Payroll software empowers business owners, HR departments and accounting teams to tackle employee pay in-house. The right software can streamline tedious tasks like tax filing, which in turn frees up time to spend on other aspects of business management.

Gusto is the best payroll software solution for many small and midsize businesses thanks to its thorough automation, comprehensive payroll tools and optional employee benefits with built-in administration. But if Gusto isn’t the best fit for you, we have seven other payroll solutions for you to consider. Below, we’ll weigh their features, strengths and weaknesses.

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Top payroll software: Comparison table

FeatureFree trialStarting monthly priceStarting per-payee priceOur star ratingLearn more
GustoNo$40$64.6 out of 5Try Gusto
ADP3 monthsCustomCustom4.4 out of 5Try ADP
Rippling30 days*Custom$84.3 out of 5Try Rippling
OnPay30 days$40$64.7 out of 5Try OnPay
PapayaNoCustom$124.2 out of 5Try Papaya
PaychexNo$39$54 out of 5Try Paychex
SurePayroll6 months$19.99$44.7 out of 5Try SurePayroll
QuickBooks Payroll30 days$45$54.1 out of 5Try QuickBooks

Data accurate and verified as of 12/22/2023.
*One-month free subscription available for TechRepublic readers only.

The year’s best payroll software

Gusto: Best overall payroll software

Gusto icon.
Image: Gusto

Our star rating: 4.6 out of 5

Gusto’s modern payroll and HR platform offers payroll processing, employee benefits administration and talent management solutions. As one of the most popular small-business payroll providers, Gusto integrates with dozens of popular third-party applications, including accounting solutions like QuickBooks Online and Xero.

Along with third-party integrations, Gusto’s payroll service also has built-in time tracking and project tracking features for higher-priced plans. Managers can easily track team hours and process time off requests and approvals. Workers can track their time by logging their hours on a computer or through Gusto’s employee mobile time-tracking app, which uses geolocation to verify hours.

Why we chose Gusto: If you don’t have any prior experience with payroll software and aren’t sure where to start, Gusto is absolutely our top recommendation.

Few online payroll providers can compare with Gusto’s automations, features and overall user friendliness. Plus, it integrates seamlessly with the most popular third-party business apps and takes the hassle out of payroll processing, including payroll taxes and benefits deductions.


Gusto has three business payroll plans:

  • Gusto Simple: $40/month + $6/employee/month.
  • Gusto Plus: $80/month + $12/employee/month.
  • Gusto Premium: Custom pricing only.

If you pay contractors only, Gusto’s contractor plan costs $6 per contractor paid per month for six months, then $35 per month plus the per-contractor fee after that.

Gusto also has an international contractor payment plan that lets businesses pay independent contractors in 120+ countries. Pricing is country-specific.

Finally, Gusto recently added international payroll in the form of an employer of record service. Pricing starts at $699 per employee per month.

Top payroll features

  • Unlimited monthly payroll runs.
  • Full-service tax administration.
  • Employee self-service portal.
  • Hiring and onboarding tools with all plans.
  • Gusto-brokered health insurance options in 37 states.
  • Additional employee benefit options include 401(k) retirement plans, commuter benefits and free financial tools.

Top integrations: FreshBooks, QuickBooks Online, Sage Intacct, Xero, ZipBooks, QuickBooks Desktop and Bookkeeper360.


  • Thorough employee self-service features with employee profiles, e-signature capabilities and easy access to documentation.
  • HR features including performance reviews, employee surveys and access to certified HR experts (with pricier plans only).
  • Automated payroll runs and automatic general ledger updates.


  • Basic plan users don’t have access to customer support on weekends.
  • Limited HR tools with cheapest plan, especially compared to all-in-one payroll systems like ADP and Paychex.
  • High per-employee fee with pricier plans can make the solution too expensive for organizations with a greater number of employees.

Learn more about Gusto by reading our in-depth Gusto payroll software review.

ADP RUN: Best for growing organizations

ADP logo
Image: ADP RUN

Our star rating: 4.4 out of 5

With ADP’s main payroll product for small and midsize businesses, RUN Powered by ADP, business owners can run payroll automatically and pay employees using multiple pay methods. Every plan comes with HR tools like new-hire reporting, onboarding assistance, background checks and built-in time and attendance.

