Image: Intuit

Intuit QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting solutions for businesses of all sizes, as is the company’s payroll management solution, QuickBooks Payroll. While QuickBooks still offers a desktop-based version of both products, its most popular accounting and payroll solutions are the cloud-based QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Payroll.

Since QuickBooks Payroll syncs seamlessly with QuickBooks Online, many companies that already use QuickBooks Online for accounting often tack on QuickBooks Payroll once they hire employees. But QuickBooks Payroll isn’t the only payroll software that syncs with QuickBooks Online, and it isn’t automatically the best payroll management system for every business.

In this comparison guide, we’ll take a closer look at what QuickBooks Payroll offers for payroll needs and how other payroll products and services compare so you can find the best QuickBooks Online Payroll alternative for your businesses.

  • QuickBooks Online Payroll vs. the best QuickBooks Payroll alternatives
  • Gusto: Best overall QuickBooks Payroll alternative
  • ADP: Best for large businesses
  • Papaya Global: Best for international payroll
  • Paycor: Best for employee self-service
  • OnPay: Best for small businesses
  • Why choose a QuickBooks Payroll alternative?
  • How to choose the best QuickBooks Payroll alternative for your business
  • How we evaluated QuickBooks Payroll competitors

QuickBooks Online Payroll vs. the best QuickBooks Payroll alternatives

Gusto: Best overall QuickBooks Payroll alternative

Image: Gusto

Gusto, previously known as ZenPayRoll, is one of the best payroll and human resource platforms that helps simplify payroll management. It’s an all-in-one online payroll service with basic HR features tailored toward small and midsize businesses.

Gusto Payroll automates most payroll processes, including payroll tax filing, paycheck calculation, and 1099 and W-2 tax form generation, mailing and filing. While Gusto doesn’t have a mobile payroll app, its site is mobile-friendly so payroll managers can run payroll on the go. Alternatively, you can set Gusto’s payroll runs to autopilot so you don’t have to worry about running payroll yourself.

Employees can use Gusto’s time clocking app to track hours, request PTO and see their pay stubs. As for HR features, business owners can also use Gusto to offer employee benefits like 401(k) retirement plans, health insurance and commuter benefits.

To learn more about how Gusto compares to QuickBooks Online Payroll, read our comprehensive Gusto vs. QuickBooks Payroll review.

Key features

  • State new-hire reporting
  • International contractor payments
  • Flexible payroll schedules


  • Excellent employee onboarding features
  • Integrations with top accounting software, including QuickBooks Online
  • Scalable
  • Automation of several HR functions to maximize efficiency, including wage garnishments and automatic paycheck deductions


  • No native time-tracking or PTO management with Simple plan
  • Per-person cost can get expensive
  • Limited HR resources and tools


  • Simple: $40 per month plus $6 per person paid.
  • Plus: $80 per month plus $12 per person paid.
  • Premium: Custom.

RUN Powered by ADP: Best for large businesses

Image: ADP

ADP is one of the largest payroll service providers, so it is no surprise that it’s made it onto this list. The payroll features offered by ADP include payroll tax management, integration with accounting software like QuickBooks Online, payroll processing and new hire reporting.

It’s not the easiest payroll software to use, with many users claiming that the application has a steep learning curve. However, it’s one of the most comprehensive payroll solutions on the market. Depending on your package, you can access everything from direct deposit to labor law compliance.

Learn more about how ADP stacks up in our in-depth ADP vs. QuickBooks Payroll comparison.

Key features

  • Legal services from ADP parent company, LegalShield
  • HR compliance checkups
  • Dedicated support team of HR professionals


  • Works for businesses of all sizes, from startups to large enterprises
  • Strong customer service
  • Extensive HR and payroll features


  • Custom pricing only
  • Integration costs extra


  • Essential: Custom
  • Enhanced: Custom
  • Complete: Custom
  • HR Pro: Custom

Papaya Global: Best for international payroll

Image: Papaya Global

Papaya Global offers a suite of HR solutions, including payroll, workforce management and hiring. It is the leading international payroll solution for cross-border payroll payment, compliance and tax filing.

Along with payroll and HR services, Papaya Global can be used for securing work permits and other immigration services. In addition, Papaya Global has a network of in-country partners to help with payroll and other HR services.

Key features


  • Global payments
  • Country-specific onboarding workflows
  • Excellent support for payroll, legal and compliance


  • Expensive for a business with a large number of employees or international payroll
  • The self-service portal is not the best


  • Full-Service Payroll: $12 per employee per month
  • Data and Insights Platform License: $150 per business location per month
  • Payments-as-a-Service: $3 per employee per month
  • Employer of Record: $770 per employee per month
  • Contractor Management: $25 per month per employee

Paycor: Best for employee self-service

Image: Paycor

Paycor is an easy-to-use online payroll application. It is loaded with features, including an employee self-service portal that can be used to update information, access pay stubs, and review benefits and compensation data. It’s an excellent tool to empower employees.

Paycor also helps streamline tax preparation so businesses can meet deadlines. In addition, the higher-priced plan of Paycor offers compliance support, benefits and other HR tools.

