This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
QuickBooks Payroll and ADP both offer easy-to-use payroll services and include tax filing and workers’ comp management. When comparing QuickBooks Payroll vs ADP, the primary difference is in HR features. QuickBooks Payroll concentrates on payroll processing with unlimited pay runs but has limited HR functionality and integrates only with Intuit products. Meanwhile, ADP is more expensive but has more flexible plans, pay cards, expanded HR functions, and over 50 software integrations.
To help you choose the best one for you, we recommend the following:
- QuickBooks Payroll: Best for QuickBooks users and small businesses on a budget
- ADP: Best for growing businesses needing a robust variety of payroll and HR options
QuickBooks Payroll vs ADP Quick Comparison
From $45 to $125 plus $4 to $10 per employee; custom pricing available
From $59 + $4 per employee monthly*; custom pricing available for premium plans
Checks, Direct Deposit (next- or same-day for higher plans)
Checks (signing and delivery available), 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
50+ apps for accounting, POS, project management, benefits, learning, recruiting and onboarding, time and attendance, ERP
6 days a week; inconsistent quality
24/7 phone support; reports of delays and unhelpful reps
*Pricing from a third-party source; you need to contact the provider for a quote
**Additional fees may apply
Takeaway: QuickBooks and ADP are both popular and well-regarded payroll systems. ADP is pricier but more flexible, offering HR and more personalized assistance, making it a good choice for businesses needing more than payroll software. QuickBooks, on the other hand, is easy-to-use but has limited integrations and HR features, making it ideal if you need just payroll.
When neither QuickBooks nor ADP works for you, we recommend Rippling, especially if you’re uncertain about getting HR or payroll software or a professional employer organization (PEO). It is best for businesses planning to scale and provides users with the option to turn the PEO service off yet still access the HR and payroll system.
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Unsure whether ADP or QuickBooks Payroll is right for you? Answer this three-question quiz and find one that best fits your business’ needs.
|Built-in integration with QuickBooks accounting||Few integrations without QuickBooks Online|
|Fast direct deposit (next- or same-day)||Few employee benefits|
|Unlimited pay runs||Does not integrate with QuickBooks for Mac|
Businesses that do more frequent pay runs, different pay runs for different types of employees, and sporadic payroll processing will find QuickBooks more cost-effective, because (unlike ADP) it doesn’t charge extra for more payroll runs. Also, payroll is limited to the US and Canada.
QuickBooks Payroll is a better choice if you:
- Do several pay runs per month or have multiple pay runs per pay period
- Want to eliminate the time between inputting pay runs and employees getting paid
- Need QuickBooks integration
- Need only basic payroll software without the extras
|Dedicated account manager||Feature-heavy for those wanting simple payroll|
|Highly customizable||Users say it can be hard to access online portals|
|Multiple HR features at each plan level||Poor customer service at times|
|Employee portal with mobile app|
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 Payroll has a great payroll app but not an employee self-service app.
ADP is a better choice over QuickBooks Payroll if you
- Prefer to use a Mac
- Have complex HR needs or want easy access to an HR advisor
- Need to run payroll in other countries
- Want a customizable plan
- Require an employee app
Best for Inexpensive & Fast Pay Runs: QuickBooks Payroll
QuickBooks beats 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, and pay several departments or stores on different schedules. Payments can also be deposited into your employees’ accounts the same day with some plans. In contrast, ADP has a two-day lead time.
Best for Employee Access: ADP
ADP is the winner hands-down when it comes to employee access. It offers the following features:
- An employee portal: Employees can access pay information and W-2 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.)
Note that QuickBooks Payroll also offers a workforce portal, but it only allows employees to access paycheck information, W-2s, withholdings, and PTO balances.
- A mobile app: The ADP app works for managers and employees. It has 4.6 out of 5 stars for Android and 4.7 out of 5 stars in the App Store—excellent ratings for this kind of application. What’s more, it offers nearly all the functions in the employee portal. In contrast, QuickBooks Payroll’s mobile app rated 4.3 out of 5 stars on the App Store and 4 out of 5 stars on Google Play.
Best for Flexibility: ADP
QuickBooks Payroll integrates only with other Intuit products, such as QuickBooks for accounting and QuickBooks Time. ADP integrates with these and dozens of other popular software, including the following:
- Accounting: Wave, Xero
- POS: Clover, Revel, Toast
- Productivity: Slack, Duufree, Microsoft Teams
- Benefits: LifeMart, PayActive, SmartDollar
- Benefits Administration: BerniePortal, Employee Navigator, Flock, PlanSource
- Learning: Cornerstone, Grovo, Litmos, Mastery Training Services
- Recruiting and onboarding: ZipRecruiter, TempWorks, Avointe
- Time and attendance: Deputy, Homebase
- ERP: FinancialForce, SAP SuccessFactors, Oracle
Additionally, ADP can pay workers using pay cards, something QuickBooks Payroll does not offer. ADP’s plans also contain more HR features, including legal support, work–life employee assistance programs, and recruiting. It also offers different programs according to business size, from 1–49 employees to more than 1,000—as well as a self-serve option for 1–10 employees. It has more flexibility in pricing as well.
Best in Basic Payroll Functions: ADP
Both ADP and QuickBooks Payroll provide easy-to-use interfaces and the most important payroll functions. Here, we compare their most popular plans. ADP has an edge due to its additional features such as new hire reporting and paycheck delivery.
QuickBooks Payroll Premium
ADP Enhanced Plan
Unlimited pay runs
Yes, plus check signing and stuffing
Next- and same-day
W-2s & 1099s
Payroll on autopilot
Workers’ comp/state UI management
New hire reporting
ADP vs QuickBooks Payroll: What Users Think
- QuickBooks Payroll: It has 3.6 out of 5 stars on G2 and 4.5 to out of 5 stars on Capterra. Users praised its ease of use, and many compared it to ADP, saying that 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: G2 has this platform at 3.9 out of 5 stars, while Capterra has it at 4.5 out of 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 particular information, which varied by user, but implies that the system can be complex when you dig in.
To learn more about ADP and the value it provides, visit our ADP Run review.
Both QuickBooks Payroll and ADP can help you get your employees paid correctly and on time. They offer direct deposit and checks, file your payroll taxes, and can process salary, hourly, tip, and contractor payments. With either, you can stay compliant with payroll regulations.
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. So, 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.