Best Cheap Payroll Services Shortlist
Here are my top recommendations for affordable payroll software and an overview of what each one does best:
- Gusto - Best for integrations
- Justworks - Best for payroll with time tracking
- OnPay - Best for mobile access
- Patriot Payroll - Best for small businesses with basic payroll needs
- Humi - Best for Canadian companies
- Payroll4Free - Best free payroll service for small companies
- QuickBooks Payroll - Best for user-friendliness
- Roll by ADP - Best for chat-based setup and support
- Square Payroll - Best for retail and restaurants
- SurePayroll - Best for same-day payroll
- Zenefits - Best for detailed reporting
- Zoho Payroll - Best for automated payroll processing
Balancing capability with affordability is critical with payroll services, ensuring you find a solution that simplifies payroll processing, assists with compliance, and works well with your existing accounting processes.
Below, you’ll find my in-depth examinations of the best cheap payroll services on the market right now. Each looks at the service’s key features, differentiators, and details about why I chose to include it in the list.
Where possible, details about free trial offers and available pricing information are included as well.
How Much Can You Expect to Pay for a Payroll Service?
The cost of payroll services can run the gamut. More expensive options start around $200 per month, and you’ll often have to pay an additional monthly fee of between $5 and $10 per employee.
Usually, a solution qualifies as a “cheap” payroll service if the monthly fee is at or below $40 per month and the per-employee monthly cost is $5 or less.
Some cheap payroll services don’t charge per-employee monthly fees if your payroll size is under a specific number of employees, which functionally offsets a higher service fee, so it’s critical to factor that into the equation.
Overviews of the 12 Best Cheap Payroll Services
Below are my evaluations of the best cheap payroll services available on the market. Each features a summary of its key features, an overview of why I selected it, a screenshot of the solution, and details about trials and pricing.
1. Gusto - Best for integrations
Gusto integrates with over 180 different platforms and services, and it works well for small businesses and large organizations alike. Along with comprehensive payroll features, Gusto works as an overall personnel management solution, handling taxes, time-tracking, and benefits administration.
Why I picked Gusto: I selected Gusto due to its high number of integration options, which far exceeds what you find with most cheap payroll services. Additionally, it offers automated payroll, tax document creation, and tax filings, which are advanced capabilities beyond what most would expect at this price point.
Gusto Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include automated payroll, taxes, and fillings, reducing workloads significantly.
Gusto has a wide array of capabilities that goes beyond things like direct deposit, debit card-based employee payments, and other things you’d normally expect from a standard payroll service.
I was especially impressed by the automatic adjustments Gusto will make to employee wages to comply with FLSA Tip Credit minimum wage requirements. Plus it can handle unlimited off-cycle payroll, flexible payment schedules, garnishment tools, and contractor payments.
Integrations include AttendanceBot, Betterment at Work, Bonusly, Bookkeeper360, Checkr, ClockShark, Connecteam, Deputy, DocuSign, eBillity, Expensify, Freshbooks, Guideline, Homebase, Hubstaff, Hyperproof, JazzHR, OnlineCheckWriter, Paperclip, QuickBooks, Relay, Sage Accounting, Salesforce, Tableau, Vestwell, VIVAHR, and Xero.
Price: From $40/month + $6/month/employee
Free Trial: Free demo available
- 180+ integrations available
- User-friendly, intuitive design with a reduced learning curve
- Accommodates contractor payroll
- Benefits options only available at higher price tiers
- Only supports US payments
2. Justworks - Best for payroll with time tracking
Justworks is a solution that combines payroll functions with time-tracking features, making it easy to manage hourly workers alongside salaried employees. It also goes further, offering up tools for compliance management, benefits administration, and tax handling.
Why I picked Justworks: Justworks is a streamlined, centralized payroll solution that automates hourly pay and tax calculations, all for an affordable price.
I chose this tool specifically for its built-in time-tracking features, a capability that dramatically simplifies wage calculations for hourly workers. Plus, it has all of the core features you’d expect, including tax withholdings, online tax forms, and compliance tools, all with a user-friendly interface.
Justworks Standout Features and Integrations
Features include time-tracking, automated withholding and tax calculations, customized reporting, and employee self-service options. I like that Justworks gives you tools to assist with benefits administration also, including commute-related benefits, and PTO.
Integrations include 15Five, Accurate Background, Bench, Checkr, Expensify, Hyperproof, JazzHR, Mosaic, QuickBooks, Remote, Teampay, Velocity Global, Xero, and Zip Recruiter.
