Gusto Review 2024: Best Payroll with HR Tools for Small Businesses

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Our Verdict

Run payroll, administer benefits, and access full-service HR - all with one Gusto account

Gusto is the best payroll software for startups and small businesses operating in a single state. This is because Gusto facilitates payroll processing for contractors and employees with features such as tax filing, single-state tax details, time tracking tools, and employee benefits administration like health benefits. Of course, with Gusto you also get access to the easy-to-use employee self-service option – the Gusto Wallet app.

We found Gusto’s HR resource center to be a standout feature that will help small business owners perform all the tasks they need to without stretching their budget or resources. As the company grows, Gusto’s comprehensive list of integrations will allow the software to grow with you.

The kicker? Gusto is one of the most affordable payroll and HR tools we’ve come across when you consider what’s included in the lowest tier and you can easily change your pricing plan when it suits you.


  • Flexibility to move around price tiers
  • Wide range of integrations
  • No limits on payroll frequency
  • Support for domestic and international contractors
  • Automated US tax filings for federal, state, and local agencies


  • No free trial available
  • No next-day direct deposit or time tracking on the basic plan
  • Limited functionality on the mobile app

What is Gusto?

Gusto is an online payroll and HR management system that is used by over 300,000 businesses in the United States. The main benefits include automated payroll, employee benefits, and expert support. In our Gusto review, we deep-dive into its key features, and pricing, and compare it with top competitors to see how it stacks up.

Gusto Pricing & Plans

Gusto offers a choice of four plans with a range of features. In between the high and low end of the scale, Gusto’s model uses a base subscription price and then adds a per-employee fee on top which is typical for HR and payroll software.

Simple Plus Premium Contractor Only
Monthly Cost $40 per month plus $6 per person $80 per month plus $12 per person Custom pricing $35 per month plus $6 per contractor
Free Trial 6 months free
PTO Management ❌ but you have the ability to view PTO reports N/A – Contractors aren’t entitled to PTO
Expense Management ✅ but only support for one-off reimbursements ✅ but only support for one-off reimbursements
Reporting Custom payroll and time off reports Custom payroll, time off, and workforce costing reports Custom payroll, time off, and workforce costing reports Custom expense reports
Customer Support Call, email, or chat support Option to add priority support with a direct line to the Gusto customer service team Dedicated customer success manager Call, email, or chat support

Simple – Starts at $40 Per Month and $6 Per Employee

At $40 per month, Gusto’s starter price falls into the middle of the range. It’s not one of the most expensive software but some solutions like Paychex and Homebase have lower costs.

The Simple plan is a great option for small, local businesses that need support with a range of payroll and HR functions. You can access everything from tax filing and benefits administration to hiring and onboarding tools.

We would’ve liked to see a tracking tool in the Simple plan as it’s essential to payroll management. Having a built-in time clock means you can automatically generate timesheets and convert them into wages. However, Gusto does let you integrate with several tracker apps like ClockShark and WhenIWork instead.

Plus – Starts at $80 Per Month and $12 Per Employee

Medium-sized businesses that operate across different locations may prefer the Plus plan. You can run multi-state payroll, access advanced employee onboarding tools, and more workforce management tools.

We were happy to see the time clock and leave management features in Plus. If you oversee multiple locations, you can’t always be there to monitor punctuality and attendance. Gusto’s geofencing time clock means you can verify what time employees arrive from afar.

You can also access more HR and priority support for an extra $8 per person. Growing businesses can begin to scale their HR department without committing to the highest cost plan.

Premium – Custom Pricing

Gusto’s top-tier Premium plan comes with bespoke pricing only. You get tailored pricing and discounts at volume to offset the per-employee fee. There’s also a tax credit feature to help you save more money.

The plan delivers everything offered by the Simple and Plus plans, but you’ll also get exciting special features. Premium users can enjoy:

  • Consulting services from certified HR professionals
  • A dedicated account manager
  • Automated regulatory alerts
  • Full-service payroll migration and account setup
  • Health insurance broker integration

We thought the compliance alerts were a nice addition. Gusto updates you when changing federal or state laws may impact your business. They also provide curated resources to help you understand the issues and stay proactive with compliance which we haven’t seen with many other providers.

Contractor Only – $35 per month and $6 Per Worker

This tier offers unlimited contractor payments for US contractors and 1099-NEC (non-employee compensation) filing. For an additional fee, you can pay international contractors in over 120 countries.

Gusto is one of the few payroll providers to offer a separate plan for contractors. If you only hire freelancers, you won’t have to pay for employee features you won’t use.

Gusto Payroll & HR Overview

Starting price $40 per month plus $6 per person
Best for Small businesses looking for simple, all-in-one HR and payroll software
Customer support Phone, email, and web chat
App integrations Over 100 including Microsoft, Asana, and QuickBooks
Security & Compliance Data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and fraud monitoring
Reporting & analytics
Mobile app ✅ Only for employees
Auto-alerts and reminders
International Payroll ✅ 120+ countries
Digital Payslips

Gusto’s Standout Features

You can find a range of different features on Gusto to help you with employee management, accounting, and HR. Let’s look at the main ones in more detail.


