Tech reviews

Pricing, Features, Pros and Cons

Gusto’s fast facts

Our star rating: 4.6 out of 5

Starting price: $40/mo. + $6/payee/mo.

Key features:

  • Fully automated full-service payroll.
  • Built-in benefits administration.
  • Optional insurance add-ons in 38 states and D.C.

Gusto icon.
Image: Gusto

Gusto is one of the most popular, comprehensive payroll software solutions for U.S.-based businesses. It integrates with more accounting software programs than most other payroll competitors, fully automates every aspect of payroll and includes basic hiring and onboarding tools with each plan.

Learn all about Gusto’s plans, pricing, top payroll features, strengths and weaknesses in our comprehensive Gusto review.

Gusto’s pricing

Gusto has three main payroll plans and a variety of add-on services, plans and features.

Plan name Starting base price Starting per-payee price Full-service payroll Benefits administration Direct deposit Multi-state payroll
Simple $40/mo. $6/mo. Yes Yes Two-day No
Plus $80/mo. $12/mo. Yes Yes Next-day Yes
Premium Custom Custom Yes Yes Next-day Yes

Plan and pricing details up to date as of 2/9/2024.

Gusto Simple

$40 per month plus $6 per employee/contractor paid per month.

Gusto Simple works best for small and midsize companies that need comprehensive payroll features rather than a combined HR and payroll tool. Its top features include the following:

  • Full-service payroll processing with unlimited monthly payroll runs.
  • Autopilot payroll tool for scheduling pay runs in advance.
  • Integration with Gusto-brokered health insurance plans (available in 37 states).
  • Seamless integration with third-party accounting software, time-tracking software, expense management software and more.
  • Hiring and onboarding tools like offer letter templates and hiring documents with e-sign capabilities.

Gusto Plus

$80 per month plus $12 per employee/contractor paid per month.

Gusto Plus works best for multi-state companies with room in their budget for a combined payroll and HR software solution. Along with the features offered in Gusto Simple, Gusto Plus adds the following HR and payroll features:

  • Multi-state payroll runs.
  • PTO management and policy creation.
  • Next-day direct deposit.
  • Time tracking and project tracking.
  • Performance reviews, employee engagement surveys and team management tools.

Gusto Plus users can also choose to add priority customer service and access to more HR features for another $8 per employee per month.

Gusto Premium

Custom pricing only.

Gusto Premium is a custom plan intended for large businesses and enterprises that need one-on-one support and more intensive HR features. Its adds the following features to those already included in Gusto Plus:

  • Dedicated customer service.
  • Priority customer support.
  • HR compliance alerts and HR library access.
  • Full-service account migration with white-glove setup.
  • Integration with health insurance not brokered by Gusto.

Gusto Premium gives you a dedicated customer service representative and access to priority support. It also connects you with HR experts who can answer pressing HR and compliance questions. While Gusto’s two other plans let you connect Gusto-brokered health insurance plans to your payroll solution, Gusto Premium allows you to use your existing health plans, regardless of who brokered them.

Gusto Contractor Only

Starts at $0 per month plus $6 per contractor per month.

If you don’t have any employees, Gusto’s contractor payroll plan is a more affordable choice. The base price is waived for the first six months of service, then increases to $35 per month plus $6 per contractor paid per month.

If you pay domestic employees along with some global contractors, you can also add international contractor payroll to any Gusto employee plan. Pricing varies by country and is available in 120 countries.

Gusto Global

Starts at $629.10 per global employee per month.

Gusto recently added an employer of record service through international payroll provider Remote. While the service will typically cost $699 per employee per month, Gusto is offering a 10% discount to new customers through the end of March.

For now, Gusto Global only enables hiring, onboarding and payroll in Canada. However, Remote currently operates in 75+ countries, so Gusto Global will likely expand coverage as the year goes on.

Other Gusto products and plans

Along with the payroll products listed above, Gusto offers a variety of optional add-ons:

  • Health insurance broker integration: $6 per employee per month.
  • Tax-advantaged benefits (HSAs and FSAs): Annual service fee of $200 per year or priced per employee per month.
  • R&D tax credits: 15% of identified tax credits.
  • State and local tax registration: Varies by state.

Finally, you can use Gusto’s brokerage to find health insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and life and disability insurance. Gusto doesn’t charge an administration fee to integrate Gusto-brokered benefits: You’ll pay the typical insurance premium and nothing more.

