Coastal Payroll Review 2021: Pricing, Features, Alternatives

Small business owners rarely get a chance to automate some of the more time-draining tasks that end up on their to-do list. If you oversee the human resources responsibilities of your company, the tasks that come along with this job can often be a full-time job alongside your other obligations. But, on the other hand, hiring an HR manager can be pricey—particularly if you’re working on a small budget. Thankfully, there are HR software programs out there that can help, and Coastal Payroll is one of many that can help automate your small business HR tasks.

Small businesses need assistance with human resources, but they aren’t always financially able to onboard dedicated employees to help. Fortunately, human resources information systems (HRIS) applications help small companies keep themselves in order with less hassle, paperwork, and a lower risk of overlooking something significant—such as compliance and employment rules.

There are a slew of HRIS systems out there, most of which provide the same core capabilities: timesheet management, information about employees, and information about payroll. Thus, most reviews focus on these features, and use them as the main basis for deciding which programs are the best. In our Coastal Payroll review, we’ll go over the core components of this program and compare it to its peers. That means covering Coastal Payroll pricing, the features, and even a few Coastal Payroll alternatives for good measure.

What Is Coastal Payroll?

In 2007, Coastal Payroll launched as a local, human alternative to national payroll and labor management providers in Southern California. Coastal Payroll has expanded their services beyond payroll over the years by branching out into the wider world of HRIS solutions, offering tools that help small business administer benefits, manage employee time-tracking, recruit top talent for job openings, and keep on top of employee information and HR concerns.

Don’t let Coastal Payroll’s name fool you—this company does a whole lot more than help you get your employees paid. Their web-based platform makes payroll a digital process that does away with stacks of paper, makes it easier to tackle HR and employee management tasks, and helps companies recruit and hire the talent they need.

Although Coastal Payroll specializes in helping companies in Southern California, they’re far from a regional provider. The company’s software and tools can be used by any company in the United States, and their dedication to customer service makes it easy to get questions answered in near-real time. As a medium-sized business itself, Coastal Payroll asserts their willingness to go the extra mile for clients.

Coastal Payroll Reviews: The Details

Coastal Payroll offers a slew of different functionalities, each providing you with a different way to automate a part of your administrative workload. Whether you’re looking for a payroll provider that makes paying your team easier, a more efficient way of monitoring timesheets and employee scheduling, or want to improve the way in which you onboard (and retain) your staff, Coastal Payroll has a solution for you.

Coastal Payroll Pricing

Coastal Payroll doesn’t provide pricing information on their site, which means your best bet to get price estimates that are custom for your business is through their website. This is true for several of Coastal Payroll competitors as well; in fact, only about half of the HRIS providers out there list their prices online—the rest leave it up to the end user to reach out for a quote.

Since we don’t have specifics on pricing, we can’t make a judgment call on whether or not Coastal Payroll is more affordable than their rivals. We can, however, take a closer look at their features and functions to help make a determination as to where the company stacks up against its peers.

Coastal Payroll Platform Features

As we alluded to earlier, Coastal Payroll does a lot more than what their name implies. Although the company’s roots might be within payroll management and administration, they now offer a full suite of tools designed to make your administrative life easier. Here’s a full rundown of what Coastal Payroll provides across the spectrum of HRIS needs.

Coastal Payroll Payments and Payroll

Coastal Payroll’s roots are within payroll management solutions for small businesses. Their suite of tools make it easy for small business owners to process their payroll, generate payroll reports, conduct benefits accruals, manage wage garnishments, and administer tax harvesting. Coastal Payroll uses iSolved, a platform that provides offers an efficient, accurate, and easy way to handle payroll data. All you need to do is fax, email, or upload your payroll information, and Coastal takes care of the rest. Plus, you can make as many reports as you need in order to have a 360 view of your company’s payroll, and this component of the system integrates seamlessly with other Coastal Payroll components, such as human resources and benefits administration modules.

Coastal Payroll Timekeeping

Coastal Payroll offers timekeeping functionality, as well. The company’s time and attendance platform empowers small business owners to oversee employee attendance, monitor hours spent on the job, and use their workforce more effectively. This option also handles time-off requests, pay-rate calculations, audit trails for payroll, just-in-time reporting, and different levels of recordkeeping access to make sure different employees get the level of insight into the company’s data they need.

Coastal Payroll Talent

In addition to payroll and timekeeping, Coastal Payroll also helps small businesses manage their recruiting operations. The company’s talent tools help businesses attract top prospects, and provide applicants with a better user experience throughout the submission process. The effective applicant tracking and electronic onboarding platforms that Coastal Payroll provides lets organizations dynamically advance potential candidates through the interview process, scan for potential tax credits, conduct background checks, and confirm job eligibility.

