The Best Payroll Software for 2024: Compared

For growing businesses, it’s worthwhile to invest in top-tier payroll software that helps you manage all its intricacies and compliance with local laws. In this guide, we’ll walk through the best payroll software solutions for 2024, assessing key features, pros and cons, and how each solution compares against competitors.

Need a quick idea of which solution is the best of the best? Our research points to Gusto, a tool that combines small-business-software usability and customer support with a distinct global presence and advanced, native payroll features.

The Best Payroll Software Ranked

  1. Gusto: Best for contractor payroll and customer support
  2. Deel: Best for large-scale global payroll operations
  3. Rippling: Best for third-party integrations
  4. Paychex: Best for employee experience and mobile usage
  5. ADP: Best for larger businesses and enterprises
  6. QuickBooks Payroll: Best for small businesses
  7. OnPay: Best for ease of use

The Best Payroll Software Reviewed

To create this guide, we assessed more than a dozen top-ranked payroll software solutions on criteria such as pricing, core features, integrations, ease of use and automation, customer support, and global presence.

Gusto – Best for Small Business Payroll and Customer Support

A Screenshot of Gusto's dashboard

Source: Gusto

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Countries Covered Reporting
Contractor Only Plan: $0 for first six months; $35 plus $6 per month per contractor after this period ❌, but the contractor plan is free for six months • Unlimited payroll runs
• Payroll Autopilot
• Gusto Wallet employee app
120+ countries

Gusto is a top solution for small and midsize businesses alike because of its flexible features and global presence.

Unlike many competitors, there are no limits on how many payroll runs admins can do per month, which helps manage multiple pay schedules and worker types, as well as any emergencies or errors that may arise.

While multiple payroll runs can be difficult to manage, Gusto supports these users with accessible automations and award-winning customer support advisors and resources.

Learn more in our full Gusto review.

Gusto Pricing Plans

  • Contractor Only: $0 per month for the first six months, plus $6 per month per contractor. Base price goes up to $35 per month after the first six months.
  • Simple: $40 per month plus $6 per month per person.
  • Plus: $80 per month plus $12 per month per person.
  • Premium: Pricing information available upon request.

Gusto is available in four pricing tiers, with one package dedicated to contractor payments. All plans come with access to third-party partners and integrations.

Pros

  • Affordable, robust contractor plan
  • Licensed benefits advisors
  • Gusto Wallet app for employees

Cons

  • Expense management only via integrations
  • Core features focus on U.S. user needs
  • Expensive for larger teams

Deel – Best for Large-Scale Global Payroll Operations

A Screenshot of Deel's dashboard

Source: Deel

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Countries Covered Reporting
$0 for up to 200 users ✅ for up to 200 users • Government declarations support
• Expense, time-off, and bonus management
• Localized compliance experts
150+ countries

Compared to other global payroll solutions providers, including ADP and Gusto, Deel takes it a step further by covering global payroll needs in more than 150 countries.

It also supports more than your basic payroll, local currencies, and local tax needs, offering support for government declarations, immigration and workers’ visas, and contractor-specific requirements in each country.

However, bear in mind that most other competitors on this list are a better option if your admins or employees want a mobile-friendly user experience.

Learn more in our full Deel review.

Deel Pricing Plans

  • Free access to Deel HR for teams of up to 200 people.
  • $1,000 offered to users who combine Global Payroll and HR.
  • Five modular plans: EOR, Contractors, Global Payroll, Deel HR, and Immigration.

While Deel advertises that its solution is free for up to 200 people, it appears this price only applies to Deel HR, which natively includes very few payroll features. Pricing information for Global Payroll is only available to prospective buyers who opt into a free demo with the vendor.

Pros

  • Free version for smaller teams
  • More than 150 countries represented
  • Robust global contracts and compliance

Cons

  • No mobile app
  • Slow customer support
  • Lack of pricing transparency

Rippling – Best for Third-Party Integrations

A Screenshot of Rippling's dashboard

Source: Rippling

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Countries Covered Reporting
$8 per user per month ❌, though a free demo is available • Dynamic general ledger mapping
• Native time tracking and expense management
• Global workforce reporting
50+ countries

Rippling offers one of the most user-friendly integration libraries on the market, offering a range of third-party apps for 401k and pension management, expense and compensation management, benefits, time and attendance, and accounting, and legal.

