Gusto is one of the best payroll software options on the market. It has three pricing tiers – the Core plan at $39 a month (with an additional $6 per employee), the Complete plan at $39 a month (with an additional $12 per employee), and the Concierge plan at $149 a month. Gusto also offers a subscription-free plan for businesses that hire contractors, rather than full time employees.
Gusto is one of the cheapest payroll software brands, but that doesn’t mean it lacks features. Even the lowest tier (the Core plan) is generous – and you get even more features when you advance to the (only marginally more expensive) Complete plan.
There are two things to note. Firstly, while Gusto doesn’t offer a free plan, you can schedule a free demo with Gusto by contacting them through their website. Secondly, Gusto used to have a tier below the Core plan, known as the Basic plan. This has been discontinued however, so if you see this elsewhere, know that you won’t be able to enroll in this.
Read on for our complete breakdown on what you get at each Gusto pricing tier, and weigh up which option will be best for your own business.
Gusto Core Plan
Gusto Complete Plan
Gusto Concierge Plan
Gusto Contractor Plan
$39 a month, +$6 per employee
$39 a month, +$12 per employee
$149 a month, +$12 per employee
$0 a month, +$6 per contractor
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Gusto Core Plan
The lowest plan on offer is the Core plan, which costs $39 a month, plus an additional $6 for every employee enrolled in the software. This means that a company with 15 employees would be paying a monthly $129 fee.
Gusto does more than just facilitate payments – it will also let you manage your employee’s time off (vacation and sick pay), company health insurance, and worker’s comp. These are all crucial for businesses, as they help you keep track of your company’s complex financials.
The Core plan has a two-day delay for direct deposits, even when using the Autopilot feature, which means you need to plan ahead when it comes to managing your employees’ pay.
Gusto can help new employees who will be in need of W-4 and I-9 forms by creating and aiding with the filling out of these forms. Users of Gusto’s software will also be able to use the phone, email, and live chat support options, as well as the Gusto video support library, to effectively set up and manage their account.
And, if your company itself is new, you might need help setting up things like health insurance programs and workers comp. If this is the case, users can get quotes for recommended health insurance and workers comp options via the Gusto dashboard, as well as Gusto’s partered 401(k) provider, Guideline.
Gusto Complete Plan
Gusto’s Complete plan is $39 a month, with an additional $12 for each employee paid through the software. A company with 15 employees would be paying a monthly rate of $219.
“Hold on,” you might be thinking, “the Core plan was $39 with each employee only costing $6.”
“Hold on,” you might be thinking, “the Core plan was $39 with each employee only costing $6.” This is indeed true, but the increase in employee cost covers several handy additional features that make this plan our recommended option.
On top of everything included in the Core plan, the two-day direct deposit becomes next-day direct deposit, allowing you to keep a tighter schedule. You’ll be able to manage time-off requests, both of which will help you relate more effectively with employees.
As far as new toys to play with in return for the higher cost, the Complete plan lets you manage permissions, allowing you to control who can access different functions and information. You’ll also gain project and time tracking capabilities and an employee directory, letting you stay on top of your workforce. Time tracking is especially useful for a business with a lot of overtime, as it’ll mean you don’t have to work out different payments by hand every pay period.
All of the added capabilities make the Complete tier well worth the extra $6 per employee. You might be confused by the fact that the flat subscription fee doesn’t increase from $39 when this tier offers you so much more. But, as the time tracking and permissions may imply, this tier is for companies that are a bit larger than your standard small business, so the cost of these features may be recouped by a substantially higher amount of employees.
Gusto Concierge Plan
Costing $149 a month (plus $12 per employee), a company of 15 employees would be paying $329 a month for the Gusto Concierge plan. With a price as substantial as this, you’d expect the Concierge plan to be the absolute final frontier of payroll software – you’d be just about right, too.
By taking this leap, you gain access to Gusto’s HR pros and resource center. While this may seem like a large investment for a single add-on, it means you don’t have to buy individual HR software, which can be a big money saver.
