Gusto vs. ADP: Which Is Best for Your Business?

Learn who comes out ahead in this Gusto vs. ADP comparison that covers features, price and customer reviews
Feb 22, 2022

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Gusto and Automatic Data Processing — better known as ADP — are two of the top competitors in cloud-based payroll software systems. Both can help you add up hours, calculate payroll, pay taxes and comply with federal regulations. However, is there a clear winner when it comes to the services offered by each?

Overall, Gusto comes in first, leading the way in a comparison of features and costs. However, ADP has a slim edge when looking at user reviews.

Deciding factors

Gusto

RUN Powered by ADP

Pricing

Starting at $39 monthly plus $6 per person. Contractor-only option is $6 per person.

Quote-based pricing.

Tax filing and payments

Federal, state and local taxes are calculated, filed and paid.

Calculates, files and pays federal, state and local taxes.

Ability to manage employee benefits

Employee health and financial benefits administration is included with all Gusto plans.

A range of group health insurance options to select from.

Employee access to portal

Lifetime access to their account to see paystubs, W-2s, hours worked and more.

Employees have access to pay history and up to three years of W-2s/1099s.

Customer support

Phone, email and chat support available Monday - Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

24/7 phone and online support.

Ease of use

Easy-to-use platform with step-by-step guides, an “AutoPilot” feature to run payroll and a robust help center.

Straightforward dashboard that lets you run payroll from a computer or mobile device. Resource center, tools and webinars available.

Integrations

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

Export data into QuickBooks, Xero, Wave, Creative Solutions or a generic output file. Also time-tracking and HR integrations.

Gusto vs. ADP: Features

The most important thing to know about each payroll service is what it can do. The features for Gusto and ADP are organized based on their service plan. (The next section covers the cost of each service plan).

Gusto features

Gusto has three service plans, each with ascending pricing and services. Gusto also has an option for contractor-only employers, who pay the $6/employee rate and no base price. Here’s what you get with each plan:

Gusto Core
  • Unlimited payroll runs in all 50 states.

  • Manage tax filings.

  • Receive paychecks via direct deposit.

  • Garnishments.

  • Tip credits.

  • Employee self-service.

  • Employee profiles.

  • Electronically sign I-9s and W-4s.

  • Health benefits administration.

  • Workers’ comp administration.

  • Phone, email and live chat support.

Gusto Complete

Includes all of the Core features plus:

  • Administrative permissions.

  • PTO approvals.

  • E-sign custom hiring documents.

  • Employee directory.

  • Employee surveys.

Gusto Concierge

Includes all of the Complete features plus:

  • Direct access to certified HR professionals.

  • Create custom employee handbooks and HR documents.

  • Dedicated Gusto customer service team.

Gusto add-ons

Gusto add-ons can be used to customize your plans and include the following:

Health insurance: Licensed brokers to help you select medical, dental and vision plans for your employees. Administration is free.

401(k) plans: Employee 401(k) plans starting at $49 per month and $8 per month per participant.

Workers’ comp insurance: Pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation plans that integrate with payroll and don't have administration fees.

529 college savings plans: Employees can save for their kids’ college at a cost of $6 per month per participant with a minimum monthly fee of $18.

Tax-advantaged spending accounts: An annual $200 service charge covers the following accounts:

  • Health savings accounts: $2.50 per month per participant, no minimum.

  • Flexible spending accounts: $4 per month per participant, $20 monthly minimum.

  • Commuter benefits: $4 per month per participant, $20 monthly minimum.

  • Dependent care flexible spending accounts: $4 per month per participant, $20 monthly minimum.

Gusto Payroll

Gusto
Shop Now

on Gusto's website

ADP features

ADP offers two different payroll products for small businesses based on the number of employees. ADP RUN, which is covered below, is for businesses with up to 49 employees and ADP Workforce Now is for businesses with 50 to 999 employees.

ADP RUN Essential

ADP Essential includes the basic features you need to automate payroll and tax filing:

  • Run payroll online, by phone or mobile app.

  • Tax filing.

  • Pay employees by direct deposit, check and debit card.

  • Payroll and HR reports.

  • Deliver W-2s and 1099s (additional fee for filing).

  • Employee access and self-service.

  • New hire onboarding and reporting.

  • 24/7 phone and email customer service.

ADP RUN Enhanced

Includes all of the Essential features plus:

  • Check signing security and fraud protection.

  • State unemployment insurance management.

  • Wage garnishment assistance.

  • Labor law posters.

  • ZipRecruiter.

