Gusto Pricing: Features, Costs and Top Payroll Solution Alternatives

Gusto (formerly known as ZenPayroll) is an online core payroll system that also includes benefits management and compliance. It’s a small business solution that integrates payroll, benefits, and workers’ compensation and compliance in one package. Gusto provides payroll, 401(k) and workers’ comp insurance nationwide.

Currently, health benefits are only available in 18 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington. However, Gusto’s benefits feature will be available in other states in the future.

We reviewed Gusto and have compared it to other business software in terms of features and other attributes. This post will focus on its pricing, as well as the pricing of alternative solutions.

How Much Is Gusto?

Gusto offers three pricing plans: Core ($6/month/person), Complete ($12/month/person), and Concierge ($12/person/month). Gusto’s plans also have a base rate of $39/month for Core and Complete and $149/month for Concierge.

Learn more about the three plans below:

  • Core – The Core plan includes all payroll features, employee self-service, employee profiles (such as electronically signing I-9 and W-4 forms), health benefits, workers comp and unlimited phone, email and chat support. The Core plan has a base rate of $39 per month (after the first six months which costs $19 per month) plus $6 per employee per month.
  • Complete – The Complete plan includes all the offerings from the Core plan and adds onboarding, time-off requests, employee directory and employee surveys features. It has a base rate of $39 per month, plus $12 per employee per month.
  • Concierge – The Concierge plan includes all the features from the Complete plan, and adds an HR resource center, advice from certified HR experts and access to a dedicated support team for faster support. It has a base rate of $149 per month, plus $12 per employee per month.

There’s a Contractor plan for companies that want to pay their 1099 contractors. It costs $6 per contractor (no base price) and includes unlimited contractor payments, contractor self-service and 1099 form creation and filings.

Gusto offers a one-month free trial that starts after a company runs its first payroll. Gusto also offers additional options for employee benefits and insurance:

  • 401(k) retirement plans – 401(k) retirement plans have a $40 per month minimum, plus an $8 per participant per month charge, and a $500 set-up fee.
  • 529 college savings plan – This plan doesn’t have a set-up fee, but there’s an $18 a month minimum, plus $6 a month per participant.
  • Pre-tax spending accounts – Gusto offers an annual $200 service charge that covers health spending accounts (HSA), flexible spending accounts (FSA) and commuter benefits. However, for companies that would rather purchase each plan individually, HSA is $2.50 a month per participant, and FSA and commuter benefits each has a $20 a month minimum, plus a $4 a month per participant fee.

Top Alternatives to Gusto

Gusto offers pricing plans tailored to the exact needs of small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) in a variety of industries. However, for companies that want to compare prices, we found two alternative payroll solutions for SMBs to consider.

Patriot Software: Patriot Software charges businesses monthly subscription fees that can be canceled without penalties. The fee structure is based on the number of employees a business runs payroll for in a given month.

  • Basic – The Basic option includes free setup and phone support, and the ability to print checks or use direct deposit. It costs $10 per month, plus $4 per employee.
  • Full Service – The Full Service option includes everything in the basic option and adds automatic tax filing, guaranteed on-time payments of federal, state and local taxes, and filing of W-2 and W-3 forms. It’s priced at $30 per month, plus $4 per employee.

Patriot Software offers optional add-on modules for core HR (starting at $4 a month) and time and  attendance (starting at $5 a month). Patriot also offers customers a 30-day free trial, after which companies pay the monthly subscription fees.

QuickBooks: Intuit’s QuickBooks Payroll (for Payroll only, not Payroll + QuickBooks ) offers tiers of service grouped by whether a company runs payroll online or integrated with QuickBooks desktop software.

There are three online pricing plans: Core, Premium and Elite:

  • Core – The Core plan costs $35 per month ($17.50 for the first three months), plus $4 per employee, per month. This plan includes paychecks, direct deposit, employee self-service, health benefits, basic time tracking and “do it yourself” on-boarding.
  • Premium – The Premium version is $50 per month ($25 for the first three months), plus $6 per employee, per month. It adds advanced time tracking, on-boarding expert review, compliance tools, administrator settings and tax prep.
  • Elite – The Elite Plan costs $125 per month ($62.50 for the first three months), plus $10 per employee per month. This plan includes extensive on-boarding, a dedicated account manager and support from a certified HR expert.

Intuit also offers three pricing plans for Payroll for Quickbooks Desktop:

  • Basic – The Basic plan is $29 per month ($23.20 for the first six months), plus $2 per employee, per month. It covers paychecks and direct deposit.
  • Enhanced – The Enhanced plan costs $45 per month ($36 for the first six months), plus $2 per employee, per month. This plan adds W-2 filing and payroll tax forms.
  • Assisted – The Assisted plan is $109 per month ($65.40 for the first six months), plus $2 per employee, per payroll. A payroll expert sets up the software and files company taxes each year.


Gusto includes full tax support at a lower cost than Intuit QuickBooks Payroll and is competitively priced overall. It also offers convenient tools such as employee self-service, onboarding, and options for employee benefits and insurance.

Patriot Software is an affordable payroll system that lets companies customize the software by picking and choosing add-ons, such as core HR and time and attendance, to meet their needs.

Businesses can save money with Intuit QuickBooks Payroll’s Basic and Enhanced plans, however, the Basic plan doesn’t include tax forms.

Currently, Xero Payroll is only available in 36 states but it doesn’t offer electronic payroll services in all of those states. Although Xero’s Premium plan is a little pricey compared to other options, it limits the number of employees a company can have on its payroll, making it a good choice for small to mid-sized businesses.

Before purchasing a product, organizations should evaluate each tool to decide which best fits their needs.

If you’re entirely new to payroll software, take a look at our Payroll Software Definitive Guide. It offers a full overview of market trends, must-have features and common challenges to avoid.

Finally, if you’re looking for software alternatives, our detailed reviews is a good place to start.

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