• ADP has overseen payroll processing and taxes for all kinds of small businesses since 1949, but it’s not perfect for every workplace.
  • Some small businesses might not fare well with ADP’s limited payroll runs, year-end reporting fees and pricing plans that make competitor comparison difficult.
  • Prominent ADP alternatives include Paychex, Rippling, OnPay, Gusto, Square Payroll and Intuit QuickBooks Payroll.
  • This article is for small business owners who need to process payroll but find that ADP, despite its prominence, isn’t right for them.

ADP is perhaps the leading name in small business payroll. At the very least, it was one of the first brands in the field, launching in 1949. The company played a part in developing modern outsourced payroll processing infrastructures, and it remains dominant today. But that doesn’t make it the right fit for every small business. If you’re seeking ADP alternatives despite the brand’s preeminence, look no further than the options below.

ADP overview

ADP has continued to dominate the payroll service field because of its extensive suite of customizable, cloud-based solutions that cater to businesses of all sizes. You can use ADP solely for basic payroll processing, or you can bring it on as your PEO. One of its strengths is its high-level HR features: It can entirely handle your background checks, onboarding, time tracking, benefits administration and more.

Of course, this all comes at a price, and ADP doesn’t make it easy to compare costs to other payroll service providers. The company offers custom pricing, so it’s tough to figure out whether other payroll services might be more cost-effective. Even if you do score a great deal, you’ll have to pay additional fees for extra payroll runs and year-end reports. These disadvantages may rule out ADP for some small businesses.

ADP limits the number of payrolls and year-end reports you can run without paying extra.

If your business needs guarantees of cost-effectiveness, unlimited payroll runs and free year-end reports, the ADP alternatives below might suit you better. You may also want to read our in-depth ADP review to make the most informed comparison. Many of the alternatives below are also detailed further in our payroll software best picks list.

6 alternatives to ADP

Some prominent ADP alternatives include:

1. Paychex: Best for larger businesses

Like ADP, Paychex has been in the payroll game for a while – 50 years, in fact. In that time, it has worked extensively with large businesses, making it uniquely qualified to handle their needs. Its suite of features, which go from basic payroll functions to advanced HR needs, comes alongside 24/7 customer service from a dedicated account specialist. We’ve detailed how Paychex and ADP stack up here: ADP vs. Paychex Payroll.

These are some of the most important Paychex features:

  • Basic payroll calculations
  • Direct deposit and pay cards
  • Payroll tax calculation and payment
  • Hundreds of payroll reports
  • New-hire reporting
  • Accounting integrations
  • Unemployment insurance program coordination
  • Employee financial wellness program administration
  • Background screening and onboarding
  • Performance reviews and tracking
  • Employee training
  • Secure document storage
  • Benefits administration
  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Online marketing
  • Business incorporation services

Paychex offers three pricing plans:

    Paychex Go costs $59 per month, plus $4 per month per employee. You’ll get basic payroll processing and tax services alongside new-hire reporting.Paychex Flex Select starts at $90 per month, with extra fees per employee. You’ll get mobile app access, income verification and dedicated account management services.Paychex Flex Enterprise starts at $160 per month, with extra fees per employee. It includes all the features of the other plans, accounting software integration, state unemployment insurance services, tools for screening and onboarding employees, and an employee handbook builder.

Learn more about Paychex in our Paychex payroll service review.

2. Rippling: Best for ease of use

Payroll services should streamline your payroll, taxes and HR, but some payroll interfaces are needlessly complicated. Not Rippling, though. The HR company offers payroll processing services that you can fully execute in just 90 seconds. Truly anybody can master Rippling’s payroll runs in no time.

These are Rippling’s key features:

  • 90-second payroll runs
  • Automatic compliance and tax filing
  • Direct deposit
  • Global payroll
  • Time-tracking software, including PTO infrastructure
  • Prebuilt and customizable reports
  • Job costing
  • Multiple pay rates
  • Wage garnishments
  • Over 400 integrations
  • Benefits administration (if you use Rippling’s HR services as well)

Rippling starts at $8 per user per month, though you’ll need to obtain a custom quote. Learn more in our Rippling HR review.

3. OnPay: Best for very small businesses

When you’ve employed just one or two people to keep your operations going smoothly, you have only so much time and money to spend on payroll. That’s where OnPay comes in. Its full-service payroll and tax services, straightforward pricing structure, and extensive customer service make it an ideal choice for business owners slim on payroll processing resources. You won’t have to sign any long-term contracts or worry about hidden fees.

OnPay offers only one service plan, which is ideal for very small businesses since you won’t have to conduct a cost-benefit analysis among several choices. Instead, you’ll get all the below services with OnPay:

    • Full-service payroll processing and tax payment
    • Full coverage of any tax fines or interest incurred on your behalf
    • Unlimited payroll runs

Multiple pay schedules

  • Direct deposit and pay cards
  • Five levels of user access
  • Extensive integrations
  • PTO tracking
  • New-hire reporting
  • Onboarding tools
  • In-app offer letters
  • HR resource center
  • Workers’ comp, health insurance and 401(k) administration

OnPay costs $36 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. You’ll also pay $5 plus shipping if you need OnPay to print and mail year-end tax forms to your office. This fee increases to $6 plus shipping for direct delivery to your employees. Printing your own W-2 forms is free, though. Learn more in our OnPay payroll software review.

