This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
TriNet is a leading professional employer organization (PEO) that offers hire-to-retire HR support, payroll, and industry-specific compliance support. Its strategic HR offerings are top-notch—but its offerings may be more than you need, especially since it’s more expensive than many PEO services. In such an instance, you may benefit more from choosing a reputable TriNet competitor instead.
We evaluated several TriNet alternatives for their price, ease of use, and features to help you select the best one for your needs. Here are the top five:
- Rippling: Best TriNet competitor for small to midsize companies (especially those in tech) needing hardware and software onboarding
- Paychex: Best TriNet competitor for solopreneurs and very small businesses that want to grow into a PEO option
- Justworks PEO: Best TriNet competitor for companies with contractors (alongside employees)
- ADP TotalSource PEO: Best TriNet competitor for growing or large businesses
- Papaya Global: Best TriNet alternative for multinational businesses
What Is a PEO?
PEOs differ from other HR software in that they take full administrative responsibility for your employees in terms of payroll, taxes, and benefits. You share other responsibilities with them and are in charge of day-to-day assignments and operations. PEOs are more expensive than payroll or HR software and could be more than you need. Learn more about PEOs and what they can do for your business or check out our lists of the best human resources payroll software and best payroll services for simpler options.
Best TriNet Competitors Compared
All the PEOs on our list offer the standard benefits of medical, dental, 401(k), commuter, and HSA/FSA. They also handle onboarding, document management, and some risk and compliance support. We list the noteworthy additions.
Starting monthly pricing
Unlimited payroll runs
$150 per employee*
Home and auto
Small to medium
$35 + $8 per employee*
Online health advisor
Can activate / deactivate at will
Small to large
$39 + $5 per employee*
Financial wellness, business insurances
Solopreneurs to large
$59 per employee
Health advocacy services; gym memberships
Small to medium
$65 + $3 per employee*
Group legal plan, funeral planning
Small to large
$20 per employee for payroll; $650 per employee for EoR***
International, country-specific benefit plans
Medium to large
*Prices based on quotes we received; please call providers for custom quotes.
**Currently on beta test via its upcoming global EOR offer—targeted to be widely available by January 2023
***EoR=Employer of Record; learn more about what they do in our article.
****Based on analysis by enlyft.com.
When TriNet Is Best
TriNet is best for well-established small and midsize businesses that want to outsource their payroll and HR. Its strategic HR advisers can help keep your company strong. Meanwhile, it watches for changing industry laws and compliance rules to make sure you stay compliant, even in the most highly regulated industries. It offers a full range of payroll and HR services and can be an international PEO in some circumstances. However, its pricing is not for those on a tight budget.
In the News:
In February 2022, TriNet acquired Zenefits, a leading human capital management system that focuses on people operations for SMBs. TriNet Zenefits offers a popular payroll and HR solution for businesses that don’t need a full PEO, expanding TriNet’s market base and ability to serve businesses of all sizes.
TriNet can be found in several of our buyer’s guides:
- Best PEO Companies
- Best ADP Competitors
- Best Paylocity Competitors (however, Paylocity is not on this list since it is not a PEO)
If you’re still considering TriNet but want more information, check out our complete TriNet review.
Rippling: Best TriNet Alternative for Companies With Heavy IT Needs
Rippling is a top HR and payroll software solution that focuses on making tech easier. It does this with its intuitive interface, amazing number of integrations, and ability to onboard employees with hardware as well as software. It offers a PEO solution that not only lets you take advantage of those tools but is itself easy to turn off and on. As such, we think it’s the best TriNet competitor for high-tech companies or those that need a lot of software to run their business.
In the News:
In October, Rippling launched its global EOR, which allows international payroll in 50 countries, along with global time tracking, policy, management, compliance, and more. It’s currently available to beta users and will be widely available in January 2023.
Rippling can be found in our following best-of lists:
- Best PEO Companies
- Best Paychex Competitors
- Best ADP Competitors
- Best International Payroll Software
- Best Online Payroll Software
- Best HR Software
- Best HR Payroll Software
- Best HRIS Software
Rippling offers custom quotes, which are flat-rate and per-employee but vary by organization size, features, types of insurance you want, and more. Therefore, you must call for a customized quote. However, its tools are grouped into modules with their own prices.