Gusto Payroll

Our review found that the whole payroll process on Gusto was close to frictionless. We loved the fact that you can customize payroll services to suit unique business needs. You can set employee profiles with a salary level or hourly rate, while automatically running regular payroll runs in the background (on a fixed schedule), and you have unlimited payroll runs. Setting up Gusto’s payroll schedule was easy during our testing, and this allowed us to manage payroll painlessly.

We would like to see multi-state payroll available from the lowest-cost plan but we see why Gusto doesn’t. Instead, they’ve prioritized hiring, onboarding, and health administration so small businesses with one or two locations have all the features they need in one package. Unlike some providers, such as QuickBooks and Homebase, Gusto supports international payroll.

For contractor payments, you can choose to pay an extra fee to pay contractors outside of the US, but within the 50 states, you have unlimited contractor payments.

Gusto offers support for your payroll taxes and operates as a full-service payroll provider for companies operating within a single state. When it comes to payroll taxes Gusto takes care of federal, state, and local tax filings, offers automated tax filing, and W-2 filings.

Employee Onboarding & Management

Gusto Payroll offers a wide range of HR tools

What differentiates Gusto from many competitors is its range of HR tools. Many competitors require you to integrate with dedicated platforms to access tools like surveys, performance reviews, and people analytics.

Gusto helps you quickly process new joiners regardless of whether they work in-office or at home with its employee onboarding process. It streamlines standard background checks and benefits enrollments thanks to a built-in e-signature function and online tax registration for each US state.

The versatility of each tool is also impressive. For example, the performance review feature supports one-on-ones, self-evaluations, and progress tracking.

We were especially impressed that you can consult on employee relations as well as compliance in the top-tier plan. It’s unusual to find such a big focus on people’s experience in HR software aimed primarily at small businesses.

Time Tracking

Gusto's time tracking feature

Gusto’s time tracking uses geo-location to let employees clock in as standard. However, it also includes unlimited project tracking which you won’t find in every tool. Companies in the service industry can use this to track hours and how long projects take for a deeper look at labor costs.

We were disappointed that time tracking isn’t in Gusto’s lowest-cost plan. As you can sync time sheets to payroll for more efficiency and accuracy, it’s a missed opportunity for many businesses. However, you can still integrate with apps like WhenIWork and TSheets.

Employee Benefits Management

Manage employee benefits on the go

Gusto offers many types of employee benefits including worker’s comp, health benefits, and 401(k) plans from the lowest tier. That’s good news if you’re on a budget as competitors with similar offerings like QuickBooks and ADP have higher starting costs.

There are also employee financial benefits you can access from the lowest tier which includes commuter benefits, 529 college savings, and more. Most of these are accessible to employees via the Gusto online payroll service.

Reporting & Analytics

Gusto data and reporting view

You can generate reports from a library of options using different metrics. With these tools, managers can easily analyze payroll, time tracking, and contractor activity.

During our Gusto review, we generated a payroll report which was accurate and when reaching out for some basic support we found the support team to be helpful, knowledgeable, and acting quickly to answer our queries.

Employee and Contractor Self-Service

Gusto's employee self service example of benefits

Employees can self-manage their own information with a personalized Gusto login. On the Gusto mobile app and desktop version, employee self-service includes being able to:

  • Access their profiles to view payday data
  • Change tax details
  • See how much PTO they have left
  • Record their working hours

We liked the extra Gusto Wallet feature. Employees can download the app to see their payroll history, see pending time off requests, and access hiring and onboarding tools. This is especially helpful when it’s time for tax preparation and filling out tax forms.

Gusto Integrations

With payroll being at the forefront of Gusto’s HR responsibilities, you can expect seamless integration with popular accounting platforms like Xero, FreshBooks, and QuickBooks.

Gusto also boasts third-party integrations with hundreds of applications commonly used to streamline small business workflow. These include time tracking, collaboration, training, and performance management. Among its 188 integrations, some notable examples are Google Workspace, Clover, and Zoom.

Gusto Customer Reviews

Gusto reviews are generally favorable with an aggregate rating of 4.5/5 on G2 and 4.7/5 on Capterra.

Both businesses and their employees praise Gusto for its intuitive interface and versatility. Many users specifically complement the employee self-service features such as the wallet and informative digital pay stubs, and saying that it’s easy to process payroll.

A review of Gusto Payroll

A few Gusto reviews note that, while the software is user-friendly, sometimes using it to manage complex teams can be challenging.

What is Gusto Good For?

It feels clear that Gusto is aimed at startups and high-growth companies. It began as a startup itself, offering payroll solutions for businesses with a contractor-heavy workforce. While it remains a top option for that kind of model, it has since extended its use cases to address wider business needs.

Gusto is one of the best payroll providers for small businesses working from a single location or scattered across a few states. The all-in-one HR and payroll solution means you won’t have more tools to juggle as you manage your business. There’s also support for hourly workers and contractors which you’re most likely to hire as a small business owner.

Gusto vs Top Alternatives

Comparing Gusto against other leading Payroll and HR providers on the market can highlight where it’s outperforming competitors and where it’s falling short.