4. Gusto: Best for added HR services

Even the smallest business needs an HR department, but most cannot afford a dedicated HR staff. If this sounds like your business, Gusto’s payroll services might appeal to you. Alongside these payroll services, you can also get HR services so robust it’ll be like having an in-house staff. Your extensive set of HR features won’t put a damper on your payroll platform’s ease of use or your access to customer service. Learn more about how Gusto and ADP payroll compare: Gusto VS ADP payroll.

These are some of Gusto’s combined payroll and HR features:

No-fee delivery of W-2 and 1099 forms to employees and contractors

Customizable employee handbooks

    • Job description templates
    • HR policy templates
    • Proactive, frequent compliance updates
    • Organizational charts
    • Employee directories
    • Employee surveys
    • Onboarding tools
    • Workforce costing
    • Project tracking
    • Access to certified HR professionals
    • Fully integrated 529 college savings plans

Workers’ comp, health insurance and 401(k) administration

  • Secure digital document sharing

Gusto offers four pricing plans:

    Basiccosts $19 per month, plus $6 per employee per month. You’ll get full-service payroll, four-day direct deposit, PTO administration, employee self-service and workers’ comp administration.Corecosts $39 per month, plus $6 per employee per month. You’ll get everything in Basic, plus onboarding tools, accounting and time-tracking integrations, fully automated payroll, two-day direct deposit, and health insurance administration.Completecosts $39 per month, plus $12 per employee per month. You’ll get all the features of the Core plan, plus employee surveys, workforce costing, project tracking, employee directories and software permissions.Conciergecosts $149 per month, plus $12 per employee per month. It gives you the full combined HR and payroll package, including every feature listed above.

Learn more about Gusto in our Gusto payroll service review.

5. Square Payroll: Best for payroll tax prep

Leading payment processing and POS system Square has also developed a strong reputation in the payroll service world. Its calling card is its fusion of payroll data and tax rules, with an eye on compliance. This combination keeps your taxation compliant and your payments on deadline. The entire process takes place through a user-friendly platform as uncomplicated as the straightforward interface largely responsible for Square’s prior success.

These are some Square Payroll features:

  • Basic payroll processing
  • Detailed attention to payroll tax payments
  • Automated tax form creation
  • Employee and contractor payments
  • Phone, email and live chat customer support
  • Extensive POS and time and attendance tracking integrations
  • Employee payment possible through employee Square accounts
  • Team management tools

Square Payroll costs $29 per month, plus $5 per employee per month if you’re paying workers for whom you deduct taxes. If you’re paying contractors, Square Payroll costs just $5 per contractor per month, with no base fee. In either case, Square Payroll won’t make you sign lengthy, binding contracts.

If you need to save money on your contractor payments, Square Payroll only charges you per transaction for contractor payments rather than including the monthly fee.

6. Intuit QuickBooks Payroll: Best for small businesses

Unsurprisingly, the leading name in small business accounting software also has plenty to offer on the payroll front. Whether you choose the online or desktop version, Intuit QuickBooks Payroll is a highly flexible option for all your payroll processing and tax needs. Plus, if you’re among the many businesses already using QuickBooks Accounting, your payroll and accounting software integrations will be seamless.

These are some top-notch features you get with QuickBooks Payroll:

    Full-service payroll processing and payroll tax payments

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Multiple pay schedules
  • Direct deposit
  • Full coverage of any tax fines or interest incurred on your behalf (only with some plans)

Seamless QuickBooks accounting integration

  • Mobile time tracking
  • HR resources, including designated account HR advisor
  • Health insurance administration through SimplyInsured
  • Retirement plan administration through Guideline
  • Workers’ comp administration

QuickBooks Online Payroll plans are priced as follows:

    Corecosts $45 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. It includes full-service, automated payroll alongside benefits administration.Premiumcosts $75 per month, plus $8 per employee per month. It includes everything in the Core plan, plus direct deposit, workers’ comp administration, mobile time tracking, HR center access, and expert setup assistance.Elitecosts $125 per month, plus $10 per employee per month. It includes every service in the other plans plus 24/7 expert product support, tax penalty protection, and a personal HR advisor.

QuickBooks Desktop Payroll plans are available at these prices:

    Basiccosts $29 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, with a 20% discount for the first six months. It includes direct deposit, live support and instant paycheck printing.Enhancedcosts $45 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, with a 20% discount for the first six months. It includes everything in Basic, plus tax calculation, though you must manually pay your taxes yourself. You can also print employee W-2 forms.Assistedcosts $109 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, with a 40% discount for the first six months. It includes all the above services, along with advanced reports and inventory management, integration with Salesforce CRM, simultaneous access for up to 40 users, and more.

Learn more about QuickBooks in our QuickBooks Payroll review, and don’t hesitate to consider additional ADP alternatives as well.

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