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Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll are both are online-based, automated payroll platforms that allow you to set up and process payroll, manage employee benefits and file payroll taxes. In general, QuickBooks Payroll is a more affordable option, while Gusto offers more features specific to human resources. Here's how they stack up.
How they compare
Top Gusto advantages:
More features: Looking at the capabilities included in Gusto vs. QuickBooks Payroll on the whole, Gusto offers a wider variety of included features — with things like employee profiles, offers and onboarding, time-off requests organization charts and employee surveys. Plus, within the Core plan, Gusto offers automatic new hire reporting, 1099 filings, multiple state tax filings and more that either require a higher-level QuickBooks plan or additional fees.
Integrations: Regardless of which plan you have, Gusto allows you to integrate with third-party software, including time tracking tools, POS platforms and even accounting software (QuickBooks Online included). With QuickBooks Payroll, on the other hand, you’re limited to Intuit tools unless you use your software with QuickBooks Online. In this way, if you don’t use QuickBooks Online for accounting, you’ll have to manually input data from your accounting software into QuickBooks Payroll.
HR-specific features: Gusto goes beyond your typical payroll service and integrates many tools often associated with HR software or HCM (human capital management) software. Therefore, if you don’t want to spend money on two separate platforms, you can manage the majority of your payroll and HR tasks in the same place.
Lack of extraneous fees: Although Gusto may be more expensive overall, they also have more features included and don’t charge many additional fees. Whereas QuickBooks charges fees for contractor direct deposit, multiple state tax filings, 1099 filings, etc. all of these are already included in the price of Gusto Core.
Gusto also offers more HR-specific features than QuickBooks Payroll, like the ability to create and maintain a business organizational chart.
Top QuickBooks Payroll advantages:
Connection with QuickBooks Online: When it comes down to it, one of the biggest strengths of QuickBooks Payroll is its direct connection to QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks Online is one of the most popular and fully functional accounting software solutions on the market — so if you already use this software, it’s quick, easy and convenient to set up and run payroll in QuickBooks.
Price: The lower monthly per-employee cost associated with each of the QuickBooks Payroll plans makes it, on the whole, a more affordable solution compared to Gusto. Plus, QuickBooks usually offers a promotion with their payroll plans, whether you purchase it with or without a QuickBooks Online subscription.
Next-day/same-day direct deposit: With Gusto, you need to make sure you run payroll at least two business days before you want your employees to be paid. QuickBooks Payroll, on the other hand, can accommodate next-day direct deposit for Core users and same-day direct deposit for Premium and Elite users. If you want the option to pay your employees on a shorter timeline, this is a notable benefit.
Dedicated mobile app: Although Gusto is mobile-friendly, they do not have a dedicated, downloadable mobile app for their software. QuickBooks Payroll, however, offers a fully functional mobile app available for both iOS and Android. This app is included free with your subscription and is particularly noteworthy if you want the ability to manage your payroll from anywhere.
You can view payroll expenses, enter employee hours, file taxes and pay with direct deposit — all on the QuickBooks Payroll mobile app.
Core: $39 per month + $6 per employee per month.
Complete: $39 per month + $12 per employee per month.
Concierge: $149 per month + $12 per employee per month.
Core: $45 per month + $4 per employee per month.
Premium: $75 per month + $8 per employee per month.
Elite: $125 per month + $10 per employee per month.
Unlimited payroll runs in all 50 states, customizable schedules, multiple pay rates, employees and contractors included.
Unlimited payroll runs in all 50 states, customizable schedules, multiple pay rates, direct deposit for employees only (contractors require additional fee).
Available for both employees and contractors on four- or two-day processing schedule.
Available for both employees and contractors (requires an additional fee) with options for next-day or same-day deposit.
Automatic filing and payment for federal, state, and local taxes, including filings across multiple states.
Automatic filing and payment for federal and state taxes; no local tax filings; additional fee required for multiple states without the Elite plan.
Included with all plans.
Included with all plans.
Health benefits and workers comp administration included in all plans with no administration fees.
Health benefits included with all plans but may require additional fees; workers comp payment service available for additional fees.
Can integrate with third-party tools as well as Gusto partner add-ons for benefits like 401(k) and 529 college savings.
Can integrate with QuickBooks Online and other Intuit tools; requires a QuickBooks Online subscription for additional software integrations.
Mobile-friendly, but no dedicated app.
Software subscription includes access to dedicated mobile app for iOS or Android.
Unlimited phone, chat, or email support available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT; premium support available with Concierge plan.
Phone and chat support available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT; premium support available with Elite plan.
Both Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll are online-based solutions (although QuickBooks also offers a separate desktop solution for their Desktop users) with three subscription plans to choose from. The subscription plan you choose will dictate the capabilities you receive within your system; the more expensive plans come with more features.
Even so, Gusto stands out with its outstanding HR features. Although it's first and foremost a payroll solution, the platform extends its reach beyond simple payroll processing. In this way, Gusto is an optimal service for all-in-one HR and payroll management, especially if you opt for either of the top-tier plans.
Both Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll offer their three plans on a subscription basis, meaning you’ll pay a monthly base fee, plus a monthly per-person fee, which will depend on how many employees you add to the system.
Let’s say you have 20 employees. In this case, if you enrolled every employee and went with the basic plan, your monthly cost would be $159 for Gusto Core and $125 for QuickBooks Payroll Core. If you opted for either of the middle-tier plans, you’d pay $279 per month for Gusto Complete and $230 per month for QuickBooks Payroll Premium. If you choose the highest-tier plans, you’ll pay $389 per month for Gusto Concierge and $325 per month for QuickBooks Payroll Elite.
Based on this example, QuickBooks Payroll would be the more affordable option. Ultimately, however, the more affordable option will depend on how many employees you have, what you’re looking for within your payroll software and if you’ll incur any additional fees. Although QuickBooks’ lower per-employee fees are beneficial in terms of pricing, they also charge for many features that are included within a Gusto plan (like contractor direct deposit payments and multiple state filings for business taxes).
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.