7 ADP Competitors for Small-Business Payroll

ADP has plans that can grow with your business, but there are other payroll providers that may be a better choice.
Lisa Anthony
Nina Godlewski
By Nina Godlewski and  Lisa Anthony 
Edited by Christine Aebischer

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Automatic Data Processing, or ADP, offers several business software solutions, including cloud-based payroll software with plans based on business size and needs. While specific features will depend on the type of plan you choose, ADP offers a full suite of payroll and HR-related features, including payroll processing and reporting, tax calculations and filing, new hire tools, benefits administration, time tracking, compliance and more.

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One of the biggest pros of ADP Payroll is scalability. From simple payroll processing to a full-fledged professional employer organization, or PEO, you can decide how many payroll and HR processes you want ADP to handle. Because you build a custom plan with the features your business needs, pricing is quote-based.

If ADP isn’t the right fit for your business or you want to compare your options, here are seven ADP competitors and the key payroll features they offer.

Payroll software

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on QuickBooks' website

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

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on Gusto's website

Gusto Payroll Plans start at $40 per month (base) and $6 per person per month. Read review.

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on OnPay's website

OnPay Payroll Plans start at $40 per month (base) and $6 per person per month. Read review.

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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.

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on ADP's website

RUN Powered by ADP Plans start at $79 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.

Gusto Payroll

Best customizable payroll

One of your top alternatives to ADP is the cloud-based payroll provider Gusto. The services from Gusto Payroll are some of the most customizable on the market, with three different plans available, plus a contractor option for businesses that only work with contractors.

Pricing for Gusto starts at $40 per month plus an additional $6 per month per employee. No matter which of Gusto’s plans you choose, you’ll get the following features:

  • Unlimited payroll: You can run payroll as often as you need, including bonus and off-cycle payroll.

  • Tax filings and payments: Gusto takes care of filing and paying your federal, state and local payroll taxes for you.

  • W-2s and 1099s: It automatically creates W-2s and 1099s and sends you and your employees digital copies.

  • Employee onboarding: Gusto can help you create and send offer letters and onboard new team members. Automatically files state new hire paperwork and provides digital I-9 and W-4 forms.

  • Health insurance administration: Medical, dental and vision insurance administration is included with Gusto as your broker.

  • Integrations: Gusto integrates with numerous other apps such as QuickBooks Online and Xero for your accounting, Clover and Shopify point-of-sale systems and Expensify for expense management.

Additional hiring and onboarding features are available with higher-tiered plans and include an applicant tracking system, custom reports, performance reviews and direct access to HR experts.

Paychex Flex

Most scalable payroll

Paychex Flex is another alternative to ADP that offers full-service payroll for businesses with anywhere from one to 1,000 employees. Three plan options are available to small businesses, with additional plans offered for midsize and large companies.

Pricing for Paychex Flex starts at $39 per month plus $5 per employee for business with one to nine employees. Some Paychex Flex features include:

  • Payroll processing options: You can either call in your payroll hours to your Paychex account manager or log them yourself through the desktop or mobile app.

  • Payment methods: Employees can be paid via direct deposit, check or with a prepaid debit card.

  • Tax filings: Each time you run payroll, Paychex calculates, pays and files your payroll taxes with the appropriate federal, state and local agencies.

  • Paychex Promise: For an additional fee, you can sign up for Paychex Promise, which gives you up to seven additional days before payroll funds are collected from your bank account.

  • Employee self-service: Employees can access an online portal to complete new hire paperwork, access and change their personal information, fill out tax forms and view payroll data.

  • Reporting: Depending on your Paychex plan, you can access varying levels of reporting and analytics features. Paychex also offers several HR add-on features, including benefits administration, timekeeping, employee screening, retirement planning, workers’ compensation, online learning and more.

QuickBooks Payroll

Best for QuickBooks integration

QuickBooks Payroll is a product from QuickBooks, one of the best-known accounting software companies serving small businesses. One of the most powerful things about this payroll software is that it seamlessly integrates with the other QuickBooks products, which could be a time-saver for your business.

There are three QuickBooks Payroll plans with the Core plan starting at $45 monthly plus $5 per employee. Each plan includes:

  • Full-service payroll: You’ll get an unlimited number of payroll runs with the option to set up automated payroll for salaried employees.

  • Tax filings: Federal and state payroll taxes will automatically be calculated, filed and paid.

  • Workforce portal: Employees will be able to log in and see their time off allowances, W-2 forms, pay stubs and withholding allowances.

  • Payroll reports: Payroll reports can be created and downloaded, including payroll history, bank transactions, paid time off, tax payments and more.

  • 1099 e-file: Unlimited 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC forms can be created and e-filed with copies automatically sent to contractors.

