HR & Payroll

Cheap Payroll Service Solutions (2023)

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In today’s fast-paced business landscape, managing payroll efficiently is essential for any organization, regardless of its size.

However, for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups, investing in a robust and expensive payroll service can often be a challenging endeavor. The good news is that there is an array of affordable and high-quality payroll service solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of budget-conscious businesses. From user-friendly interfaces to comprehensive tax management and timely compliance, there are many cost-effective payroll service solutions that promise to streamline your payroll process without compromising on quality, ensuring that your focus remains where it belongs – on nurturing your growing business. We list them below to help you choose which one is right for your business.

Comparison Chart

GustoOnPaySquare PayrollIntuit QuickBooks Online PayrollPatriot Payroll
Starting Price$40/month – $6/employee$40/month – $6/employee$35/month – $5/employee, or
$45/month – $5/employee$17/month – $4/employee
Standout Features– Auto calculation (payroll taxes)
– No hidden charges
– Self-services capabilities
– Time tracking & geolocation tools
– Processes all local, state & federal payroll taxes
– One pricing model
– Tax filing and payment
– Custom reporting
– Time tracking & accounting integrations
– Automatic tax calculations for employees and contractors
– Integration with Square solutions & popular 3rd-party applications
– Unlimited payroll runs
– Automated payroll tools, tax filing & payment
– Same-day or next-day direct deposit
– Integrates with most accounting solutions
– Very easy to set up
– Cheap
– Free trial available
– Unlimited payroll and contractor payments


With its user-friendly online payroll solutions, Gusto streamlines and automates various aspects of payroll and onboarding, ensuring a swift start for employees. Notably, its unique “contractor-only” payroll plan is a boon for international teams, enabling the remote hiring of workers and funding of international contractors. Moreover, Gusto offers a seamless payroll experience across multiple countries, complying with local tax laws and regulations.

Among its standout features, Gusto offers full-service single-state payroll processing, including W-2s and 1099s, while higher-tier plans cater to multi-state payroll needs. Basic hiring and onboarding tools simplify the employee recruitment process. Additionally, the platform excels in providing comprehensive health benefits through Gusto-brokered health insurance administration. Employees also enjoy a range of financial benefits, such as 401(k) retirement plans, workers’ comp administration, insurance plans, and free financial tools. The software’s payroll and time-off reporting features, along with integrations for accounting, time tracking, and expense management, further enhance its appeal.


Prospective users will appreciate Gusto’s ability to file payroll taxes with accuracy through its auto-calculation feature. The higher-tier plans come with additional HR and team management features, including employee surveys and performance review tools. Moreover, Gusto’s self-service capabilities empower employees to access and view their employment documentation, such as pay stubs and W-2s, with ease. The Mobile Time Tracking and Geolocation tools cater to international workers, allowing them to log work hours from anywhere, ensuring productivity for employers.


There are some limitations to consider with Gusto. The Basic plan lacks customer support on weekends, and access to the HR Resource Center is exclusive to the most expensive Premium tier plans. Additionally, Gusto’s pricing structure may not be the most budget-friendly for organizations with a large number of employees due to the high per-employee fee. Furthermore, while Gusto excels in payroll and HR functionalities, it may not offer as many specialized features for accounting and bookkeeping as some of its competitors. Despite these considerations, Gusto remains an appealing payroll solution for businesses seeking streamlined processes and efficient HR management.


OnPay presents an excellent payroll solution tailored for businesses on a budget. OnPay’s comprehensive service encompasses payroll functionalities, HR tools, and seamless integration with numerous popular third-party tools, streamlining your existing business processes.

The wealth of features offered by OnPay includes automatic tax filings and payments, accommodating multiple pay rates and schedules, and a versatile report designer that allows for custom reporting. Additionally, the platform seamlessly integrates with accounting and time tracking systems, promoting enhanced efficiency. Detailed employee profiles and contact information ensure robust record-keeping, while the availability of health and dental benefits across all 50 states adds value to the package.


OnPay’s greatest advantage lies in its user-friendly pricing model, eliminating the complexity of tiered pricing structures and enabling businesses to determine their payroll software costs with ease. Moreover, OnPay caters to organizations of all sizes and types, providing specialized payroll services at no extra cost. These tailored features cater to specific business sectors, empowering companies with the tools they need in a comprehensive payroll solution. The service’s tax filings and payments cover all 50 U.S. states, encompassing both W-2 and 1099 workers. OnPay further instills confidence through an accuracy guarantee, ensuring precise tax calculations and filing based on payroll staff, employee input, and data from integrated third-party systems.


OnPay’s customer support accessibility is somewhat limited, available primarily on weekdays, with only emergency support emails accepted during weekends. Additionally, while the product pricing is transparent, certain services may incur additional fees. Notably, printing and distributing annual W-2 and 1099 forms are among the services subject to these supplementary charges. Despite these considerations, OnPay remains a compelling choice for businesses seeking a budget-friendly yet feature-rich payroll solution that aligns seamlessly with their diverse organizational needs.

Square Payroll

Square Payroll can be used by businesses across all 50 U.S. states. The platform offers a versatile array of payment options, processing hourly, salary, or custom amount payments. Furthermore, Square Payroll’s seamless integration with other Square software tools or third-party applications extends its functionality, providing users the convenience of accessing and managing payroll operations online or through the Square Payroll App.

