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Fortunly's Guide

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Online Payroll Services

By
I. Mitic

April 05,2021


Managing payroll and human resources can be a daunting task. That is why outsourcing these practices to the best payroll companies is essential to helping businesses grow. Payroll is a key component of corporate finance.

With each new employee, businesses are faced with a pile of confusing paperwork. The employer has to worry about benefits, salaries, and taxes. There is no room  for error unless the company is prepared to risk hefty fines. Handling this sort of responsibility yourself can be overwhelming.

We’ve identified the industry’s top online payroll services. They can help you ensure your growth.

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6 Best Payroll Companies

Gusto Logo
Gusto
Our Rating
  • Automatic filling
  • One month free trial
  • Unlimited payrolls
ADP Logo
ADP
Our Rating
  • Quick payroll
  • Two months of free trial
  • New-hire reporting
Paychex Flex Logo
Paychex Flex
Our Rating
  • Financial wellness program
  • Mobile friendly
  • Three-month free trial
Intuit QuickBooks Online Payroll Logo
Intuit QuickBooks Online Payroll
Our Rating
  • 1 month free trial
  • For small businesses
  • Vacation tracker
Paylocity Logo
Paylocity
Our Rating
  • 1 month free trial
  • For small/midsize/enterprise businesses
  • Web Pay Payroll
Paycor Logo
Paycor
Our Rating
  • 2 minute demo
  • For small/midsize businesses
  • Employee's compensation service
Evaluation Criteria

How We Review Payroll Companies

Payroll software can be used for anything from calculating and paying wages to filing taxes. Over time, companies gradually recognized its influence on employee satisfaction and the broader business reputation. 

To find a perfect solution for your business, we decided to create a detailed review of some of the best payroll companies that guarantee correct calculations and eliminate human error. The extensive research helped us unveil key features every company needs to consider before choosing the best service for their business. 

User Experience

The key is simplicity. Selecting software that is time-consuming and too complicated to master is always a bad idea, no matter how big or small your business is. The payroll software needs to be accessible and user-friendly - not just for HR, but for employees too so they have a simple time recording hours, changing deductions, or requesting vacation days. By choosing the right software, companies will not only save time but also ensure a stress-free workplace.

Industry Features

Different industries require different approaches and different types of paperwork for labor costs and tax payment. Make sure the payroll company offers all the features related specifically to your business. 

For example, restaurants require unique payroll features because employees earn tips. Even hiring a new contractor has its own specific documentation. If your business finance software provider cannot fulfill these requirements, your company should reconsider its choice.

Pricing

Pricing is always a great sign of what services are actually being provided to customers. Depending on the size of the business, number of employees, and specific requirements, prices for online payroll services vary. Most companies that provide these services offer several pricing packages. Most also offer a free trial period. 

Besides the monthly/annual fee, there is also a per-employee fee that is added to your overall payment. Nowadays, most companies will provide much more than business finance. It is up to each individual company to decide if the price fits their budget and needs.

Tax Guarantees

One of the most important things to look for in corporate payroll services is the tax guarantee. Most entrepreneurs choose software integrations to avoid fines. Errors with these sort of payments can cost the business more than the originally required amount. 

For this reason, most business owners place their trust in more automated services, avoiding the process of uploading and submitting forms themselves. By avoiding manual work, it is more likely to ensure a tax guarantee.

Supported Devices

The 21st century gave birth to many innovative changes, leaving everyone expecting the highest level of user accessibility to any type of program. It can be very frustrating when you cannot access the online payroll software from various devices. 

So make sure to check if the offered online service is compatible with your preferred device type and the operating system your employees use. Whether you need the program to run on an iPhone, Android, Windows, or Apple, it should work seamlessly.

Customer Support

People in this line of work will probably tell you that having the right customer support for your payroll processing is crucial. Due to the complexity of the service, many issues can occur, especially when  employees are filing the forms manually and file taxes online by themselves. 

Even with the best payroll companies, complications can still arise. As such, it is of the utmost importance to find a company that will provide you with instant support if anything goes wrong.

