Payroll4Free Review 2021: Features, Fees, Alternatives

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    Finding an easy way to manage and streamline your payroll is a concern shared among top small businesses across the country. When choosing payroll software for your small business, you must take features, cost, and usability into account.

    While there are many affordable payroll solutions on the market, not all small or new businesses have the budget to pay for payroll software. If you’re searching for a free option, Payroll4Free may have crossed your radar.

    Payroll4Free reviews boast high customer satisfaction, an intuitive system, and a free basic payroll plan. But, is it really possible to receive all the key features you need to effectively manage your company’s payroll for free? We’ll explore all aspects of Payroll4Free in this guide.

    What Is Payroll4Free?

    Payroll4Free provides free baseline payroll services for small businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Payroll4Free does also have paid accounts that allow you to handle payroll for more than 25 employees and unlock a variety of additional business HR features.

    This payroll service does offer a variety of built-in and online features, even within the free plan, that can allow small businesses to fully manage their payroll expenses for no cost. While this free option won’t offer access to features like mobile payroll management and managing multiple employee rates, it can be a good base system for new companies looking for a free way to manage payroll while growing their business.

    Green checkmarkPros
    • No or low cost
    • Easy to use
    • Provides all essential payroll functions
    • Integrates with popular accounting software
    Red X markCons
    • Software only manages up to 25 employees
    • Limited to Windows
    • Ads
    • No mobile application

    How Much Does Payroll4Free Cost?

    Payroll4Free reviews testify that this payroll service is completely free. The downside is, you may sacrifice a few features in order to utilize this free payroll service.

    Payroll4Free has a basic free plan with a few optional upgrades. The free plan allows you to manage your payroll for no charge as long as you pay 25 or fewer employees. You can use Payroll4Free if you have more than 25 employees but will incur a monthly fee (though the amount is not disclosed on their website).

    If you would like Payroll4Free to deposit and handle your company’s payroll taxes automatically, you’ll be charged $15 per month for this service. In addition, if you choose to use Payroll4Free’s bank to handle direct deposit payroll transfers, Payroll4Free will charge you $15 per month. If you opt into both services, you’ll be charged $30 per month.

    If you opt into both of these services and have more than 25 employees, you’ll be charged $30 per month plus a monthly employee fee.

    Top Features of Payroll4Free

    It’s important to know exactly what a payroll service provides before choosing the right software for your company. Payroll4Free reviews mention many of this service’s top features, but we’ll run you through a list of everything you’ll get with this free solution.

    The top features of Payroll4Free include:

    • Payroll processing
    • Choice of direct deposit or paper checks (you must use your own bank for the free version)
    • Ability to pay full-time, part-time, and contract employees
    • Access to automatic federal, state, and local tax calculations and paperwork (you must make your own deposits and file all required forms for the free version)
    • Online employee portals for easy access to paystubs and W-2s
    • Vacation tracking ability
    • Reporting options (earnings, benefits, payroll journal reports, etc.)
    • Integration with many accounting, bank, and time clock software
    • Customer service support

    Payroll4Free Reviews: Pros and Cons

    While free payroll software might sound like a dream come true, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of this service, so you make the best decision for your company.

    Here are some notable advantages of using Payroll4Free:

    • No or low cost: Even if you decide to pay $15 to have Payroll4Free handle your taxes, it’s still an extremely affordable solution.
    • Easy to use: While the interface looks a bit outdated, this free software is extremely easy to set up and use, making it simple for companies that do not want to spend a lot of time dealing with payroll software.
    • Provides all essential payroll functions: You won’t get any bells or whistles with this payroll software, but you will get a solid payroll management system that does everything you need to keep your business operating smoothly.
    • Integrates with popular accounting software: Many small businesses use Quickbooks or other accounting platforms and Payroll4Free allows you to import data quickly with these programs.

    Here are a few disadvantages to consider before signing up for Payroll4Free:

    • Software only manages up to 25 employees: Although Payroll4Free can handle additional employees, you’ll pay a monthly fee for each additional employee you add, which can make this platform less than ideal for medium to large businesses.
    • Limited to Windows: Payroll4Free works best on PCs, but can be used on Macs—only if they’re running Windows.
    • Ads: You will have ads running on your payroll software from time to time. These ads are what allow the service to remain free.
    • No mobile application: One of the drawbacks of this free payroll service is the lack of a mobile app to help you manage your payroll while on the go.

