RUN Powered by ADP vs. QuickBooks Payroll: Pros, Cons, Differences

These two popular payroll software products diverge from each other on cost, integrations and add-ons.
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Written by Hillary Crawford
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Edited by Claire Tsosie
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If deciding between RUN Powered by ADP and QuickBooks Payroll has left you at a fork in the road, don’t worry — it’s not a bad place to be. Both can be excellent choices, backed by reliable, market-leading companies.

In the end, QuickBooks Payroll pulls ahead for its pricing, transparency and deep accounting integration. If you already use QuickBooks Online for accounting and plan to continue doing so, you can easily add the payroll product into your existing plan. If you’re not a QuickBooks user, however, the company’s payroll software doesn’t integrate with outside accounting software.

RUN, which can also be used with QuickBooks Online, offers a wider selection of integrations, and is well-suited for larger businesses that need recruiting tools and a diverse array of employee benefits outside of health care and retirement plans. With more than 70 years’ experience in payroll services for businesses of all sizes, ADP cuts checks for about 22 million American workers.

QuickBooks Payroll

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on QuickBooks' website

RUN Powered by ADP

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on ADP's website


  • Calculates, files and deposits payroll taxes for no additional fee.

  • Premium and Elite plans include QuickBooks Time Mobile for time-tracking.

  • Automatic payroll available. Employers don’t have to review payroll before it automatically runs.

  • Same-day direct deposit available for Premium and Elite clients.

  • Unlimited payroll runs.

  • Calculates, files and deposits payroll taxes for no additional fee.

  • More accounting integrations and benefits options.

  • More recruiting tools.

  • Automatic payroll available. Employers must review payroll before it automatically runs.

  • Can accommodate businesses with more than 50 employees.


  • Accounting integrations are limited to QuickBooks Online.

  • No mobile app for employees.

  • Less benefit options.

  • Workers’ comp and benefits administration costs extra.

  • Quote-based pricing.

  • In-house time-tracking is an add-on for all plans.

  • Charges an additional fee to process year-end filings.

  • Workers’ comp and benefits administration costs extra.

  • Doesn’t include unlimited payroll runs.

Payroll software comparison

QuickBooks Payroll

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on QuickBooks' website

RUN Powered by ADP

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on ADP's website


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  • Core: $45 per month plus $4 per month per employee.

  • Premium: $75 per month plus $8 per employee.

  • Elite: $125 per month plus $10 per employee.

Quote-based. Starts at $79 per month plus $4 per month per employee.

Better for

Small businesses with 1-50 employees that use QuickBooks Online for accounting.

Small businesses with 1-49 employees that prefer customizable plans. ADP also offers payroll solutions for companies with 50-1,000 employees.

Tax filing

Yes. Calculates, files and deposits local, state and federal taxes for no additional fee in the Premium plan and up. It does not cost extra to process year-end filings.

Yes. Calculates, files and deposits local, state and federal taxes for no additional fee. There is, however, an additional fee to process year-end filings.

Ability to manage employee benefits

Good. QuickBooks Payroll offers benefits through SimplyInsured and retirement plans through Guideline. Benefits administration is included.

Good. ADP lets you choose from multiple group health care options, in addition to solutions that help employees pay off student loan debt and save on everyday shopping expenses. These can be tacked onto any plan, but administration is an add-on.

Employee access to portal

Excellent. The Workforce portal gives employees access to their pay history, W-2s and how much paid time off they have remaining.

Excellent. Employees can keep track of their pay history, view attendance, see W-2s from the past three years and request time off.

Live support

Good. The Core plan comes with messaging and call-me-back support from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT Monday through Friday. Premium and Elite plans come with 24/7 priority phone, messaging and call-me-back support.

Good. 24/7 phone support.

Ease of use

Excellent. Its user interface is intuitive and user-friendly. It walks users through each step of the setup and provides time-saving automation options.

Good. Its user interface is straightforward and implementation associates can help guide clients through the setup process. RUN plans also include payroll automation options.

Why QuickBooks Payroll comes out ahead

Accounting integration

QuickBooks Payroll’s deep integration with QuickBooks Online means payroll information is automatically synced with your accounting software and accessible through it. It’s a convenient all-in-one solution for businesses that prefer dealing with a single company for their business software needs.

While QuickBooks has the stronger integration, RUN has a wider variety of accounting integrations available including QuickBooks Online, Xero and Wave. Just make sure the integration between your ADP payroll software product and your accounting software product receives positive reviews. Not all integrations are seamless, and no one wants to have to waste time solving connectivity issues.


Compared to QuickBooks Payroll, businesses that opt for RUN may end up paying more add-on fees for the following features and capabilities:

  • Processing year-end filings: RUN charges an additional fee to process year-end filings whereas QuickBooks Payroll doesn't.

  • Time-tracking: QuickBooks Payroll’s most popular Premium plan includes an in-house time-tracking feature. Though RUN has an in-house time-tracking feature as well, it's considered an add-on for all plans.

  • Unlimited payroll runs: QuickBooks Payroll includes unlimited payroll runs, but RUN does not.

Time tracking

QuickBooks Payroll’s Premium and Elite plans come with QuickBooks Time, which is a huge plus. Alternatively, RUN’s in-house time-tracking feature is an add-on and costs extra, regardless of your plan.


QuickBooks Payroll lists pricing for each plan tier and lets you sign up online. In contrast, RUN’s quote-based model requires business owners to spend extra time entering their information and speaking with a representative before finding out whether the cost makes sense for them. For pricing information, potential clients submit their business’s number of employees, ZIP code, company name, email address, full name and phone number. After entering the info, a pop-up window says, “In just a few minutes, you’ll hear from an ADP expert to discuss your business needs.” If you don’t want to wait for a call, ADP provides a phone number you can dial to speak with someone sooner.

Why you might want to get RUN instead


You’ll want payroll software that integrates well with your accounting and point-of-sale solutions, at the very least, and is equipped to offer the benefits and HR options you might need if your business grows. Both ADP and QuickBooks Payroll have these integrations, but ADP can accommodate more employees. Whereas the latter is optimized for 50 employees or less, ADP has payroll software plans for businesses with up to 1,000 employees.

Other integrations

Benefits While you can add Guideline retirement plans and SimplyInsured health benefits to any QuickBooks Payroll plan, RUN offers more options, like telemedicine solutions, employee counseling and dependent care options. Business owners who use RUN can also let employees deduct money from their paychecks and put it into a student loan account with the Gift of College add-on. While none of these are absolutely necessary to have, they could be nice to offer if your business has a larger number of employees.

HR QuickBooks Payroll and RUN Powered by ADP both offer HR support, but RUN is better equipped to build a robust HR ecosystem because it offers more integrations. The platform released new "return to the workplace" tools that establish contact tracing and help monitor how comfortable employees are coming back to the office. Additionally, its Enhanced plan and up includes ZipRecruiter and background checks to assist in the hiring process. HR checkups are available to all clients, too, and help business owners learn which policies and handbooks they should consider establishing.

Mineral, Inc. partners with QuickBooks Payroll to provide HR support, offers employee handbook and onboarding tools as well as the ability to customize job descriptions and establish workplace policies.

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