Quick Breakdown

The 6 Best Payroll Services for 2021

Best Payroll Companies

Gusto Review

Quick Facts
5 stars Our Rating
Payroll Type:
Full service
Starting Cost:
Starts at $39/Month
Cost Per Employee:
$6
Free Trial:
30 days

Launched in 2012 as ZenPayroll, Gusto currently serves over 100,000 customers. As a full-service payroll operator, the company provides additional services that facilitate more efficient small business finance. Through a simple and completely user-friendly platform, employees can easily integrate everything they need into their system. Gusto developed a perfect solution to simplify the payroll process, HR tasks, time tracking, add benefits plans, and much more. 

User Experience 

Developed to provide both modern design and simplicity, Gusto’s business online payroll is an easy to navigate platform with a very straightforward interface. It is intuitive and time-saving. But, most of all it is automated to resolve any errors, and repetitive tasks that are most common when it comes to business finance. 

In some ways, this service provider is a dream come true for both the HR and accounting departments. Every employee can easily create their Gusto account, while all paperwork can be stored on the platform directly. 

Industry Features

In almost every single one of the online Gusto payroll reviews, readers are told about how this small business payroll software provides several excellent features. Customers can automatically file tax payrolls, time-track progress and process, add customized benefits plan and enjoy transparent and clear pricing. All extern programs are integrated into one, as Gusto collaborates with Xero, QuickBooks Time Tracking, Trainual, Clover, and many others. 

Within just a few clicks, customers can easily execute any type of task, without having to wait for hours. All taxes are filed automatically, which is perfect for small businesses that would like to avoid any kind of errors and hefty fines. 

Pricing 

Gusto has three pricing plans depending on one’s business needs. As one of the payroll companies for small businesses, Gusto offers a basic “Core” plan for smaller teams. It includes full service, health benefits, and workers’ comp administration, customer support and paid-time-off policies. The cost for this package is $6/mo per employee and $39/mo base price. 

The second, “Complete,” in addition to all “Core” plan features, also offers customized permissions, onboarding, simple time tracking, PTO policies, time-off requests, employee directory and survey features. It costs $12 per person and $39 per month. 

The third, “Concierge” payroll services pricing package costs $12 per person plus a $149 base price per month. In addition to everything that Complete and Core plans cover, Concierge offers Certified HR pros and human resources center services as well. 

Tax Guarantees

Gusto is designed with a very quick payroll that is completely automated to run under 10 minutes. It can even be customized to run on auto-pilot, without requiring the actual employee to click on anything. 

However, to ensure tax computations, the person in charge needs to input all necessary numbers to avoid any penalties for their employees. Gusto does not provide automated tax filings, these options require manual work. 

Supported Devices

Gusto payroll service is available on every device, including Android, iPhone, Mac, and Windows operating systems. However, there were many complaints about the way Gusto functioned on mobile devices, or the Safari browser. The one great thing is that the company has grown substantially over time, correcting mistakes that were detrimental to their customers. 

Customer Support

Unlike personal finances, payroll systems are quite complex, and good customer support is always crucial. In case you need urgent help with an error, have a question or something completely different, Gusto is available through several channels. Clients can contact the support agents via email, live chat or by phone. Gusto’s Customer support is available from Monday through Friday, from 6:00 PST to 17:00 PST.

Pros

  • Integrated benefits and time tracking
  • Automated taxes
  • Employees onboard themselves

Cons

  • Missing some features
+ Show more

ADP Review

Quick Facts
5 stars Our Rating
Payroll type:
PEO
Starting Cost:
Contact for quote
Cost Per Employee:
Contact for quote
Free Trial:
3 months

As one of the largest payroll companies, Automatic Data Processing is also one of the oldest. Launched several decades ago, the company has a very long history of providing efficient solutions to HR and accounting departments. 

It is a cloud-based human capital management global provider, offering solutions that cover HR, payroll, tax and benefit plans all in one platform. Trustworthy and with plenty of experience, the company has over 600,000 clients, and it is perhaps no surprise the ADP payroll is one of the most sought after service providers in the industry. 

User Experience

Due to a number of different features the company provides to its customers, it is capable of accommodating the needs of both small and big size businesses. This difference also affects the type of interface they provide. Depending on the size of the business and the number of employees, the company created two separate designs for each case. One is the RUN Powered by ADP for 1-49 employees, and the other one is ADP TotalSource for 1-1,000 employees. 