Why we chose ADP: Whether you’re looking for a simplistic app-based payroll solution or fully featured enterprise-level program, ADP has a payroll product for you. Its extremely versatile products are diverse enough to accommodate businesses of all sizes and in plenty of industries.

For instance, ADP TotalSource is a PEO for small businesses that want to offload hiring and payroll responsibilities. Roll by ADP is a chat-based app for businesses with fewer than five employees. ADP Workforce Now is an HCM solution for midsize businesses while ADP GlobalView Payroll helps businesses pay employees in 40+ countries.


ADP doesn’t list the base prices for any of its payroll solutions online, including RUN Powered by ADP. Interested parties must contact ADP directly for a quote.

Top payroll features

  • Automated full-service payroll.
  • Multi-jurisdiction payroll processing.
  • Employee self-service portal access.
  • Employee discounts, which provide workers with discounts on brand-name products and with local retailers.
  • Exceptional reporting features, including thorough and customizable payroll and HR reports.

Top integrations: QuickBooks Online, Wave Accounting, Xero, SAP, Sage, Workday, 7shifts, ZipRecruiter, HiBob and Microsoft Teams.


  • Up to three months free for new users.
  • Integrations with an extensive range of popular third-party software systems.
  • Robust, customizable reporting capabilities.
  • Comprehensive optional add-on features include retirement plans, workers’ compensation insurance and employee health benefits.


  • No transparent pricing online.
  • Reporting features may have a higher learning curve for new users.
  • State Unemployment Insurance management features only available with higher-priced plans.

Learn more about ADP in our thorough RUN Powered by ADP review.

Rippling: Best time-saving automations

The Rippling logo.
Image: Rippling

Our star rating: 4.3 out of 5

Rippling’s full-service payroll solution has excellent built-in compliance support and HR tools, which makes it a solid alternative to software like Gusto that focus more on payroll than on HR. Its payroll plan includes workers’ compensation insurance administration, customizable reports and excellent compliance oversight. Most notably, Rippling lets businesses build custom automations, including custom policies for syncing payroll data with your general ledger.

Rippling’s other HR products include time and attendance software, benefits administration, applicant tracking and learning management. Companies can also add Rippling’s IT and finance software to its HR and payroll plan, creating a customizable package that grows with companies as they scale from startups to international enterprises.

Why we chose Rippling: If saving time while ensuring accuracy is your top payroll priority, we recommend Rippling payroll. The software’s thorough automations ensure processing payroll takes no more than a few minutes at most.

Rippling is currently offering a one-month free subscription for TechRepublic readers. Visit Rippling’s site to get started.


Rippling charges $8 per employee per month on top of a standard monthly base fee. Rippling doesn’t list its base price online, though the site previously listed its starting price at $35 per month.

Contact Rippling to request a custom quote.

Top payroll features

  • Employee health insurance benefits in all 50 states.
  • Built-in wage garnishment.
  • Automated minimum wage, leave and overtime compliance.
  • Customizable role-based permissions.
  • Customizable workflow automations.
  • Wage garnishment.

Top integrations:  QuickBooks Online, Xero, Sage and Oracle NetSuite.


  • International payroll processing available.
  • Easy-to-customize plans include only the modules you want.
  • Thorough integration with every product in the Rippling suite and 500+ third-party apps.
  • Comprehensive, customized automations for most business processes.


  • Expensive plans are outside many small and midsize businesses’ budgets.
  • Workflow automations can have a high learning curve for first-time users.

Dig deeper into Rippling’s features by reading our Rippling payroll review.

OnPay: Best industry-specific payroll

OnPay logo
Image: OnPay

Our star rating: 4.7 out of 5

OnPay’s payroll software program helps businesses in all industries pay employees, offer benefits, deposit taxes and get solid HR assistance. Along with its general payroll services, OnPay also offers industry-specific payroll services tailor-made for more niche companies. For instance, OnPay’s bar and restaurant payroll solution includes features for processing tipped wages, employee onboarding and time-tracking software integrations.

Why we chose OnPay: All of OnPay’s payroll plans include an impressive amount of HR features (especially when compared to similar HR payroll solutions like Gusto). Features like compliance auditing and HR library access give small and midsize businesses access to HR tools they’d typically have to pay extra for. OnPay’s stellar payroll features include wage garnishment and free multi-state payroll — two services most of the other top payroll systems charge extra for.


OnPay payroll has just one plan that includes all of its payroll and HR features. It costs $40 per month as a base fee plus $6 per month per employee.

