Best Payroll Services

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Payroll is a time-consuming and error-prone process, but it’s also a critical element of running a quality business. We’ve reviewed the best payroll services to help you determine which is right for your business. 

The Best 5 Payroll Services

  • Gusto – Best for overall ease of use
  • Paychex – Best versatility
  • ADP – Best for HR integration
  • OnPay – Best for both employees and contractors
  • Rippling – Best for payroll automation

What is a payroll service?

A payroll service streamlines and often automates the process of completing and approving payroll. Most services also ensure that a business stays compliant with state and federal payroll laws, processes tax statements, and integrates 401(k) contributions. Payroll services can improve payroll accuracy and save you time manually processing payroll. A quality payroll service that ensures a business stays compliant with payroll laws can even help avoid costly mistakes that can result in hefty fines. 

Do I need a payroll service?

Payroll services can be beneficial for businesses of all sizes, but they’re even more valuable if you’re facing specific challenges. From the lack of an HR department to payroll budget issues, a good payroll service can help you avoid mistakes that can be financially expensive and time-consuming. Below are a few common situations where a company will benefit from payroll services.

If Your Business Needs Help With Tax Compliance

Ensuring that your business meets tax rates and regulations in your state is a challenge. When those regulations change, or you have employees or contractors across multiple states, that challenge becomes even more difficult and time-consuming. 

Fixing tax compliance issues can be stressful and demanding, so it’s better to avoid those issues altogether. Most payroll services can help automate your tax compliance, leaving the service to worry about regulation changes instead of your staff dealing with the issue. This can provide valuable peace of mind, especially when you have employees throughout the country. 

If Your Business Frequently Goes Over Your Payroll Budget

Fluctuating payroll costs can wreak havoc on your business budget and profitability. Identifying the causes of going over your payroll budget can be a challenge when you’re dealing with paper copies of timecards and when you’re manually calculating payroll. 

A payroll service helps to condense all of that information into one platform. A service with quality reporting will let you quickly identify inconsistencies in payroll, whether that’s excess overtime or other issues. Investing in a payroll service could pay off with savings in your payroll costs. 

If Your Business Frequently Hires New Employees

Manually adding new employees to your payroll service is time-consuming, but some services are designed specifically for fast-growing businesses. Not only will you find payroll services that offer digital employee onboarding, but some even provide tools to help with the hiring process, like job description development tools. 

If you want to take things a step further, look for a service that offers the ability to outsource your recruiting, so you have one less job to worry about. 

If Your Business Doesn’t Have an HR Department

Many payroll services offer at least some HR services, though some offer more extensive products than others. Digital HR documents and tax compliance offerings are somewhat standard for most payroll services. 

If your business doesn’t have an HR department, consider a payroll service that offers HR outsourcing. Many offer an array of HR tools, including the ability to get help from HR professionals or outsource some or all of your HR functionality. 

Gusto – Best For Overall Ease of Use

Payroll doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming, and Gusto is built on that principle. This full-service payroll platform makes your job easier from the very start. Onboarding checklists and the ability to e-sign new hire paperwork make it easier to grow your business.

Once employees are set up, the payroll automatically syncs, so you don’t have to worry about managing time tracking, benefits plans, and new hires. You can review and approve employee hours, which are tracked right in Gusto. Gusto also automatically calculates and files payroll taxes, and there’s no additional charge for this service. 

Gusto features a clean, easy-to-use interface, but it’s full of payroll options, so you can tailor it to perform just as your business needs it to. It supports hourly and salaried employees, and you can run payroll in all 50 states. You can even pay employee reimbursements when you run payroll. 

Moving beyond a payroll-only service, Gusto also offers valuable employee benefits. A low-cost health reimbursement, a 401(k), and small group health insurance plans are just a few of the available options. With the Gusto Wallet app, employees have access to tools to help them set savings goals, automatically put money into savings with each paycheck, and even access advance money in emergencies that will be repaid from their next paychecks.

Additional benefits include: 

  • Unlimited payroll
  • Next-day direct deposit
  • E-signed and e-filed forms for easy access
  • Advanced features like tax credits and reports
  • Customized job offer letters and digital onboarding forms
  • Integrations with some of the most popular accounting, time tracking, tax preparation, and other business tools

Gusto offers a simple and upfront pricing structure. Its Core plan starts at $39 per month with a $6-per-month charge for each person. Billing is month-to-month, and four different plans are available.