Even the PEO platform is fully a la carte, so you can add or subtract features as needed. The PEO option itself can be added or removed monthly.
We received a quote of $35 + $8 per employee monthly for time tracking and payroll. Pricing for other modules runs from $5 to $100 per month. Here are a few examples. You may get a discount for multiple modules.
- Employee benefits: $6 per employee monthly
- Flex HSA/FSA and commuter benefits: $6 per employee monthly
- HR help desk: $100 per month
- App management: $8 per employee monthly
- Device management: $8 per employee monthly
- IT onboarding: Rippling is unique to all the PEO services we looked at because, in addition to the standard onboarding for payroll, benefits, and the like, it can onboard your new employee’s computer as well. With the software module, it can automatically add new employees to the apps they need, and with the device management module, it will take responsibility for hardware from issuing to decommissioning. It’s great for those that want to outsource IT as well as HR.
- Integrations: Here, too, Rippling takes the lead as the best TriNet competitor for companies that use a lot of software. It can integrate with over 500 different apps—more than any other PEO on our list—and its interface is designed for employees to easily access programs on their Rippling dashboard. This, too, is unique among those on our list.
- Payroll: Rippling says you can complete payroll in as little as 90 seconds because it syncs all aspects of payroll automatically, from hours worked to automatic withholdings. Others on our list don’t make this claim, but several (including TriNet) do sync hours, PTO, and expenses. Like Justworks, you can pay by checks or direct deposit. If you want pay cards, consider ADP or Paychex.
- International payroll: Starting Jan.1, 2023, Rippling is offering native global payroll. This allows you to run payroll for employees in any of the 50 countries it caters to. Employees will be paid in their local currency. Just like with US-based payroll, it’s compliant with local laws, has internal error-checking, and, in many cases, can be done in 90 seconds.
- HR support: Rippling claims quick onboarding of employees, generating the offer letter and handbook, running background checks, adding them to payroll and benefits, assigning them to training, and setting up their apps. TriNet and others offer onboarding tools, including e-signature of documents, but Rippling alone has software and hardware onboarding.
- Learning management: Rippling offers an excellent learning management system. You can select any of its 1,000+ ready-made online courses or upload your own. Courses are easy to access on tablets, can include built-in quizzes, and generate certificates for compliance. TriNet, by comparison, offers about half as many courses.
- Compliance: While TriNet has compliance support, Rippling provides compliance enforcement. Rippling has automated enrollment in state-mandated training so you can make sure your employees stay compliant year after year. You can even deny employees clock-in until they complete a mandatory course (such as for safety).
- Ease of use: Real-world users praise Rippling for its ease of use and intuitive interface. They give it 4.77 out of 5 stars, averaged across multiple user reviews—the highest user score on our list (Justworks was second with 4.63 out of 5). Compare this to TriNet’s score of 3.84 out of 5.
Read our Rippling review to learn more.
Paychex: Best TriNet Competitor for Small Businesses Wanting a Future PEO Option
TriNet is best suited for medium and large companies—so if you are a small company or even a solopreneur, consider an alternative like Paychex. While PEOs require fived or more employees, Paychex can nonetheless take you on for payroll and other HR tools until you reach that level. It’s one of the most customizable services on our list, providing basic plans and additional options (for additional prices).
You can find Paychex on several of our best-of lists:
Like many on our list, Paychex requires a custom quote. For a company of 20, we received a tentative quote of $100 per employee for the administrative fee. This includes payroll, 401(k), administration of health benefits, access to ancillary benefits like dental coverage, workers’ compensation, and a designated payroll expert and HR expert whom you can access daily if needed. Our rep also told us that most often, it will pay for itself in the savings they find in programs like 401(k) and medical insurance. Unlike TriNet, Rippling, Justworks, and Papaya, it does not allow unlimited payroll, and charges more for weekly pay runs.
- Payroll: Like ADP, you can get check-stuffing services or pay by pay card (TriNet has pay cards, but not check-stuffing). It offers automatic pay runs and customizable earning/deduction types, something most on our list do. Paychex handles payroll tax payments and filings but may charge extra for year-end tax reporting.