Even though the interfaces of payroll programs look different, the company ensures that clients enjoy the same user-friendly environment. Everything one needs is just a couple of clicks away. 

Industry Features

The company ensures simplified and easy payroll services for small businesses and midsize/enterprise companies. The platform offers a wide range of tools that cover all necessary processes regarding HR and accounting. 

The clients’ HR departments are treated to features like keeping track of the types of income, new hire reporting, background research, and much more. ADP Run Complete Payroll also offers HR consulting services, giving you the opportunity to talk to HR certified representatives and ask all the questions you need about the service. 

When it comes to accounting, the payroll company gives you the opportunity to run the payroll anytime, anywhere and on any device. Additional information about their numerous services can be found on the website. 

Pricing

If you decide to integrate this payroll into your business, you can choose between four packages and pricing. Offers include Essential, Enhanced, Complete & HR Plus and HR Pro payroll packages. All new customers can also enjoy a 2-month free trial period. 

The Essential Payroll package is reserved for startups and small companies that only need basic payroll solutions. It covers a mobile app, phone calls, direct deposits, payroll delivery, robust reporting, new-hire reporting, W-2s and 1099s, tax filing, ADP employee access, HR tips & newsletter, state and federal forms and resources, and HR checkups. 

The Enhanced Payroll package includes everything from the basic payroll and adds wage garnishment payments, SUI and labor law posters features. For more HR inlined customers, the Complete and HR Plus plan offers employee handbooks, background checks, and an HR Help Desk. 

And the most complete online business payroll plan is HR Pro Payroll & HR plan, offering full HR support and benefits for you and your employees. The price of every plan is based on the business’ health history, credit rating, and risk profile among other factors. Due to the price span affected by these factors, make sure to ask for pricing directly on the website.

Tax Guarantees

In an effort to offer the best business payroll services, this provider made sure to cover all aspects affecting the process of filing taxes and overall job growth. With so many options, including automated and manual ones, chances for errors are minimal. By following instructions and using all available options (the company missed payroll alert, etc.), you can ensure the tax guarantee. 

Supported Devices

ADP payroll services are available on all platforms, including Windows, iPhone, Apple, and Android. Customers can check the earnings report from their mobile phones with just a tap on the screen.

Customer Support

When it comes to customer support, this payroll manager does not have the best reputation. However, the service is available around the clock. Some of these shortcomings are perhaps not all that surprising, given the company’s size and their many clients. The good news is that they are constantly working to improve their services and correct their errors. Customer support is available via live chat, email, or by filling the form. 

Pros

  • 3 month free trial
  • Complete payroll solutions
  • Available on all devices
  • Small businesses to mid/enterprise companies

Cons

  • Customer support needs improvement
+ Show more

Paychex Flex Review

Quick Facts
4.5 stars Our Rating
Payroll type:
Full service, PEO
Starting Cost:
$59/Month
Cost Per Employee:
$4
Free Trial:
3 months

One of the best payroll outsourcing companies on the market is Paychex online. Since 1971, the company is widely regarded as one of the best human capital management solutions and payroll platforms on the market. With over 670,000 payroll clients, Paychex is a perfect solution for both small to midsize/enterprise companies.

By offering real-time accuracy combined with multiple payroll features, this vendor’s service can be fully tailored to the customer’s needs. 

User Experience

As a cloud-hosted platform, it is designed to provide a simple yet modern interface that everyone can use. After integrating Paychex payroll outsourcing services to an existing company, clients can easily access all necessary information regarding the payroll. The software informs the client about deadlines, amounts due and other important details to ensure accurate payroll accounting. 

In addition to running payrolls, which is a relatively simple task, clients can also use the Paychex platform to access other services from the company. Instead of opening several tools, customers can simply use just one and avoid time-consuming work. 

Industry Features

Paychex offers three different company payroll packages that include separate services. Paychex Go is the basic package best-suited for smaller businesses, and it is priced at $59/mo + $4 per additional employee.

The second plan is called Paychex Flex Select and includes everything from the basic business payroll plan, plus dedicated specialist, labor compliance poster kit, additional payment options, and Paychex Learning Management System. 

