Low cost payroll service

What Is the Cheapest Payroll Service for Small Business?

There are many benefits of payroll services for small businesses, but which is the cheapest? This guide explains the cheapest payroll service for small businesses.

While all business owners understand that their employees need to get paid, they may not initially realize all of the components that go into payroll. Additionally, they may not realize the cost that goes into the processing of payroll-related tasks.

To avoid the potential for wasted hours and payroll errors, you may want to consider enlisting a payroll service. If cost is important to you, keep reading to compare the cheapest payroll service options out there– and how they can help you get back to doing more of what’s important to you.

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Small Business Needs

Compare Online Payroll PricingCompared to a large corporate organization, a small business has a few distinct needs that make finding the best payroll service an additional challenge:

  • Small staff (1-49 employees)
  • Limited time
  • The desire to grow your business
  • Nuanced payroll rules and regulations
  • Limited budget (avoid fines!)
  • The added stress of tax compliance and deadlines

Small businesses have noted that payroll is one of the most challenging aspects of their job. In a recent Small Business Trends survey, 22% of new businesses responded that they will be pivoting to third-party online payroll services in 2021 to assist with this sticking point. Are you interested in joining this momentum?

Payroll Services for Small Business 

As a small business owner, adding a task to your to-do list is the last thing that you need. To help you make a quick and efficient decision, we’ve outlined some of the most popular payroll services for small business needs.

Intuit (Quickbooks)


Commonly referred to as Quickbooks, Intuit was voted America’s #1 payroll service. Regardless of level selection, Intuit Quickbooks offers benefit organization, 401(k) management, direct deposit, full-service payroll, and product support. If you are currently using a Quickbooks service, it is easy to transfer over to its cloud-based software.

There are three membership level options for this software:

  • Core – run payroll and calculate taxes
  • Premium – fully automated, includes tax form completion and filing and human resource features
  • Elite – guaranteed accuracy and human resource features

Intuit is most affordable for very small organizations (15 employees or less). The Intuit monthly cost starts at $22.50 for basic access, plus $4 per employee.

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Payficiency is known for its tax-related benefits. With automated tax payments and filings, the software makes that part of your job as simple as possible.

A Payficiency subscription includes:

  • Automatic Federal and State tax filings
  • Tracked PTO and vacation time
  • Easy time card submissions
  • Employee self-service accounts

A Payficiency subscription does not include:

  • 24/7 customer support
  • Benefits management

The cost for Payficiency software starts at $35 for monthly access, plus $5 per employee. While it costs more than other software offerings of its size, it may save you money down the road if you find yourself prone to forgetting about tax reporting and paperwork.

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When it comes to payroll experience, PayUSA claims seniority. This company has been in the payroll business since 1969.

Now a cloud-based software company, PayUSA provides full-service HR and payroll support. Because they understand that every company is different, they provide flexible plans to support each individual case.

PayUSA provides one base package, with the ability to add more features. The base package provides:

  • Employee checks and earnings statements
  • Tax summaries
  • Personnel/HR reports
  • Federal and State tax year-end filing capabilities
  • Annual Federal Unemployment reports
  • Email or online viewing options

Add-ons include:

  • Direct deposit capabilities
  • Labor distribution reporting
  • Integration and importing to Quickbooks

Monthly costs for PayUSA software start at $35, with additional fees per add-on.

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Formerly known as ZenPayroll, Gusto was created specifically for small businesses. With their easy-to-use platform and minimalist design, Gusto is a great modern solution to your payroll problems.

Gusto stands out as an excellent choice for the hospitality and food service industry, as it contains built-in features for wage-level recording and tip-tracking. Other features include:

  • Employee onboarding
  • Unlimited payroll
  • Complete tax reporting
  • User support and full demo instruction for new users
  • Full benefits management, including FSA/HSA, commuter benefits, insurance, and retirement

Gusto offers four plans: Basic, Core, Complete, and Concierge. Basic plans start at $19/month, with Concierge plans costing upwards of $149. All plans include additional fees per employee.

