroll runs. You only pay one monthly fee regardless of how often you run payroll, making it an excellent solution for startups and small businesses. It also offers financing so that you can always run payroll even when cash flow is thin—something that no other provider on this list offers.
- Employee access and engagement: With Fingercheck and other providers in this list, employees can control and monitor their payroll information when they log in to their account. They don’t have to wait for the manager, and there’s no need for disputes since everything is transparent. Thus, compensation becomes simple and quick.
- Tax compliance: Similar to other providers in this guide, Fingercheck uses an automated payroll processing system using internal time sheet data to calculate pay. This eliminates errors and helps in staying compliant with federal, state, and municipal tax codes. You can also preview payroll and edit details before processing.
- Employee benefits: Like the other providers in this list, Fingercheck helps you manage insurance policies, including disability, workers’ compensation, paid family leaves, and general liability. Your employees can also choose from different employee benefits, including medical, vision, and dental, through its open enrollment feature. However, you can’t access benefits features on the app, unlike Paychex and Square Payroll.
- Time tracking: Fingercheck offers multiple time punching options, including biometric time clocks, mobile apps, text messages, and online. It also comes with GPS tagging to track employees’ locations with each punch and a geofencing feature to restrict punches to specific locations. It even has a photo capture option to minimize buddy punching and time theft.
- Reporting: Fingercheck lets users view all reports using the app, similar to what other apps in this list do, except Roll by ADP. While it doesn’t have a big selection of canned reports like Paychex, you can create custom reports and add them to the system.
Paycom’s Beti: Best for Employee Self-service Payroll Runs
Similar to Roll by ADP, Paycom’s Beti app is one of the more unique products in the market. It provides a step-by-step guide for employees to review and approve their own payroll before specified paydays. This enables business owners to spend less time managing pay processes and more time focusing on projects to help grow their company.
What’s also great about Paycom is its feature-rich solution suite, which includes basic to advanced HR tools—from recruiting and benefits administration to learning management and compensation planning. Plus, the seamless integration between Paycom’s solutions (such as time tracking and expense management) makes it easy for Beti to pull payroll-related data, like compensation changes, employee pay rates, approved business expense claims, and actual hours worked.
Scoring 3.82 out of 5 in our evaluation, Paycom’s Beti posted high ratings of 4 and up in HR, payroll, and mobile app-specific pay processing functionalities. It received the lowest score in pricing because of its nontransparent pricing and setup fees. However, many users rated its mobile apps positively with several reviewers praising its ease of use. On the other hand, some users complained about having experienced slow loading pages, login issues, and mobile app glitches.
Paycom Beti’s Standout Features
- Employee self-service payroll: Paycom’s Beti app empowers employees to manage their payroll, providing them access to pay and deduction details so that they are aware of how much salary to expect every payday. Running payroll is easy, given its in-app guide designed to help workers process accurate wage payments. None of the payroll apps in this guide offer a self-service payroll tool for employees.
- Automated pay runs: Beti self-starts payroll based on the pay schedules and other pay-related data (such as recurring payments and deductions) you set. If you get Paycom’s time tracking and compensation planning modules, it will automatically extract actual hours worked and capture all salary changes before your employees’ processing payroll themselves.
- Payroll alerts and notifications: Beti notifies employees of upcoming pay processing deadlines and the tasks they need to complete or correct, such as missing time entries and paycheck approvals. This is unlike the other payroll apps we reviewed that require you or your HR team to process payroll and handle pay errors yourself. Besides that, its payroll dashboard also provides visibility on all payroll warnings and errors. Plus, you can easily send additional notifications and reminders to employees directly from the dashboard.
Want to know more about Paycom and its features? Read our Paycom review to see if it has all the functionalities that your business needs.
Roll by ADP: Best for Tech-savvy Business Owners Looking for an Affordable, Chat-based Payroll App
Roll by ADP is the only mobile app in this guide that lets you run payroll and set up staff profiles online through chat commands. While its chat-based mobile system may take some getting used to, its smart in-app assistant can help guide you through its functionalities in addition to running error checks and sending proactive alerts. Plus, similar to Square Payroll, it offers an affordable plan, costing only $29 plus $5 per employee monthly. This makes it a good option for small businesses that require low-cost yet smart mobile payroll tools without all the features of cloud-based payroll software.