    How Payroll4Free Works 

    Payroll4Free reviews all agree that this software is relatively easy to set up. The software handles most of the setup process for you, though you will have to manually input your employees’ W-4 information. You’ll also need to establish each employee’s salary or hourly rate, as well as their current vacation time. You’ll also need to set up direct deposits for each employee using your own bank (unless you opt to pay $15 to use Payroll4Free’s bank).

    Once set up, you can integrate or export your time-clocking software data directly into Payroll4Free to make calculating paychecks quick and easy. If you are using direct deposit, your employees’ paychecks will automatically go into their bank accounts every pay period, with the necessary taxes being withheld. It is then your responsibility to report and deposit these taxes (unless you pay $15 for Payroll4Free to handle this). Vacation hours will also be calculated as they’re taken.

    If you run into any issues, Payroll4Free offers customer service support via phone or email.

    Payroll4Free Reviews

    If you’re feeling like Payroll4Free sounds too good to be true, you’re not alone. Many companies doubt whether a free service can offer all of the resources they need to manage their payroll. Based on Payroll4Free reviews from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), however, this service really does live up to its promises.

    Payroll4Free reviews give this service four out of five stars and the company has an A+ BBB rating. The only negative review discusses the long intake process, which other users have noted but found tolerable considering all of the tools their businesses received for free.

    Alternatives to Payroll4Free

    With all of this information in mind, you may still be unsure if Paychex is right for you—or you may just want to compare it to some other options on the market. Here are some alternatives to consider:

    Payroll4Free Competitors

    Software Who Is It Best For?
    Perfect for new or small businesses with under 25 employees that want a basic payroll option for low or no cost.
    Ideal for small businesses looking to automate payroll processing with reliable software for an affordable cost.
    Top option for small businesses looking for robust features and a payroll service that can scale with their company.
    Great for small businesses that need in-depth reporting and HR administrative tools built into their payroll service price.
    Good choice for small businesses looking for mobile app accessibility and flexible, customized payroll plans.


    This popular cloud-based payroll service is recommended for small businesses looking to streamline their payroll system. With Gusto, you’ll receive all basic payroll functionality—direct deposit, PTO tracking, employee portals, tax withholdings and deposits, etc.—as well as options to purchase employee management and HR resources. Other optional add-ons include flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, and commuter benefits. Gusto also has a handy mobile app to manage your payroll services.

    Monthly plans start at $39 per month, plus an additional $12 per month per employee.

    Get Started With Gusto Payroll

    ADP (Automatic Data Processing)

    This well-known payroll processing option has over 600,000 clients enrolled and offers four separate payroll plans with two specifically designed around small businesses. Each plan offers different tiers, so you can customize the exact service that best fits your business needs. You’ll receive robust payroll services, HR options, a trusted payroll partner, and the ability to scale up to a larger plan as your business grows.

    On the downside, you’ll need to reach out to ADP online or via the phone to find out pricing, since all plans offer fully customized pricing.

    Get Started With ADP Payroll

    PrimePay Payroll

    Another option for small businesses is PrimePay. This payroll service offers the complete tools you’ll need to manage your payroll, as well as new hire reporting and onboarding options, tax filing and reporting services, HR resources, and new applicant tracking data (for additional fees).

    Pricing varies depending on the option you choose, but starts at $42 per pay period. There is also a per-check fee.

    Paychex Payroll

    As one of the largest names in payroll, Paychex Payroll offers flexible plans for small businesses. In addition to basic payroll services, they also offer time tracking, HR resources, tax filing and administrative tools, and payroll reporting. This cloud-based solution also offers a mobile app to quickly handle your payroll needs on the go.

    To find out pricing, you’ll need to reach out to Paychex with the options you want and the number of employees your business has.

    Request a Free Quote From Paychex

    The Bottom Line

    While Payroll4Free reviews show that this payroll system can be a great free option for managing your payroll, it’s not for everyone. This free payroll software could be a great solution for a new startup or established small business not looking to exceed 25 employees. If payroll software simply isn’t in your budget, Payroll4Free offers all the services you’ll need to ensure your employees are paid on time and make sure you stay compliant with tax laws.

    If you need simple, affordable payroll management and don’t care about extra features or sleek interfaces, you have little to lose by trying Payroll4Free. If you have more than 25 employees or need more functionality, check out our list of the top payroll software providers for small businesses.

    Courtney Johnston
    Contributing Writer at Fundera

    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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