By Daniel Lewis,
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Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll are both payroll software options with features that can help small business owners manage the payroll for their employees. In addition, both of these have nicely designed features like payroll tax processing and employee benefits management.

Let’s see how these two online payroll platforms fare compared to each other. I’ll also outline the main features of both platforms and highlight the Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll differences and similarities.

Short on Time? Quick Comparison

CRITERIA

GustoGusto QuickbooksQuickbooks

Customer Service

Good, notes on slow service Good, some complaints on slow service

Range of Services

Full-service payroll services

Full-service payroll services

Payment options

Direct deposit, prepaid debit cards, printed checks

Direct deposit for employees only, bank transfer, printed checks

Payroll Tax Automatic tax reporting and filing

Tax filing with an extra fee

Deposit Processing Time

Two days; next-day processing only for the premium plan

Next-day processing; same-day processing for premium plans

Pricing plans

Startup plan is $39/month + $6 to $12 per employee per month

Startup plan is $45/month + $4 to $10 per employee per month

Onboarding process

Simple, employee self onboarding

It can be tiresome; the Elite plan does this for you

Ease of Use

Very simple to navigate and use

Easy to use, some aspects need getting used to

Employee benefits

Health insurance, life, and disability, flexible spending accounts, commuter benefits, retirement accounts

Health insurance

Payroll Automation

Both salaried and hourly workers

Only salaried workers

Software integration

Many third-party platforms: QuickBooks Online, Xero, Freshbooks, TSheets, Homebase, and more

Intuit platform and TSheets

Health insurance coverage

Only 40 US states supported

All 50 US States are supported

Expert help Unlimited phone, email, and chat support during work hours, online help center, the high-level plan comes with professional support

Online help center, Elite plan comes with a phone and chat with a callback to US-based customer agents

Website
Review Full Gusto review Full QuickBooks review
Gusto Pros

  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Nicely organized functionalities
  • Automatic tax reporting and filing
  • Manage all sorts of employee benefits
  • Time-tracking tools

QuickBooks Pros

  • Good payroll functionalities
  • Same and next-day direct deposits
  • Seamless integration with the QuickBooks platform
  • Plenty of online help
  • Affordable per-employee fees

Gusto Cons

  • Not flexible enough for dynamic businesses
  • Only 40 US states covered with health insurance

QuickBooks Cons

  • Not the most user-friendly platform
  • No other employee benefits other than health insurance

Differences Between Gusto and QuickBooks

The main differences between both payroll platforms are:

  • Gusto offers an all-inclusive payroll platform for small businesses. In addition, it offers management of many employee benefits, automated payroll for both salaried and hourly employees, and is easily integrated with multiple third-party accounting software.
  • QuickBooks Payroll is best suited for businesses that use the QuickBooks accounting software. In addition, it only allows health benefits management, payroll automation for salaried employees only and has same- and next-day direct deposit processing.

Apart from these, Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll are very similar platforms. Both have three pricing plans with varying offerings and charge additional fees per employee. While both platforms have an employee portal, only Gusto allows employee self-onboarding, which significantly simplifies the onboarding process. With QuickBooks Payroll, you will get professional help transferring employee data from your previous payroll service only with their most expensive Elite plan.

Gusto Vs. QuickBooks Overview

Gusto

Gusto was founded in 2012 and was known as ZenPayroll. Since then, this platform has helped over 100K businesses manage payroll, employee benefits, automate taxes, and HR. In addition, the platform enables the management of many employee benefits like health insurance, managing 401(k) accounts, and automating payroll for hourly and salaried employees. At this time, Gusto has offices in San Francisco, California, and Denver, Colorado.

Quickbooks

QuickBooks Payroll is a part of the Intuit network of products. The first platform was released in 1983; the payroll feature was introduced as a part of the platform in 2002; it was much later when QuickBooks Payroll became a separate product. QuickBooks Payroll allows employers same-day direct deposit, automatic tax reporting, and filing, and more. The QuickBooks Payroll software integrates seamlessly with the QuickBooks accounting platform.

Gusto Features

The Gusto payroll software has excellent functionalities that help small business owners run payroll without the fear of forgetting any important thing. Here is a list of Gusto’s core functionalities:

  • Seamless payroll run
  • Automation of payroll taxes
  • Employee benefits
  • Employee self-onboarding
  • Payroll automation
  • HR services
  • Several payment options
  • Simple and user-friendly interface

Gusto is straightforward payroll software, and it has an impressively simple onboarding process. The service supports both W1 and 1099 contractor onboarding and has automatic reports for new hires. In addition, the Gusto employee portal allows the employees and contractors to review pay stubs, hours, benefits, and more.

Gusto allows an unlimited number of payrolls each month, a convenient feature for business that needs to pay different types of employees: full and part-time W2 employee, freelancers, consultants, and 1099 contactors. It also provides the option to save the payroll and review it at a later date. The other Gusto features attractive for small business owners include HR tools, payroll taxes, several payment options, new hires reporting, paid time off management, and more.