- Business tools: In addition to incorporation services, Paychex offers a wide range of business insurances, including workers’ compensation, liability, umbrella, cyber liability, and commercial property insurance. TriNet offers a few of these, like liability and workers’ comp, while ADP offers nearly as many as Paychex.
- Strong HR tools: You get over 60 HR reports and access to HR and payroll professionals. You get a dedicated payroll rep with higher plans (such as when using them as a PEO). The HR consultants can alert you of changes in local, state, or federal labor laws. It has a full range of HR tools, and like Rippling, you can add them as needed. However, unlike Rippling, they are not grouped into packages.
- User reviews: With a user score of 4.06 out of 5 stars on several review sites, Paychex is middle-of-the-road for those on our list but much higher than TriNet, which earned 3.84 out of 5 from real-world customers. We have seen a trend toward increasing satisfaction, especially among employees.
- Serves solopreneurs: Sometimes, even a business of one can benefit from outsourcing its payroll and benefits. While you don’t need a PEO for this, Paychex is the only service on our list that offers a Solo Plan with self-employed payroll and tax services, incorporation services, and even a 401(k) for retirement planning. It can take a lot of the heavy work off your hands.
Read our Paychex Flex review for more details about the interface and basic services.
Justworks PEO: Best TriNet Competitor for Contractor Pay
Justworks is a great alternative to TriNet for two reasons: Its pricing is transparent and, in most cases, cheaper than TriNet’s, and it includes contractor payroll in its plans. TriNet charges extra for this function. It falls short of several on our list, like Rippling, because it does not offer international payroll, and is the only one that does not have hiring tools (it does have onboarding, however). Nonetheless, it’s otherwise excellent toolset and high user approval landed it top slots in several of our best-of lists:
Justworks PEO Pricing
Justworks offers two plans—Basic and Plus. Pricing depends not only on the plan but the number of employees you have. The pricing is the same whether you pay monthly or annually. Unlike others on our list, Justworks does not charge extra for contractor payroll or tax filing.
- Basic Plan: Payroll including unlimited payments, tax filings, employee onboarding, PTO management, basic training, workers’ comp, life and disability insurance, 401(k), health and wellness perks, HR consulting
- 1–49 employees: $59/employee/month
- $10 discount per employee after the 49th
- Plus Plan: Everything in Basic Plan, plus employee benefit plans for Health Advocacy Services, COBRA administration, medical insurance, FSA/HSA, dental and vision insurance (benefits are pay-by-employee)
- 1–49 employees: $99/employee/month
- $10 discount per employee after the 49th
Justworks PEO Features
- Payroll processing: Like TriNet and its other competitors, Justworks pays employees by direct deposit or paper checks. However, you need to distribute paper checks yourself (ADP, by contrast, charges you but will send them individually). Justworks only pays hourly and nonexempt salaried employees on a biweekly or weekly basis, with pay periods running from Sunday to Saturday—others on our list have similar schedules. If you need custom pay periods, consider Rippling. Salaried-exempt employees are paid on the first and 15th, although you have the option to move them to a biweekly schedule. It offers options for off-cycle payments and prorating paychecks.
- Time tracking and timecards: Justworks has a time tracker, Justworks Hours, which is a mobile app. However, it costs an extra $5 per user per month. TriNet and others on our list don’t charge for mobile apps, but they do not have time clocks. You can always integrate other timers, like QuickBooks Time, into your timecards. Timecards can also be filled in manually by employees and sent to managers for approval. Paychex also has a time tracker; it, too, may cost extra, depending on your plan.
- Compliance: Compliances are a big reason for hiring a PEO. Justworks, like the others on our list, helps you stay compliant by offering workers’ compensation, keeping track of changes in federal and state regulations, and handling new hire reporting. However, it stands apart in that it provides, free of charge, basic required training like sexual harassment prevention training. Most offer similar training but as part of their talent management tools, which cost extra.
- Benefits: Like TriNet and all the alternatives on our list, Justworks offers medical, dental, vision, HSA, FSA, accidental death and disability, and life insurance. Justworks manages its own 401(k) program, while most of the others outsource. However, if you already have your benefits providers and are not interested in changing, then Rippling might be a better choice, as it integrates with just about anyone.
