This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
Paychex is one of the most popular choices for payroll and HR support for small businesses—and with good reason. While somewhat more expensive than many of its alternatives, it offers a vast range of functions that can help very small businesses with simple needs and larger and growing businesses with special challenges.
It’s not always the best choice, however. If you are on a tight budget, require software and device provisioning tools, or need global support, check consider these top Paychex competitors.
- ADP: Best overall Paychex competitor
- Paycor: Best for employers needing an all-in-one HR platform with a configurable payroll solution
- Gusto: Best for small businesses primarily requiring payroll software
- Rippling: Best for tech companies and businesses needing HR, payroll, and hardware/software onboarding tools
- QuickBooks Payroll: Best for QuickBooks accounting users and companies preferring same-day direct deposits
- TriNet Zenefits (formerly Zenefits): Best for businesses in highly-regulated industries wanting strong compliance and HR support
Not sure what you should look for and which provider to pick? Check out our guide on how to find a payroll service for your business.
Best Paychex Competitors Compared
Starter Monthly Pricing
Standard Direct Deposit Timelines
Payroll Tax Filing Services
Health Benefits Coverage
HR Advisory Services
Year-end reports cost extra
$99 + $5 per employee
Some tax services cost extra
$39 + $6 per employee
Two, four, and next-day
$10 per employee
(for its core workforce mgt. platform)*
$8 per employee monthly*
(benefits admin costs extra)
$45 + $4 per employee
Next- and same-day
Local tax filings included in higher tiers
$10 per employee
$6 per employee
$10 per employee monthly
*Pricing is based on a quote we received
When Paychex Is Best
Paychex is best for solopreneurs and small companies with plans to scale looking for flexible payroll and HR solutions that can grow with their business. One representative told us it has over 300 functions it can put into a plan, covering everything from time tracking to health benefits. Of course, this leads to more contract obligations, a larger price tag, and the need to negotiate price when the contract is renewed.
Given its robust suite of HR tools, Paychex often ranks high on our best-of articles. See how it compares with other providers on our lists of:
- Best small business payroll
- Best HR payroll
- Best online payroll services
- Best payroll apps
- Best restaurant payroll
- Best payroll software for accountants
- Best payroll for nannies or household employees
- Best PEO companies
- Best HR software
- Best HRIS software
- Best HR apps
ADP: Best Overall Paychex Competitor
Paychex is one of our top ADP competitors, so it’s little wonder that ADP would be included in our list of the best Paychex alternatives. ADP is one of the largest HRIS, payroll, and PEO companies, and it handles the HR needs of small businesses and large corporations, even providing local and global payroll solutions.
It also has multiple plans and services, offering different programs to fit your HR needs. For instance, its ADP Run product provides payroll and HRIS capabilities and is best for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. On the other hand, its ADP TotalSource solution is a full-service professional employer organization (PEO) for companies with up to 1,000 employees needing expert assistance in handling day-to-day HR tasks. And if you need specific tools, a custom package can be made, allowing you to add or remove solutions—just like with Paychex.
However, unlike most of the providers on our list, ADP’s pricing isn’t transparent—you have to call and request a quote. While it has an intuitive interface and provides both general and expert support via phone, chat, and its online help center, small businesses may find its feature-rich platform too much for their needs.
ADP Key Features
You get full-service payroll that lets you pay employees via direct deposit and the Wisely debit card. It also offers check signing and stuffing services and will even deliver the paychecks to your office in time for you to hand them out to employees.
If you have global staff, ADP (like Rippling) can handle your international payroll needs. In contrast, Paychex also offers global payroll services, but only via its partner, FMP Global. Gusto, on the other hand, only processes payments for international contractors; while the other three providers in this guide don’t have international payroll capabilities.
Payroll tax processing
Aside from automatic payroll tax calculations, it handles federal, state, and local tax payments and filings for you. While it offers year-end tax reporting, this service costs extra. For a reasonably-priced payroll solution without tax filing service fees, consider either Gusto or QuickBooks Payroll.
ADP provides you access to a wide variety of enterprise-level benefits plans—from life insurance to retirement plans. Unlike Gusto and TriNet Zenefits which have limited health insurance coverage (49 and 39 states, respectively), ADP’s health insurance options are available in all 50 states.