Key features

  • Comprehensive employee self-service portal
  • On-demand pay


  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Compliance expertise


  • Expensive for payroll service, with plenty of added fees
  • Time tracking only available as an add-on
  • Additional setup fees


  • Basic: $99 per month plus $5 per employee per month.
  • Essential: $149 per month plus $9 per employee per month.
  • Complete: $199 per month plus $7 per employee per month.
  • HCM: $199 per month plus $12 per employee per month.

OnPay: Best for small businesses

Image: OnPay

OnPay processes payroll for businesses in all U.S. states, handling over $2 billion in payroll annually. With one plan covering all features, OnPay users receive blanket access to the platform’s features. However, scalability is an issue. Since OnPay doesn’t have plans with more features for growing businesses or enterprises, making it more suited to small businesses.

With OnPay, there are no hidden fees, add-on costs or charges to upgrade. OnPay also has payroll services customized to specific industries, including payroll for farming, nonprofits, and more. However, while OnPay integrates with time-tracking tools like QuickBooks Time, it doesn’t have a native time-tracking application. Like Gusto, OnPay is one of the only payroll providers on our list without a mobile payroll app, though its site is optimized for mobile.

Key features

  • Payroll for multiple pay schedules
  • Automatic federal, state, and local tax filing
  • Free, expert payroll account migration and setup


  • Full customer support over the phone or online
  • Transparent and competitive pricing
  • One plan that includes all features


  • Limited integrations compared to competitors
  • Lack of scalability, making it less suited for larger businesses
  • No time tracking
  • No mobile app


OnPay has one plan. It costs a flat fee of $40 per month plus $6 per employee per month.

Why choose QuickBooks Payroll instead of an alternative?

Depending on your business situation, you might still prefer QuickBooks Online Payroll to any top QuickBooks Payroll competitors. Along with reading our QuickBooks Payroll review, considering your budget, and assessing integrations with your current business apps, weighing QuickBooks Payroll’s pros and cons can help you make a decision.

QuickBooks Online Payroll pros

  • Extensive support network: Since Intuit QuickBooks is one of the most popular business software companies, there are many resources available online for users to learn how to use QuickBooks Online Payroll or find solutions to problems.
  • Affordable starting price: At $45 per month plus $5 per employee, QuickBooks Payroll has a fairly affordable starting price, especially its per-employee fee (which is one of the lowest in the payroll industry).
  • Ease of use: The intuitive interface of QuickBooks Payroll makes it easier for users to set up and use the payroll features, especially users who are already familiar with QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online Payroll cons

  • Limited users and file sizes: QuickBooks has limitations on how many users and files can be handled simultaneously.
  • Expensive higher-tier plans: Although QuickBooks Payroll’s cheapest plan, Core, is relatively affordable, its two other plans are increasingly expensive. Although the software’s per-employee fee stays low, some businesses might find QuickBooks’ payroll pricing too high for the level of features they get.
  • No international payroll: QuickBooks Online Payroll is limited to the U.S., so it won’t work for companies that have an expanding global workforce.

QuickBooks Online Payroll pricing

  • QuickBooks Online Payroll Core: $45 per month plus $5 per employee per month.
  • QuickBooks Online Payroll Premium: $75 per month plus $8 per employee per month.
  • QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite: $125 per month plus $10 per employee per month.

New users can choose between getting 50% off the base price of each plan for three months or getting a 30-day free trial.

How to choose a QuickBooks Payroll alternative

When switching from QuickBooks to another payroll solution, you need to consider several factors, including your budget and integrations with your technology stack.

A good starting point is to identify why you need to move away from QuickBooks Online Payroll. For example, if you are switching because your business has more employees than QuickBooks Payroll can comfortably support, you’ll need to look at alternative solutions designed for enterprises, such as Papaya Global or ADP.

Alternatively, if your company needs a more comprehensive HR solution, consider payroll solutions with a larger emphasis on HR, such as Paychex, Rippling or ADP. (You can find out more about potential QuickBooks Payroll alternatives we didn’t review here on our list of the year’s best payroll software.)

Using this page as a guide, you can narrow your search. However, to make the final decision, you will need to get the product and use the software to determine if it is a good fit for your business’s payroll processing needs.

QuickBooks Online Payroll has a 30-day free trial, though choosing the free trial means you won’t get 50% off for three months. OnPay also offers 30 days free. Test-driving the software yourself will give you a better idea of if QuickBooks Payroll or an alternative is the best choice for you.

How we evaluated QuickBooks Online Payroll’s competitors

To decide on the best QuickBooks Payroll alternatives, we looked at the top payroll software solutions for QuickBooks Payroll’s target demographic (small, midsize and some larger U.S.-based businesses). Since most businesses considering using Intuit QuickBooks Payroll already use Intuit QuickBooks Online, we prioritized software that syncs with QuickBooks Online (though one of our top picks, Paycor, doesn’t integrate with Intuit’s accounting solution).

Additionally, we made sure to assess payroll software with QuickBooks Payroll’s key features, including the following:

  • Full-service payroll, including automatic direct deposit, paycheck calculation, and state and federal payroll tax filing.
  • Accounting software integration.
  • Employee benefits administration.
  • Employee self-service portals.
  • Workers compensation integration.
  • End-of-year tax form generation and filing.

Finally, to rate each QuickBooks Payroll competitor, we looked at user reviews on third-party websites, thoroughly reviewed QuickBooks Payroll’s features online, watched various how-to videos and viewed software demos whenever possible.

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