Top payroll features

  • Unlimited monthly payroll runs.
  • Free white-glove setup and data migration.
  • Optional OnPay-brokered insurance benefits in all 50 states.
  • Compliance alerts.
  • Wage garnishment.
  • Multi-state payroll.
  • Federal, state and local tax filing.
  • Support for multiple pay schedules.

Top integrations: Xero, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Time and Magnify.


  • Industry-specific payroll plans for  restaurants, farms and agriculture, nonprofits, churches and clergy, manufacturing companies, 500+ employee companies and more.
  • Far fewer add-on fees than other payroll providers.
  • Custom PTO policy creation with automatic PTO accrual, calendars, time-off requests and manager approvals.
  • Up to three months free for new customers.


  • Phone, chat and email support limited to weekdays with only emergency email support available on weekends.
  • One plan only, which may be less scalable for rapidly growing businesses.
  • No international payroll options.
  • Fewer built-in integrations than comparable payroll providers.

Learn more about OnPay’s payroll system by reading our comprehensive OnPay review.

SEE: The 9 Most Common Payroll Mistakes and Ways to Avoid Them (TechRepublic)

Papaya Global: Best for international payroll

Papaya Global logo
Image: Papaya Global

Our star rating: 4.2 out of 5

Papaya Global is one of the best payroll software programs for international businesses. Its global payroll services let employers pay workers in 12 local currency systems in more than 160 countries. Papaya can deposit paychecks directly into employees’ bank accounts, and it can also make third-party payments on your behalf to entities like the IRS or legally mandated pension accounts around the world.

Businesses that currently use a payroll provider other than Papaya and don’t want to switch can still take advantage of Papaya’s international payroll services by paying for its payroll platform license, which costs $3 a month per employee. Plus, Papaya has a global benefits package that helps businesses offer global health insurance and provide localized benefits.

Why we chose Papaya Global: For fast, budget-friendly global payroll processing, it’s hard to do better than Papaya. Its contractor payroll plans start at just $2 per contractor per month, or you can also choose Papaya’s employer of record service for comprehensive employee hiring in 160+ countries.


Papaya offers a variety of international payroll services tailored toward businesses with diverse budgets and workforce needs:

  • Full-service global payroll: Starts at $12 per month per employee.
  • Payroll platform licensing: Starts at $3 per month per employee.
  • Employer of record services: Start at $650 per month per employee.
  • International contractor management: Starts at $2 per month per employee.

Top payroll features

  • Local currency payments made within 72 hours.
  • Optional employee benefits.
  • Country-specific tax management.
  • AI-based compliance audits.
  • Global finance, HR and payroll features rolled into one package.
  • Local experts with knowledge on immigration, global compliance, equity, benefits and more.

Top integrations: NetSuite, Workday, Expensify, BambooHR, Namely and HiBob


  • One of the most fully featured global payroll providers for U.S.-based companies.
  • Access to payroll and benefits in more than 160 countries.
  • Extensive international payroll library and compliance oversight.


  • Fewer third-party integrations than some international payroll competitors.

Learn more about whether Papaya Global will work for you by reading our in-depth Papaya review.

Paychex: Best HR solutions

Image: Paychex

Our star rating: 4 out of 5

Paychex’s all-in-one payroll software solution includes HR and payroll tools with optional add-on employee benefits. Unlike single-plan solutions like Square Payroll or OnPay, Paychex has four payroll plans that are designed for startups, enterprises and everything in between.

Why we chose Paychex: While Paychex has more or less the same full-service payroll features as Gusto, it has a more robust set of HR features. In contrast to Paychex’s professional employer organization service, its payroll and HR software isn’t a total HR solution. However, each Paychex plan has far more HR tools and support than any of Gusto’s plans, including access to a comprehensive HR library, optional financial wellness benefits for employees and access to labor posters.


Paychex has three different pricing tiers for its HR/payroll solutions:

  • Paychex Flex Essentials: $39 per month plus $5 per employee.
  • Paychex Flex Select: Custom quote.
  • Paychex Flex Pro: Custom quote.

Top payroll features

  • Employee self-service portals.
  • Basic onboarding.
  • Unlimited monthly payroll runs.
  • Automated new hire reporting.
  • Multiple employee pay options, including direct deposit, paper checks and pay cards.
  • Employee benefits options, including a financial wellness program, employee assistance programs and insurance benefits.
  • Thorough human resource features with higher-tier plans, including an employee handbook builder and learning management system.