What also sets ADP apart from Paychex and the other providers here is its non-standard benefits offerings, such as employee discounts with its partner brand-name products and local retailers. However, it lacks the financial wellness tools that both Paychex and Gusto offer.
While its ADP Run product primarily contains payroll and HRIS tools, it also provides hiring solutions for posting jobs on ZipRecruiter, conducting background checks, and onboarding new hires.
In comparison, Paychex offers its hiring services as an add-on, although its Paychex Flex platform comes with employee screening and new hire onboarding tools. Gusto also has onboarding capabilities and can even help you track applicants, but its job posting tool is very limited—it doesn’t post to popular job boards like ADP.
When your business comes to a point where you need more HR staff to handle your growing needs but you don’t want to expand your HR team, then getting a PEO service makes sense.
With ADP TotalSource, you get the expert PEO assistance you want to handle hire-to-retire administrative tasks. Similar to Paychex, ADP’s PEO services include strong compliance support and access to Fortune 500-level benefits. However, it isn’t as flexible as Rippling, which allows you to easily turn its PEO service off and switch to its HR platform.
Aside from employee information management, ADP offers basic learning management tools with its ADP Run product. It provides access to both employee and employer training programs—from HR recordkeeping and sexual harassment prevention training to topic-focused sessions (such as sales, marketing, and more).
It also offers time tracking solutions to help you manage and monitor employee attendance and paid time-offs (PTOs). However, similar to Paychex and Rippling, this costs extra. If you don’t want the added cost, consider TriNet Zenefits since its starter tier comes with time tracking features. Gusto, Paycor, and QuickBooks Payroll all have time and attendance tools, but this is available only in higher tiers.
Paycor: Best for Employers Needing an All-in-One HR Platform With a Configurable Payroll Tool
Paycor is an all-in-one payroll and HR solution that gives you everything in a single system. While it has pricing for smaller businesses, we especially recommend it for midsize businesses that need more HR support—mainly because its price tag can be a little hefty for small businesses that don’t need all the features.
For its starter plan, you have to shell out $99 plus $5 per employee monthly. This is more expensive than the other providers we reviewed, including Paychex (monthly fees for its Paychex Flex product start at $39 plus $5 per employee).
It comes with standard reporting tools but doesn’t provide many pre-made reports—but you can create custom reports from scratch. Its interface is not customizable, though you can create custom pay grids to fit your simple to complex pay processing needs. Further, its features are pretty robust and the software is generally easy to use.
Paycor Key Features
All-in-one HR platform
Paycor’s all-in-one platform combines payroll with a wide suite of HR tools—from new hire onboarding and employee benefits to performance reviews and engagement surveys. Other Paychex alternatives, such as Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll, don’t have a robust offering of HR solutions.
Payroll and tax processing
Apart from offering unlimited and automatic payroll, Paycor allows you to create and edit pay grids to fit your pay processing needs. It provides tax payment and filing services at all levels (federal, state, and local), including year-end tax reporting. Workers’ compensation and remittance of wage garnishments to designated agencies are also available—provided you get its higher tiers.
Paycor processes employee payments through pay cards and two-day direct deposits, but if you want fast processing timelines, consider QuickBooks Payroll because it offers next- and same-day direct deposits. If you prefer to pay employees via paychecks, Paycor (like ADP) also provides check stuffing services.
Similar to Paychex, Paycor provides a variety of HR support tools and services to help keep you compliant while streamlining processes. You also get an HR toolkit with checklists and document templates. If you subscribe to its Complete plan, you are granted access to HR professionals who can provide expert advice in handling employee issues. This is unlike Rippling and TriNet Zenefits that charge extra for HR advisory services.
Unlike Paychex and the other providers in this guide (except TriNet Zenefits), Paycor offers communication tools to help promote collaboration between teams. One standout feature is the company chat, where employees can communicate with one another directly through its platform. You can also use Paycor to send company announcements to keep your employees informed.
Want to learn more about this provider? Read our Paycor review to determine if it fits your HR and payroll needs.
Gusto: Best for Small Businesses Needing Payroll Software
The reasonably-priced plans and solid payroll tools of Gusto are just some of the reasons why it ranks in many of our buyer’s guides such as best small business payroll software and best HR payroll software. While it is easy to use and well suited for small and growing businesses, its Achilles’ heel is that it only provides health insurance in 39 states—fewer than the other Paychex competitors we reviewed, including Paychex.