And while Rippling is not the most comprehensive global payroll provider, it surpasses the capabilities of several other global competitors with automated general ledger integration and syncing.

Learn more in our full Rippling review.

Rippling Pricing Plans

  • Starts at $8 per user per month.
  • Pricing is modular and based on custom quotes.

Rippling is not transparent with its pricing model, at least not without contacting the vendor for a quote. Pricing starts at $8 per user per month, but the website does not clearly indicate which Rippling tool(s) can be purchased for that price. No free plan or trial is available to users, which can be detrimental to smaller teams or companies investing in payroll software for the first time.

Pros

  • Localized payroll, onboarding, and tax filing
  • Configurable roles and permissions
  • Accessible integration library

Cons

  • Murky pricing structure
  • Fewer country options than some competitors
  • No free plan or trial

Paychex – Best for Employee Experience and Mobile Usage

A Screenshot of Paychex's dashboard

Source: Paychex

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Countries Covered Reporting
$39 per month plus $5 per employee. ❌, though new users can get six months of free payroll access. • Self-service mobile app
• Flexible payment options
• ERTC service
U.S.-based. Other countries available through third-party partnerships

Paychex Flex is a great solution for employees in particular because of the self-service access and payment options it provides.

While other vendors, such as Gusto and ADP, offer capable mobile apps, Paychex goes above and beyond with accessible mobile documents and a chat feature where employees can directly speak with admins about any questions they have.

Paychex also offers multiple pay options, including direct deposit, paycards, paper checks, e-checks, same-day ACH, pay-on-demand, and real-time payments.

Paychex Pricing Plans

  • Essentials: $39 per month plus $5 per employee.
  • Select: Custom pricing information available upon request.
  • Pro: Custom pricing information available upon request.

Direct deposit, pay cards, onsite check printing, employee onboarding, analytics and reporting, and tax administration features are all available with the baseline plan. More advanced features can be purchased as an add-on or with higher-tier plans. Currently, new users can complete a six-month free trial.

Pros

  • 24/7 customer support for all plans
  • Self-service, employee-friendly features
  • Generous free trial period

Cons

  • Limited global presence, only via third parties
  • Many features only available as paid add-ons
  • Some difficulties with reporting

ADP – Best for Larger Businesses and Enterprises

A Screenshot of ADP's dashboard

Source: ADP

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Countries Covered Reporting
$29 per month plus $5 per employee (for Roll by ADP) ❌, though three months of free access is available for Roll by ADP • ADP Assist AI solution
• Built-in and custom reports
• Payroll dashboard with error detection
140+ countries

While competitors like Deel, Rippling, and Gusto boast global customers and enterprise-level capabilities, ADP is the primary vendor on this list that can demonstrate success and customer loyalty from enterprise customers.

Its platform is well integrated with ADP’s other HR and tax services, making it a great all-in-one solution for larger businesses.

Additionally, this solution is a pioneer on many technological fronts, including generative AI — it is one of the only tools on the market that has generative AI built in for user assistance.

Learn more in our full ADP review.

ADP Pricing Plans

  • Roll by ADP: $29 per month plus $5 per employee; first three months of access are free.
  • RUN Powered by ADP: Four main pricing tiers, including Essential Payroll, Enhanced Payroll, Complete Payroll & HR Plus, and HR Pro Payroll & HR. Specific pricing information is available upon request.
  • ADP Workforce Now: Three main pricing tiers, including Select, Plus, and Premium. Specific pricing information is available upon request.
  • ADP HCM: Pricing information available upon request.

Though ADP offers almost no pricing information transparently, it provides a user-friendly experience by creating solutions that cater to businesses of all sizes.

Roll by ADP is best for extremely small businesses, RUN Powered by ADP is best for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, ADP Workforce Now supports companies with 50 to approximately 1,000 employees, and ADP HCM caters to organizations with more than 1,000 employees.