Gusto QuickBooks ADP SurePayroll
Best for Small businesses looking for simple, all-in-one HR and payroll software Companies that already use QuickBooks for accounting Companies that need scalable solutions Paying household employees
Starting Price $40 per month plus $6 per employee $45 per month plus $6 per employee Custom pricing Custom pricing
Free Trial ✅ – 30-day free trial ✅ – but not for all plans ✅ – offer for six months free
Standout Features – Range of integrations
– HR and people experience features
– Deep integrations with other QuickBooks products
– Tax penalty protection
– Payroll for solopreneurs
– Local compliance support
– Industry specific services
– Evening and weekend customer support
Reporting Custom Custom Custom Custom
Mobile App ✅ but only for employees ✅ but requires you to buy QuickBooks Time to access all the features ✅ for employees and managers ✅ for employees and managers

Gusto vs QuickBooks

Although the two platforms have similar starting prices, Gusto has more features in its lowest-cost plan. QuickBooks only has basic tools like automation, tax filing, and next-day deposit.

QuickBooks costs also add up faster than Gusto’s. You have to add other products to access dedicated HR and team management tools.

Find out more in Gusto vs QuickBooks, or check out our QuickBooks review.

Gusto vs ADP

Gusto and ADP payroll serve different target markets. While Gusto targets small to medium businesses, ADP has plans for everyone from solopreneurs to enterprises.

While ADP has more features in total, Gusto offers more streamlined services for business owners who have to multitask. Its features are designed to be intuitive and easy to learn so they don’t require a large time investment.

Find out more in Gusto vs ADP, or check out our ADP review.

Gusto vs SurePayroll

Whereas Gusto has a wide application, SurePayroll offers some specialized payroll services such as household staff and clergy. That means it’s easier for people with one employee to pay their wages and handle their taxes.

Otherwise, Gusto and SurePayroll share many of the same features including automated payroll, tax filings, and HR tools.

Check out our in-depth SurePayroll review.

To explore other alternatives, read our list of the best payroll software on the market.

Verdict – is Gusto Worth it?

After a thorough Gusto review, our verdict is that the software is one of the best on the market for small to medium businesses for payroll with HR tools. There’s no doubt it’ll save you time by simplifying a range of HR processes – Gusto automates repetitive tasks across payroll, benefits, compliance, accounting, and people management capabilities.

We felt it was worth it for ease of use for your employees, too, as well as for the Gusto Wallet app. There’s no need for much training or assistance before they can benefit from easy access to pay stubs and personal information without having to make a formal request to an HR team.

The pricing may be competitive but you can still find a range of features and integrations across all the tiers. With the extra support for contractors and overseas workers, you can get Gusto to handle almost every HR-related task you need.

How We Test Payroll & HR Software

To ensure we get the most comprehensive look at each software, here are the six steps we take to assess its benefits and pitfalls:

  • Pricing – We check price plans for HR platforms to ensure they can align with the budgets of small and large-scale companies.
  • Features – Core HR features must be available at a minimum, but we also want to see unique features at different price levels.
  • Integrations – We analyze integration capabilities with a plethora of popular apps for businesses.
  • Automation – Our experts expect to see a certain degree of automation in the features and functions of a quality HR platform.
  • Ease of use – There must be an accessible interface to allow both HR professionals and company employees to easily use the product.
  • Third-party reviews – We always check users’ feedback and testimonials about the software on respected platforms like G2 or Trustpilot.

How to Choose the Best Payroll & HR Software

Choosing a payroll and HR software is challenging when there are so many factors to consider. Take the following steps to help narrow down your options:

  • Price – The first step is to check whether the software has plans within your budget. If yes, see if these plans include all the essential tools for your business setup.
  • Essential Features – Determine whether the tools are well-suited for your context. If you need payroll as well as people tools like scheduling, time tracking, and performance management, then you’ll need a platform that’s a strong all-rounder.
  • Scalability – As your business needs are likely to change, check how easily you can upgrade your plan to access more features. Also, consider whether you’ll get the same value for any higher-cost plans the software offers.
  • Ease of use – Test the features using any free trials or demos. Great software shouldn’t require much training to use and should save you time managing your business.
  • Integrations – Compare the integrations you have against the ones the software provides. You should be able to connect most of your tools so you can automatically share data between them.
  • Customer support – You may encounter issues, even if you’re using the best software. Look for providers that offer extensive support across different channels at times that suit you.


Does Gusto offer a free trial?

What type of company is Gusto HR software best for?

How much does Gusto cost?

Is there a Gusto app?

Does Gusto offer payroll functionality?

How does Gusto payroll work?

Is Gusto payroll secure?

Rhiannon Stone
Technology Writer
Rhiannon Stone
Technology Writer

Rhiannon Stone is an experienced web content creator with over four years in the industry and graduated with an MA in English. Before she began working with Techopedia, she traveled the world teaching Business English where her students worked in sectors such as banking, manufacturing, and telecommunications. After teaching Rhiannon joined a publishing house where she started her writing career. Now, Rhiannon is based in Greece and specializes in writing in-depth reviews and thought-out comparison content within SaaS, HR, and accounting to help Techopedia readers make fully-informed choices.