- HR features: Justworks’ HR features take an employee from hire to retire with tools like document onboarding and training, electronic signatures, and employee access to important documents. Overall, the features are more basic than others on our list, although most of the others consider these additional tools (like talent management or performance management) as add-ons and charge more for them.
- User response: Real-world users on multiple review sites rate Justworks 4.63 out of 5. They praise the easy user interface and strong customer support. Only Rippling has a higher user score with 4.77 out of 5. TriNet, by contrast, earned a 3.84 out of 5.
Read our Justworks PEO review for more details.
ADP TotalSource PEO: Best for Growing or Large Businesses
ADP TotalSource PEOis an excellent alternative to TriNet, especially if you are a large business or a business that anticipates scaling up. Like TriNet, it works with small and medium businesses but it’s well suited for larger ones—as well as international businesses. It also carries your employees from hire to retire, offers strategic and industry-specific HR features, and provides custom pricing.
You’ll find ADP on many of our best-of lists, and not just for PEOs. Its payroll service, ADP Run, is also an excellent product. This is just another way it can grow with you. Here are some categories where ADP ranks high:
- Best PEO Services
- Best Paychex Competitors
- Best International PEO
- Best Paylocity Competitors
- Best Online Payroll Services (ADP Run)
- Best HR Software (ADP Run)
- Best HRIS Software (ADP Run)
ADP TotalSource PEO Pricing
Like with TriNet, you need to call ADP for a custom quote (this is typical of most PEO companies; only Papaya and Justworks on our list offer fully transparent pricing). Also like TriNet, your quote will vary by your geographic location and the features you choose.
A representative told us prices start at $85 per employee monthly, which is significantly cheaper than TriNet, but you’ll want to compare features, as, like Paychex, it will charge more for add-ons. Justworks and Rippling are cheaper but may not have as many tools included.
ADP TotalSource PEO Features
- Flexibility: First, ADP serves businesses of all sizes, from a handful of employees to companies of over 1,000. TriNet, by contrast, works best for medium and larger businesses. Second, it offers non-PEO services, so if needed, you can downgrade or upgrade. If a PEO is more than you need, you can outsource your HR services to ADP, or you can select only ADP Run for payroll (Rippling and Paychex also offer this flexibility). Finally, you can select the tools you need, paying only for them. While this is typical of most PEOs (Justworks and Papaya being exceptions), it makes it easier for ADP to grow as your needs do.
- Payroll: While TriNet offers electronic payments, ADP can pay by checks, like Paychex. Plus ADP can pay employees by pay card—TriNet and Paychex do this as well. This is a popular option with millennials and Gen Z. ADP has audit and reconciliation services, something we did not see in other PEOs, although TriNet and others do have automations to ensure information is correct and compliant with local law.
- Strategic HR: ADP’s strategic HR services are similar to TriNet, in that they include advisers. With ADP, you get a strategic HR expert, a payroll adviser, a benefits team, and even workplace safety consultants. Your employees benefit from ADP MyLife advisers who can help them with questions about benefits and referrals. Compare this to Rippling, whose HR experts may cost you extra.
- Industry-specific HR: ADP is experienced in a wide range of industries, and may have more experience in some than TriNet. One example is the restaurant business: ADP’s program includes time tracking, tip calculation and reporting, and more. TriNet does not promote anything specific for this industry on its website, although it can create a plan (for comparison, it and Paychex are on our best restaurant payroll software list).
- International HR: ADP generally serves international companies with over 50 employees total and with workers in at least three countries—compare this to Papaya, which is more flexible in size. Rippling handles international payroll, but only for contractors. TriNet can work internationally but this is not a focus.
- Excellent mobile app: ADP’s mobile app has the highest user scores of those on our list: 4.7 out of 5 on iOS (2.5 million ratings) and 4.5 out of 5 on Android (408,000 ratings). TriNet’s iOS app scored higher (4.8 with 23,800 ratings) but significantly lower on Android (3.2 with 1,000 ratings).
Read our ADP TotalSource review for more details.
