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Best Payroll Services for Small Business

Learn which payroll services are a good fit for smaller businesses.

Employee viewing their payroll profile online
December 19, 2022
EZ Texting
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Does employee payday have you scratching your head, bargaining with your computer, or arguing out loud with no one in particular? We get it. Managing payroll, let alone during tax season, is not easy. Why not reduce the headache and specifically use a payroll service for small businesses?

Payroll services are useful tools, especially for small businesses because they can dramatically reduce the time it takes to calculate things like taxes, employee withholdings, and contractor payments, just to name a few.

How Payroll Services Work

A payroll service automates the payroll process for your business, calculating taxes based on your business’s or employee’s location and taking into account salaries, benefits, and withholdings. It’s good to keep in mind that not all payroll companies for small businesses are alike. Some automate tax filings, while others don’t; some automate payroll, while others require users to do it manually before payday; and some integrate with accounting and HR software, while others incorporate these services into their payroll platform.

Another key feature of these services is paying employees according to your pay schedule and the employee’s preference of direct deposit or physical check.

What to Consider When Choosing a Payroll Service

Like any software or service, the best payroll service should make your life easier. It should do the payroll work for you and provide the features that your unique business needs. Here are some things to consider when choosing and setting up a payroll service:

  • The number of people who will be using the service/platform, as many services charge per user
  • Your budget
  • If you need HR and employee operations, benefits, or accounting tools
  • Customer support help — because we all encounter glitches at some point
  • If you need multi-state payroll
  • How quickly your company is growing and if the payroll service gets significantly more expensive with expansion

Finding a payroll service for your small business is not an easy task — there are so many solutions available with varying price points and features. So, we’ve done the homework for you and selected the top five payroll services for small businesses. Only you will know which one makes the most sense for your unique business model, which will be easier to do with our cultivated options and summary of offerings.

Top 5 Payroll Services for Small Businesses


OnPay logo

1. OnPay

OnPay is one of the best payroll services for small businesses because you get a lot of bang for your buck. Not only does it offer payroll services, HR tools, and benefits management, but it also provides it all in one plan. Say goodbye to multiple pricing tiers that omit certain services until you pay a higher fee. OnPay is transparent and offers some of the best features in the biz.

  • Price: After your one-month free trial, OnPay offers one plan, which is $40/month, plus $6/month per person.
  • Plan options: One plan means flat, transparent pricing and no question about which features you might be missing out on.
  • Customer service: OnPay provides help setting up integrations and weekday phone, chat, and email support. G2 reviews of OnPay customer support generally lean positive.
  • Pros: HR tools and benefits are included, which is a great feature that is often only included in higher-priced subscriptions with other payroll providers. OnPay also provides multi-state payroll, automated tax payments and filing, free W-2 and 1099 processing, custom reporting, and several software integrations. Plus, each team member can access their profile to view personalized payroll information.
  • Cons: Should you desire a more a la carte experience, OnPay does not offer this option.


Patriot Payroll logo

2. Patriot Payroll

Patriot offers some of the best prices in the payroll service biz, which means more money in your pocket. It provides a suite of services that small business owners may need; however, for tax filing, you’ll need to upgrade your plan. That being said, Patriot gives you some really great tools to make the payroll process easy.

  • Price: The Basic plan is $17/month, plus $4/month per user. The Full Service plan is $37/month, plus $4/month per user.
  • Plan options: The Basic plan includes 2 or 4-day direct deposit, an employee portal, workers’ comp integration, unlimited payroll runs, varying pay frequencies, multi-state payroll, pay customizations, PTO management, contractor payments, and more. Full Service includes everything in Basic, plus federal, state, and local tax filing.
  • Customer service: No matter which plan you choose, you’ll get expert support and free payroll setup. Customer support seems highly rated, based on G2 reviews of Patriot.
  • Pros: If you also need accounting software, you can import payroll into Patriot’s Accounting plan, or integrate with QuickBooks. Enjoy a 30-day free trial when signing up for either of the plans. Enjoy less expensive monthly pricing with Patriot.
  • Cons: Neither of the plans come with HR tools. For that, you’ll need to add on Patriot HR software for an additional fee.