  • Background checks.

ADP RUN Complete

Includes all of the Enhanced features plus:

  • HR help desk access.

  • Employee handbook wizard.

  • HR tracking of employees.

  • HR forms, training and toolkits.

ADP RUN HR Pro

Includes all of the Complete features plus:

  • Enhanced HR help desk support.

  • Enhanced employee handbook support.

  • Additional training programs.

  • Marketing tools and advice.

  • Legal assistance.

ADP RUN Add-ons

Add-on features are also available for ADP RUN plans and include the following:

  • Time and attendance: Feature helps you manage employee work schedules and time off requests.

  • Retirement plans: Competitive retirement plan options offered by ADP Retirement Services.

  • Workers' compensation: Pay-as-you-go options for workers’ comp.

  • Health insurance: A selection of group health coverage plans offered by ADPIA, an affiliate of ADP, Inc.

  • Marketing Toolkit from Upnetic: Access to marketing experts and available with Essential and Enhanced packages only.

RUN Powered by ADP®

ADP
Shop Now

on ADP's website

Winner: Gusto

The features offered by both companies are quite similar. ADP RUN gets points for nice-to-have options like legal services and enhanced HR functions. However, Gusto’s solid feature selection in the Core package makes it the overall winner in this category. At its lowest plan level, Gusto not only runs payroll, files taxes and offers direct deposit, but it also handles wage garnishments, health benefits administration and workers’ compensation — features only available at a higher plan level or as an add-on with ADP RUN.

Gusto vs. ADP: Cost

Gusto and ADP offer tiered pricing models with a monthly fee based on the service plan selected and the number of employees included in your payroll run. Both also have add-on options that will increase your monthly cost if you select them.

Gusto cost

Here’s the cost breakdown for Gusto’s plans:

  • Gusto Core: $39 per month, plus $6 per employee per month.

  • Gusto Complete: $39 per month, plus $12 per employee per month.

  • Gusto Concierge: $149 per month, plus $12 per employee per month.

Gusto also offers a contractor-only option that’s $6 per person without an additional base fee.

Gusto Payroll

Gusto
Shop Now

on Gusto's website

ADP cost

ADP RUN is a quote-based product that’s designed for businesses with a maximum of 49 employees. Each service plan for ADP RUN — Essential, Enhanced, Complete and HR Pro — features increasing pricing. However, you would have to contact ADP directly for a quote based on your business, number of employees and what features you need. ADP offers three free months of RUN when you sign up.

RUN Powered by ADP®

ADP
Shop Now

on ADP's website

Winner: Gusto

We’re selecting Gusto because we’re a proponent of transparent pricing that allows you to compare the cost of products and services. Also, unlike ADP, Gusto doesn’t limit your accessibility based on the size of your business. This means you can use Gusto as your business grows. With ADP, you have to change to the Workforce Now product once your business exceeds 49 employees. While Workforce Now does come with many of the same features as RUN, having to change services can be a headache.

Gusto vs. ADP: User reviews

Now that we’ve reviewed features and costs, let’s see how users rate Gusto and ADP.

Gusto user reviews

  • 4.3 out of 5 stars on G2 Crowd.

  • 7.1 out of 10 stars on TrustRadius.

On average, customer reviews of Gusto are largely positive. In fact, according to G2 Crowd, over 75% of reviewers gave the payroll product 5 stars. Customers commented that Gusto is user-friendly and affordable. Users also said it integrates well with other software apps. However, not all Gusto customers were fully satisfied and concerns were raised about inadequate customer support and tax issues.

ADP user reviews

  • 4.6 out of 5 stars on G2 Crowd.

  • 7.9 out of 10 stars on TrustRadius.

The customer ratings of ADP RUN are slightly higher than Gusto. ADP RUN users gave a rating of 5 stars around 80% of the time according to G2 Crowd. Users commented on the variety of services provided, ease of use and good customer service. On the other hand, some RUN customers thought the cost could be lower and experienced long hold times when calling in for help.

It should be noted that both Gusto and ADP scored poorly in customer reviews from the Better Business Bureau, each achieving only 1 out of 5 stars. Issues that involved taxes were mentioned by users of both products in their reviews.

Winner: ADP

Although it was close, ADP RUN was able to edge out Gusto in this category. ADP RUN posted higher star ratings from the customer review websites we looked at and also a higher percentage of users who were willing to give it a full 5 stars on G2 Crowd. However, because of the close ratings, you may want to explore customer reviews further for both products to see if the issues existing users experience would have an impact on your business.

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