Gusto Review 2022: A Top-Notch Payroll and HR Platform

Gusto enables small businesses to easily manage payroll and human resources needs in one platform.

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5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Gusto rises to the top of our list of payroll and human resources platforms thanks to its usability. While its pricing isn’t the lowest you’ll find for these services, Gusto includes features that would be an additional cost with similar providers.

Designed for small businesses, this cloud-based, all-in-one platform can be accessed from virtually anywhere through a web browser. Gusto, formerly ZenPayroll, doesn’t lock you into a contract, and if you need new features or aren’t using others, it’s easy to change your plan.

Pros

Cons

  • Unlimited payroll runs for users in all states.

  • Contractor plan option without a monthly base fee.

  • Ability to upgrade, downgrade or cancel plans at any time.

  • Top-notch employee portal access.

  • Robust third-party app integrations.

  • Ability to manage health benefits isn’t available in all 50 states.

  • No mobile payroll app.

  • Same-day deposit isn’t an option.

Deciding factors

Plans and price

  • Core: $39/month base price, plus $6/month per person.

  • Complete: $39/month base price, plus $12/month per person.

  • Concierge: $149/month base price, plus $12/month per person.

  • Contractor: No monthly base price; $6/month per person.

Tax filing and payments

Taxes are calculated, filed and paid to federal, state and local agencies at no additional cost.

Ability to manage employee benefits

Manage medical insurance, health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), 401(k) plans and more, with payments automatically deducted from payroll. (Ability to manage health benefits not available in all states.)

Employee access to portal

Employees have lifetime access to their own account to view pay stubs, obtain W-2 forms, track hours and change personal information.

Live support

Live customer support by phone, email or chat at all subscription levels, Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time.

Ease of use

Has a user-friendly interface with simple step-by-step tools, checklists and tutorials.

Integrations

Third-party integrations with QuickBooks, Xero, Aplos, ZipBooks, Autobooks, FreshBooks, Clover, Shopify, Expensify and numerous other applications.

Gusto Payroll

Gusto
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on Gusto's website

Gusto pricing

With some payroll and benefits services, it’s nearly impossible to get a clear price upfront. That’s not the case with Gusto, which posts its monthly subscription prices publicly:

Core — $39/month base price, plus $6/month per person.
  • Full-service payroll in 50 states with two-day direct deposit.

  • Unlimited payroll runs including bonus and off-cycle.

  • Federal, state and local tax filings and payment.

  • Health benefits administration with online enrollment.

  • W-2s and 1099s with digital copies for employees and contractors.

  • Accounting and time-tracking integrations.

  • Workers’ compensation administration.

  • Employee hiring and onboarding tools.

  • Unlimited phone, email and chat support.

  • Gusto Wallet mobile app for employees.

Complete — $39/month base price, plus $12/month per person.

Includes everything in the Core plan plus the following:

  • Next-day direct deposit.

  • Time tracking and PTO requests.

  • Hiring and employee onboarding tools.

  • Project tracking and cost reports.

  • Performance review and team management tools.

  • Employee surveys.

  • Customizable permissions.

Concierge — $149/month base price, plus $12/month per person.

Includes everything in the Complete plan plus the following:

  • Unlimited access to certified HR experts.

  • Dedicated customer service with priority phone support.

  • Compliance alerts for state and federal law changes.

  • HR resource center that includes templates, performance evaluations, termination requirements and an employee handbook builder.

Contractor — No monthly base price; $6/month per person.
  • Unlimited contractor payments in all 50 states.

  • 4-day direct deposit.

  • 1099-NECs issued and filed.

  • New-hire reporting, if required by state.

How does Gusto work?

After you provide Gusto with some basic information, you can get a feel for the product through an interactive demo. Unlike some of its competitors, Gusto doesn’t charge a setup fee. When creating your initial payroll account, you can tackle the online setup process yourself, or you can request free payroll setup assistance from Gusto.

Select a plan

Gusto plans integrate payroll, benefits and HR. Higher tiers offer additional features, and add-on benefits can be used to further customize your plan. You have the flexibility to upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time.

Add benefits

If you want benefits for your team, Gusto can help you build a benefits package. You can compare medical, dental and vision plans and providers on the app to find the best fit — assuming you live in a state where Gusto offers health benefits administration services. You can also set up 401(k) plans, 529 savings accounts, HSAs, FSAs, commuter benefits, workers’ compensation plans and life insurance plans.