Deluxe logo

3. Deluxe

When you need a straightforward payroll and HR management service, consider signing up for Deluxe. Both of its plans are less expensive than others on this list and offer a suite of services that small businesses need.

  • Price: The Payroll HR Essentials plan is $45/month, plus $7/month per user. The Payroll HR Enhanced plan is $45/month, plus $14/month per user.
  • Plan options: The Essentials plan includes payroll and tax filings for any state; W-2, 1099, and W-4 filing; HR services, like job postings, onboarding, and applicant tracking; accounting integrations; and employee self-service. The Enhanced plan includes everything in the Essentials plan, plus custom reporting, workflow automation, and document digitization.
  • Customer service: Both plans have access to live, unlimited customer support available 12 hours per day.
  • Pros: Deluxe allows for several software integrations, including QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and email. We also like that the Essentials plan is robust and offers a lot compared to basic plans from other payroll services for small businesses.
  • Cons: Deluxe doesn’t offer a free trial, and it’s quite a jump in price per user for the Enhanced plan.


Intuit QuickBooks Payroll logo

4. Intuit QuickBooks Payroll

QuickBooks Payroll is a great option for small businesses that need payroll services with extra bells and whistles, like next-day direct deposit, easy receipt uploading, mile tracking, to name just a few. There’s also the option to add on even more features with QuickBooks’s three Desktop accounting plans; however, that’ll up your monthly price. We like this payroll service for small businesses that need a little more than basic payroll.

  • Price: The Payroll Core plan is $45/month, plus $5/month per user (with a limit of one). The Payroll Premium plan is $75/month, plus $8/month per user (with a limit of three). The Payroll Elite plan is $125/month, plus $10/month per user (with a limit of five).
  • Plan options: The Core plan includes automated taxes and payroll, contractor management, next-day direct deposit, 401k and health benefits, income and expense tracking, receipt organization, invoicing, mile tracking, and sales tracking. Premium includes everything in Core, plus bill management and time entry. Elite adds on project profitability, time, and inventory tracking; workers’ comp administration; and full HR support.
  • Customer service: Each plan includes “expert product support.” G2 reviews of QuickBooks Payroll customer support are positive.
  • Pros: All QuickBooks Payroll plans provide basic HR tools, and there are helpful features that other payroll services either don’t offer or only offer with higher-priced plans. You can even add on one of three other QuickBooks Desktop accounting plans that provide even more features.
  • Cons: To get full HR and benefits support, you’ll need to upgrade to the Elite plan.


Gusto logo

5. Gusto

Gusto is a great payroll company for small businesses due its full suite of payroll services and automated tax filing. It even facilitates easy onboarding for new employees, has employee benefits features, and add-ons like 401k savings, HSAs and FSAs, and state tax registration. The biggest downside seems to be customer service and cost.

  • Price: The Simple plan is $40/month, plus $6/month per person. The Plus plan is $80/month, plus $12/month per person. For a full-service suite of payroll and HR management, choose the Premium plan, which doesn’t disclose a price upfront.
  • Plan options: The Simple plan includes single-state payroll (including W-2s and 1099s), basic hiring and onboarding tools, employee benefits, payroll reports, employee profiles, and integrations for accounting, expense management, and more. The Plus plan includes everything in the Simple plan, plus multi-state payroll, advanced hiring and onboarding tools, next-day direct deposit, time and project tracking, PTO management, and more.
  • Customer service: Users of the Plus plan get access to extended hours for live customer support, while Simple plan users do not. It’s important to note that many G2 reviews of Gusto are related to poor customer service.
  • Pros: Gusto provides automated tax filing and compliance guidance, which means it’s one less task for your small business to take care of come tax season. It also allows for several helpful integrations, like QuickBooks accounting, that pair seamlessly with Gusto software.
  • Cons: G2 reviews include several comments about poor benefits management and lengthy wait times for issues to be resolved. Additionally, the Simple plan does not include time off requests or employee time-off calendars. There is no free trial, and plan prices are expensive for the full suite of services.


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