In addition, its HR services are not as extensive as the other providers on our list. Gusto lacks the compensation planning tools that Paycor and TriNet Zenefits offer, including the robust IT onboarding tools that Rippling has, although it does help with app management. It also has fewer pre-made reports than Paychex, ADP, and QuickBooks Payroll. Plus, it does not work as a PEO like Paychex, ADP, and Rippling do.
Gusto Key Features
If you’re thinking about whether to get Paychex vs ADP vs Gusto to handle your payroll needs, note that Gusto has an advantage over the two in that it allows unlimited pay runs. This means you can process payroll and off-cycle payments as many times as you need and want without having to pay extra.
Further, it offers multiple ways to pay employees such as through checks, pay cards, and direct deposits. Its direct deposit services are two and four days, with a next-day option included in its higher tiers; whereas Paychex, ADP, and the other providers here (except QuickBooks Payroll) only offer two-day direct deposits. And although Gusto can process international contractor payments, it does not handle global payroll for employees—try ADP or Rippling if you need that capability.
Interested to see how simple it is to process payroll using this platform? Check out our guide on how to set up and run payroll with Gusto.
Automated tax payments and filings
Similar to Paychex and other Paychex competitors, Gusto automatically calculates, withholds, remits, and files taxes on federal, state, and local levels. However, it offers free year-end tax reporting (W-2s and 1099s) unlike Paychex and ADP, which charge extra for this.
Affordable contractor-only plan
Gusto’s low-cost contractor plan, which costs only $6 per worker monthly, is one of the reasons why it tops our list of the best software for paying contractors. Apart from unlimited pay runs, you get year-end 1099-NEC tax reports and state new hire reporting (if required). None of the Paychex alternatives we reviewed, including Paychex, offer a special contractor payroll plan.
Gusto’s health insurance plans are unavailable in 11 states (Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming) as of this writing, but it has a few non-standard benefits options that none of the providers in this guide offers. This includes college savings plans, a free financial management app (Gusto Wallet), and early access to earned wages in case employees need financial help between paydays (via Gusto Cashout).
What’s also great about Gusto is it includes benefits administration in all of its plans (this is a paid add-on with Rippling). And like TriNet Zenefits, it allows you to bring in your own broker to manage your benefits plans—although, you have to pay broker integration fees on a monthly basis ($6 per eligible employee).
Aside from helping onboard new hires, Gusto has candidate management solutions for tracking where applicants are in the hiring process. It also offers job posting tools, but it doesn’t post jobs to popular job boards (only to Google Jobs). Although Gusto provides shareable links so that you can add open jobs to your career website, we recommend ADP if you want a wider job posting reach (it can post jobs to 25,000 job boards and sites).
If you need help managing the devices and software that employees will use, Gusto offers basic IT provisioning and deprovisioning tools. It isn’t as robust as Rippling, though, which handles the entire process—from managing computer inventory and storing devices to installing business software and helping retrieve laptops from remote employees on their last working day.
Unlike Rippling, ADP, and Paychex that charge extra for time tracking, you only need to upgrade to at least Gusto’s Complete plan if you want to capture and monitor employee attendance. It even comes with performance review tools and templates you can use to create employee evaluation forms, job descriptions, policies, and even an employee handbook.
Unsure if this platform is right for you? Read our Gusto review to get more details about what it offers.
Rippling: Best for Tech-Heavy Companies and Employers Looking for HR, Payroll & IT Solutions
We recommend Rippling as an alternative to Paychex for companies that heavily use technology and third-party software. That’s because Rippling’s intuitive interface makes it easy to incorporate other applications as it can integrate with 500+ business systems. It also has IT tools that let you assign laptops to employees, manage business systems, and track computer inventory.
In fact, its PEO service even offers remote onboarding of software and locking the computer access of resigned employees on their last working day—a functionality we did not find in the other services on this list.
However, unlike the other Paychex competitors we reviewed, Rippling doesn’t offer live support via phone—but its live chat feature for customer support is efficient. Plus, you have the option to get its HR help desk add-on, which includes phone and email support from HR professionals.
Rippling Key Features
What sets Rippling apart from the other providers here is its modular system that enables you to mix and match HR, payroll, and IT features you want. While this can be great for those who only need specific tools, note that Rippling requires you to purchase its core workforce management platform before you can get other solutions (such as applicant tracking, payroll, benefits, and IT tools).