Top integrations: BambooHR, Greenhouse, Indeed, NetSuite, SAP, Sage Intacct, QuickBooks Online, Workday and Xero.


  • Access to an impressive range of optional employee benefits offerings.
  • Dedicated point of contact with 24/7 access to the customer support center.
  • Impressive HR library resources available with every plan.


  • More expensive than comparable solutions.
  • Limited pricing information online.
  • Additional fees to process year-end W-2s and 1099s.
  • Additional fees for general ledger and accounting software integration.

Learn more about Paychex by reading our in-depth Paychex software review.

SurePayroll: Most affordable payroll

The SurePayroll logo.
Image: SurePayroll

Our star rating: 4.7 out of 5

SurePayroll is both the cheapest payroll provider on our list of best payroll software as well as one of the cheapest payroll providers overall. Its lower price point doesn’t prevent SurePayroll from offering extensive payroll features — in some cases, more features than its paid payroll competitors. For instance, both SurePayroll plans include new-hire reporting, free two-day direct deposit and access to HR features like labor law compliance posters.

SEE: What Payroll Documents Do You Need to Pay Employees? (TechRepublic)

Businesses can also use SurePayroll to find 401(k) retirement plans for employees as well as health insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. SurePayroll also offers optional hiring tools like pre-employment screening and background checks.

Why we chose SurePayroll: SurePayroll is hands-down the most affordable payroll solution with the most essential payroll features. It offers the best value for the price and includes more features at no additional cost than providers like Paychex include in their base plan — for instance, free two-day direct deposit, HR advisor access and free year-end tax form filing.


SurePayroll has two payroll plans:

  • Self-Service Payroll: $19.99 per month plus $4 per employee.
  • Full-Service Payroll: $29.99 per month plus $5 per employee.

With the first plan, SurePayroll calculates your payroll taxes but leaves the filing up to you. With the second plan, SurePayroll also withholds and remits your payroll taxes on your behalf.

SurePayroll doesn’t have many additional fees, though you can pay an extra filing fee of $9.99 for multi-state payroll tax filing.

Top payroll features

  • Unlimited monthly payroll runs.
  • Automatic new hire reporting.
  • Pre-scheduled payroll runs.
  • Support for multiple pay rates and bonuses.
  • Wage garnishment.
  • Optional health benefits backed by Paychex (SurePayroll’s parent company).
  • Workers’ compensation administration.

Top integrations: Xero, QuickBooks Online, BuddyPunch, Homebase and Less Accounting.


  • Up to six months free for new customers.
  • Extended customer service hours with better-than-average response time.
  • Tax-calculation guarantee with self-service plan (plus industry-standard tax-filing guarantee with full-service plan).
  • Budget-friendly full-service or cheaper self-service plan options.


  • Two plans can limit scalability for growing businesses.
  • Fewer HR features than HR-focused competitors like Paychex and ADP.

Find out if SurePayroll is a good fit for you by reading our SurePayroll review.

QuickBooks Payroll: Best user experience

The QuickBooks logo.
Image: QuickBooks

Our star rating: 4.1 out of 5

QuickBooks Payroll integrates natively with QuickBooks Online, Intuit’s leading cloud-based accounting software used by thousands of companies globally. Since Intuit’s cloud-based products were built specifically for non-accountant business owners, those who already manage their finances through QuickBooks Online should enjoy a relatively low learning curve if they add QuickBooks Payroll.

Why we chose QuickBooks Payroll: If you’re new to payroll, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the new processes and legal requirements. But if you already use QuickBooks Online for bookkeeping, adding QuickBooks Payroll ensures you don’t have to get used to an entirely new, confusing interface while you’re learning how to do payroll.

Top payroll features

  • Next-day or same-day direct deposit (plan dependent).
  • Automatic payroll runs.
  • 1099 e-filing.
  • Optional 401(k) plans and healthcare benefits.
  • Built-in time tracking through QuickBooks Time (additional fee with basic plan).
  • HR support center (with more expensive plans only).
  • Built-in workers’ compensation administration.

Top integrations: QuickBooks Online.