QuickBooks Payroll Features

QuickBooks Payroll has plenty of functionalities that make it a good option for running payroll. Here is an overview of this software’s main functionalities:

  • Effortless payroll run
  • Payroll tax filing
  • Automated payment to W2 employees
  • Same and next-day direct deposit
  • Time tracking option
  • Sleek and easy-to-use interface
  • Seamless integration with other QuickBooks platforms

QuickBooks Payroll is a well-designed software with plenty of useful functionalities for the seamless running of payroll. These include automated payroll of salaried employees, payroll tax reports and filing, and the option to track time. In addition, the direct deposit payments are processed the same or the next day, which many users find very convenient.

QuickBooks Payroll is a standalone app, but it can seamlessly integrate with other QuickBooks financial applications. You can do unlimited payroll runs with the app, and these are included with all the price plans. Also, the platform allows tracking paid time off and integrated management of health insurance in all 50 US states.

Pricing Plans Comparison

Let’s have a closer look at each platform’s pricing plans and what each of them includes.

Gusto has three pricing plans, each with different functionalities:

  • Core – $39/month + $6/month per person. This plan offers full-service payroll, health benefits administration, employee self-service and profiles, employee benefits, and accounting and time tracking integrations.
  • Complete – $39/month + $12/month per person. The Complete plan offers all the features from the Core plan; additionally, it has next-day direct deposit, time tracking and paid time off management, project tracking and workforce costing, hiring and onboarding, and team management tools.
  • Concierge – $149/month + $12/month per person. The Concierge plan includes everything the Core and Complete plans have, plus certified HR professional help, compliance alerts, dedicated best-in-class support, and an HR resource center.

Apart from the base functions, users can add extra benefits to their select plan. These include 401(k) plans, FSA, worker’s comp, Gusto wallet, health reimbursement, and 529 college savings.

QuickBooks Payroll also has three pricing plans, each with different features:

  • Core – $45/month + $4/month per employee. This plan offers full-service payroll, auto payroll, health benefits, 401(k) plans, 1099 e-file, and pay, expert support, and next-day direct deposit.
  • Premium – $75/month + $8/month per employee. It offers all the features from the Core plan, along with a same-day deposit, worker’s comp administration, HR support center, time tracking, and expert review.
  • Elite – $125/month + $10month per employee. The Elite plan offers all the functionalities of the Core and Premium plans, along with expert setup, 24/7 expert product support, track time and projects on the go, tax penalty protection, and personal HR advisor.

To better grasp the offerings of each payment plan, I’ve prepared the following comparison table between the Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll pricing plans:

CRITERIA GustoGusto QuickbooksQuickBooks
Price for core plan $39/month + $6month per person

$45month + $4/month per employee

Full-service payroll

Yes Yes
Automatic payroll For salaried and hourly employees

Only for salaried employees

Tax reports and filing

Yes

Yes

Direct deposit Two-day processing, next-day direct deposit with Complete plan

Next-day processing for salaried employees only

Employee benefits

401(k) retirement pay-as-you-go worker’s comp plan, 401(k) retirement plan
Health Benefits Yes, supported in 40 US states

Yes, in all 50 states

Accounting integrations

Supporting integrations with many third-party platforms

Seamless integration with other QuickBooks apps

Onboarding process Simple employee self-onboarding

Can be tedious

Winner: Gusto has a cheaper base plan, but it comes with some up-sells.

Gusto Vs. Quickbooks Onboarding Process

Gusto

When discussing the features of Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll, I consider the onboarding process one of the deciding factors. Gusto has an easy onboarding process. Their employee portal is designed to allow self-service to the employees. It includes payroll self-onboarding, pay stubs, and tax forms. In other words, the employees enroll themselves entirely online.

Quickbooks

The onboarding process in QuickBooks Payroll is a little more complex. The platform lacks a self-onboarding process. Instead, the application provides a step-by-step guide through the onboarding process. You’ll need to have all the necessary information beforehand, like federal and tax ID numbers and banking information. However, this platform has a workforce portal where each employee can log in and check their pay stubs, W-2 forms and check PTO balances and withholding allowances.

Winner: Gusto

Comparison Between User Experience

Gusto

Gusto has an impeccable user experience. The platform’s design and user interface are very nicely organized and offer an excellent overview of the main functionalities. To make things easier, it is available on all browsers and smartphones, and the dashboard is optimized for both uses.

Adding a new employee to the system is very simple: you only provide the employees and contractors with login credentials, and they log in and input their own details. This way, you can save on time and mistakes, as the employees know their info better; you only need to review and approve their profiles. The employees also link their bank accounts, and they can receive payment notifications.

Quickbooks

QuickBooks Payroll is a platform with adequate user experience. The user interface is sleek and provides a good overview but is not as streamlined as other payroll services like Gusto. Many users have said that they find it tricky to learn the platform initially.

However, many users have noted that once they get past the initial stage of the platform, the QuickBooks Payroll software is not that difficult to manage. That is because the main screen has a lot of the functionalities ready. In addition, the automated payroll option dramatically helps the user experience.