Some benefits, such as the Gusto Wallet app, are available at no cost. Others, like 401(k) plans, have a monthly and per-participant cost. (Benefits pricing is available on the Gusto website.)

Benefits

Top-notch employee portal access

Gusto gives your employees the ability to manage many tasks themselves, through their own Gusto employee portal and the Gusto Wallet app. Employees can complete onboarding paperwork, select benefits and access pay stubs and other records through the portal on their own.

Gusto also gives lifetime account access to employees as long as there’s an email address associated with the accounts. If an employee leaves the company, and years later needs access to their pay stubs, they can still view and download them through their Gusto account — even if their former company has stopped using Gusto. Not all small-business payroll services offer lifetime access to former employees.

Time-saving automation and integrations

Gusto provides numerous ways to automate payroll and HR tasks. At no additional cost, you can set payroll to run automatically, with a reminder sent to you the day before. Gusto will calculate, file and pay your local, state and federal payroll taxes automatically, and will even report new hires to the government for you.

Regardless of your plan level, Gusto also enables you to integrate with many types of third-party accounting, time tracking, expense management, point-of-sale and HR software. Integrations include popular accounting apps like QuickBooks, FreshBooks and Xero. The ability to sync data with Gusto means less time spent on manual entry.

Broad customer support

With any subscription level, you’ll be able to get customer support via phone, chat or email from actual humans — specifically, Gusto’s representatives in San Francisco or Denver. That’s a big plus, especially for those who are new to setting up payroll and benefits. One caveat: Customer support isn’t available on weekends.

If you prefer completing tasks on your own, Gusto also provides an extensive online help center, checklists, videos and FAQs.

Drawbacks

Some benefits aren’t available in all states

While Gusto offers payroll services and 401(k)s in all 50 states, its services for health benefits, HSAs, FSAs and commuter benefits come with some geographic restrictions. Gusto has coverage available in a majority of states and Washington, D.C. However, it doesn’t currently offer these benefits in Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia or Wyoming.

If benefits aren’t available through Gusto in a state where you and your employees are based, you may want to consider companies such as Paychex or ADP, which offer expanded benefits through professional employer organizations, or PEOs.

No mobile payroll app

Gusto doesn’t offer a mobile app specifically for payroll, but you can run payroll from a mobile device using a web browser. This won’t offer the same user experience and may require extra scrolling on some pages. If you prefer to run payroll on the go, Roll by ADP is a chat-based, mobile payroll app that offers unlimited payroll in all 50 states.

Alternatives to Gusto

QuickBooks Payroll

While Gusto offers next-day direct deposit of your employees' pay at the Complete and Concierge levels, QuickBooks Payroll provides same-day direct deposit with its higher tiers. That means you can submit payroll by 7 a.m. Pacific time on payday, and your employees will receive their money that same day. And though Gusto integrates with QuickBooks, if you already use Intuit accounting and tax software, adding QuickBooks Payroll may be a logical next step.

Square Payroll

Square Payroll starts at $35 per month, plus $5 per person, while Gusto starts at $39 per month, plus $6 per person. Like Gusto, Square Payroll offers unlimited payroll runs, automatic payroll tax filing and help managing employee benefits. It has a contractors-only option like Gusto does, too. And similar to QuickBooks, Square has an Instant Payments option that allows you to pay employees the same day using its Cash App.

 Payroll software

Gusto
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on Gusto's website

Gusto Payroll Plans start at $39 per month (base) and $6 per person per month. Read review.

ADP
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on ADP's website

RUN Powered by ADP Plans start at $59 per month (base) and $4 per person per month. Read review.

OnPay
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on OnPay's website

OnPay Payroll Plans start at $36 per month (base) and $4 per person per month. Read review.

Square
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on Square's website

Square Payroll Plans start at $35 per month (base) and $5 per person per month. Read review.

QuickBooks
Shop Now

on QuickBooks's website

QuickBooks Payroll Plans start at $45 per month (base) and $4 per person per month. Read review.

Wave Payroll Plans start at $20 per month (base) and $6 per person per month.

Providers may offer lower promotional pricing.