QuickBooks can also assist you with additional services such as HR support, workers’ compensation options, health benefits and retirement plans

Square Payroll

Most affordable

Like Square POS, one of the most appealing aspects of the Square Payroll product is its affordability.

Square costs less than most of its competitors at $35 a month plus an additional $5 per person per month. There’s also an option for business owners who only pay contractors that costs $5 per person per month (with no additional monthly fee).

Square Payroll features include:

  • Unlimited payroll: You can run payroll as many times a month as necessary for your business at no extra cost to you.

  • Tax filings: Square automatically calculates and files federal, state and local payroll taxes.

  • Payment methods: Your employees can be paid by direct deposit or check, with an option for early access to a portion of their wages.

  • Benefits management: You’ll be able to manage the benefits you offer your employees, like health insurance, 401(k), pre-tax savings and more.

  • Mobile app: The Square Payroll app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for those who want to be able to run payroll from anywhere.

  • Square Team app: Your employees and contractors can access their online accounts to manage their bank account information, see their pay stubs, update their personal information and more.

Patriot Payroll

Best for simplicity

Patriot Payroll offers core payroll solutions for businesses with up to 100 employees. Two plans are available with pricing starting at $17 monthly plus $4 per person for the Basic plan and $37 monthly plus $4 per person for the Full Service plan, which includes payroll tax filing services.

Notable features of the plans include:

  • Payroll setup: You can either give Patriot your information and they can set up payroll for you, or you can use its tool for doing this yourself, called the startup wizard.

  • Direct deposit: You’ll get direct deposit included with the option to handwrite or print checks for your employees when necessary.

  • Unlimited payroll: Run payroll as frequently as you need to and on whatever payroll frequency you prefer.

  • Tax filings: Patriot will file and pay your federal, state and local payroll taxes (Full Service plan only).

  • Employee portal: Your employees have online access to pay stubs, pay history, time off balances and W-2s.

  • Accounting integrations: Integrates with its own accounting product, as well as QuickBooks Desktop and Online.

  • Time-off tracking: Set your time-off policy and then allow users to see what they’ve accrued and used.

For an additional monthly fee, time and attendance software can be added to your payroll plan along with HR software that includes paperless employee files and free expert support.

OnPay Payroll

Best for businesses with hourly and contract workers

OnPay Payroll is a great solution for businesses with a high proportion of hourly and contract workers. Designed for businesses with one to 1,000 employees, this cloud-based service allows you to run payroll quickly and change the payment schedule at any time.

OnPay’s pricing structure is simple: $40 per month plus an additional $6 per person per month. Plus, you’re only billed for the employees you actually pay that month.

Here are some features of the OnPay system:

  • Unlimited payroll: You get unlimited monthly payroll runs and you only pay for the employees you actually run payroll for at that time.

  • W-2s and 1099s: Whether your employee is a 1099 contractor or a W-2 employee, you can see their information in the same dashboard and get printable year-end tax forms.

  • Tax filings: The software will withhold taxes for each payroll run, make your tax payments and file quarterly and annual IRS forms 941 and 940.

  • Multi-state payroll: OnPay can handle payroll tax calculations when you have employees and contractors in different states at no extra cost to you.

  • Employee self-service: Employees can complete onboarding and access pay stubs, employment documents and tax forms through lifetime accounts in the employee portal.

  • Integrations: Some options include QuickBooks, Xero, Guideline, QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets).

Your monthly fee also gives you access to health and retirement plans, HR tools, PTO management features, organizational charts and more.

Wave Payroll

Best for new businesses

For businesses that are just getting started, Wave Payroll may be a good option to consider. The combination of free Wave accounting software and low-cost payroll software can be an economical option for businesses on a budget.

The cost of Wave Payroll varies based on state. For businesses in tax-service states where Wave can file payroll taxes for you, the cost is $40 per month plus an additional $6 per active employee or contractor. In self-service tax states where the business owner must file, the cost is $20 per month plus an additional $6 per person per month.

Some features that come with Wave Payroll are:

  • Payroll: You can pay employees and contractors with direct deposit and generate W-2 and 1099 forms.

  • Tax service: Depending on the state you’re in, Wave can either file and pay your payroll taxes for you, or it can show you all of the information you need in order to file it yourself.

  • Employee portal: Employees can access their pay stubs and tax information and can update banking and contact information.

  • Integrations: Wave payroll software integrates with its other offerings, including accounting and invoicing software.

In addition to free accounting software, Wave also offers free invoicing and banking options. Advisors are offered for bookkeeping support, tax services and coaching for accounting and payroll but they cost an additional fee.

A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet

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