  • Easy employee onboarding. With job offer letters, onboarding checklists, and digital onboarding forms, Gust streamlines the new hire onboarding process. 
  • Time tracking. In-app time tracking lets you approve hours for payroll, while project tracking provides a cost report of wages and other essential details. 
  • Additional employee benefits. Gusto offers employee benefits, including a health reimbursement, 401(k), HSA and FSA, workers’ compensation, and small group health insurance options. 
  • Plenty of integrations. Gusto integrates with a wide array of top accounting and HR applications, including FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Bamboo HR, and Nimble Schedule. 


  • No mobile app. While Gusto Wallet is a mobile app for employees, Gusto lacks an app that supervisors and HR staff can use to access the platform remotely. 
  • Some slow functionality. Some reports, like payroll reports, can be slow to download. 
  • Expensive for larger operations. With a $6-per-month-per-employee charge, Gusto can get expensive for larger businesses with lots of employees or contractors on the payroll.  

Paychex – Best For Versatility

Paychex may not be the most affordable payroll service, but its versatility justifies its cost. Integrated payroll services, human resources functionality, and employee benefits make Paychex a solution for multiple business administration areas.

With Paychex, you can automate tax payments for faster processing. Support is available 24/7, and Paychex staffs more than 200 compliance experts to ensure you’re compliant with changing regulations. 

With the Paychex Promise, available for an additional charge, you can even enjoy payroll protection. You’ll be able to extend payroll fund collection by up to seven days, ensuring there’s no interruption to your payroll schedule. You won’t face insufficient fund charges during that time, helping you to navigate temporary cash flow issues. Paychex also lets you process up to two same-day ACH requests for free during each year of service, ideal for those last-minute payrolls or pay corrections.

Paychex also offers a variety of other solutions, including the ability to hire and onboard employees, an automated time tracker, 401(k) and retirement benefit options, and health, dental, and vision insurance. 

  • Payroll fraud hotline
  • Tax services and more than 200 compliance experts
  • Flexible online payroll 
  • Easy onboarding process takes as little as 48 hours
  • Notifications help you identify potential payroll problems

Paychex doesn’t publish its price information. You will need to request a free quote to get pricing details for the solutions you’re interested in. 


  • Quality customer support. Customer service is available 24/7, and you can also access live chat and in-app help. 
  • Tax compliance. Paychex staffs more than 200 compliance experts to help ensure your business obeys federal, state, and local regulations.
  • HR services. Among many other HR services, Paychex can help you track workplace injuries and prepare OSHA-reportable event paperwork. 


  • Paychex Promise isn’t included in the plans. Paychex Promise, a program that sets Paychex apart from other payroll services, is only available for a $99-per-year additional cost. 
  • No published price structure. You’ll need to request a quote from Paychex to learn about pricing options for your business.
  • Complicated services. Multiple platforms, each offering different functionality and benefits, make navigating Paychex more complex than choosing services with other companies. 

ADP – Best For HR Integration

ADP simplifies both payroll and HR processes and is suitable for small businesses and large operations. Multiple plan options are available, from the basic for startups or the complete package that includes enhanced HR support. 

Employees and managers can access ADP online or with the mobile app, a convenience for managers who may need to approve payroll on the go. Other benefits include integration with time tracking and other business software and 24/7 access to certified payroll professionals if you need help.

ADP’s HR services go beyond what you’ll find from other payroll services. The HR HelpDesk is staffed by HR professionals, so you can access help by phone, email, or chat. HR forms include checklists, job descriptions, policies, and more valuable to a startup or established business. An employee handbook wizard allows you to easily create a personalized employee handbook that adheres to federal and state employment laws. A job description wizard pulls from more than 300 job titles and descriptions to help simplify your hiring process. 

You can also choose to outsource some or all of your HR needs to ADP. Shifting hiring, payroll, compliance, and other issues off your plate is ideal when you have a small or no in-house HR team.

Other benefits include: 

  • Automated employee time tracking
  • Automated online payroll with tax calculation
  • Employee benefits administration services 
  • Talent management, including recruiting, hiring, and onboarding
  • Integrations with QuickBooks, Wave, Xero, and more

ADP does not list its prices, so you’ll need to request a free quote to access pricing information. With ADP, you can get three months free when you sign up for payroll processing.


  • Extensive HR support. ADP offers comprehensive HR support options from an employee handbook wizard to access to a helpdesk of HR professionals.
  • Mobile app. ADP offers a mobile app that both employees and managers can access, a must for approving payroll while on the go. 
  • Ability to outsource HR. ADP can take on employee issues, hiring, compensation, and more, easing the burden on your HR team (or filling the void if you don’t yet have an HR team). 