Key features of Square Payroll encompass automated payroll tax calculations for both employees and contractors, multiple payment methods (check, direct deposit, or Cash App), and automatic filing of quarterly and annual taxes. Additionally, the platform facilitates seamless integration with Square solutions and third-party partners for timecard, tips, and commissions tracking. Employees benefit from the convenience of a self-service app and timecards. Moreover, Square Payroll enables smooth integration with workers’ compensation insurance, healthcare, and retirement benefits.


The advantages of using Square Payroll include its flexible pricing plan, which operates on a month-by-month basis, allowing businesses to cancel their subscription without long-term commitments. The platform also provides free seasonal inactivity, enabling businesses to freeze billing and pause payments when the service is not in use. Square Payroll’s integration options further benefit businesses by providing integrated benefits for health insurance, workers’ compensation, and retirement. Companies can also apply their existing benefits within the platform, gaining taxable benefit deductions and contributing to their employees’ profiles.


Square Payroll does not offer new users a free trial of its payroll software solution. Additionally, the platform lacks advanced accounting features and robust reporting capabilities that some other payroll competitors commonly provide.

Intuit QuickBooks Online Payroll

QuickBooks is a widely acclaimed provider of business accounting software solutions, boasting a reputation for streamlining payroll processes. The platform makes payroll processing easy due to its use of automation. While all QuickBooks Payroll products equip businesses with simplified tools for managing employee payroll, customers can access enhanced tax filing capabilities and other useful tools and features by opting for the higher-tier plans on the get-go or upgrading later on.

Key features of QuickBooks Payroll include Auto Payroll tools and automated taxes and forms, as well as the convenience of 1099 E-File & Pay for creating and e-filing 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC forms. Moreover, the platform offers expert product support from payroll professionals, providing valuable help, troubleshooting assistance, and resources to users. QuickBooks Payroll facilitates next-day direct deposit (or same-day for higher tier plans), further expediting payment processing. Additionally, employees benefit from an accessible portal where they can view their pay stubs, W-2s, and other crucial tax information, enhancing transparency and convenience. Furthermore, the platform extends support for 401(k) plans and workers’ comp administration.


The advantages of using QuickBooks Payroll are manifold. The service accommodates unlimited payroll runs across all 50 U.S. states, supports direct deposit payments, and significantly reduces manual efforts through its automated features. These qualities make payroll management quick, easy, and compliant for businesses. Moreover, the seamless integration with other popular QuickBooks services, such as their accounting solution, empowers users to perform payroll and finance processes within a unified system, enabling easy access to relevant data. Businesses can generate comprehensive payroll reports and make precise payments through this interconnected ecosystem. Notably, the platform also empowers team members with its employee self-service portal, granting them effortless access to their personal payroll information, including paystubs and W-2s.


QuickBooks Payroll’s limitations lie primarily in its pricing structure and tiered offerings. Some users may find the prices of certain tiers excessive, considering the limited features provided. Notably, advanced HR capabilities are lacking in lower-tier products, and businesses may need to pay additional filing fees for employees working in other states. Several advanced payroll processing features, such as on-the-go time tracking, same-day direct deposits, and the HR advisor support feature, are exclusively available in more expensive tier plans. Consequently, businesses must carefully evaluate their specific needs and budget constraints when considering the most suitable QuickBooks Payroll solution for their organization.

Patriot Payroll

With its user-friendly tools and affordable pricing plans, Patriot Payroll simplifies payroll operations for small businesses on a budget. This versatile solution offers a wide array of tools, from tax filing and timekeeping to invoicing expense tracking and more. An especially advantageous feature is its ability to cater to businesses with multiple physical locations or remote teams, accurately processing payroll taxes based on each employee’s specific location.

Additionally, the software includes easy onboarding and setup, customization options for hours, money, and deductions, and the provision of electronic or printable W-2s. The platform also supports multiple pay rates and frequencies, as well as optional 1099 e-filing. For customers on the Full-Service plan, Patriot Software takes care of filing and depositing federal, state, local, and year-end payroll taxes, providing guaranteed accuracy.


Among its strengths, Patriot Software offers a free trial version for potential buyers to test the software before deciding on whether it is what they need. The platform provides unlimited payrolls and contractor payments under a single monthly price. Additionally, Patriot Software prioritizes data security, encrypting user data and business information on a secure server.


There is no mobile app, so if you’re a business owner on the go, you might have to look at other solutions. There are limitations to the application, so it is best suited for smaller businesses as it supports payroll for employers with up to 500 employees only. Additionally, the standard payroll option takes multiple days to process direct deposits, and businesses must upgrade to the more expensive plan to access tax filing and deposit features.


Gusto impresses with its user-friendly interface, full-service payroll capabilities, and extensive HR and benefits features, making it a top choice for comprehensive payroll management. OnPay stands as an excellent choice for businesses on a budget, providing flexible pricing, specialized payroll services, and a wide range of payment options. Meanwhile, Square Payroll excels in simplifying payroll operations with its integration options and accessibility, particularly for businesses with remote teams or multiple locations.

QuickBooks Payroll proves to be a popular and versatile solution, seamlessly integrating with its accounting software and offering automation for tax calculations and filings. And lastly, Patriot Payroll offers comprehensive payroll features with affordability in mind, making it an ideal solution for small businesses seeking user-friendly tools.

Ultimately, the best fit for any business will depend on specific needs, the size of the organization, desired features, and budgetary considerations. Careful evaluation of each platform’s pros and cons will empower businesses to make an informed decision, ensuring efficient and streamlined payroll operations for their unique requirements.