Gusto vs. Square Payroll: Pricing, Features, User Reviews

Running a small business comes with a lot of responsibilities, particularly when you have employees. Managing employee payroll is an important task that can often feel overwhelming. Luckily, thanks to innovative payroll services on the market, handling payroll can be streamlined and simplified.

Two of the top names in the payroll business are Gusto and Square. Comparing the key benefits and services of Gusto vs. Square Payroll can help you find the solution that best fits your business and your budget.

To help, we’ll take you through the key differences when comparing Gusto vs. Square Payroll by exploring how they work, where they shine, and where they fall short.

Gusto vs. Square Payroll: Overview

When reviewing a payroll system, it’s important to keep in mind the features and services most relevant to your company, while still staying within your budget. For instance, payroll software that can integrate with your existing systems might be a top priority for your business.

Gusto and Square both offer online, cloud-based payroll solutions, which means you’ll have access to your payroll anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection. If you’re already a Square customer and use their POS system, it might make sense to opt for Square Payroll, which will easily integrate with your existing software.

However, before making any decisions, be sure to review the basics and key features of each payroll service so you can be sure you find the right payroll solution for your small business.

Gusto: The Basics

Gusto Payroll first launched in 2012, in an effort to make payroll simpler and faster for small business owners. Since Gusto is a cloud-based solution, you can easily manage and submit your payroll with one click.

Here are some key features of Gusto Payroll:

  • Run payroll whenever you choose: Gusto allows you to run your payroll as often as you’d like, as long as all accounts are tied to direct deposit.
  • Advanced payroll options: When you use Gusto, you can run payroll for multiple rates, different employee roles and types, and include bonuses, commissions, and contractor pay. Time off tracking and holiday pay can also be tracked.
  • Automatic tax filing: Gusto makes filing your payroll taxes a breeze by automatically calculating and submitting payroll taxes, issuing W2s and 1099s, and filing new employee reports.
  • Employee features: Employees will gain access to Gusto’s employee portal, where they can view their paychecks, time off, and tax documents. Employers can also create employee profiles and sort employees into teams and departments.
  • Benefits enrollment: Gusto allows you to manage health insurance benefits and workers compensation online.
  • Integrates with many programs: Gusto can easily integrate with many top time tracking and accounting programs, such as QuickBooks, Xero, FreshBooks, Homebase, and more.
  • Robust reporting: Gusto lets you run payroll, tax, benefits, and other employee-focused reports.

Square: The Basics

Square is most well known for their point of sale system, but Square also offers robust payroll services: Square Payroll provides many of the same benefits as Gusto, but has a few key distinctions you should be aware of.

  • Run payroll multiple times per month: Square lets you run your payroll whenever you need to, with no additional cost. You can also opt for automatic payroll processing for a more low-touch solution.
  • Advanced payroll features: Square allows you to pay salaried and hourly employees, as well as contractors, allows for multiple rates, and the choice between direct deposit and a paper check. Square also manages employee PTO, holiday time, and sick time. This payroll service also automatically calculates overtime.
  • Optional automatic tax filing: Depending on your Square Payroll plan, you can receive automatic tax filing services.
  • Employee dashboards: Square offers employees dashboard access, allowing them to view and download pay stubs, update direct deposit information, and pull tax documents.
  • Administers employee benefits: Square allows businesses to administer employee benefits through their software, including health, workers compensation, 401(k) retirement plans, and other pre-tax benefits.
  • Integrates with some software: Square also integrates with some POS, time tracking, and accounting software, such as QuickBooks Online, Homebase, and Square POS.
  • Automatic timecard syncing: Another top feature Square offers is automatic timecard syncing, which makes calculating paychecks for anyone using Square’s POS time-tracking tool a breeze.

Gusto vs. Square Payroll: Pricing and Plans

When it comes to choosing payroll software, price can play a major role in helping your company make a smart decision. Of course, it’s also hard to compare Gusto vs. Square without a better understanding of how much each of these services cost. Next, let’s dive into pricing to find out how these two payroll services stack up against one another. 

