Big Fish Payroll Review 2021: Features, Pricing, Alternatives

If you have employees, whether they’re full time, part time, freelancers, or contractors, then responsibly handling payroll (and payroll taxes) is one of your most crucial processes. Lucky for you, you don’t need to fully take on that burden yourself—rather, you can outsource and automate these time-consuming tasks to a web-based payroll processing system. Big Fish payroll is just one such payroll service.

But payroll is only one tool available through Big Fish Employer Services, a California-based company that provides small business owners with tailored, scalable, and integrated human resources solutions through their tech-forward platform. In addition to their payroll tools, Big Fish Employer Services offer human resources managed services, time and labor management systems, benefits administration, hiring software, and Work Opportunity Tax Credits management tools.

But in this Big Fish review, we’ll focus on the company’s payroll system, which is still their foundational service. Plus, we’ll show you a few alternative payroll services to consider if you decide that you don’t need to take advantage of Big Fish’s other HR services.

Big Fish Payroll Features

Although Big Fish Employer Services changed their name to better represent all the services they offer their clients, payroll remains at the heart of their operations.

Big Fish aims to set themselves apart from other payroll platforms especially through their customer service team, with whom you’ll work to create a tailored HR solution (which will include their payroll platform). Plus, employees own their personal information on a dedicated online dashboard, which alleviates the burden on your end to manage data entry and management.

Here’s what else you can expect from Big Fish payroll services:

Tax Services

Managing your payroll tax liabilities is probably one of the more difficult tasks involved in payroll, but Big Fish payroll includes comprehensive tax services on their platform. For this service, Big Fish will take full responsibility for electronically collecting and filing all relevant payroll taxes to the appropriate parties. Big Fish also offers a second tier of tax services, in which the platform will produce signature-ready tax checks and tax returns for you, and you’ll manage your own tax deposits and tax return submissions.

Workers Compensation

Big Fish partners with licensed insurance brokers to offer workers compensation insurance, which covers employees’ medical expenses and temporary disability payments due to work-related illness or injury.

Every state carries their own laws regarding workers comp, and in some, employers are legally required to obtain this type of business insurance. Typically, employers buying workers comp insurance will need to pay a large down payment based on the insurance broker’s quote, but Big Fish offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model, in which the broker automatically deducts liability payments from your business bank account after processing each payroll period.

Pay Cards

Big Fish has also partnered with affiliate companies that can provide your employees with pay cards. With this service, your employees can choose to send all or part of their paycheck to a debit card rather than their bank accounts.

Direct Deposit

Big Fish can securely deliver your employees’ wages directly into their personal bank accounts via direct deposit.

Big Fish Payroll Pricing

Big Fish designs custom quotes for each of their customers. To get an idea of how much your Big Fish Employer Services account would cost you, you can use their online Quote Builder and follow the prompts. Alternatively, you can call or email Big Fish directly, or fill out their contact form to indicate which of their myriad services you’re interested in learning more about.

Big Fish Payroll Alternatives

Big Fish payroll is just one of many payroll processing systems available that can fully automate this tricky task. Here are three more payroll processing systems to consider:


Gusto is a full-service online payroll processing app. Customers can choose among Gusto’s three service tiers—Core, Complete, or Concierge—which provide ascending capabilities at increasing price levels. Gusto also has a new option for contractor-only employers, who simply pay the $6/employee rate and no base price. But even at its basic Core service level,  Gusto provides all the payroll services you need, including tax calculating and reporting, direct deposits, benefits administration, workers comp administration, and PTO tracking. And through their dedicated portal, employees can self-onboard then manage all of their personal information, pay stubs, and tax forms.

Gusto’s pricing model is simple, too:

  • Core: $39 per month + $6 per month per employee
  • Complete: $39 per month + $12 per month per employee
  • Concierge: $149 per month + 12 per month per employee

In addition to the services available through their three account tiers, you can sign up for any of Gusto’s additional products and services at an extra cost, including health plans, 401(k) plans, workers’ comp insurance, 529 college savings plans, FSA and HSA accounts, and commuter benefits.

Get Started With Gusto Payroll


Square Payroll is just one more service in the long lineup of small business services available through Square (other big hitters include Square POS, Square Payments, Square Capital Loans, and Square Appointments). Like Square’s other products and services, Square Payroll is a tech-forward but intuitive platform that you can access on any device. But this tool, of course, is dedicated to handling your payroll taxes and paying your employees on time and in full.

With Square Payroll, you can automatically pay your employees via direct deposit, offer and manage employee benefits, and let Square handle your payroll tax filings and withholdings. Also, Square Payroll automatically syncs with Square POS’s time-tracking and tipping software, so paying contractors and hourly employees is incredibly easy.

And like other all-in-one, online payroll processing systems (and Square’s other products), Square Payroll pricing is simple and straightforward. If you’re using Square Payroll to pay and manage both full-time employees and contractors, then you’ll pay a $29 monthly fee plus $5 per employee per month. And if you’re only paying contractors, you’ll forgo the base fee and only pay $5 per paid employee per month.

Sign Up for Square Payroll


Finally, consider OnPay Payroll as another integrated, cloud-based payroll software. Not only will OnPay properly disburse your employees’ wages via automatic deposit, paper checks, or prepaid cards (your employees can choose which method they’d prefer), but they also provide a 100% accuracy guarantee when taking care of your payroll taxes—which means they’ll cover any potential fines due to inaccurate tax reporting and deal with the IRS on your behalf.

With OnPay as your payroll software, you can also take advantage of its other features, including employee management services (including a centralized dashboard where employees can access all their important documents and performance reviews and track PTO) and integrations with other small business apps like QuickBooks and Xero. OnPay also acts as a broker for small business health insurance and 401(k) plans.

Get Started With OnPay

Is Big Fish Payroll Right for Your Business?

Remember that Big Fish payroll is just one of the company’s integrated employer services—so if you sign up for Big Fish payroll, you’re also signing up for the following services:

  • Human Resources Managed Services: With this comprehensive human capital management service, a dedicated HR advisor will perform an HR compliance audit on your business and then work with you to develop an HR strategy and train your management team.
  • Time and Attendance: Big Fish’s Time and Labor Management System is a web-based platform that offers several types of clock-in/clock-out solutions, which you can use to track your employees at one or several locations.
  • Benefits Administration: Big Fish helps you stay compliant in managing all your employees’ benefits, including 401(k) planning, healthcare, FSA and HSA accounts, and tax reporting.
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credits: Big Fish can also help you determine eligibility and calculate WOTC tax credits.
  • iSolved: iSolved is Big Fish’s comprehensive HCM (human capital management) software, which integrates all of the above services (plus payroll) into a single, cloud-based platform that you can access on any device. iSolved Hire is a separate cloud-based app that simplifies and streamlines the recruiting and hiring processes.

According to Big Fish, their employer management services can work for all kinds of businesses, including startups that need to implement an HR infrastructure; established businesses that need to update and optimize their HR processes; and quickly growing businesses that need a scalable HR solution.

But if your HR processes are already under control and you don’t need Big Fish’s additional management tools, you can always opt for a dedicated payroll platform like Gusto or Square. Whichever payroll service you choose, you can rest easy knowing that your employees will be paid on time and in full every time (and that your payroll taxes will be properly filed, with minimal work on your end!).

Contributing Writer at Fundera

Caroline Goldstein

Caroline Goldstein is a contributing writer for Fundera.

Caroline is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in small business and finance. She has covered topics such as lending, credit cards, marketing, and starting a business for Fundera. Her work has appeared in JPMorgan Chase, Prevention, Refinery29, Bustle, Men’s Health, and more.

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