Free Trial: Free demo available
- Broad payroll, HR, and compliance platform with benefits administration features and time-tracking
- User-friendly experience with many automation tools
- Excellent data visualization capabilities
- Pricing structure isn’t suitable for larger organizations
- Basic plan has a limited feature set compared to higher tiers
3. OnPay - Best for mobile access
For payroll on the go, OnPay is my top choice. The mobile app is highly reliable and efficient, providing complete functionally and full access to the platform. Plus, it streamlines payroll and benefits administration, all with a lower learning curve and exceptional customer service.
Why I picked OnPay: I chose OnPay due to its highly capable mobile app, which exceeds what you’d typically find among cheap payroll services.
Plus, I like how OnPay offers specialized payroll services for specific industries and gives you access to an in-house insurance broker to make medical, dental, and vision plans accessible to small businesses.
OnPay Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include comprehensive but user-friendly payroll services and compliance management for all 50 states. There are also foundational HR tools available, including personnel file management, onboarding workflows, document storage, e-signature tools, and PTO tracking.
Integrations include Deputy, Guideline, Magnify, Mineral, PosterElite, QuickBooks, When I Work, Vestwell, and Xero.
Price: From $40/month + $6/employee/month
Free Trial: 30-day free trial
- Highly capable mobile app for payroll management while on the go
- Access to in-house insurance brokers, simplifying benefits selection for small businesses
- Reputation for excellent customer service
- Limited automation capabilities
- Not designed for companies with multinational payroll needs
4. Patriot Payroll - Best for small businesses with basic payroll needs
Patriot Payroll is a straightforward solution that works well for small businesses with basic payroll needs and limited budgets.
While it isn’t as feature-rich as some alternatives, I think it does a good job of simplifying standard operations like salary and bonus management, direct deposits, and team organization.
Why I picked Patriot Payroll: I chose Patriot Payroll since it handles the basic needs of most small businesses for a price that’s notably below the industry average, as well as what you’d pay for many other solutions on this list. Plus, they reduce the learning curve with free payroll setup support and access to experts if you have questions along the way.
Patriot Payroll Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include team organization, mobile browser compatibility, direct deposit, 401(k) plan integration, employee bonus management, paycheck histories, W-2 summaries, and other payroll reports.
Integrations include GoCo, Plaid, QuickBooks, Workforce.com, and WorkforceHub Time & Attendance.
Price: From $17/month + $4/employee/month
Free Trial: 30-day free trial
- Affordable pricing with unlimited payroll runs
- Employee and contractor payment capabilities
- Free expert support and account setup
- HR integration and time and attendance recording are available for an additional fee
- Tax filing and depositing are also available for an additional fee
5. Humi - Best for Canadian companies
Humi is a cloud-based, comprehensive HR solution with payroll features that cater to Canadian businesses.
Why I picked Humi: While most payroll services that serve North America focus on the US, Humi specifically concentrates on Canadian companies.
I chose it for this list since it simplifies payroll and compliance for businesses with employees in Canada. Plus, it offers advanced features like benefits management and PTO tools, all while remaining incredibly affordable.
Humi Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include an array of payroll and benefits management capabilities, including automatic calculations for wages, taxes, deductions, and benefits, as well as PTO tools.
I really like that Humi has built-in time-and-attendance tools and a companion mobile app that employees can use to clock in and out.
Integrations include Greenhouse, Indeed, Voila, Workable, and Zapier.
Free Trial: Free demo available
- Comprehensive payroll and personnel management solution
- Built for Canadian companies, simplifying payroll administration and compliance for anyone operating in that country
- Employee self-service portal
- Limited customization
- Limited integrations
6. Payroll4Free - Best free solution for small companies
Payroll4Free is a genuinely free option that’s very user-friendly,—perfect for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees that have relatively basic payroll needs.
Why I picked Payroll4Free: I chose Payroll4Free because its base plan can manage payroll for up to 25 employees, and companies that use that service can do so for free indefinitely. Plus, it supports both traditional employee pay and 1099 contractor payments, as well as having tax form creation, time-tracking, and other valuable tools.
Payroll4FreeStandout Features and Integrations:
Features include payroll options for traditional employees and 1099 contractors. Additionally, it supports direct deposit, tax form creation, time-tracking, and some analytics and reporting tools, and it offers an employee portal for self-service.
Integrations include data importing and exporting only, with no direct connections available.
Price: up to $30/month
Free Trial: Free plan available
- Free for up to 25 employees with basic features indefinitely
- Employee self-service portal
- Ads are shown
- No companion app
7. QuickBooks Payroll - Best for beginners
QuickBooks Payroll is a popular solution known for its simplicity and synchronization with QuickBooks Online.