With an overall score of 3.20 out of 5, Roll by ADP earned ratings of 3.5 and above in pricing, payroll tools, and mobile-app functionalities. It scored the lowest in reporting and ease of use because it has limited reports and customization options, lacks phone support and employee benefits plans, and doesn’t integrate with third-party solutions (as of this writing). You may need time adjusting to using its chat commands.
Roll by ADP Standout Features
- Chat-based mobile payroll app: Roll by ADP is the first of its kind—you can set up employee profiles, add deductions, run payroll, and pay employees through direct deposits by using only chat commands on your mobile iOS and Android devices. It even has a scanner icon that lets you view its mobile platform on computer desktops and laptops.
- Affordably priced plan: For $29 plus $5 per employee monthly, you get full-service payroll with unlimited pay runs. While Roll by ADP costs the same as Square Payroll, we recommend Square if you need employee benefits, tip reporting, and integration options with accounting and time tracking solutions—Roll by ADP has none of these.
- Next-day payments: What’s great about Roll by ADP is that it provides next-day direct deposits to its clients automatically, including a same-day option if the deposit is via manual check. This is comparable to Fingercheck, but you have to subscribe to the highest plan to access it, whereas Roll by ADP includes it under its one plan.
- AI-powered assistant: Paychex may offer the services of a dedicated payroll specialist, but with Roll by ADP, you get a smart in-app assistant that learns how you do payroll and automatically lines up your to-dos in advance. It sends automated alerts and even conducts error checks to ensure that your payroll is in line with your normal pay runs. In case you need to consult with a customer representative, Roll by ADP provides unlimited live chat support.
To see if it has the features you need for your business, read our full ADP Roll review.
SurePayroll: Best for Small Business Owners With Simple Payroll Needs
The SurePayroll app is designed for small businesses that need to run payroll without all of the extra features that Square Payroll, Fingercheck, and Paychex offers. Its Full Service package calculates and files your payroll taxes plus pays employees—but it charges extra if your business grows and expands to additional states. It even offers small businesses two months of free payroll service as of this writing, making it easy for you to try it out risk-free.
However, your staff will have to download an employee-specific SurePayroll app for viewing pay slips, PTO balances, retirement deductions and contribution rates, and tax forms. If you prefer having only one app for both employers and employees, then try either Fingercheck, Roll by ADP, or Paychex.
In our evaluation of the best payroll apps, SurePayroll earned an overall score of 3.11 out of 5. It posted ratings of 3 and up in pricing, reporting, ease of use, and payroll functionalities but received the lowest ratings in mobile app-specific features and popularity given its lack of in-app PTO tracking tools and the limited number of average user reviews online (fewer than 500), respectively. Several users also complained about its “clunky” app that crashes most of the time. Other reviewers, on the other hand, like its user-friendly and intuitive interface.
SurePayroll Standout Features
- Payroll processing for mobile: SurePayroll designed its mobile app (for Android and iOS devices) to have the same functionalities as its online software. You can set up unlimited and automatic pay runs to process pay for employees and contractors. You can also enter actual hours worked, earnings, deductions, and hours for vacation and sick leave directly into the app.
- Flexible direct deposit pay options: SurePayroll’s full-service option lets you pay employees either via next- or same-day direct deposits. You have the option to choose the payout timelines, provided you meet SurePayroll’s submission deadlines of 10:30 a.m. Central time for same-day direct deposits and 3 p.m. Central time of the prior business day for next-day payrolls.
- Tax compliance: SurePayroll calculates payroll taxes automatically. If you get its full-service payroll plan, the provider also pays and files payroll taxes on your behalf—but you have to pay for Ohio and/or Pennsylvania local tax filings ($9.99 per month). For a more budget-friendly option, consider Paychex, Square Payroll, and Roll by ADP since all three don’t charge extra for this.
- Live customer support: SurePayroll has a US-based support team that you can contact six days a week (with extended weekday evening hours) either through email, phone, or live chat. However, it doesn’t have a smart in-app assistant that Roll by ADP does or the dedicated payroll specialist that Paychex provides.
To learn more about SurePayroll and how it can help streamline your payroll processes, read our SurePayroll review.
Still not seeing what you’re looking for? Check out our guide to the best payroll software for small businesses.
How We Chose the Best Payroll Apps
We looked at pricing—software subscription fees and whether the app is free—ease of use, payroll functionalities, and HR features such as online onboarding, new hire reporting, and benefits administration. We rated each function on a 5-star scale designed to assess payroll apps.
