Gusto vs. Paychex: Gusto Wins

Gusto pulls ahead of Paychex by offering robust payroll features at a reasonable price.
Lisa AnthonyJul 26, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

and both offer cloud-based payroll products that have payroll processing, benefits administration services and human resources support. How do they stack up against each other? Gusto is the clear winner when it comes to providing the fundamental features a typical small business needs at an affordable price.

Paychex stands out for taking benefits to the level of a professional employer organization, or PEO, which offers a more comprehensive level of HR and payroll services, while Gusto partners with brokers to offer employee benefits. However, small businesses with just a few employees generally won’t need the amount of HR expertise presented by Paychex PEO.


The combination of key features and affordability was the deciding factor in selecting Gusto as the winner. Solid benefits administration and employee access were secondary considerations that also helped to edge Gusto ahead of Paychex.

The features that most small businesses need are available with the lowest-tier Core plan at Gusto. At a monthly cost of $39 plus $6 per person, you get unlimited payroll runs in all 50 states and can also pay employees working in multiple states. Tax filings, health benefits administration and lifetime employee access to an online portal are also provided at this level. While the lowest-tier Paychex Go plan is priced at $39 per month plus $5 per person, there are additional costs related to payroll tax administration, W-2 and 1099 forms, time tracking and other features.

Gusto pricing is transparent with few extra fees or add-ons. A business can move up to Gusto’s second-tier Complete plan for features like next-day direct deposit, time tracking and more team management tools. The per-person fee increases to $12 a month, but the monthly base price remains $39.

Gusto offers health benefits administration on all three plans at no additional cost. It’s not at the PEO level that Paychex has available, but Gusto has licensed brokers to help you find medical, dental and vision plans within your budget. Your employees can enroll online with advisors ready to assist and answer questions about coverage, prescriptions, etc. Gusto handles payroll deductions automatically, too.

Even with Gusto's lowest-tier plan, employees have lifetime access to pay stubs and W-2s, as long as there's an email address associated with the account. Plus, a self-onboarding feature allows new employees to enter their own personal information and bank details. W-2 employees can download a free app called Gusto Wallet. It has financial tools to assist them and an emergency cash feature called Gusto Cashout to access money between paydays.


Paychex has HR professionals who can be assigned to your business when you want the service level offered by a PEO. Services such as payroll processing, time and attendance, employee benefits administration, recruiting and hiring, workers’ compensation and more can be handled by these professionals. They're also available to assist with employee relations, accommodations, terminations and other related issues.

If you're looking for personalized help, Paychex may be a better option. You can get dedicated onboarding help and assistance in setting up payroll. This includes a team that will help gather the necessary company information and employee data and then process the first payrolls. You’ll also be assigned a payroll specialist after onboarding. Customer support is available 24/7 by phone, chat or email.

is an alternative to think about if you're already using QuickBooks Online. It’s quick and easy to use QuickBooks to run payroll, and the software offers similar features to what’s available with Gusto and Paychex. Starting at $45 per month plus $4 per employee, QuickBooks Payroll could cost less than Gusto depending on the number of employees.

is another affordable option for payroll services. It costs less than Gusto with a lower monthly base fee of $35 and $5 per employee. While it doesn't have as many useful features, Square Payroll does offer the option of adding benefits for additional monthly fees, like Gusto.

On a similar note...
Dive even deeper in Small Business