Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll are affordable software options for small business owners who want to access their payroll from anywhere. Both offer full-service payroll with unlimited pay runs and direct deposits, as well as payroll tax processing and filing. The two providers also allow you to access health insurance options that you can offer as employee benefits.
However, there are some differences in features that may make one a better option for you. We’ll evaluate Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll’s essential features below, but to help you quickly choose the payroll solution that fits your business’ requirements, here are our recommendations:
- Gusto is best for small businesses that want an all-in-one payroll and HR solution with expert support.
- QuickBooks Payroll is best for small businesses that want to offer health insurance to employees and, even better, for those using QuickBooks accounting software.
- Affordable plus free trial
- Supports some HR functions
- Integrates with many third-party software
- Health insurance isn’t available in all states
- Direct deposit processing time is slower than QB Payroll
- May not be flexible enough for businesses scaling quickly
|RATING CRITERIA||Pricing||5||OUT OF||5|
|HR Features||4.13||OUT OF||5|
|Payroll Features||4.75||OUT OF||5|
|Ease of Use||4.25||OUT OF||5|
- Same- and Next-day direct deposit options
- Access to online community of users
- Seamless integration with QuickBooks
- More expensive than Gusto
- Lack of diverse employee benefit options (gives access to health insurance)
- Doesn’t automate local taxes
|RATING CRITERIA||Pricing||5||OUT OF||5|
|HR Features||3.75||OUT OF||5|
|Payroll Features||4.25||OUT OF||5|
|Ease of Use||4.63||OUT OF||5|
How We Evaluated Gusto vs Intuit QuickBooks Payroll
To compare the two providers, we used a 5-star scale designed to assess payroll solutions and services for small businesses. Apart from looking at employee pay and payroll tax processing functionalities, we checked whether HR tools and employee benefits are part of its offerings. Ease of use, pricing, and customer support are also key criteria, including whether users have access to expert professionals who can provide HR and payroll advice.
Based on our evaluation criteria, Gusto scored the highest with an overall rating of 4.59 out of 5 stars. QuickBooks Payroll, on the other hand, received an overall score of 4.39 out of 5 stars. You can click through the tabs in the box below to see our full evaluation criteria.
25% of Overall Score
Payroll providers that offer a plan priced at less than $45 for one employee are rated more favorably (since they’re budget-friendly). I also looked at whether or not each provider has transparent pricing, multiple plan options, and unlimited pay runs. Additional points were also given to those that don’t charge setup fees.
25% of Overall Score
Automatic payroll runs, payroll tax filing, 1099 form preparation, manual check capabilities, and two-day direct deposits are just some of the features that I consider essential payroll services. Providers also get points if they offer both employee and contractor payroll services, including a penalty-free guarantee.
25% of Overall Score
Aside from having a user-friendly, intuitive, and customizable platform, payroll software that integrates with common third-party systems (like QuickBooks, Homebase, When I Work, and TSheets) are awarded extra points. I also prioritized providers that offer how-to guides, live phone support, and quick resolution of client issues.
10% of Overall Score
Having access to a professional who can provide expert advice on compliance issues is one of the top criteria, including new hire state reporting, online onboarding, and a self-service portal. Following closely behind these is the capability to provide employee benefits, such as health insurance and workers’ compensation.
10% of Overall Score
First, I looked at reviews that real users left on popular third-party sites like G2, Capterra, and Software Advice. Then, I tallied the ratings in which any score with an average of 4+ stars and 1,000+ reviews are ideal.
5% of Overall Score
Providers that allow reports to be customized and built within their payroll systems get extra points. Additionally, those that have a robust selection of canned reports (more than 60) are prioritized.