Pros

  • Payroll tools for different business sizes
  • Experience with enterprise and midmarket companies
  • AI-powered support

Cons

  • Confusing, non-transparent pricing structure
  • Limited workforce management features
  • Steeper learning curve than competitors

QuickBooks Payroll – Best for Contractor Payroll

A Screenshot of QuickBooks Payroll's dashboard

Source: Quickbooks

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Countries Covered Reporting
$45 per month plus $6 per employee per month ❌, though a 30-day free trial is available • Same-day direct deposit
• Tax penalty protection
• Contractor-specific plans
Primarily U.S.-based

QuickBooks Payroll offers an easy-to-use solution that is particularly capable when it comes to tax and legal compliance for payroll runs.

It is also one of the best solutions on the market for contractor payroll, offering both contractor-only and integrated product tiers that support unlimited 1099 e-files, next-day direct deposit, and income and mileage tracking.

It’s important to note that while QuickBooks’ features are well-suited to small businesses, pricing plans can quickly get expensive, regardless of your business size or goals.

Learn more in our full QuickBooks Payroll review.

QuickBooks Payroll Pricing Plans

  • Payroll Core: $45 per month plus $6 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Premium: $80 per month plus $8 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Elite: $125 per month plus $10 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Core + Simple Start: $75 per month plus $6 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Core + Essentials: $105 per month plus $6 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Premium + Plus: $170 per month plus $8 per employee per month.
  • Contractor Payments: $15 per month for 20 contractors and $2 per additional contractor.
  • Contractor Payments + Simple Start: $45 per month for 20 contractors plus $2 per additional contractor.

With each of these plans, users are eligible for a 50% discount for the first three months if they opt out of the 30-day free trial.

Pros

  • Affordable contractor-specific payroll plans
  • Income, expense, mileage, and sales tax tracking
  • Same-day direct deposit

Cons

  • Expensive for larger businesses
  • Mostly U.S.-based capabilities
  • Limited time tracking

OnPay – Best for Ease of Use

A Screenshot of OnPay's dashboard

Source: OnPay

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Countries Covered Reporting
$40 per month plus $6 per person per month ❌, though the first month is free • Unlimited monthly pay runs
• Report designer
• Multiple pay rates and schedules
U.S. only

OnPay is a small-business-centric payroll solution that offers flexibility and advanced features through an intuitive user interface.

It is consistently one of the most highly praised tools in terms of user-friendliness, even when compared to fan favorites like Gusto and Paychex; users consistently remark on its clean dashboards and easy-to-use reporting tool, for example.

While its features are limited in terms of global and enterprise-level operations, it is an effective solution for a small business’s payroll requirements.

Learn more in our full OnPay review.

OnPay Pricing Plans

  • $40 per month plus $6 per person per month.

OnPay offers only one pricing option in an effort to be transparent and avoid hidden fees. This approach is friendly to small-business needs, though it could hurt larger businesses that could find volume discounts elsewhere.

Pros

  • Simple, user-friendly interface
  • Strong onboarding and customer support experience
  • Intuitive, customizable reports

Cons

  • Limited automations
  • No volume discounts for larger businesses
  • Support for U.S. payroll only

The Best Payroll Software Compared

Best For Standout Features Free Plan Offer Countries Covered Expense Management Mobile App
Gusto Contractor Payroll and Support • Unlimited payroll runs
• Payroll Autopilot
• Gusto Wallet employee app
Contractor Only plan: Free base price for the first six months 120+ countries ✅, via third-party integrations
Deel Large-Scale Global Operations • Government declarations support
• Expense and bonus management
• Local compliance experts
Free for organizations up to 200 people 150+ countries
Rippling Third-Party Integrations • Dynamic general ledger
• Native time tracking
• Global workforce reporting
No free plan or trial 50+ countries
Paychex Employee Experience • Self-service mobile app
• Flexible payment options
• ERTC service
Six months of free access for new users U.S.-based, with 140+ international partners and subsidiaries
ADP Enterprises • ADP Assist
• Built-in and custom reports
• Error detection in payroll dashboard
Three months free for Roll by ADP 140+ countries ✅, via third-party integrations
QuickBooks Payroll Small Businesses • Same-day direct deposit
• Tax penalty protection
• Contractor-specific plans
30-day free trial Primarily U.S.-based
OnPay Ease of Use • Unlimited monthly pay runs
• Report designer
• Multiple pay rates and schedules
First month free U.S. only ✅, via third-party integrations

Conclusion – What Is the Best Payroll Software?