Why I picked QuickBooks Payroll: I chose QuickBooks Payroll because it’s a competitively priced solution that offers incredibly accurate syncing with QuickBooks—which is specifically designed for people with no accounting experience, so anyone can use it.
I also liked its direct deposit management, benefits administration features, and tax filing options.
QuickBooks Payroll Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include automated payroll for salaried employees, as well as time-tracking capabilities to simplify hourly worker wages, as well as a wide array of reporting options.
I think the tax features are impressive also—with automated withholding calculations, deductions, and remits, plus tax form creation and submission tools.
Integrations include QuickBooks and other Intuit products.
Price: From $45/month + $5/month/employee
Free Trial: 30-day free trial
- integration with QuickBooks
- Same-day and next-day direct deposit
- Automated payroll for salaried employees
- Built-in integration features limited
- Many features are restricted to higher-tier plans
8. Roll by ADP - Best for chat-based setup and support
Roll by ADP uses a chat-based approach to set up and manage payroll, dramatically reducing the need for any degree of tech-savviness.
Why I picked Roll by ADP: I chose Roll by ADP mainly because of the value for the price, as it offers features like instant or next-day direct deposit, automated tax filing, and raise, bonus, and garnishment management.
The chat-based interface for payroll setup and support also makes it a solid choice for anyone who’s intimidated by the technical side of using a payroll solution, as the conversational approach is highly user-friendly.
Roll by ADP Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include automatic calculations for wages and withholdings, as well as automated tax filing at the federal, state, and local levels. Roll by ADP also simplifies the issuing of raises and bonuses, as well as managing garnishments, using a chat-based approach to instruct the platform.
Integrations include Plaid and QuickBooks.
Price: From $29/month + $5/month/employee
Free Trial: 3-month free trial
- Harnesses chat features to make support and setup feel like a conversation
- Mobile-app centric for managing payroll on the go
- Instant and next-day direct deposit
- Limited integrations
- Benefits administration options are limited
9. Square Payroll - Best for retail and restaurants
Square Payroll is a user-friendly solution that works well for retailers and restaurants that already use Square POS, offering a cloud-based, mobile-friendly option for handling basic payroll needs with a few extras.
Why I picked Square Payroll: I selected Square Payroll for the ease of integration with Square POS, making it a standout choice for retailers and restaurants that rely on Square.
Additionally, you get a lot of bang for your buck with features like automated tax filings, instant payment through Square balances or checking accounts, and tip and commission tracking.
Square Payroll Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include instant payments to employees from a Square Checking account or Square balance, and the integration with Square POS allows time-tracking information to transition to the payroll features.
Square Payroll has a companion app, plus it offers automatic tax calculation and filing and tracks tips and commissions. I really like that Square can help calculate and automate most healthcare, retirement, and workers’ compensation insurance amounts too.
Integrations include QuickBooks, Square POS, and Square Team Management.
Price: From $35/month + $5/employee
Free Trial: No current offers
- Integrates with Square POS
- Automated tax filing
- Works for employees and contractors
- Limited reporting capabilities
- Benefits administration features are limited
10. SurePayroll - Best for same-day payroll
SurePayroll makes managing last-minute payroll needs simpler, offering same-day and next-day payroll services to customers in good standing, as well as quick cancellation options.
Why I picked SurePayroll: I chose SurePayroll due to its affordability, particularly when you factor in features like rapid payroll deployment and quick cancellation. Plus, it’s a robust solution with payroll automation, benefits administration, and a capable mobile app for a lower cost than most competitors.
SurePayroll Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include automated payroll with default hours and pre-defined salaries, as well as automatic tax calculations, wage garnishment features, and comprehensive payroll reporting capabilities. Plus, there’s a companion mobile app for managing employee records and payroll on the go.
Integrations include AccountEdge, FreshBooks, Homebase, Less Accounting, Nettime Solutions, QuickBooks, Sage Accounting, TimeTrex, and Zoho Books.
Price: From $19.99/month + $4/month/employee
Free Trial: Up to 6 months
- Same-day and next-day payroll processing are available to customers in good standing
- Companion app with abbreviated dashboard view for simplicity
- Comprehensive reporting options
- Some reports lack customization options
- Tax filing costs extra
11. Zenefits - Best for detailed reporting
Zenefits is a comprehensive HR platform with payroll features that offers in-depth HR analytics and reporting to simplify information tracking and employee management.
Why I picked Zenefits: I chose Zenefits because it offers more customizable reporting options and analytics features than you usually get with a low-cost payroll service. Additionally, its payroll and benefits administration tools—while functioning as an add-on—are similarly top-notch and cover both in a single platform.