The third and most extensive plan is Paychex Flex Enterprise, which also includes HR administration and custom analytics and reporting. 

Pricing

All new customers can enjoy a 3-month free payroll trial. Similar to other providers, Paychex also creates its pricing depending on the size and needs of the business. Due to the complexity of the platform and its coverage, the payroll services cost for the two more ranges between $6 to $30 per user/month and $12 to $110 per user/month.

However, keep in mind that the price of the service is customized depending on the number of employees and payroll schedules. For a more accurate price, please consult the Paychex website. 

Tax Guarantee

For some companies, it is very important to ensure a tax refund. Paychex helps clients keep all their data up to date and always filled and filed in the right way. This is not only time-saving but also a very efficient solution for every business. 

The annual tax return can be a very complicated matter that can affect how the business works. By using the automated payroll with some manual aspects such as Paychex, the company can ensure the desired tax refund. Like most available payroll business services online, it has a tax refund estimator. 

Supported devices

The great thing with Paychex is that the account can be managed from every operating system and on every browser. Clients can easily access their financial data on iOS, Android and Windows mobile phones. 

Customer Support

To reach Paychex customer support, you can call them directly and receive assistance from their many agents. However, if you were searching for “payroll services near me,” you should see if one of the more than 100 Paychex offices is actually near your home. 

Customer support is available 24/7, but keep in mind that support agents may not be authorized to speak directly with employees, but only administrators and actual clients. With all these options, we are certain customers can find the best fit for their business needs. 

Pros

  • 3 months free trial
  • Mobile friendly
  • Fast payrolls 

Cons

  • Email can not be changed without admin
+ Show more

Intuit QuickBooks Online Payroll Review

Quick Facts
4 stars Our Rating
Payroll type:
Full Service
Starting Cost:
$45/Month
Cost Per Employee:
$4
Free Trial:
30 days

The QuickBooks payroll software for accountants and HR managers is owned by Intuit. It was founded in 1983 and currently offers four excellent financial products. 

Intuit’s years of experience helped the company create one of the best tools for paying taxes and efficiently organizing the finance department. With multiple features and automated options, QuickBooks is always a great payroll product. 

User Experience 

Even though this platform is quite complex and has a massive number of options and features, it has a very simple design. The dashboard shows an overview of the income, expenses,Intuit paychecks, sales, bank accounts, profit and loss. 

Customers can easily navigate through Banking, Sales, Employees, Reports, Taxes, Accounting, Apps, and My Accountant pages. Features in each page help users complete their tasks in an efficient and timely manner. We recognize that QuickBooks does its part to be the best payroll software. 

Industry Features

Aside from the payroll process, payroll Intuit has several other useful options. It handles medical and dental insurance, retirement plans, includes a vacation tracker, 401(k), and much more. By using this Intuit platform, clients can manage bills, track income and expenses, pay employees, manage contractors, and even store receipts. 

Clients can also secure loans, track products and costs, create customized reports, and even have multiple users on one platform. 

Pricing

The first and cheapest payroll service for the online payroll option is the Core plan. It was created for independent contractors, and currently costs $45 per month, plus $4 per additional employee.

The second online package is called Premium. The current price for this plan is $75 per month, plus $8 per additional employee. This plan adds features like same-day direct deposits, workers’ comp administration and HR support center.

The third and the most complex plan for Quickbooks’ online payroll services is the Elite plan, and it costs $125 per month, plus $10 per additional employee. With it you will get 24/7 expert product support, a personal HR advisor and tax penalty protection, among other things. 

QuickBooks also offers two desktop packages, Enhanced payroll, and Assisted payroll. The first one is priced at $50 per month, plus $2 per additional employee while the latter costs $109 per month plus $2 per employee paycheck. With such a wide range of options, companies can do their online payroll services comparison and find the perfect fit. 

Tax Guarantees

All details concerning tax calculations, payments, payroll liability, income, and required forms are available within the QuickBooks platform. Clients can pay taxes online with all necessary information available for tax reimbursement. 

Supported Devices

QuickBooks advanced payroll systems are also available for users who prefer desktop, online or even mobile versions. Clients can run their payrolls on Mac OS, Windows, iOS and Android devices. 