It may seem inexpensive when piecemeal, but costs can add up fast depending on the number of features you want and your employee count. Nonetheless, you can still find less expensive options such as Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll, especially if you require only payroll and basic HR tools.
At its core is a workforce management solution designed to simplify all of your people operations—from new hire onboarding to employee offboarding. It comes with strong system permissions, analytics, and a unified workforce database. You can even set up and automate workflows that work across Rippling’s modules and its partner apps. None of the providers on this list have the robust integrations and workflows that Rippling offers.
Payroll and tax filings
Rippling offers full-service payroll and tax filing services, including year-end tax reporting. It can handle multiple pay rates and wage garnishments. You can use its online tools to pay employees and contractors across the US and in over 100 countries.
However, Rippling’s employee payment options are limited. You can only pay via check and direct deposit, so if you need a pay card option, check out Gusto, Paycor, ADP, and Paychex.
Unlike Gusto and TriNet Zenefits’ limited health insurance coverage (39 and 49 states, respectively), Rippling offers health plans in all 50 states. It also grants access to health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and commuter benefits. The caveat, however, is that you have to purchase two benefits modules (each costing $6 per employee monthly) if you want all these features in addition to benefits administration.
Rippling has a PEO option with an on/off switch that none of the other providers on the list offer. This means you can turn off its PEO service from your account settings and then easily transition to using its HR platform. While ADP and Paychex do have PEO products, the process of leaving the service is more complicated than Rippling.
With Rippling, you get more than payroll and HRIS features. It can help you capture and monitor employee attendance, track applicants, and post jobs to popular job boards (but not as robust as ADP’s postings to 25,000+ job sites).
If you get its learning management add-on, you can access pre-built compliance courses or build your own training programs. However, what it lacks are the compensation planning tools that Paycor and TriNet Zenefits offer abd the performance review solution included in Gusto’s higher tiers.
Rippling can help streamline IT provisioning and deprovisioning processes for you. Its app management module can assist you in setting up and managing business software that employees will use, while its device management solution lets you assign and track computer devices. Rippling can even store, set up, send, and retrieve devices for you.
Read our Rippling review to find more to like about the platform.
QuickBooks Payroll: Best for QuickBooks Accounting Users
QuickBooks Payroll has a strong advantage over the other Paychex competitors on our list because of its seamless QuickBooks accounting integration. Not only does this make it a great choice for QuickBooks users, but it’s also an excellent Paychex alternative especially if you want fast direct deposits. It offers a next-day option as its standard processing timeline, whereas Paychex and the other providers we reviewed provide two-day direct deposits in its starter tiers.
However, QuickBooks Payroll doesn’t automate local tax payments and filings with every plan the way all the other platforms on our list do. It also lacks a pay card option like Gusto, ADP, Paycor, and Paychex.
QuickBooks Payroll Key Features
Seamless QuickBooks integration
QuickBooks Payroll can work as a standalone product but has greater functionality and integration power when used in conjunction with QuickBooks Accounting. The connection between the two software is seamless, making data transfers between Intuit QuickBooks products easy and straightforward. This means that payroll information flows directly to the general journal, and you can use wage-related information to run reports using QuickBooks.
Payroll and tax processing
With its intuitive interface and controls, you can set up and run payroll in a few easy steps. Similar to Gusto and Paycor, QuickBooks Payroll can process payroll automatically. It comes with unlimited pay runs, multiple pay rates, and payroll tax payment/filing services. However, you need to upgrade to its higher tiers if you want QuickBooks Payroll to remit and file local taxes for you. It also doesn’t have the pay card option offered by Paychex, ADP, Paycor, and Gusto.
Fast direct deposits
QuickBooks Payroll is the only software in this article that provides next-day direct deposits in its starter tier. Those who subscribe to its higher plans even get a same-day option—a feature that none of the Paychex alternatives in this guide, including Paychex, offer.
Tax accuracy guarantee and tax penalty protection
Unlike Paychex and the other providers in this guide, QuickBooks Payroll offers a tax penalty protection program where it will pay tax penalties (max of $25,000 per year) arising from tax errors and filing mistakes that either you or its representatives will make. However, this is only available for those who will get its Elite plan.