Gusto’s key features

Full-service payroll

Gusto’s full-service payroll solution includes unlimited monthly payroll runs, meaning you can run off-cycle or bonus runs without paying extra. Gusto will automatically calculate, deduct and remit state, federal and local payroll taxes on your behalf. Depending on what types of employees you have (salaried vs. hourly vs. contractors) and how often you pay them, you can schedule payroll in advance to run on autopilot.

From the Gusto payroll dashboard, you can get a quick look at any upcoming and past due payroll runs, then run payroll with the click of a button.
Figure A. From the Gusto payroll dashboard, you can get a quick look at any upcoming and past due payroll runs, then run payroll with the click of a button. Image: Kylie McQuarrie/Gusto.

It’s worth noting that few of Gusto’s competitors (with the exception of OnPay) offer as many full-service payroll features as Gusto does without charging extra. For instance, Gusto includes end-of-year W-2 and 1099 forms with all three of its payroll plans at no additional cost. All three plans also support wage garnishment and child support payments, again at no additional fee.

Employee self-service portal

Using Gusto, your employees can access their own tax forms and paystubs. (They can also continue to access their own crucial tax documents and payment history even after they leave your company.) Employees can also tackle their own payroll onboarding tasks, using the portal’s self-guided setup to opt into or out of benefits and set up direct deposit.

Employee benefits add-ons and administration

Gusto’s in-house brokerage can connect you with high-quality health, vision and dental insurance in 37 states. You can also use Gusto to find other key insurance benefits (like life insurance, short-term disability and long-term disability policies) and workers’ compensation insurance for your company. If you use Gusto-brokered benefits, they’ll integrate with your payroll software without an additional fee.

If you already offer health insurance through a provider of your choice, you can integrate most prior health benefits with Gusto for a fee of $6 per employee per month. As long as your insurance provider is eligible to sync with Gusto, Gusto will automatically deduct insurance premiums and other benefit deductions from employee wages.

Hiring and onboarding tools

Gusto includes basic onboarding and hiring tools with every plan, including offer letter templates and onboarding checklists. The Plus and Premium plans give companies more tools for finding and vetting candidates and bringing them on board.

From the People tab on Gusto's dashboard, you can post jobs and keep tabs on open positions, including the number of applications submitted and candidates interviewed.
Figure B. From the People tab on Gusto’s dashboard, you can post jobs and keep tabs on open positions, including the number of applications submitted and candidates interviewed. Image: Kylie McQuarrie/Gusto.

Other key hiring and onboarding tools include:

  • Automatic state new-hire reporting.
  • Employee background checks through Gusto partner Checkr.
  • Employee document storage.
  • Email provisioning and deprovisioning (additional software provisioning/deprovisioning with Plus and Premium plans).

Payroll reports

Gusto’s payroll reports are easy to generate and export. You can organize data by employee, date or department and create reports for payroll, benefits, employees, contractors, taxes, time off and more.

Gusto's thorough reporting dashboard lets you create new reports and gives you easy access to historic data.
Figure C. Gusto’s thorough reporting dashboard lets you create new reports and gives you easy access to historic data. Image: Kylie McQuarrie/Gusto.

Time tracking and PTO management

Gusto includes built-in integrations with up to 24 third-party time-tracking tools, including popular apps like 7shifts, QuickBooks Time, Justworks Hours and When I Work. Its two higher-tier plans include built-in time tracking with geolocation services, app-based time clocks as well as access to a physical time kiosk for on-site time tracking.

The Plus and Premium plans also include PTO policy creation and tracking.

With Gusto Plus and Premium, managers can see and approve employee time-off requests.
Figure D. With Gusto Plus and Premium, managers can see and approve employee time-off requests. Image: Kylie McQuarrie/Gusto.

Third-party integrations

As one of the most widely used payroll programs of its kind, Gusto integrates with more apps than nearly any other payroll software company. Gusto’s dashboard connects directly with its app store, where you can search for apps based on name or category and access discounts available only to Gusto customers.

Some of Gusto’s most popular third-party app integrations include the following:

  • Accounting software, such as Xero, FreshBooks, QuickBooks Online, Sage and ZipBooks.
  • Expense tracking software, such as Expensify and Receipt Bank.
  • Point-of-sale software, such as Clover, Shopify and Upserve.

Gusto pros

  • Affordable full-service payroll with no additional fees for wage garnishment, third-party app integration, benefits administration, or W-2 and 1099 filing.
  • Comprehensive benefits add-ons conveniently brokered by Gusto.
  • Multiple global payroll options for internationally expanding companies.
  • Modern, user-friendly interface with easy self-guided setup.
  • Employee self-service portal with mobile payroll app access via Gusto Wallet.
  • Expansive built-in integrations with top business software apps.