Just a few years ago, QuickBooks was only available to download and install. Today it is accessible from any browser, directly online. 

Customer Support

QuickBooks has a very resourceful support page offering assistance with business payroll services. Customers can find articles, tutorials, webinars, video explainers about every segment of the service, starting from sign-up to all the smallest details. There is also a QuickBooks community where more experienced users answer questions. 

In case clients do not want to check out the exhaustive knowledge base, QuickBooks payroll support agents can be contacted by phone or via email from Monday to Friday, 5:00 - 18:00 PST, and over the weekends from 7:00 - 14:00 PST. 

Pros

Massive number of features
Several pricing options 
Exhaustive knowledge base 
Mobile friendly  

Cons

Occasional bugs in the system

+ Show more

Paylocity Payroll Software Review

Quick Facts
4 stars Our Rating
Payroll type:
PEO
Starting Cost:
Contact for Quote
Cost Per Employee:
Contact for Quote
Free Trial:
No

Founded in 1997, Paylocity was created as an innovation in a stale industry. Nowadays, it is an award-winning provider that allows customers to pay payroll taxes online in just a couple of clicks. 

Paylocity payroll offers an efficient, and user-friendly single-database software platform, available on every device. It covers necessities of small, mid-size, and enterprise payroll requirements within one online interface. 

User Experience

This best payroll services platform relieves companies that have nearly 1,000 employees of their workload. With its comprehensive service offer, Paylocity delivers a strong product for professionals. It ensures more efficient decisions for their payroll, HR, and workforce management. More importantly, it helps businesses cultivate a more enjoyable and modern working environment. 

Once the company integrates the Paylocity payroll apps, it can immediately start processing all payroll with customizable onboarding templates for every employee. Everything is smoothly designed as a simple and user-friendly solution for anyone who works in accounting or HR. 

Once the employer provides the required information, each employee receives access to Paylocity’s self-service portal. The portal allows individual team members to sign up, make a deposit, provide and edit withholding information, or access other personal and company information.

Industry Features

Paylocity's primary product is the Web Pay Payroll app. It offers multiple features for small business owners that require payroll and HR software. 

Clients who choose this product are provided with new-hire templates, automated customized payroll, workers' compensation administration, expense management program, a self-service portal, and much more. 

Employees are given freedom to execute simple tasks and quickly update their information. This is what makes Paylocity a true payroll self service provider. 

Pricing

The pricing for Paylocity's service is not available online. To get an accurate price for one’s business size and needs, clients need to request a demo from the company’s sales department. Keep in mind that prices may vary depending on the number of features that the business requires.

Tax Guarantees

Even though the Paylocity corporation created room for manual corrections, some features are fully automated. Instead of worrying about mistakes and possible errors, this tool ensures that everything is calculated automatically and warns employers about any changes and upcoming required actions. 

Supported Devices

One of Paylocity's flaws is that it is not available outside the United States. The payroll app is available for Android, iOS and Windows phones. 

Employers can run Paylocity on several operating systems, including Windows 7, Mac OS, Linux, HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, Unix, and a web browser (OS agnostic). 

Customer Support

Paylocity's policies dictate that it can only work directly with the client. Employees need to contact their employer or HR department to get the assistance they need. This can pose as an issue when urgent adjustments are required. However, as one of the best payroll services, the company provides client training for their product, ensuring everybody understands all the features before using the software. 

Paylocity customer service is available via phone and email. For more general help users can turn to the FAQ section on the company’s website. 

Pros

  • Paylocity app
  • Simplified payroll
  • Client training
  • Quick approval process

Cons

  • No free trial
  • Not available outside the US
+ Show more

Paycor Payroll Review

Quick Facts
3.5 stars Our Rating
Payroll type:
Full Service
Starting Cost:
$99/Month
Cost Per Employee:
Contact for Quote
Free Trial:
No

Last but not least on our best payroll companies list is Paycor. The company was founded in 1990 with the aim of providing payroll and HR support to small and midsize businesses. Today it is an all-in-one payroll and HR solutions company that helps businesses make their financial work more efficient and organized. 