Winner: Gusto

Gusto Vs. QuickBooks Customer Service

Gusto

The Gusto customer support leaves something to be desired. Even though Gusto has a good online rating, their very slow customer service is the most often noted thing. While the official website has a good Help center with an extensive FAQ section, their customer support could be better.

What people noted was the speed of answering client inquiries. Some Gusto users experienced long waits on the phone, while others stated they got an email response after several days. It could be a potential problem, as users depend on timely answers to their questions.

Quickbooks

On the other hand, QuickBooks Payroll, as a part of the Intuit QuickBooks financial apps, has much better customer support. In addition, the official QuickBooks platform has videos, FAQs, blogs, and forums, all designed to help users deal with any potential issue with the platform.

The online reviews regarding QuickBooks Payroll are good, but like Gusto’s, these often note the lack of speedy customer support on the site. The Elite plan, the most expensive one from QuickBooks, includes an HR support center, expert help for onboarding, and a personal HR advisor.

Winner: QuickBooks Payroll

When to Choose Gusto?

The Gusto payroll platform is a full-service payroll software designed with the needs of the small business. In my opinion, here is when to select Gusto:

  • When you run a small business with less than 100 employees
  • When in need of a wide array of employee benefits
  • When you need an affordable full-service payroll
  • When you need to pay both salaried and hourly workers, as well as contractors, freelancers, and consultants
  • When you need a platform that integrates with third-party software

The Gusto payroll features are well-designed, and the platform has a straightforward design and intuitive navigation. The payroll and HR features are excellent; once you start using the platform, you can automate many processes like payroll runs, automating tax reporting and filing, and more.

With Gusto, the once tedious payroll process can take you less than five minutes. I particularly like the employee self-onboarding process that simplifies many things and prevents critical mistakes. The area it could use improvement is customer support; otherwise, Gusto is an excellent payroll platform for a small business.

When to Choose QuickBooks?

QuickBooks Payroll is a full-service payroll platform and is a part of the Intuit financial software apps. Here is when you should consider using QuickBooks Payroll:

  • When running a small business with less than 100 employees
  • When you need a next-day direct deposit
  • When you want to offer health insurance for your employees across all 50 US states
  • When you use other QuickBooks accounting software

QuickBooks Payroll is a well-designed full-service payroll platform and has good functionalities. The features are helpful, but the user interface could use some improvement, as it takes some getting used to. The onboarding process is a bit complex, but the platform offers a step-by-step guide to help with it.

QuickBooks Payroll enables payroll automation for salaried employees and automation of tax reports and filing. However, I think that they could use better, more efficient customer service with a faster response time. Of course, QuickBooks Payroll integrates seamlessly with the other QuickBooks accounting software, so it makes sense to use the software from the same developer.

FAQs

Does Gusto Have a Free Trial?

At this time, Gusto offers a one-month free trial of the complete payroll platform. The app does not require a long-term commitment, and if at any time you wish to discontinue their services, you are free to do so without any additional obligations.

Does QuickBooks Payroll Have a Free Trial?

QuickBooks has a free 30-day trial that grants you access to the entire QuickBooks Payroll platform. However, when writing this review, QuickBooks offers a 50% discount for a three-month subscription, but you can’t use the free trial with this promo option. Also, you can cancel their service at any time.

How Long Does Gusto Take to Run Payroll?

Once you have everything in place regarding employee information, it will usually take about five minutes to run payroll. Gusto offers automated payments for salaried and hourly workers and automated tax filing, which shortens payroll processing time.

How Long Does QuickBooks Payroll Take to Run Payroll?

After setting all the employee profiles in QuickBooks payroll, which is a lengthy process, the payroll run takes about five minutes. This platform also has automated payroll processing for salaried employees with next-day direct deposit, making for swift payroll runs. However, paying contractors and hourly workers can take a bit longer, as you’ll need to check hours and pay stubs manually.

How Many Employees Can You Pay Via Gusto? Via QuickBooks?

Since the monthly fee you pay to both Gusto and QuickBooks depends on the number of employees you pay, both platforms are more suited for small businesses with less than 15 employees. Anything more than this, and the monthly fees will get pretty high pretty fast.

The Bottom Line: Opt For The Payroll Service That Fits Your Needs

Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll are full-service payroll platforms that are best suited to the needs of small businesses. Both of them have excellent functionalities and affordable pricing plans. However, the final decision for the software you’ll use should depend on the number of employees you will pay and your HR support and software integration needs.

If you are already using the QuickBooks accounting software, then it makes more sense to use the QuickBooks Payroll platform, as these integrate seamlessly. Also, QuickBooks offers health insurance benefits for all 50 US states.

On the other hand, if you offer and need to manage more employee benefits and pay salaried, hourly, and contractors, Gusto is a better option for your business. The automation payroll processing is an appealing feature and one that Gusto excels at.

Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis is an MBA accredited investment professional who wants to assist small business owners to gain access to finance. After going through many channels for funding, Lewis has found that getting the first loan right is vitally important for future success.

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