Checkmate Payroll Review 2020: Pricing, Features, Top Alternatives

A good payroll software can make your job as a small business owner significantly easier. You’ve got plenty to worry about without the headache of inputting timesheets and writing checks. But before you have a good payroll service for your small business set up, you have to go through the process of choosing one, which can be a process in itself.

You want to make sure your small business payroll service offers everything you need and a layer of security and ease as well. There are plenty to choose from and you may use another product already that offers payroll capabilities, so how do you know which is best for your business? We’re here to help you narrow down the options by reviewing one such payroll service: Checkmate Payroll.

In this Checkmate Payroll review, we’ll explore the features of this payroll services provider, as well as pricing, pros and cons, and some of Checkmate Payroll’s alternatives, so you can find the best payroll software for your business.

Checkmate Payroll: The Basics

Based in Concord, New Hampshire, Checkmate Payroll Services has been in business since 1994. Originally, they started with just payroll software solutions for businesses in New England, but have since expanded their services to provide their customers (in over 40 states now) with a number of workforce management solutions. Beyond Checkmate’s payroll services, they now also offer HRIS software, time tracking, attendance, scheduling, and more.

Despite their expansion, Checkmate Payroll still provides all their customers with a dedicated account manager, so you’ll receive hands-on attention and guidance through all of your payroll questions.

While Checkmate Payroll serves various small and large businesses across industries, they are especially well-equipped to work with businesses in the manufacturing, hospitality, health care, government, retail and grocery, nonprofit, high-tech, and banking and financial services industries.

Checkmate Payroll Features

Now that we have a general overview of the services that Checkmate Payroll provides, let’s take a closer look at what specific features you can expect if you choose this payroll services provider.

Payroll Processing

While Checkmate Payroll offers more than just payroll, payroll processing is at the core of their services, and likely what will be of the highest importance to you. Payroll processing from Checkmate Payroll offers “calculations on the go,” so you can calculate your complete payroll and review the totals as you go, as well as access their Payroll Recap and Funding Report. With this report, you can check payroll totals, and also compare them to your last payroll period to make sure everything is accurate.

Checkmate Payroll also offers direct deposits, payroll alerts, and labor distribution and cost center tracking. If you decide to utilize Checkmate Payroll’s time and attendance software, as well, this can sync with your payroll services so you can easily review your employees’ hours and process payroll. You’ll also be able to manage paid time off, as well.

Payroll Reporting

In addition to processing, you have access to payroll reporting with Checkmate Payroll, too. If you’re reporting with more than one business tax ID number you can consolidate them with the platform. You can also conduct cross-year reporting, as well as date-driven across all of your business’s years of payroll. Reports can be automatically sent via email or you can export them in different formats, like Excel.

At the end of the year you’ll also get year-end processing like W2 and ACA tax forms. The software offers reciprocity tax withholding and general ledger processing, too. And with unlimited data storage, you won’t have to worry about losing any historical data.

Benefits Tracking

With Checkmate Payroll, you will also be able to access and manage the employee benefits you offer your staff. The platform also allows you to access worker compensation management and total compensation statements, as well as benefit accruals information.

If you opt for Checkmate Payroll’s benefits administration services, as well, you’ll be able to easily alert employees when they’re eligible for benefits and allow them to make their selections in a self-service portal. You can also send reminders during open enrollment and keep track of all employees’ elections and changes.

Human Resources

You can also hire and manage employees through Checkmate Payroll’s human resources software. Through this feature you can create workflows for everything from recruiting and applicant tracking to onboarding, offboarding, and benefits administration.

You can also manage your employees’ time off, their trainings and certifications, and performance and compensation management. The software also offers solutions for incident tracking and document storage. Checkmate Payroll’s HR system easily integrates with their other services, including payroll and time and attendance.

Workforce Scheduler

Planning employee shifts can be time consuming, especially as people and roles change. Checkmate Payroll’s scheduling software allows you to input employee availability, skillset, training, and more so you can easily schedule the right people for the right task. You can also track this data if you want to take a deep-dive into your business’s overall productivity and work trends.

Checkmate Payroll Pricing

All of Checkmate Payroll’s services are quote-based, since you can pick and choose which services best serve your business website, and which aren’t necessary for your operations. While there is no mention of a free trial on their site, you do have the option to watch an online demo of some of their services, like their Workforce Scheduler.

Checkmate Payroll Pros

Before making any decisions, you’ll want to consider all of the pros and cons that Checkmate Payroll has to offer your business. Here is what Checkmate Payroll’s software does well.

Custom Solutions

Checkmate Payroll offers a wide variety of business solutions for you to choose from, and they are willing to work with you to create what they call a “custom solution.” In other words, you can pick and choose which features your business needs—meaning you only pay for what you need.

Client Account Managers

When you work with Checkmate Payroll, they assign you a Client Account Manager who will work with you every pay period to make sure you’re payroll is accurate and that your tax filings for your small business taxes are being completed properly. Your account manager will be up to date on any tax law changes, so you won’t have to worry about keeping track of this information. This personalized touch is something not all companies offer, so it can be a big benefit to you if you’re looking for extra support.