Gusto Pricing and Plans

Gusto has three different plans you can choose from, as well as a Basic program in beta and a contractor-only plan. Gusto Basic is recommended for teams of one or two and costs $19 per month plus $6 per employee per month. If you don’t have employees but need to process payroll for contractors, Gusto will cost you $6 per contractor per month.

Gusto Core Plan: $39 plus $6 per employee/contractor per month

  • Full payroll services
  • Employee portals and profiles
  • Health and workers compensation benefit options
  • PTO policy setup
  • Access to customer service and support

Gusto Complete Plan: $39 plus $12 per employee/contractor per month

  • All the features included in the Core plan
  • Employee onboarding tools and offers
  • Time tracking services
  • Time off tracking and management
  • Employee surveys and company directories

Gusto Concierge Plan: $149 plus $12 per employee/contractor per month

  • All the features included in the Complete plan
  • HR professional assistance
  • HR resource center

Square Pricing and Plans

Square simplifies your options, by providing everything you’ll need to handle your payroll into one convenient package. Square Payroll also offers an additional service for paying contractors, which can be used on its own or in combination with their main plan.

Square Payroll Plan: $29 plus $5 per employee/contractor per month

  • Full payroll services
  • Employee dashboards
  • Tax filing
  • Benefits administration
  • PTO management 
  • Time tracking integration
  • Employer resources

Square Payroll for Contractors: $5 per contractor per month

  • 1099-MISC filing
  • Direct deposit options
  • Time tracking integration

Gusto vs. Square Payroll: Customer Reviews

Finding a payroll service that fits your needs is important, but what happens if you run into issues implementing or managing your software? Access to helpful customer service can come in handy. Next, we’ll look at user reviews to further compare Gusto vs. Square Payroll to find out which service customers seem to like better.

Gusto Customer Reviews

Gusto has mixed reviews online, with some negative reviews (and no stars) on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. It is worth noting that Gusto has responded to the customers reporting issues, which shows strong attention to customer service.

When looking across most review platforms, you’ll find Gusto receives mostly positive remarks. PC Mag rates Gusto with 4.5 out of 5 stars, Trustpilot gives them 4.1 out of 5, and TrustRadius gives them 8.6 out of 10. Overall, Gusto receives accolades for its ease of use, time savings, and easy setup process. 

Square Customer Reviews

Like Gusto, Square is also not accredited with the BBB and has many negative reviews. However, the BBB page is for Square Inc, as an entire company and not just for Square Payroll, a distinction that is important to be aware of.

Square rates fairly well when examined by top review sites. PC Mag rates Square 3 out of 5 stars, Capterra 4.6 out of 5, and TrustRadius 9 out of 10. The slightly lower PC Mag score notes that Square isn’t as customizable when compared to other payroll leaders in this space. However, Square Payroll is more affordable than many of their competitors which might make the lack of customizations forgivable to some businesses.

The Bottom Line

Gusto and Square are both solid payroll management systems that will allow small businesses to fully automate payroll and integrate this system with existing software. When comparing Gusto vs. Square Payroll, it’s important to examine the features most important to your company, while also weighing the costs and drawbacks of each service.

Gusto offers more customization for small businesses and has three different employee plans customers can choose from. Their basic plan is also slightly more expensive than Square’s main plan. Square, on the other hand, offers one comprehensive employee plan for a low price, though customizable features are limited.

Both are good options if your company only manages contractors since both plans eliminate the monthly fee and only charge you per contractor each month. While Square might make more sense for companies already using Square POS, Gusto integrates with a large number of accounting and POS programs as well.

Gusto and Square both offer many of the same features and have comparable pricing (depending on plans). If you’re still not certain which payroll service best fits your business, you can sign up for free trials of both and test them out to determine which one better suits your needs. 

Courtney Johnston

Courtney Johnston is a freelance writer, specializing in finance, real estate, and small business. Her writing has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Benzinga, Rocket Mortgage, BestReviews, Mashvisor, and MoneyGeek. She also teaches writing instruction at the University of Indianapolis. Courtney enjoys condensing complex topics into easily digestible content for readers.

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