When To Choose QuickBooks Payroll Over Gusto
- You use QuickBooks accounting software
- You want to offer health insurance that employees can use across all US states
- You require, at minimum, next-day direct deposit processing
When To Choose Gusto Over QuickBooks Payroll
- You are a small business with up to 100 employees
- You need third-party software integrations and dedicated support
- You want access to a wide range of employee benefits options
- You want affordable full-service payroll with a low-cost option for paying contractors
Gusto vs Intuit QuickBooks Payroll Overview
$39 to $149
plus $6 to $12 per employee
$45 to $125
plus $4 to $10 per employee
Direct Deposit Processing Timelines
Two days; next-day process with premium plans
Minimum next-day process; same-day with premium plans
Health insurance, life and disability, flexible spending accounts, commuter benefits, and retirement accounts
Health Insurance Coverage
Only available in 40 US states
Available in all 50 US states
Can purchase and manage within all plans
Can purchase and manage only in premium plans
For salaried and hourly workers
For salaried workers only
Self-onboarding, state new hire reporting, employee directory and surveys, and HR advisers
HR Support Center and HR advisers
QuickBooks Online, Xero, FreshBooks, TSheets, Homebase, When I Work, and more
TSheets and Intuit products
Inconsistent customer support quality
For In-Depth Reviews From Real Users
Common Features of Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll
- Full-service payroll in 50 US states
- Unlimited pay runs
- Automated taxes and forms
- Manage deductions and garnishments
- Reporting tools
- Expert product support
Takeaway: If you need an affordable full-service payroll with robust HR support, employee benefit options, and third-party software integration partners, Gusto is the best payroll solution for you. Plus, it offers a contractor payroll service that’s low cost (priced at $6 per contractor monthly).
However, if you’re using the QuickBooks accounting software and want access to health insurance benefits that are available across the US, then you may want to consider QuickBooks Payroll. Unlike Gusto, the provider has fast direct deposit timelines—wherein the longest is next-day processing and the quickest is same-day processing.
You can decide which payroll service is right for your business by answering just four Gusto vs QuickBooks Payroll quiz questions. Then, continue reading this article to learn more about the two software.
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Pricing: Gusto Wins
Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll received 4.5 out of 5 points for pricing according to our evaluation system. The two providers both offer three affordably-priced product plans that come with unlimited pay runs. However, if we compare the cost of their starter tiers, Gusto is more budget-friendly than QuickBooks Payroll.
For $39 plus $6 per employee monthly, you get full-service payroll with Gusto’s starter plan, Core. On the other hand, QuickBooks Payroll’s starter tier, also called Core, has a slightly higher price tag of $45 plus $4 per employee monthly.
In addition, if your workforce consists mostly of contractors, then Gusto’s contractor payroll plan is a more cost effective choice. QuickBooks Payroll doesn’t have a special pricing scheme for contractors, so you have to pay the same rates as indicated in its three product plans.
- Gusto pricing plans: Core plan ($39 plus $6 per employee monthly), Complete ($39 plus $12 per employee monthly), and Concierge ($149 plus $12 per employee monthly); Contractor plan ($6 per contractor monthly)
- QuickBooks Payroll pricing plans: Core ($45 plus $4 per employee monthly), Premium ($75 plus $8 per employee monthly), and Elite ($125 plus $10 per employee monthly)
Payroll Features: Gusto Wins
When it comes to payroll processing, Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll have feature sets that are similar to each other. Both offer automated payroll and tax processing, as well as year-end tax report preparation and online delivery of Form W2s and 1099s. However, based on our evaluation criteria, Gusto received a higher rating (4.75 out of 5 points) than QuickBooks Payroll (4.25 out of 5 points).
Gusto earned additional points given its federal, state, and local tax filing and processing features. With QuickBooks Payroll, you get payroll tax payments and filings but only for state and federal taxes. For local taxes, you have to print the forms and file or upload it to the applicable local sites yourself. Moreover, Gusto’s payroll automation can handle pay processing for salaried and hourly workers, whereas QuickBooks Payroll automated payroll is only for salaried employees.
When QuickBooks Payroll’s Payroll Features Are Enough
If you require quick direct deposits, then you may want to consider QuickBooks Payroll. Its starter plan includes next-day direct deposits while its Premium and Elite tiers have same-day processing timelines. This is unlike Gusto that provides two-day direct deposits for its Core package and next-day processing for its Complete and Concierge plans.