To see our full evaluation criteria for best payroll apps, click through the tabs in the box below.
40% of Overall Score
Mobile solutions that allow employers to run payroll and e-file payroll taxes, including those that offer in-app tech support, received high marks. Extra points are also given to those that are free to download, can be accessed by both employers and employees, have positive mobile app reviews (average of 4-plus stars), and provide PTO management and self-service tools, such as viewing payslips and managing employee data. Square Payroll is great if you want to run payroll, view reports, and track PTO via mobile apps; while Roll by ADP is ideal for those who are comfortable using chat commands to run payroll.
25% of Overall Score
Automatic payroll runs, payroll tax filing, 1099 form preparation, manual check capabilities, and two-day direct deposits are some of the features that we looked for. Providers also get points if they can handle both employee and contractor payroll and offer manual checks, pay cards, and pay on-demand options. While all of the software we reviewed scored well here, we recommend Paycom’s Beti if you want a robust app to help workers review and approve their own payroll, Paychex if you want to provide employees with early access to earned wages, and Square Payroll for those that need multiple pay options with instant payments through Square Payments and its Cash App.
10% of Overall Score
10% of Overall Score
5% of Overall Score
5% of Overall Score
Aside from having access to customizable reports, providers that have a robust selection of canned reports of more than 60 were rated favorably. Paychex received perfect marks here, while Roll by ADP posted the lowest score due to its limited reporting capabilities.
5% of Overall Score
We considered online user reviews, including those of our competitors like G2 and Capterra, based on a 5-star scale, wherein any option with an average of 4-plus stars is ideal. Also, software with 1,000 or more reviews on third-party sites is preferred. Paychex scored perfect marks in this criterion.
Payroll App Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best payroll app for small businesses?
The best payroll app for small businesses comes with full-service pay processing features, including automatic payroll and tax calculations, direct deposit payments, pay schedule notifications, and alerts for potential pay errors. Access to basic payroll registers and reports is important so you can easily review the deductions and salary payments per pay run. It should also offer time tracking and PTO management tools, allowing you to easily capture employee attendance data for pay processing.
If you prefer to file tax reports yourself, then a payroll app that has electronic tax filing capabilities is a must. However, if filing tax reports and year-end forms is part of the services that your payroll provider offers, then having access to online tax forms is ideal so you and your employees can easily check and print tax reports.
What is the most affordable payroll app?
While most payroll apps are free to download, you need to pay software fees to use its features. For an app with essential payroll tools, you should expect to pay around $5 to $50 monthly. If you require additional solutions, like time tracking and hiring, some providers charge software fees of more than $50 per month.
There are also free payroll software and some offer apps that include basic pay processing tools. If you’re a small business with up to five employees, consider Payroll Guru’s free-to-use app, Paycheck Free. It lets you calculate employee wages and taxes online, but doesn’t run full payroll. So, if you need more functionalities, such as hourly calculations, pre- and post-tax deductions, multiple employee payroll profiles, and zero in-app ads, consider using the paid Payroll Guru app, which costs $4.99.
What’s the difference between a mobile payroll app and a payroll software with a mobile responsive platform?
Mobile payroll apps are downloadable apps that you can install directly into your tablets or smartphones. These payroll apps typically have only a handful of the features that its main platform offers, mainly because of the system size limitations that mobile apps and smartphones have.
On the other hand, payroll software with mobile responsive platforms can easily be accessed through mobile web browsers—no app download required. You simply need to go to the provider’s website, log in to your account, and access all of its features online.
Using mobile apps to manage payroll out of the office is a necessity for many business owners. Those that are considered good are designed to provide payroll services that help employers pay their staff accurately and on time and avoid potential tax-filing penalties. The best payroll apps for your business also depend on the type of workers you hire (employees versus contractors), your compliance needs, and whether or not you have in-house payroll or HR support staff to handle employee pay processing.
Our recommendation for the best payroll app is Square Payroll. It lets you run payroll, manage tax deductions, track PTO, access benefits plans, and set up automatic pay runs all from your mobile device. Moreover, it’s easy to use and integrates with Square POS seamlessly—a plus for retail shops and restaurants already using the provider’s point-of-sale software.
Sign up for a Square Payroll plan today.