  • No pricing listed. You’ll need to request a price quote to get information on the plans that interest you. 
  • Somewhat complicated plan offerings. ADP offers many unique features, but some are only offered with certain plans, making the plan structure complex. 
  • Many of the features are add-ons. Some of the most enticing features, like the time tracker, are add-ons that can drive up the price. 

OnPay – Best For Both Employees and Contractors

OnPay is easy to use, letting businesses run payroll in minutes, but its real benefits lie in its versatility. With more companies using contractors, a payroll service that works for both employees and contractors is essential. OnPay delivers just that. 

With OnPay, businesses can pay both W-2 employees and 1099 contractors. At the end of the year, the platform generates printable tax forms at no extra cost, saving businesses this labor-intense and sometimes expensive task. OnPay can also run payroll in all 50 states with no additional cost. 

This service also offers businesses plenty of options. Businesses can run unlimited monthly payroll for a single cost, ideal for companies paying weekly or that have multiple payroll schedules. Payments can be made by direct deposit, debit card, or check, and direct deposit and debit card payments don’t carry any additional fees. 

OnPay also excels when it comes to user support. Certified payroll professionals offer quality phone support. When businesses sign up, they’ll enjoy a free setup, including migration of employee and wage data for a seamless and easy transition. 

Other benefits include: 

  • Guaranteed error-free payroll taxes
  • Automatic tax filing and payment
  • Low-fee 401(k) plans
  • Employees can complete their own onboarding
  • Convenient employee portal with PTO tracking

OnPay offers a transparent and straightforward pricing structure. The service carries a base fee of $36 per month, plus $4 per month per person. Businesses can sign up for a free one-month trial. 


  • Generates 1099 and W-2 payments and documents. OnPay is ideal for both employees and independent contractors, and end-of-year tax forms are created at no cost.
  • Free initial setup and migration. The included free setup helps ensure a smooth transition, and phone support is also available. 
  • Employee portal. An online employee portal lets employees perform their own onboarding, track their PTO, and more. 


  • Charge to print tax forms. OnPay charges $5.00 per person to print, seal, and mail end-of-year tax forms to employees and contractors. 
  • Self-printing tax forms are cumbersome. While OnPay automatically prepares end-of-year tax forms, the process of self-printing those forms is cumbersome and time-consuming. 
  • Can get expensive for larger businesses. With a $4-per-person-per-month charge, OnPay can quickly get expensive for companies with large numbers of employees or contractors.

Rippling – Best For Payroll Automation

Rippling delivers nearly fully automated payroll, saving you time and streamlining the process. At the same time, its comprehensive reporting keeps you in the know, even if you aren’t deeply analyzing your payroll each week. 

Rippling syncs your HR data with your payroll, eliminating the need to enter data manually. Once you click “Run,” the payroll is completed within 90 seconds. 

Other essential factors, like tax compliance and tax filing, are also automated. Rippling can pay your employees and contractors all over the world, so you don’t have to worry about finding alternative payment processors. 

Other Rippling benefits include: 

  • All employee benefits in one place
  • COBRA administration
  • Automated employee onboarding with benefits selection
  • Automated time tracking
  • Pre-built and custom reports
  • Talent management for a streamlined recruiting process

Rippling starts at $8 per month, per user. You can request a free quote for additional information.


  • Worldwide payroll. Rippling can pay employees and contractors worldwide for an all-in-one payroll solution. 
  • Fast payroll processing. Run payroll in just 90 seconds to save time. 
  • Automated time tracking. Time tracking is tracked and automatically added to paychecks, so there’s no need for manual data entry.
  • Custom build your plan. You can purchase HR and IT services separately, adding them onto the core plan to customize the options that are right for your business.


  • Expensive for larger operations. At $8 per user per month, even the core plan can get pricey for larger businesses with many employees. 
  • Add-ons add up. Each Rippling service has a per-month, per-employee price, so getting all or even most of the benefits you want can quickly add up. 
  • No free trial. Rippling lacks a free trial option but does offer a 30-minute product demo.


Payroll services offer a wide variety of benefits, and some are particularly well-suited for businesses in certain situations. Gusto and Paychex offer versatility that makes them suitable for most businesses, though plenty of payroll services are ideal for more specific business needs: 

  • Gusto – Best for overall ease of use
  • Paychex – Best versatility
  • ADP – Best for HR integration
  • OnPay – Best for both employees and contractors
  • Rippling – Best for payroll automation

Payroll services not only streamline the payroll process and save a business time, but they provide valuable benefits when it comes to ensuring payroll law compliance and processing taxes, too. With the ability to assist with HR processes, employee onboarding, and more, many of these services are comprehensive options that can help businesses in many ways. 

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