Gusto cons

  • Price doubles between Simple and Plus plan, which could put a strain on small-business budgets.
  • Crucial HR tools (like compliance alerts and HR library access) limited to most expensive plan only.
  • Growing number of customer service complaints.
  • Health insurance available in 38 states and Washington, D.C. only.
  • No mobile payroll app for employers (app limited to employee use only).

If Gusto isn’t ideal for you, check out these alternatives

Vendor Starting base price Starting per-payee price Health benefits administration Mobile app for employers
ADP RUN Custom Custom Extra fee Yes
Paychex $39/mo. $5/mo. Extra fee Yes
Justworks N/A $59/mo. With pricier plan No
Gusto $40/mo. $6/mo. Yes No

Plan and pricing details up to date as of 2/9/2024.

ADP icon.
Image: ADP

RUN Powered by ADP: Best small-business alternative

Our star rating: 4.4 out of 5

ADP is one of the better-known payroll and HR brands in the world. It offers a host of HR/payroll solutions for businesses in all industries and of any size, but its most popular small-business payroll software solution is likely RUN Powered by ADP, sometimes stylized as ADP RUN.

SEE: ADP vs. Gusto (TechRepublic)

ADP RUN, like Gusto, is a full-service payroll plan for small and midsize businesses. With four plans, ADP RUN is slightly more scalable than competitors like Gusto and Paychex (which have three plans each) or OnPay (which has one plan only). ADP’s two highest-tier payroll plans have advanced HR features, ranging from HR training and toolkits, extensive HR documents, an employee handbook and salary benchmarking.

If you want the option to scale up to software with expansive HR features, then ADP is probably a better choice than Gusto. However, if price and usability are your top considerations, Gusto could fit your needs better: ADP’s pricing is available by request only, and third-party reviews indicate that its plans start at a higher price point than Gusto’s plans. Learn more by reading our ADP RUN review.

Paychex icon.
Image: Paychex

Paychex: Best HR + payroll packages

Our star rating: 4 out of 5

Like Gusto, Paychex offers in-house full-service payroll software. Its higher-tier plans include a full suite of HR features, including a stunningly comprehensive HR library, access to HR experts, a learning management system and performance management tools.

SEE: Gusto vs. Paychex (TechRepublic)

Paychex’s app is one of the best mobile payroll apps for employers, so Paychex could be a better fit than Gusto for business owners who need to schedule payroll on the go. Plus, Paychex’s more expensive plans do have more HR features than those of Gusto’s higher-tier plan. Midsize and growing businesses will likely be able to do more with Paychex than they could with Gusto.

However, Paychex charges extra fees for a host of services Gusto bundles into its base price. With the cheapest Paychex plan, you’ll pay extra for general ledger integration, wage garnishment, pre-employment screening and document management (among others).

Paychex starts at $39 per month plus $5 per employee paid per month. Learn more by reading our complete Paychex review.

Justworks icon.
Image: Justworks

Justworks: Best PEO alternative

Our star rating: 4.2 out of 5

If you’d rather outsource your payroll and HR tasks instead of keeping them in house, a professional employer organization (PEO) like Justworks could help. A PEO becomes a co-employer with your business, handling all tasks related to paying and onboarding employees so you can focus on day-to-day business operations.

SEE: Justworks vs. Gusto (TechRepublic)

Like Gusto, Justworks’ payroll software includes full-service state and federal tax administration. Justworks Time, a time-clock feature, is available as an add-on. However, Justworks offers more HR features than Gusto, including a full suite of benefits in all 50 states.

Justworks starts at $59 per employee per month. Read our complete Justworks review to learn more.

Review methodology

To review Gusto as thoroughly as possible, we set up a free Gusto account (Gusto doesn’t charge you for payroll until you run payroll for the first time) and spent time exploring Gusto’s free interactive demo. We reviewed Gusto’s website, read through its knowledge base and spoke with Gusto representatives to find answers to our questions. We also read third-party reviews on trusted sites like Gartner Peer Insights to ensure we brought you a well-rounded review that represented multiple viewpoints.

To calculate star ratings for Gusto and all other payroll providers, we follow an in-house algorithm that breaks down according to the following criteria:

  • Pricing (25% of total star rating).
  • Features (35% of total star rating).
  • Ease of use (15% of total star rating).
  • Customer service (15% of total star rating).
  • Our firsthand experience reviewing, researching and testing the software (10% of total star rating).

Learn more about our high review standards and evaluation criteria by reading our thorough payroll software methodology.


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