Both QuickBooks and ADP offer payroll services that are easy-to-use and include tax filing and worker’s comp management. ADP is more expensive, but gives more flexible plan options, pay cards, expanded HR functions, and over 50 software integrations. QuickBooks Payroll concentrates on payroll processing with unlimited pay runs, limited HR functionality, and integrations with Intuit products.
- QuickBooks Payroll: Best for QuickBooks users, small businesses on a budget
- ADP Payroll: Best for businesses needing HR, growing businesses needing flexibility, and Mac users
QuickBooks Payroll vs ADP
$25 per month + $4 per month, per employee to $125 per month + $10 per month, per employee
$50 per pay run + $2.55 per pay run, per employee to $230 per pay run + $4 per pay run, per employee
Checks, Direct Deposit (next day or same day for higher plans)
Checks, Direct Deposit (2-day payout), pay cards
50 states + DC
50 states + DC
Other Employee Benefits
With Premium and Elite plans via AP Intego
Payroll on Autopilot
Only for salaried workers on direct deposit
HR Support center; personal HR adviser with Elite plan
Background checks, onboarding, new hire support, handbooks, advising
QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets) and other Intuit products
50+ apps for accounting, POS, project management, benefits, learning, recruiting and onboarding, time and attendance, ERP
Six days a week; Inconsistent quality
24/7 phone support; reports of delays and unhelpful reps
Takeaway: QuickBooks and ADP are both popular and well-regarded payroll systems. ADP is more flexible and expensive, offering HR and more personalized assistance, making it a good choice for complex businesses needing more than pay run software. QuickBooks is easy-to-use but limited in integrations and HR features, making it a better the better payroll software to choose if all you really need is payroll.
Best Businesses for QuickBooks Payroll vs ADP
Both payroll systems are flexible enough for most businesses and have thousands of customers in every major industry.
QuickBooks Payroll: Businesses that do more frequent pay runs, different pay runs for different types of employees, or sporadic payroll processing will find QuickBooks more cost-effective, because unlike ADP, it doesn’t charge extra for more payroll runs. It’s good for stable businesses with an established payroll routine. Also, payroll is limited to the US and Canada.
ADP Payroll: ADP can help businesses with more complex employee situations and regulatory requirements. Because it can scale easily, it’s also good for growing businesses. If you have an international business, ADP is the better choice. Finally, the mobile app and employee portal make it the better choice for businesses where employees are on the move.
QuickBooks: Best for Inexpensive, Fast Pay Runs
QuickBooks beats out ADP in pricing and speed for pay runs. With a monthly plan that allows unlimited pay runs, you can handle hourly and salaried employees separately, do out-of-cycle reimbursements, or pay different departments or stores on different schedules. Pay runs can also be deposited into your employees’ direct deposit accounts the same day with some plans. Compare this to the two-day lead time needed for ADP.
ADP: Best for Employee Access
ADP is the hands-down winner when it comes to employee access, with the following features:
- Employee portal: Employees can access pay information and W2 statements, view and request PTO, track time and attendance, punch in/out, view pay card accounts, see benefits information, do performance evaluations, and even contact co-workers. (Features may vary according to the plan you have.)
- Mobile app: The ADP app works for managers and employees. It has 4.5 out of 5 stars for Android, and 4.7 out of 5 stars in the Apple Store, excellent ratings for this kind of mobile application. It offers nearly all the functions as seen in the employee portal.
QuickBooks has a workforce portal, but it only allows employees to access paycheck information, W2s, withholdings, and paid-time-off balances.
ADP: Best for Flexibility
QuickBooks integrates only with other Intuit products: QuickBooks accounting or QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets), for example. ADP will integrate with these and dozens of other popular software.
- Accounting: QuickBooks, Wave, Xero
- POS: Clover, Revel, Toast, and more
- Productivity: Slack, Duufree, Microsoft Teams, and more
- Benefits: LifeMart, PayActive, SmartDollar, and more
- Benefits Administration: BerniePortal, Employee Navigator, Flock, PlanSource
- Learning: Cornerstone, Grovo, Litmos, Mastery Training Services
- Recruiting and onboarding: ZipRecruiter, TempWorks, Avointe, and more
- Time and attendance: Deputy, Homebase, QuickBooks Time, and more
- ERP: FinancialForce, SAP SuccessFactors, Oracle, and more
ADP can pay workers using pay cards, something QuickBooks does not offer. ADP’s plans also contain more features for HR, including legal support, work-life employee assistance programs, and recruiting. Finally, ADP offers different programs according to business size, from one to 49 employees to more than 1,000 in addition to a self-serve option for one to 10 employees; there’s more flexibility in pricing as well.
QuickBooks Payroll and ADP: Tiered for Basic Payroll Functions
Both ADP and QuickBooks provide easy-to-use interfaces and the most important payroll functions. If all you need are the following, either is a good choice. Here, we compare the most popular plans for each:
QuickBooks Payroll Premium
ADP Enhanced Plan
$75 per month + $8 per month, per employee
$85 per pay run + $2.80 per employee, per pay run
+ Check signing and stuffing
W2s and 1099s
Payroll on Autopilot
Workers’ comp/state UI management
QuickBooks Payroll and ADP Reviews
- QuickBooks Payroll: This payroll software earned 3.8 out of 5 stars from our user-reviewers and 4.0 to 4.5 stars from other sources. Users praised the ease of use. Many compared it to ADP, saying for payroll, it was as good but far less expensive. Complaints included the need for a better mobile app and some customer service issues. To explore this payroll software in more detail, visit our QuickBooks Payroll review.
- ADP: Our user-reviewers give ADP 4.2 out of 5 stars. Other review sites vary between 3.0 and 4.5 stars. Managers said the interface made running payroll easy, while employees said the interface was great for accessing their information. Nonetheless, the most common complaint was difficulty finding a particular piece of information, which varied by the user, but implies that the system can be complex when you dig in.
When to Choose QuickBooks Over ADP
- You do several pay runs per month or have multiple pay runs per pay period.
- You want to eliminate the time between inputting pay runs and employees getting paid.
- You need QuickBooks integration.
- You only need basic payroll software without the extras.
When to Choose ADP Over QuickBooks
- You prefer to use a Mac.
- You have complex HR needs or want easy access to an HR adviser.
- You need to run payroll in other countries.
- You want a customizable plan.
- You want an employee app.
Pros and Cons of Using ADP vs QuickBooks Payroll
ADP Payroll Pros
ADP Payroll Cons
Dedicated account manager
ADP is feature-heavy for those wanting simple payroll
Users say it can be hard to access online portals
Multiple HR features at each plan level
Employee portal with mobile app
Customer service can be bad
QuickBooks Payroll Pros
Quick Books Payroll Cons
Built-in integration with QuickBooks accounting
Fast direct deposit (next-day or same-day)
Few employee benefits
Unlimited pay runs
Customer support iffy
Does not integrate with QuickBooks for Mac
Both QuickBooks Payroll and ADP Payroll can help you get your employees paid correctly and on-time. They offer direct deposit and checks, can process salary, hourly, tips, and contractor payments, and file your payroll taxes. With either software, you can stay compliant with regulations. In addition, each offers some HR functionality.
When it comes to power of software and service, ADP is the clear winner in this comparison. However, with greater power comes higher pricing and more complexity. For businesses needing HR, it could be less expensive than purchasing two separate programs and making them work together. If you are a growing business or need HR functionality in addition to payroll, ADP may be the best choice. Sign up today to get three months free.