Coastal Payroll Benefits

Coastal Payroll’s healthcare management solutions help employers manage benefits, and ensures that employees understand their benefits options. CoastalBenefits can help small businesses manage their retirement plans, Affordable Care Act compliance, COBRA benefits administration, health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, and the administration of all these benefits and more. Better yet, CoastalBenefits can help you pick out the right plans straight from within the platform, making it easier to determine which plans are right for your company.

Coastal Payroll Human Resources

Coastal Payroll also offers full-service human resources management for companies that want a more comprehensive suite of HR solutions. The company offers HR advisory services, HRIS tools, document management, and a support center that can help answer questions that come up along the way.

Summary of Coastal Payroll Reviews

If you’re looking for Coastal Payroll reviews, you may have noticed that there aren’t a ton out there. Most reviews come from places like Yelp, which is a testament to Coastal Payroll’s hometown roots and dedication to serving their local community. Of the few reviews out there, most are positive about the company itself, even if few mention the specific software offered. Here are some of the top takeaways about Coastal Payroll, straight from customers themselves.

Positive Reviews

Coastal Payroll earns high marks from customers because of the company’s accessibility, easy-to-use software, on-demand customer service, and willingness to support businesses’ needs—whatever they may be. Reviewers say that the company’s offerings are comprehensive, and make it easy for small businesses to administer their HR programs with much less hassle than they’d encounter when doing so on their own. Customers laud Coastal Payroll for providing personalized attention, with most reviewers mentioning specific employees by name as part of their commendations.

Negative Reviews

Coastal Payroll is not without its detractors, however. Most negative marks do not focus on software solutions, but rather on personal matters between the company and its clients. Some are less than thrilled about the level of customer support they’ve received, and express frustration with specific employees within the company. By and large, however, the company’s reviews are still overwhelmingly positive on aggregate.

Coastal Payroll Competitors and Alternatives

There are many alternatives and more than a few competitors to Coastal Payroll that offer great services and capabilities that serve your business. These are some of the best alternatives and options available.

Paychex Flex

Paychex Flex is a cloud platform from Paychex, which has been supporting payroll management companies for several decades. Paychex Flex provides small business owners an opportunity to work with an industry leader with a long track record in terms of confidence and security. This tool offers payroll and HR support including the management of benefits and other useful tools to help small businesses operate without having to staff a human resources department within their own organization.

It is difficult to determine Paychex Flex prices, as the platform’s website does not provide specific rates. They offer quotes instead for those interested in their services, which means it’s probably best to reach out to Paychex directly to see what your company’s Paychex Flex plan would cost.

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

Request a Free Quote From Paychex


Gusto is respected for being simple and straightforward within the realm of HRIS platforms. The key strengths of Gusto are payroll administration and tax form generation, which is where Gusto’s core capabilities rest. Gusto is currently developing capabilities for more services than just payroll management and administration, however, so it might be worth considering this platform over the long run if you think you’ll need assistance with other HR-related components of your daily operations.

The basic payroll package for Gusto Core is $39 a month, and costs an additional $6 for each additional employee. The Complete package offers several additional HR tools and features at the same base price of $39 per month, but with an additional $12 for each employee. The package for Concierge is $149 a month and $12 for each employee. This tier provides certified HR professionals who can help subscribers with more complicated questions or needs. Gusto also has a new option for contractor-only employers, who simply pay the $6/employee rate and no base price.

Get Started With Gusto


BambooHR is another great alternative to Coastal Payroll for small-and medium-sized companies. The BambooHR platform provides a packaged HR management toolkit designed to help entrepreneurs manage their workforce and HR needs. The platform’s intuitive user interface helps administrators set up and manage profiles, and makes it easy for employees to see their own profiles and get important information at a glance.

Again, Coastal Payroll and Paychex Flex, BambooHR doesn’t list pricing on their site. So you’ll need to reach out to BambooHR for pricing information for your business.

The Bottom Line on Coastal Payroll

If you need a tool for human resources management that offers you tons of features, tailored support, and the kind of flexibility you need in order to get the job done, Coastal Payroll may be the right choice for you. You can start small with Coastal Payroll to add new features, which is a great platform for growing businesses. The platform enables small businesses to manage human resources issues with little hassle, in addition to helping them with basic payroll, benefits management, recruiting, and employee recordkeeping.

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera

Sally Lauckner

Sally Lauckner is the editor-in-chief of the Fundera Ledger and the editorial director at Fundera.

Sally has over a decade of experience in print and online journalism. Previously she was the senior editor at SmartAsset—a Y Combinator-backed fintech startup that provides personal finance advice. There she edited articles and data reports on topics including taxes, mortgages, banking, credit cards, investing, insurance, and retirement planning. She has also held various editorial roles at, Huffington Post, and Glamour magazine. Her work has also appeared in Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan magazines. 

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