Additionally, QuickBooks Payroll also includes a tax accuracy guarantee in all its tiers. This is similar to the standard tax penalty coverage that most payroll providers offer, wherein it will pay the applicable penalties due to its representatives’ tax filing mistakes.
HR tools and support
QuickBooks Payroll doesn’t have a robust HR solution suite like Paychex and most of the providers in this guide (except Gusto) do. It only offers basic onboarding, new hire reports, employee benefits, and time tracking through QuickBooks Time. You are also granted access to customizable job descriptions and performance review forms, including access to HR advisory services. However, if you need compensation management tools and employee engagement surveys, consider Paycor and TriNet Zenefits.
QuickBooks Payroll offers more than what’s covered here. Get more details in our QuickBooks Payroll review.
TriNet Zenefits: Best for Companies in Highly-Regulated Industries
TriNet Zenefits (formerly Zenefits) is an HR-first program that offers comprehensive plans full of human resource tools for managing employees from hiring to retiring. Like Rippling, payroll is an add-on, not a core feature, and this can make it pricier, depending on the plan and add-ons selected. It also has a five-employee minimum for all its tiers and add-on tools—a requirement none of the providers here (including Paychex) has.
What makes it optimal for businesses in highly regulated industries is its robust compliance tools and support. In addition to built-in overtime and break safeguards, it has an online “Compliance Assistant,” which tracks your HR, payroll, and benefits compliance status and alerts you of the unique form submission deadlines critical to your business.
TriNet Zenefits Key Features
Feature-rich HR platform
While Paychex and most of the providers in this list (except Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll) have a wide range of HR solutions, TriNet Zenefits’ platform is more robust, providing you with online solutions for managing the entire employee lifecycle. It even comes with compensation planning tools to help you better understand how to pay employees. And if you want an efficient way to measure and track employee engagement, it has online surveys and pre-built assessment forms to measure staff well-being.
Despite offering payroll as a paid add-on, TriNet Zenefits has all the essential tools you need to accurately process employee and contractors payments, including payroll taxes. It will file tax forms on your behalf and at no additional cost—unlike ADP and Paychex, which charge extra for some of its tax administration services. TriNet Zenefits also automatically syncs employee data (such as actual work hours, PTO, and benefits information) from its other solutions directly into payroll.
Time and attendance tools in every plan
While Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll will require you to upgrade to its higher tiers to unlock time tracking features, this functionality is included in all TriNet Zenefits plans. In comparison, Rippling, ADP, Paycor, and Paychex offer this as a paid add-on.
TriNet Zenefits can help manage and administer benefits plans for your employees, but you can also use your own broker—provided you pay $5 per employee monthly. It also offers access to a variety of employee benefits options like FSA, HSA, and retirement plans. However, its health plans are limited to 49 states (Hawaii is excluded). For medical, vision, and dental insurance that are available in 50 states, consider any of the Paychex competitors in this guide (except Gusto).
Similar to Paycor, TriNet Zenefits offers communication tools through its online “People Hub.” This includes a company feed where you can post announcements. You can also customize its setting, enabling you to select whether or not employees can also post messages or reminders on the company feed.
Read our TriNet Zenefits review to discover more about what it can do for your business.
How We Chose the Top Paychex Competitors
Paychex can fill a lot of business needs: payroll, HRIS, and even PEO services. Therefore, we considered software and services that compete with Paychex in some or all of these categories. We also looked at several reasonably-priced payroll software just in case you don’t need all of the features Paychex offers. Then, we narrowed it down to the top six software most similar to Paychex that could accomplish a variety of HR tasks in better ways.
ADP topped our list for its flexibility and breadth of features. Its functionalities are competitive to Paychex’s, and it offers services and solutions for small to growing businesses, including large enterprises.
Paychex is a flexible, highly popular, and well-rated HR payroll service, but depending on your needs, it may not be the best fit. The Paychex competitors in this guide fill essential payroll and HR needs, such as direct deposit services, tax filings, onboarding, compliance support, and full-service payroll. Most offer benefits in all 50 states and basic HRIS features for managing employee information. Many are competitive in pricing, although a few are more reasonably priced.
Overall, ADP is the best Paychex competitor. While its pricing isn’t transparent, it provides a range of services that’s similar to Paychex while also offering global payroll and HR support. Call ADP to get a quote today.