Zenefits Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include unlimited payrolls, direct deposit, and mobile payments, as well as the ability to set up different pay schedules for various employees.
I really like that analytics, PTO tracking, benefits administration, scheduling, and other employee management tools are also part of the base package.
Integrations include Asana, Betterment, BreezyHR, Deputy, Expensify, Greenhouse, Guideline, Lever, QuickBooks, Salesforce, and Xero.
Price: From $10/month/employee and $6/month/employee payroll add on
Free Trial: 14-day free trial
- Detailed HR analytics
- Capable mobile app with self-service options for employees
- Automated HR and payroll tools
- Payroll feature is an add-on, not a base feature
- Not ideal for small businesses due to registered user requirements
12. Zoho Payroll - Best for automated payroll processing
Zoho Payroll is an end-to-end payroll solution that harnesses automation to make payroll simpler for small businesses.
Why I picked Zoho Payroll: I picked Zoho Payroll since it’s one of the lower-cost options that harnesses automation effectively to minimize the time spent managing payroll. All you have to do is enter payment information for employees, and it will use any recorded hours to handle the calculations for you.
Zoho Payroll Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include automatic payroll calculations that work for both hourly and salaried employees, as well as the ability to run separate bonus payrolls.
In my opinion, it’s well worth the $19/month base price when you consider you also get benefits administration tools, digital pay stubs with direct deposit options, comprehensive payroll reports, and an employee self-service portal accessible through the web or a companion iOS app.
Integrations include Zoho People and Zoho Books.
Price: From $19/month + $3/month/employee
Free Trial: 30-day free trial
- Automated payroll calculations for simplicity
- Add pay runs as needed to account for bonuses or special pay
- Multiple pay schedules available to align processing with your company’s needs
- Limited integrations
- Only available in select states
Other Cheap Payroll Service Options
I’ve included a few more options that didn’t make my top 12 for cheap payroll services but are still worth exploring:
- Remote - Best for global teams
- Rippling - Best for medium-sized businesses with HR solution needs
- Trolley - Best for paying contractors and on-demand workers
Selection Criteria For Cheap Payroll Services
If you’re wondering how I selected the best cheap payroll services on this list, I personally evaluated dozens of available options. Additionally, I drew from my past experience to separate the comprehensive-but-affordable solutions from the rest of the pack. Here’s where I focused along the way:
First, I evaluated various popular payroll services to ensure they included the necessary core functionality. Here are the points that a solution needed to provide to make the list:
- Automatic payroll calculations
- Modern employee payment options
- Tax withholding
- Online or cloud-based access
- Integration with popular accounting solutions
Payroll services need features that support—and preferably simplify—core functionality and key operations. Here are some features I consider essential in an affordable payroll service solution:
- Direct deposit: When it comes to modern employee payment options, direct deposit is the most critical component. It allows you to send their pay straight to their bank account, eliminating the need for paper checks.
- Tax form creation: Handling your tax obligations requires specific forms, so I focused on cheap payroll services that at least offered the basics, such as W-2s and 1099s.
- Multiple pay schedules: The ability to assign different pay schedules to specific employees or groups limits the need for manual intervention, which I consider critical.
Value for Price
How much value you get for the price you pay is another critical factor I considered.
Among free solutions, the priority was basic payroll functionality, including issuing pay to employees and 1099-contractors, simple reporting options, and some low-level analytics.
For low-cost options, the criteria expanded to include more advanced features, like HR and benefits management, employee self-service options, and unlimited payroll runs.
During my evaluations, I favored tools that offer a positive user experience with simpler implementations. Even though avoiding a learning curve entirely isn’t typically possible, user-friendly options that support varying degrees of tech-savviness streamline implementation, ensuring your payroll team isn’t stuck training for weeks on end to make use of the solution.
I chose cheap payroll service solutions that offered some opportunities for integrations. My focus was on those that at least integrated with popular accounting or HR platforms, though I’ve listed out the key integrations for each solution to help you narrow down your options quickly.
What are the typical payroll costs?
How do I simplify my payroll process?
Other Financial Software Reviews
If you’re interested in learning about software designed for other financial aspects of your organization, check out these reviews:
Correcting even a single payroll error costs an average of $291. Plus, it puts companies at risk of fines and noncompliance penalties. In 2022, the IRS collected more than $13.6 billion in fines from businesses that made payroll mistakes.
Cheap payroll service solutions make your internal payroll processes less complex administratively. Plus, they can help ensure that tax withholding, employee payments, and compliance needs are handled correctly, reducing your chances of encountering additional costs or penalty fees.
I hope my breakdown of the top cheap payroll services above helped you find your ideal fit.
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