Using this, you’ll be able to create your own employee handbook. Users on Concierge will also have access to a service which provides them unlimited access to a team of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and HRCI (Human Resource Certification Institute) professionals via phone and secure messenger.
By taking this leap, you gain access to Gusto’s HR pros and resource center.
Gusto’s HR resources are pretty solid, covering all the HR essentials. They give you all the tools and information you need to comply with workplace standards, avoid costly lawsuits, and stay on top of changing regulations that could affect your business.
Users on Concierge will also receive alerts for State and Federal Law changes that affect them.
Gusto Contractor Plan
If you run a company that employs a lot of 1099 contractors (as opposed to regularly paid employees), this might be for you. Keep in mind that this doesn’t support W2 workers, just 1099 contractors, so you won’t be able to pay standard employees if you’re only using the Contractor plan.
Instead of a monthly fee, you’ll simply pay $6 for each contractor you employ, with no limit to the amount of contractors. You’ll also be able to create and fill out your own 1099 forms, which makes sure everything is above board and legally documented.
Keep in mind that you’ll be able to generate 1099 forms on every other Gusto tier – it isn’t unique to the Contractor plan. So, only spring for this plan if you almost exclusively rely on contractors.
Gusto Add-Ons and Extras
At face value for each plan, you can add an employee to your payroll for $6 per employee on the Core level, or $12 on the Complete and Concierge levels.
Gusto offers some add-ons that you can attach to your plan to make it more useful for your business. For example, you can help employees manage their 401(k)s via Gusto, or create a health reimbursement system to make sure your employees are taken care of.
Dental and optical benefits, commuter benefits, and paycheck splitting can all be created and governed through Gusto. Some of these cost nothing, while others are listed as “low-cost” or “premium,” but you won’t have to worry about knowing what you need before you need it, as these can always be added at any time.
A pretty unique feature is the Gusto Wallet, which your employees can use as a cash account. It acts as a bank within an app, connected directly to an employee’s cashflow, to help them manage their money. It also claims to offer a 7x higher interest rate than the national average.
While there aren’t specific add-ons offered by Gusto, there are plenty of integrations that are supported by Gusto. These can include time tracking, accounting, or point of sale software, among others.
All of these integrations will need to be paid for independently of Gusto.
Basic Payroll: $17 a month + $4/employee
Core: $39 a month, +$6/employee
Core: $45 a month, plus $4 for each employee
Bespoke quote only
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Assistance with health insurance, workers' comp, and retirement plans
If you’re on the hunt for payroll software, Gusto isn’t the only viable option on the market. Our top-rated payroll software is QuickBooks’ Premium tier, due to its very reasonable pricing ($75 a month plus $8 per employee) and comprehensive features, such as same-day direct deposit and the ability to consult an expert.
If you’re concerned about cost above all else, you might want to look at QuickBooks’ Core tier, which costs $45 a month, but only $4 per employee. This tier still offers a lot of great features despite its low price, like 401(k) assistance and 1099 forms for contractors.
But if you’re really not feeling QuickBooks, we also like ADP’s RUN payroll service. It includes most of Gusto’s features, missing out on small things like the Gusto Wallet or included time-tracking. And unlike Gusto, their pricing is quote-based, meaning you only pay for what you want. However, you’ll only know the price point after you put the plan together, so it might end up costing more than you’ll be able to pay.
Verdict – Is Gusto Payroll Worth It?
As a reminder, those pricing tiers are:
- Core at $39 a month (with an additional $6 for each employee)
- Complete at $39 a month (with an additional $12 for each employee)
- Concierge at $149 a month (with an additional $12 for each employee)
Our recommendation is the Complete plan, which retains the Core’s very affordable flat rate while still adding a load of useful features, like permissions and time tracking. The Concierge tier is nice, but for such a massive price increase, you’d want to know for sure that you stand to gain a lot from their HR resources.
Overall, Gusto is one of the cheaper options on the market, but it doesn’t skimp on features. Even the lowest tier has a lot of great stuff on offer, and doesn’t cut many corners to deliver.
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