When choosing a new payroll service for your business, there’s a lot to consider to make sure things get handled accurately. A good provider should help you take care of payroll taxes and a whole lot more — like benefits, HR, and compliance. We’ve done the research so you can find the best solution for your team.
While both QuickBooks Payroll and Gusto are respected names in payroll, a few significant differences stood out between them. It’s also worth mentioning that another provider scored higher in many important areas. See for yourself how their reviews and features stack up, and who was the top-rated provider.
Jump to compare QuickBooks and Gusto by:
First, here’s a look at how each company is rated, plus some reviews from small business owners who use QuickBooks or Gusto payroll services every day. While these companies both ranked highly, neither were ranked as top-rated in every category, so it may be worthwhile to see who came in on top.
Ease of Setup
Ease of Admin
Quality of Support
Ease of Setup
Ease of Admin
Quality of Support
4.5 / 5
The Ascent by Motley Fool
9.0 / 10
3.5 / 5 - Good
“QuickBooks Payroll provides the tools you need to manage your company's payroll tasks in an easy-to-use website, but it lacks functionality and flexibility found in competing services.”
4.4 / 5
The Ascent by Motley Fool
8.8 / 10
4.5 / 5 - Editors’ Choice 2022
“Gusto is a returning winner; it delivers an exceptional user experience and four different subscription levels, so companies can grow with it.”
Experts and clients agree that both solutions are pretty good. Gusto has more features at a lower starting price, but it costs more per employee. So, a smaller organization that doesn’t need time-off tracking and other perks may prefer using QuickBooks. But when it comes to services like filing and paying local taxes, and custom, real-time reporting, both QuickBooks Online Payroll and Gusto have limitations. It’s still worth taking a look at everything you get with each provider, and what will it will cost— but it may also be worth widening your search to include other providers.
|Base price||Starts at $45 per month
|Starting at $40 per month|
|Per worker cost||Starts at $4 per person
|Starting at $6 per person|
|Automated federal, state, and local tax filings and payments||Included||Included|
|Unlimited pay runs||Included||Included|
|Multi-state payroll||Included||Additional fees|
|Accounting and time tracking integrations||Included||Included|
|New hire reporting||Included||Included|
|Year-end filings, W-2s, and 1099s||Additional fees||Included|
|HR and Team Management|
|Manage and track time off||Not available||Additional fees|
|Employee directory||Not available||Additional fees|
|Org charts||Not available||Additional fees|
|Document storage and audits||Not available||Included|
|Onboarding and Employee Self-Service|
|Employee self-service portal||Included||Included|
|Document e-sign for I-9s and W-4s||Additional fees||Included|
|Customize and send offer letters for e-signature||Additional fees||Additional fees|
|Employee lifetime account access||Not available||Included|
|Custom onboarding workflows||Not available||Additional fees|
|Benefits and Compliance|
|Medical, dental, and vision plans||Via SimplyInsured||Pay premiums only|
|Integrated workers’ comp plans||Additional fees||Pay premiums only|
|Integrated 401(k) plan||Pay premiums only||Pay premiums only|
|Reporting and Usability|
|Payroll and employee reports||Additional fees||Included|
|Real-time reporting filters||Additional fees||Included|
|Custom report designer||Not available||Additional fees|
When shopping for a payroll service, it’s important to consider whether they guarantee the accuracy of their calculations. Humans aren’t perfect, and neither is our software, so your payroll solution should include a team of experts that are invested in your success. QuickBooks Payroll charges extra for help getting set up, and for their phone support. Gusto offers free support but they don’t rank highest in satisfaction ratings from customers. It’s worth noting that other providers were rated higher in this category than both QuickBooks and Gusto. Here’s how QuickBooks and Gusto measure up when it comes to getting help.
|Extended hours for live support||Additional fees||Additional fees|
|Dedicated onboarding support representative||Included||Additional fees|
|Account setup and data migration||Additional fees||Additional fees|
|Accuracy guarantee||Additional fees||Not available|
At the end of the day, your payroll and HR software should be easy to set up, and come with payroll services that make it simple to grow your business. Since no two businesses are the same, you’re the real expert when it comes to what’s important in a payroll provider, but it usually comes down to time and money. Let’s look at four specific features, and see how QuickBooks and Gusto compare.
Payroll and Payroll taxes: Full-service payroll for a small business should include the filing and payment of payroll taxes in every state (and city) you operate in. It should include the ability to pay contractors off of normal pay cycles (with no added fees), and simplify things like bonuses, garnishments, and commissions. And finally, if it’s really full-service, they should handle any data migration and setup for you, and guarantee accuracy.
Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll offer free setup and data migration, but only at the highest tier. It’s not included in their base plans. Gusto will file and pay local payroll taxes, but QuickBooks Payroll doesn’t offer this in their core plan. If you need to pay workers in more than one state with Gusto, you’ll be required to make an upgrade that doubles your monthly cost. So while both Gusto and QuickBooks each have their own benefits and drawbacks, our research found that another provider scored higher in most of these areas (and at a better value).
HR and compliance: HR features: You may think your business doesn't need HR functionality, but tools like self-onboarding, document e-sign for offer letters and tax forms, and document audits greatly reduce the time you spend on paperwork. Payroll providers that offer HR services like lifetime access for employee documents, and that integrate with Workers’ Compensation plans, let you relax and run your business without worrying about staying compliant. Plus, who doesn’t like a nice org chart to help everyone know who’s who?
In this category, Gusto has a slight advantage by offering document storage and audits with lifetime employee account access. QuickBooks Payroll offers basic document storage too, but not in their core plan. Payroll providers that are designed for small businesses should offer these features standard.
Real-time payroll reporting: It’s not always obvious what you need from reports until you suddenly have a question about employee hours or taxes withheld. Since you never know what report you’ll need until the time comes, look for a payroll service that offers a flexible, customizable report builder so you can see only the data that impacts your business the most.
QuickBooks and Gusto both have payroll and employee reports, but neither have a custom payroll listing report builder. While QuickBooks came out ahead of Gusto when it comes to real-time reporting filters, Gusto offers some basic customization of employee-level reports. Some payroll services offer more robust reporting options, so if reporting is important to you, you might want to consider more providers.
Price: It’s a fine line between discount and value. A discount price might be convincing at first, but then will they set you up, or manage a seamless handoff from your previous provider? What happens when you need help? You shouldn’t have to settle for watered down payroll just because you’re not a provider’s biggest client.
There’s no clear winner between QuickBooks Payroll and Gusto in this category. Gusto has a lower base price than QuickBooks, but with a higher per-worker cost plus additional fees for most of the features you might require. QuickBooks also offers multiple pricing tiers as well as add-on packages, which can make shopping by price a little ambiguous. Look for a payroll service with a simple pricing structure to avoid sudden extra fees and costs popping up when you least expect them.
QuickBooks Payroll and Gusto both seem to offer great tools for small to medium businesses, but depending on what you need, you can quickly find yourself paying a premium price. There was another payroll service that rated higher than both QuickBooks and Gusto in almost every category. Check out our full comparison report of all top-rated payroll providers to see who really offers the services and support you need:
Or see how QuickBooks payroll and Gusto do versus individual providers:
We’ll even migrate all your employee info and prior wages for you.