Running payroll is an essential task for many small business owners, but it can be time-consuming and complicated as your business grows. The best payroll software offers flexible functionality to streamline the payroll process, so you can save time and avoid mistakes.
Whether you have employees, pay yourself a salary, or pay contractors, there are multiple steps involved. You need to onboard new employees and withhold taxes, file tax forms for contractors and employees, and make sure employees get their paychecks on payday.
How Does Gusto Payroll Work?
When you sign up as a new Gusto customer, you’ll walk through onboarding tools to help set up your business to process payroll through Gusto.
Employees will be sent invitations to set up their online account, choose tax withholding and add their bank account information for direct deposit. They can direct paychecks to multiple checking and savings accounts.
When payday arrives, employees get digital paystubs and can direct paychecks to multiple accounts. They can use the Gusto Wallet app, a mobile app that offers budgeting and the optional Gusto cash account for savings and spending goals.
Gusto customers have access to a variety of HR tools, including offer letter templates, onboarding checklists, time-off policies, and holiday pay.
Benefits administration is also available to businesses that want to offer health insurance, retirement plans, commuter benefits and more. (Many benefits are available as add-ons for an additional fee.)
Who is Gusto Best For?
Gusto was created to solve a specific pain point for small businesses: make payroll and benefits administration easier and faster. As a result, it’s become very popular with new and growing businesses that want access to online tools to help take care of these essential tasks. Nav recommends Gusto for:
- Businesses that work with contractors: The contractor-only option currently waives the $35 monthly fee for six months and only costs $6 per contractor. It also prepares 1099’s.
- Startups and new businesses: The “Simple Plan” doesn’t break the bank. Once set up, payroll is easy to run.
- Self-employed: For entrepreneurs that need to pay themselves, Gusto is affordable for just one employee, including sole proprietors and independent contractors. Keep in mind you’ll need to run payroll if you are self-employed and operate as an S Corp, or an LLC taxed as an S Corp.
- Growing businesses: Although Gusto is great for the smallest small businesses, it also offers plans that scale for businesses with larger numbers of employees, including remote employees.
Features of Gusto Payroll
As a full-service payroll system, Gusto offers a plethora of features for small businesses. Many entrepreneurs choose Gusto for ease of use, but as your business grows you can take advantage of more features.
You may want to use Gusto if you’re interested in:
- Automated payroll
- New-hire reporting
- Paperless employee onboarding
- Calendar sync
- Local, state, and federal taxes calculated and filed automatically
- And more.
Gusto Payroll Pricing and Plans
Gusto pricing offers four plans, including one for businesses with only contractors. Most businesses will be able to find an affordable payroll solution from these options. Plans are customizable with add-on features.
Below are current plans offered by Gusto. Keep in mind that Gusto periodically offers promotions that may save your business money on specific plans. Program details and prices may change.
Set up for small businesses with basic salary, wage, and pay schedules.
|$40/month plus $6/month per person||Full-service payroll including W-2s and 1099s|
Employee profiles and self-service
Employee health and financial benefits
Integrations for accounting, time tracking, and more
Gusto-brokered health insurance administration
For businesses with more complex hiring, payroll, and team management needs.
|$60/month plus $12/month per person||Includes everything in the Simple plan plus:|
Next-day direct deposit
Time tracking and PTO management
Hiring and onboarding tools
Project tracking and workforce cost reports
Team management tools
For growing businesses that have a minimum of 25 employees and who need premium tools and dedicated support.
|Contact the sales department to get a specific quote for your business||This plan is for fast growing businesses. It includes all the features in the Plus plan along with:|
Full-service payroll migration
HR Resource Center
Health insurance broker integration
Direct access to a dedicated customer success manager
Exclusive pricing with waived fees
|Contractor Only Plan|
For businesses that have yet to hire W2 employees
|$35/month per person plus $6/month per contractor||4-day direct deposit|
Unlimited contractor payments across all 50 states
1099-NECs at the end of the year
New hire reporting (if required in your state)
Gusto Payroll Pros and Cons
- Affordable pricing
- User-friendly platform
- Can share access with accountant
- Additional services & benefits available as company grows
- Documents retained for future access
- Onboarding can be confusing to new businesses
- Customer support options limited on lower-priced plans
- Same day direct deposit not available
- Does not offer 24/7 phone support
- State tax registration additional cost
Gusto vs. Competitors
If you’re shopping for a payroll service, here are comparisons with other payroll software including including, Paychex Payroll, and Square Payroll.
Quickbooks is one of the most popular accounting software programs. It is offered by Intuit, and it also offers online payroll. Pricing for Online Payroll by Intuit is often bundled with Quickbooks subscriptions, but it does offer payroll-only options for businesses that use other accounting software. When comparing Gusto vs Quickbooks, they are very similar, so it depends on your business needs.
|No free trial||Free 30-day trial|
|3 plan options including contractor only||3 plan options|
|Simple and Plus plans less expensive in long run||Price point for payroll slightly higher after promotional discounts|
|Next-day direct deposit on two plans||Same-day direct deposit on two plans|
|Workers comp is add-on feature||Workers comp comes with most plans|
|Wide variety of benefits available||Run payroll from mobile app|
Gusto vs Paychex
Paychex is a leading payroll provider, and has decades of extensive experience administering payroll and benefits for employers. While many very large employers use Paychex, it also offers plans for smaller businesses, including Paychex Solo for business owners who want to pay themselves and save for retirement, and Paychex Flex® Essentials for businesses with 1-19 employees.
|Easy to compare plans/pricing||Except for Paychex Flex Essentials, plans are quote-based|
|Designed specifically for small and growing businesses||Robust options for all sizes of businesses|
|Support options limited at lower tiers||24/7 phone and chat support|
Gusto vs Square
Square is a fintech company used by many small businesses to accept credit and debit card payments from customers, as well as to build websites. In addition to these services, it also offers payroll solutions.
There are just two plans: one for employees and one for contractors. Both are straightforward and affordable. For businesses that use other Square services in particular, adding Square Payroll can be a logical choice.
|4 pricing plans||2 pricing plans|
|Slightly more expensive at lowest tier||2 pricing plans|
|Tips can be added manually||Track and import tips|
|Onboarding checklist||Live onboarding help|
|No long-term contracts||Seasonal pausing available|
Frequently Asked Questions about Gusto Payroll
This article was originally written on March 25, 2022 and updated on February 17, 2023.