Papaya Global: Best TriNet Alternative for Multinational Companies
Papaya is our top pick for best international payroll service; it provides an intuitive platform, excellent local support, and contractor-only options. TriNet did not make the international PEO list, and ADP ranked below Papaya because it does not offer the same strength of features this international-only Employer of Record (EoR) provides. (We will be reevaluating Rippling in our next update, as it has improved its international EOR.) Unlike TriNet or Rippling, Papaya does not require you to be a US-based business. Plus, it has transparent pricing, something only Justworks on this list provides. Papaya is also on our best PEO companies list.
Papaya Global Pricing
Unlike TriNet, Papaya puts its pricing on its website. In the past, it has had a price range depending on the number of employees, but the most recent list does not have this. Rather, the prices are somewhat reduced—and it mentions contacting them about volume discounts.
The Global EoR plan is its international PEO. Meanwhile, the Payroll and Contractor programs provide certain services but leave you with employer liabilities. All plans include Papaya’s platform, payroll and benefits, tax filing to the local level, HR support, annual reports, and integrations.
- EoR ($650/employee/month): In-country partners serve as the employer of record, taking responsibility for payroll, workforce management, benefits, and compliances, while you handle the day-to-day tasking of your employee.
- Payroll ($20/employee/month): The entire payroll process, integration with your HRIS and ERP, pays in local currency.
- Contractor and IC compliance ($25/employee/pay cycle): Lets you outsource work to contractors at home or abroad.
- Payroll Intelligence Suite ($250/month for the annual plan or $320 per month for the quarterly plan): Real-time business intelligence reporting, employer and payroll costs across locations, and more.
Papaya Global Features
- Employer of Record: As an EOR, Papaya hires and pays employees on your behalf, handling the PEO responsibilities while you manage the day-to-day tasking. It provides enterprise-level benefits that comply with local laws. It can even help you offer equity. While used by major corporations like Toyota and Microsoft, it nonetheless works with small companies. ADP, meanwhile, requires 50 employees total, with workers in at least three countries. TriNet requires you to call to see if your company is a good fit.
- International payroll: Papaya’s Global EoR plan pays your employees, files taxes, and assumes responsibility for errors. Papaya works in 160+ countries (the last count we found for TriNet was 115+ and ADP, 140+, while Rippling only handles payroll for international contractors). Like others on our list that handle international payroll, it can work with contractors. If you need checks mailed, you’ll want to consider ADP, since Papaya does not provide this service.
- In-country HR support: Papaya stands out from the rest in that it provides the platform for managing your employees but subcontracts the HR support to local organizations it has vetted. Papaya says this lets them work with the most knowledgeable resources for local labor laws, compensation, and cultural issues affecting HR. However, ADP, it should be noted, has headquarters in over 140 countries.
- Immigration support: Papaya is the best for immigration, with the ability to arrange work permits for expats and short-term laborers as well as permits for a worker’s family. ADP may be able to advise you and offers multiple articles on the process.
- Reports and analysis: The dashboard makes it easy to see employment costs across your entire company or drill down to the individual basics. Papaya can also create customized reports. Thus, like TriNet, it’s a good alternative for job costing.
Check out our Papaya Global review for more details on this provider.
How We Chose the Top TriNet Competitors
When looking for the top TriNet competitors, we naturally chose top-rated PEOs. In fact, as noted above, many are on our best-of lists. From there, we considered price, ease of use, and features like compliance, payroll, and HR support. We also looked at user reviews, selecting only those that were popularly and favorably reviewed. Then we narrowed our list to those that did something better than TriNet or filled a need that was not a TriNet focus point.
Not sure how to choose a payroll provider? Check out our guide to finding the right payroll solution for your business.
TriNet is a popular and feature-rich PEO service but it may not be the best for you. Small businesses, businesses on a tight budget, or those based outside the US will want to consider other options. We’ve looked at many possibilities and narrowed them down to the five best TriNet competitors.
Rippling, Papaya, and Justworks offer tools to meet very specific needs that TriNet doesn’t meet or doesn’t meet as well. Paychex is a top choice for small businesses. ADP, meanwhile, can grow with you as you expand in scope, size, or reach. All are excellent services, so the choice is yours.