HR Features and Employee Benefits: Gusto Wins
With Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll, you get a self-service portal that employees can use to view their pay slip and employee benefits online. Both providers also offer access to expert professionals who you can contact to get HR, payroll, and compliance advice.
Despite the two offering similar HR functionalities, Gusto scored higher marks for this criteria. In our evaluation system, the provider received a 4.13 out of 5 points while QuickBooks Payroll earned a score of 3.75 out of 5 points.
Some of Gusto’s essential HR features include new hire state reporting and a wide range of employee benefit options (such as health insurance, commuter benefits, and flexible spending accounts). It even has workers’ compensation administration, a functionality that Gusto offers across all of its product plans. Additionally, you get access to online offer letters, customizable onboarding tools, employee surveys, and a staff directory.
QuickBooks Payroll, on the other hand, can only generate new hire state reports and you have to file the actual reports yourself. Its benefit options are also limited to health insurance plans, and while it does offer workers’ compensation administration, it is available only for Premium and Elite subscribers.
When QuickBooks Payroll’s HR Features and Employee Benefits Are Enough
Although QuickBooks Payroll only offers health insurance as an employee benefit, what’s great about it is that its benefit plans can be used by your employees across all US states. This is unlike Gusto in which the coverage of its employee benefits are limited to specific states.
Ease of Use, Customer Support, and Integrations: Gusto Wins
When it comes to ease of use, both providers have a user-friendly and intuitive platform. Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll also offer phone support, including access to HR advisers and how-to guides. However, for third-party software integrations, Gusto has a more robust selection. Unlike QuickBooks Payroll that primarily offers integration with Intuit products (including TSheets), Gusto can integrate with accounting, POS, business operations, and time tracking solutions.
- Gusto integrations: FreshBooks, Xero, QuickBooks Online, ZipBooks, Sunrise, Homebase, TSheets, When I Work, Ximble, 7shifts, Clover, Upserve, Veryfi, Vagaro, and Hubstaff
- QuickBooks Payroll integrations: TSheet, QuickBooks, and other Intuit products
Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll User Reviews
- Gusto: Users who left reviews on our site gave Gusto a 4.8 out of 5 stars rating as of the date of this writing (Nov. 17, 2020). On third-party sites, such as G2 and Capterra, reviewers rated it 4.4 and 4.7 stars, respectively. Reviewers highlighted its ease of use, intuitive interface, and good customer support as Gusto’s top features. The complaints, meanwhile, include occasional software glitches and a desire for a wider offering of HR tools, benefits, and software integration options.
- QuickBooks Payroll: On our site, users rated QuickBooks Payroll 3.8 out of 5 stars; whereas on G2 and Capterra, reviewers gave it 4 and 4.5 stars, respectively. Most of the positive comments it received include “easy to implement” and “user-friendly.” On the other hand, there are mixed reviews about its customer support—wherein some users noted that its support team isn’t knowledgeable, while others said that they received good service.
If you already have an existing payroll service, read our guide on how to switch payroll providers so that you don’t miss any essential steps.
To help you choose the payroll solution that’s best for your business—be it Gusto or QuickBooks Payroll—start by assessing how many employees you have (and plan to have in the future), along with your need for HR support and software integrations. You should also determine if you want to offer benefits, and if so, consider if any are negotiable.
If you’re already using QuickBooks’ accounting software, then QuickBooks Payroll or another payroll outsourcing service may be a better option. It’s a given that QuickBooks users will have a much easier time using QuickBooks Payroll. In addition, you can provide your employees with health insurance benefits that’s not limited to certain states.
However, if you’re focused on hiring the best and need more than just health insurance benefits to build a quality team, then consider Gusto. The provider offers reasonably-priced plans and also has the most affordable option if you’re only paying contractors.
Robie Ann Ferrer contributed to this article