The best overall payroll software is Gusto, a solution that balances the needs of small businesses and mid-market companies with global operations and employee experience expectations.

In particular, this solution sets itself apart with favorably reviewed customer support and employee tools, more than 120 countries covered for global payroll, and advanced features for automation and unlimited payroll runs.

Desktop vs Cloud Payroll Software

The cloud-based architecture enables payroll software providers to access key payroll data, run tax calculations, and file taxes for you. They can also securely process online payments and safely store your payroll data on encrypted online servers.

Additional benefits of cloud-based solutions include being able to run payroll from anywhere, on any device, as well as enabling your team to access their payroll information in real-time.

That said, cloud-based payroll solutions require a stable network connection, but that shouldn’t be an issue in this day and age. Also, there’s no need for software download or complex setup since everything is accessed through a web browser or a mobile app.

The only potential advantage of desktop payroll apps is that they work in offline mode since the data is stored locally. Consequently, this means that you’ll have to have a ton of free space on your device’s hard drive to store the data, as well as print paper checks and manually file taxes.

How We Test Payroll Software

We tested payroll software with the following key features and performance metrics in mind:

  • Pricing – We focused on the number of pricing tiers, price jumps between tiers, what’s included in low vs. high pricing tiers, and any free trials or discounts that are available.
  • Features – We identified tools that included accessible reporting, configurable payroll runs, mobile accessibility, and employee- and contractor-friendly features.
  • Integrations – We looked for solutions that offer easy-to-setup third-party integrations with HR, accounting, and other relevant software solutions.
  • Automation – We paid attention to solutions that offered the option for automated payroll runs, tax filing, and onboarding/offboarding workflows.
  • Ease of use – We narrowed our search to tools that received favorable reviews for their ease of use, particularly for automations, integrations, and mobile usage.
  • Third-party reviews – We read through customer reviews, compiling data about which pros and cons reached a consensus across each tool. We paid particular attention to comments about superior or inferior customer support.

How to Choose the Best Payroll Software

To choose the best software for your business, reflect on the following decision-making criteria:

  • Budget – Consider your budget and how well your chosen solution meets functionality requirements at that price tag.
  • Ease of Use – The tool you select should be easy to set up initially and intuitive for monthly and annual payroll tasks. Focus on vendors that prioritize user experience and products with glowing customer reviews.
  • Compatibility – It’s important to select a tool that is compatible with your current operational tool stack. Determine if your chosen tool has a usable mobile app and integrations with your preferred tools; bear in mind that some solutions only offer the integrations you’ll need in higher-tier plans.
  • Key Features – Does the software you’ve selected include all of the features you need for your unique workforce? Pay close attention to if your most important features are only available in higher-tier plans.
  • Scalability – Will this solution grow as your business and payroll requirements grow, or are its features limited to your current operations? Also, will pricing still be reasonable if your employee count increases?
  • Customer Support – Look for vendors who offer generous support hours and various channels to reach them for support. User reviews can tell you a lot about how effective a vendor’s customer support strategy is in handling user issues.

FAQs

What is the best global payroll provider?

What is global payroll software?

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Does Paychex do international payroll?

Shelby Hiter

Shelby Hiter is a technology writer and editor who previously managed editorial strategy for TechRepublic, Webopedia, LinuxToday, and SoftwarePundit. Her work has appeared in online publications such as TechRepublic, eWeek, Datamation, eSecurity Planet, Enterprise Networking Planet, CIO Insight, Project-Management.com, Insurance Thought Leadership, and AllBusiness.com. Over more than five years of working in this space, she has developed particular expertise in artificial intelligence, big data, project management, open-source software, HR, healthcare tech, and fintech. She also specializes in marketing and communication strategies as well as academic writing. Shelby holds a master's degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago. Follow or…