One-Stop Shop

The fact that Checkmate Payroll offers many of the services a small business needs, as well as tax support is a huge draw. They offer payroll, hiring, human resources, time tracking, scheduling services, and more. If you’re looking to take advantage of all of these services, it can be helpful to get them all from one place rather than multiple platforms. This way, everything can be found in one place and will work together seamlessly.

Checkmate Payroll Cons

There are a few things that might make you not want to use Checkmate Payroll, though they depend on exactly what you’re looking for in a service and the specifics of your business.


There are no prices listed on Checkmate Payroll’s website and there’s also no mention of a free trial period. Meaning, if you want a quote or the chance to see the product before diving in you’ll have to contact them directly. You also won’t know how the rate you’re given compares to those others have received from them. This lack of pricing transparency can be a serious negative, especially when so many other payroll services offer upfront pricing and free trial periods, so you really know what you’re getting yourself into.

Limited Service

Checkmate Payroll offers services and files taxes in accordance with more than 40 states, and as we mentioned, they work best with a select group of industries. If your business falls outside this list of industries or you’re not located in the states they currently operate (which they don’t disclose), Checkmate Payroll will likely not be the best payroll services provider for you.

Checkmate Payroll Alternatives

If Checkmate Payroll isn’t right for your business, or if you simply want to do your due diligence before making a decision (something we always recommend), here are some Checkmate Payroll alternatives to consider.

Payday Payroll Services

Similar to Checkmate Payroll, Payday Payroll matches their customers with a real person to help you through the payroll process. In addition to their cloud-based system, you’ll have a payroll and business management expert at your disposal. Also similar to Checkmate, Payday Payroll also don’t offer their pricing options online. While the two companies offer similar features, it may come down to contacting each one to see who has the better price.

Payday Payroll offers payroll services, human resources solutions, time sheets, and compliance solutions. They also have other services that you can get support for simply by contacting them and working with a representative from their in-house technology team. They also highlight that they work with local businesses and nonprofits—so if your business falls into either of these buckets, they could be a good solution for you.


A great option for you if you’re looking for transparent pricing and a scalable solution is Gusto Payroll. Instead of taking a pick-and-choose approach similar like Checkmate Payroll, Gusto Payroll offers three packages of their services, depending on what exactly it is you need for your small business. Gusto also has a new option for contractor-only employers, who simply pay the $6/employee rate and no base price. The basic level, Gusto Core, is the most basic but also the least expensive version that’s great for small businesses that don’t need every bell and whistle there is. This plan includes payroll, health benefits administration, workers’ comp administration, and more.

Their most comprehensive plan, Gusto Concierge, includes access to certified HR professionals, a dedicated customer service team, and access to the HR resource center that gives you the option to customize things like employee handbooks. The downside is, because they have structured plans, you aren’t able to customize a plan to your exact needs like you can with Checkmate Payroll or Payday.

Get Started With Gusto Payroll


If you’re looking to set up your payroll services ASAP, Paychex Payroll should be one of your first points of contact: They aim to get new customers set up in just 48 hours. They’ll also give you one-on-one support through the setup process, which can be extremely helpful.

Like Gusto, Paychex Payroll offers several plans for you to choose from between a basic plan called “Express Payroll” and their most sophisticated plan, which is called Paychex Flex Enterprise. There are also other HR add-ons you can use to help expand the use of the software. Like Checkmate Payroll and Payday, though, Paychex is quote-based, and you’ll need to contact them for pricing info. If you need something that can be set up quickly and easily, with the option for add-ons as you grow, Paychex Payroll is a great option for you. Read our more in depth review of Paychex Payroll if you’re interested.

For a limited time only, Paychex is offering 3 months free payroll; so if you’re thinking of refreshing your payroll services in 2020, now is a great time to get Paychex.

Request a Free Quote From Paychex

Is Checkmate Payroll Right for Your Business?

If your business isn’t in the industries of banking and financial services, franchise owners and operators, government, healthcare, high tech, hospitality, manufacturing, nonprofits, political campaigns, and retail and grocery, Checkmate Payroll like will not be the best option for you.

However, if your business does fall into one of those categories, or you’re in the New England area and want to pursue this option, it’s worth contacting them to learn more about pricing and to see if there are any demos to better understand how the software will work for your company. If Checkmate Payroll’s software isn’t the right choice for you, there are several other payroll providers that can help you manage this process.

Contributer at Fundera

Nina Godlewski

Nina Godlewski is a former staff writer at Fundera.

Nina worked to help make complicated business topics more accessible for small business owners. At Fundera, she focused on complex topics ranging from payroll management to launching a business. She was previously a staff writer at Newsweek covering technology, science, breaking news, and culture. She has also worked as a reporter for Business Insider and The Boston Globe.

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