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OnPay Payroll 

Onpay Online Payroll

Reviews have noted that OnPay Payroll is incredibly easy to use– even for those who have never used a payroll service. Small businesses love OnPay for its flexible use, and full payroll and HR capabilities. Don’t worry about growth– once this software is mastered, it has the ability to grow with you.

OnPay offers best-in-class customer support, live online and video training for users, and mobile-friendly access. Other benefits include:

  • Employee offer letter organization
  • Full-time employee and contractor payroll
  • Support team trained by the American Payroll Association
  • Compliance tools

OnPay was voted as the “best value” of payroll software in 2020. Costs start at $36 per feature, per month. An additional $4 charge per employee may be added.

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BenefitMall/ADP Payroll Systems


Previously known as BenefitMall, this payroll system was recently acquired by ADP. Now known as Payroll Systems, this third-party payroll option serves companies of all sizes.

While the name represents a dependable payroll service provider, the tool also provides:

  • Accurate timekeeping
  • Applicant and onboarding management
  • Benefits administration
  • Pre-tax visibility
  • HR support
  • COBRA compliance

Monthly costs for ADP Payroll Systems are not readily available. Interested customers can schedule a call with a Payroll Systems representative to learn more.

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PayChex is an award-winning payroll and HR service. With over two hundred tax compliance experts on staff, you receive fast and accurate payroll processing.

PayChex comes with a variety of features:

  • HR features that support recruitment, onboarding, continuing education, and retirement
  • 24/7 phone, in-app, and chat support
  • Automatic time tracking
  • Smart-watch compatibility
  • 401(k) planning
  • Benefits management

PayChex will provide a pricing quote and package recommendation after answering a few short questions on their website.

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For businesses that already use Square’s payment processing product, adding an additional product onto the employee suite is the best way to keep things simple.

Because of its mobile app, Square Payroll is also a great choice for business owners who are always on the go.

Benefits of Square’s payroll service include:

  • Customer support
  • Automatic filing state, federal and local payroll taxes
  • Employee time-tracking
  • Instant pay with your Square balance

Square Payroll is best for companies with W-2 employees. They offer a $29 flat fee for all services, plus $5 per employee. That means that there are no surprise features or fees on your monthly invoice.

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Complete Payroll Solutions

Complete Payroll Solutions 

Complete Payroll Solutions is a lesser-known option that offers a wide range of full-suite payroll monitoring and reporting. Complete Payroll offers automated services, which means more time for the things on your to-do list. A Complete Payroll Solutions package includes:

  • Holiday, sick day and vacation tracking
  • 401(k) and other benefit management
  • W-2 and 1099 support
  • Worker’s comp and unemployment insurance management
  • Visually engaging reporting for all of your important data

Classic payroll starts at $2 per employee and $23 per pay period. Depending on the size of your business, there are four packages to choose from. This breaks down to $69 per month for 1-10 employees.

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SurePayroll is used by a lot of small businesses and families that hire child care providers. Its highlight is its auto-payroll feature, which means you will never forget to settle each pay period. While they do not have 24/7 customer service, they do provide extended support hours.

Other benefits include:

  • Flexible payroll options
  • Management of HSA, FSA, and retirement accounts
  • Allowances for both full time and contract employees
  • The SurePayroll mobile app

The monthly cost starts at $49, with a 30-day free trial. You can even get a payroll quote upfront to avoid any surprise fees. It is backed by a guarantee, which means you will never have to pay for future mistakes.

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The Cheapest Payroll Service

We understand that this can be an overwhelming decision, especially given the number of options available to those interested in third-party software.

With the average cost for a payroll service coming out to about $50-$600 a month (depending on preferred capabilities), you want to make sure you’re choosing the right brand for your specific needs. Check to make sure that the features you want are included in the original quote. Don’t get stuck with a basic plan that doesn’t include everything that you’re looking for!

Additionally, check to make sure that both ease-of-use and customer support is prioritized with the platform you have selected. Depending on how much you’re willing to splurge, your selection may require more or less preparation work.

If you’re interested in a dynamic comparison of the cheapest payroll service, compare them with this online resource.

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