Unlike some of its top competitors, QuickBooks Online Payroll lists its prices clearly and upfront:

  • QuickBooks Payroll Core: $45 per month plus $6 per employee.
  • QuickBooks Payroll Premium: Costs $80 per month plus $8 per employee.
  • QuickBooks Payroll Elite: Costs $125 per month plus $10 per employee.

New customers can choose between receiving 50% off QuickBooks’ base price for their first three months of service or signing up for a free trial of QuickBooks’ payroll software.


  • Transparent online pricing.
  • Multiple plan options for growing businesses.
  • 24/7 live support (with pricier plans only).
  • Excellent integrations with Intuit QuickBooks suite of products and third-party software.


  • No free workers’ compensation integration and administration with cheapest plan.
  • Expensive add-ons, including time-tracking software.
  • Key features limited to priciest plans only, such as expert review and expert support.

Learn more about QuickBooks Payroll by reading our QuickBooks Payroll review.

Our methodology

To review the best payroll software for businesses, we set up free accounts with payroll providers whenever possible to test the software for ourselves. When creating a free account wasn’t an option, we viewed demos and watched product reviews from customers detailing their experience with the software.

In all cases, we read product spec sheets, thoroughly reviewed each company’s website and reviewed verified user reviews on trustworthy third-party sites.

After conducting this initial research, we used a proprietary in-house algorithm to calculate star ratings for each brand, determine their use cases and rank each brand according to its score. Our algorithm breaks down as follows:

  • Pricing (weighted to 25%).
  • Payroll features (weighted to 35%).
  • Ease of use (weighted to 15%).
  • Customer service (weighted to 15%).

Our expert’s insight and hands-on experience accounts for the final 10% of our score. Learn more about how we choose the software we review and what criteria we use to evaluate products by reading our payroll review methodology piece.

How do I choose the best payroll software for my business?

To find the right payroll software for your company, you need to first evaluate which payroll features are essential to your day-to-day business operations. Make sure to consider third-party integrations, automatic payroll processing and tax remittance, compliance checks, HR tools, employee self-service features, wage garnishment and optional employee benefits.

It’s also crucial to consider the price. As you’re budgeting for payroll software, look at not just the monthly fixed base price you’ll pay to use the software but the per-employee fee, which will change over time as you gain employees.

Most importantly, sign up for free trials and request free software demos before fully committing to any payroll product for the long term.

Frequently asked questions

What is payroll software?

Payroll software is a (typically cloud-based) tool businesses use to pay their employees. Payroll software calculates paycheck amounts for both hourly and salaried employees, including gross paycheck amounts, payroll tax amounts and other paycheck deductions.

Most payroll software automatically deposits employees’ net pay via direct deposit and includes features like payroll reports, optional HR features (like employee benefits administration) and time-tracking solutions for hourly employees who clock in and out.

How does payroll software simplify payroll processing?

Payroll software removes the need for business owners to calculate paycheck amounts by hand. It also simplifies record-keeping processes and helps businesses stay legally compliant with tax and labor laws.

Is payroll software good for small businesses or only for larger enterprises?

Payroll services can help business owners who want to save time on processing payroll and reduce the possibility of making a critical error with an employee’s paycheck amount or payroll taxes. Businesses in any industry and of any size can benefit from streamlining their payroll processes with payroll software.

How much does payroll software cost?

Most payroll products charge a monthly base fee along with a per-employee fee, though some payroll providers like Gusto and Square Payroll waive their base fees for business owners that pay only contractors. Most entry-level software plans charge around $20 a month as a self-service base fee and up to $45 a month as a full-service base fee. Per-employee fees for entry-level plans can range from $4 per employee to $10 per employee.

There are also free payroll software options, like Payroll4Free, which offers free payroll for businesses with up to 25 employees. Alternatively, businesses can use spreadsheet software like Excel (which costs a monthly fee) or Google Sheets (which is free) to calculate payroll by hand.

However, these more affordable payroll-processing methods aren’t feasible for businesses with dozens of employees. They’re also less ideal for businesses that want to save time on payroll while reducing the possibility of human error.

Which payroll software is best?

Gusto is generally considered the best payroll software for most small and midsize businesses. It syncs with dozens of third-party products, includes both HR and payroll features and offers thorough automation for businesses that want to minimize the time they spend on payroll each month.

At the same time, Gusto isn’t the best payroll product for all businesses. As you try to decide which payroll software is right for you, consider factors like pricing, scalability, features, customer support and third-party integrations.

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