User Experience

When it comes to user experience, Paycor developed a very intuitive interface that guides you through the payroll process and stores employee data in a single place. Clients can easily access payment history, import hours, and manage all integrated payroll services in just a few clicks.

The platform has several integrations, allowing employers to keep track of time and attendance, use a paycheck manager, leverage on robust analytics for their decision making, and much more. By simplifying everyday tasks, Paycor offers you a very stress-free user experience, with carefully marked steps for each payroll run. 

Industry Features

This operator has several outstanding functions that are more than welcome when it comes to payroll, including payroll self-service options. Employees can access their pay history that dates back three years as well as other important documentation. Everything is automated, including the notification system and sync option. 

Aside from the most common features like an expense management tool, garnishment managed services, and tax calculators, Paycor also has an employee's compensation service. It allows Paycor to pay premiums on the companies' behalf. Paycor can even be instructed to deduct child-support payments from employee paychecks and send them to the custodial parent. 

Pricing

Most people tend to look for free payroll software for small businesses. But the truth is, you get what you pay for. Lower prices will not necessarily translate into the company getting what it needs for its payroll and tax management. 

Small business clients who are interested in integrating system services payroll advance have three plans to choose from, starting with the Basic plan which is priced at $99 per month. The second plan is the Essential plan which is much more extensive, and adds features like custom reporting, new hire onboarding, compliance checks and PTO requests and approvals, while increasing the monthly cost to $149.

The third and the most complex package is the Complete plan, costing $199 per month and adding personalized HR support, integrations with 401(k) and GL providers, advanced analytics and much more.  

Tax Guarantees

With stress-free tax compliance, simplified paper-based tax, and optimized payroll with easy to fill paychecks, Paycor is a dream come true. Following all tool instructions and using all features efficiently leaves little room for mistakes or federal tax return errors. 

Supported Devices

Most payroll providers are accessible from anywhere and at any time. Future customers will be glad to hear that Paycor is available on every operating system and device, including web, tablet, and mobile. All details about its availability can be found directly on the website. 

Clients can access Paycor from Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Edge. The only requirement is to have the latest version of each browser and Adobe Player installed. For the mobile version, clients can download the app from both the Android and Apple store, or simply open it directly in their mobile browser. 

Customer Support

Aside from the company’s website, we examined all Paycor payroll service reviews. Clients can contact Paycor customer service via phone or email. In case there is no emergency, there is an exhaustive knowledge base with all the general information about all service options. Paycor also organizes webinars, has a resourceful FAQ section and even a help center. 

Keep in mind that Paycor agents can only discuss tech issues with employees, and more delicate inquiries are reserved for employers or heads of departments. 

Pros

  • 401(k) Integrations
  • Mobile friendly
  • e-Child support
  • Live chat 

Cons

Service only available in the US

+ Show more
FAQ
What is payroll? +

Payroll is a list of company employees who are entitled to receive pay and the amounts they should be paid during each pay period.  In addition, it refers to the company’s records of all current and previous payments made to employees. It also includes individual wages, bonuses, and all tax information.

How to do payroll? +

There are several ways to do a payroll run. To make a payment, you need completed forms for each employee and an overview of personal allowances. For each new employee, the employer needs to file a new hire report as well. 

The person in charge of business payroll is also required to register for Employer Identification Numbers. That’s followed by choosing the payroll schedule, calculation of withholding income taxes, and payment of the same ones. 

Then you need to file tax forms, documents and prepare your annual filings at the end of the year. However there are many details when it comes to payroll runs, so make sure to get assistance to address any doubts.

How to do payroll yourself? +

Payroll is quite complex. However, if you choose to take that burden on yourself instead of hiring one of the payroll companies, you should be very well prepared. Before paying your employees, you need to prepare for payroll calculation and processing. You will need a system to help you calculate the pay and write up the paychecks.

Is payroll part of HR? +

In most companies, payroll functions are usually covered by either the accounting department or the HR department. Payroll functions are number-driven tasks and require expertise in tax laws and accounting. But it is also considered a human resources function because it deals with employees.

Is there any free payroll software? +

There is some free payroll software on the Internet. However, keep in mind that these are mostly limited in terms of the number of employees and available features, and cannot offer you the level of quality on par with the premiere online payroll services. 

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