This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
QuickBooks Payroll and ADP Run both offer easy-to-use payroll services and include tax filing and workers’ compensation management. When comparing QuickBooks Payroll vs ADP Run, the primary difference is in human resources (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 Run is more expensive but has more flexible plans, pay cards, expanded HR functions, and more than 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 Run: Best for growing businesses needing a robust variety of payroll and HR options
QuickBooks Payroll vs ADP Run Quick Comparison
From $45 to $125 plus $5 to $10 per employee; custom pricing available
From $65 to $220 base fee + $3 to $4.50 per employee monthly*; custom pricing available for premium plans
Checks and direct deposit (next-day or same-day for higher plans)
Checks (signing and delivery available), direct deposit (two-day payout), and pay cards
50 states and Washington, D.C.
50 states and Washington, D.C.
Other Employee Benefits
Retirement and learning
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, and advising
50-plus apps for accounting, point-of-sale (POS), project management, benefits, learning, recruiting and onboarding, time and attendance, and enterprise resource planning (ERP)
Six 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 Run 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 Run 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.
Are you unsure what provider is right for you? Answer this three-question quiz and find one that best fits your business’ needs.
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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.
QuickBooks Payroll: Better for Businesses on a Budget & QuickBooks Users
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
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.
ADP Run: Better for Growing Businesses That Need HR & Payroll
ADP Run is a better choice than QuickBooks Payroll if you:
- Prefer to use a Mac
- Have complex HR needs or want easy access to an HR adviser
- Need to run payroll in other countries
- Want a customizable plan
- Require an employee app
ADP Run 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 Run 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.
Best for Inexpensive & Fast Pay Runs: QuickBooks Payroll
QuickBooks beats ADP Run 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 Run has a two-day lead time.
Best for Employee Access: ADP Run
ADP Run 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 paid time off (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 Run 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 App Store—excellent ratings for this kind of application. What’s more, it offers nearly all the functions in the employee portal.
Best for Flexibility: ADP Run
QuickBooks Payroll integrates only with other Intuit products, such as QuickBooks for accounting and QuickBooks Time. ADP Run integrates with these and dozens of other popular software, including the following:
- Accounting: Wave and Xero
- POS: Clover, Revel, and Toast
- Productivity: Slack, Duufree, and Microsoft Teams
- Benefits: LifeMart, PayActive, and SmartDollar
- Benefits Administration: BerniePortal, Employee Navigator, Flock, and PlanSource
- Learning: Cornerstone, Grovo, Litmos, and Mastery Training Services
- Recruiting and onboarding: ZipRecruiter, TempWorks, and Avointe
- Time and attendance: Deputy and Homebase
- ERP: FinancialForce, SAP SuccessFactors, and Oracle
Additionally, ADP Run can pay workers using pay cards, something QuickBooks Payroll does not offer. ADP Run’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 one to 49 employees to more than 1,000—as well as a self-serve option for one to 10 employees. It has more flexibility in pricing as well.
Best for Basic Payroll Functions: ADP Run
Both ADP Run and QuickBooks Payroll provide easy-to-use interfaces and the most important payroll functions. Here, we compare their most popular plans. ADP Run has an edge due to its additional features, such as new hire reporting and paycheck delivery.
Unlimited Pay Runs
Yes, plus check signing and stuffing
Next- and same-day
W-2s and 1099s
Payroll on Autopilot
Workers’ Comp/State Unemployment Insurance Management
New Hire Reporting
ADP Run vs QuickBooks Payroll: What Users Think
- QuickBooks Payroll: It has 3.6 out of 5 stars on G2 and 4.5 out of 5 stars on Capterra. Users praised its ease of use, and many compared it to ADP Run, 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.
- ADP Run: G2 has this platform at 4 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.
Both QuickBooks Payroll and ADP Run 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 the power of software and service, ADP Run 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 Run may be the best choice. Sign up today to get three months free.