Gusto Review

San Francisco, CA
Deployment Model:
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Gusto At A Glance

Good: Scalable subscription plans, ability to handle contractors and off-cycle payroll, employee self-onboarding.
Bad: Not intended for large businesses, benefit features only available in 38 states but plans to provide them to additional states is in the pipeline.
Bottom Line: Small business solution that integrates payroll, benefits, and workers' compensation and compliance in one package.

Product Overview

Gusto is an online core payroll system that also includes benefits management and compliance. It provides unique benefits for small businesses, such as:

  • Accessible from any device, including mobile devices
  • Ability to set up payroll automatically via Payroll on AutoPilot feature
  • Ability to handle tax filings and payments so businesses don’t need to worry about being compliant
  • Employee self-onboarding (can fill out payroll and benefits forms online themselves)
  • No manual data entry, as data from each platform are synced together
  • Supports payroll in all 50 states
  • Integration with over 100 third-party software solutions

Gusto offers four pricing plans: Core, Complete, Concierge and Select. The specific pricing is in our Pricing section below, but here, we’ll list what features are offered under each plan:

  • Core – The Core plan includes full-service payroll in all 50 states, employee self-service, workers compensation administration, paid time-off policies, two-day direct deposit, four-day direct deposit, employee onboarding tools, integration with accounting and time-tracking software, health insurance administration, Payroll on Autopilot, employee access to Gusto Wallet and employee offers, document management features, standard hiring and onboarding features, and unlimited support (phone, email and chat).
  • Complete – Additional features in the Complete plan are next-day direct deposit, time-off requests, project tracking, premium hiring and onboarding features, performance reviews, access permissions, an employee directory and employee survey features.
  • Concierge – The Concierge plan adds on an HR resource center, advice from certified HR experts and access to a dedicated support team.
  • Select – The Select plan is intended for companies that want premium features and dedicated support. It includes all of the features of the other three plans, plus full-service payroll migration, integration with an existing health insurance broker and a dedicated customer success manager. This plan requires a minimum of 25 employees.


Gusto includes many features in payroll, benefits and compliance.


  • Automatically files and pays federal, state and local payroll taxes on behalf of the business, as well as reports any new hires to the government
  • Ability to select and change frequency of payroll
  • Ability to run payroll during the off cycle (e.g., bonuses or reimbursing employees)
  • The ability to pay contractors in more than 80 countries
  • PDF reports on payroll history, bank transactions, tax payments and more
  • Ability to deduct charitable donations from employees’ paycheck at their request
  • Electronic signatures
  • Electronic paystubs (employers have the option to add personal notes to paystubs)
  • Ability to calculate net-to-gross payments
  • Integrates with other software, such as When I Work, Boomr, Xero or Quickbooks
  • Lifetime access to paystubs (employees can access paychecks and W-2s even after leaving the company)
  • Reminders of employees’ birthdays with tips on celebrating
  • Check printing, such as custom checks, blank checks and checks that include employee’s earning statement at top or bottom of the page
  • Ardius, a Gusto company, scans payroll and expense data each year to identify potential research & development (R&D) tax credits
  • Tax registration in all 50 states


  • Apply for and pay workers’ compensation insurance
  • Instant workers’ compensation claim estimate with a final quote within two business days
  • Compliance checklist that’s regularly updated if new requirements set by federal, state or local agencies


  • Ability to work with Gusto’s brokers to select the best benefits plan
  • The ability to integrate with an existing broker
  • Employee self-enrollment in health insurance plans via individual Gusto accounts
  • Automatic deductions for health insurance and other benefits each time payroll is run
  • Compliance with HIPAA, ERISA and Affordable Care Act
  • Notification of open-enrollment reminders
  • Gusto Wallet app that helps employees track their paycheck, savings and banking and provides emergency funds via the Cashout feature

We also want to mention Gusto’s security features. There is a two-factor authentication when logging in from mobile devices, as well as 256-bit SSL encryption. Gusto also checks current payroll against previous transactions for any unusual activity.

Additional features include:

  • Centralized online employee records
  • 401(k) feature for employees to enroll in retirement plans and update contributions
  • Hiring and onboarding
  • Document management/electronic signatures
  • Team management
  • Performance reviews (e.g., manager reviews, self evaluations)
  • Actionable insights and custom reports

Target Market

Gusto serves over 200,000 small businesses in a wide variety of industries.

We’ve listed some of their customers below:

  • Bucketfeet
  • Commonwealth Joe
  • Demo Duck
  • Dijital Fix
  • Elevate Law and Strategy
  • FarmGirl Flowers
  • GreenLid
  • Loc Agency
  • Nicole Chan Photography
  • Tin Pot Creamery

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Customers start with a one-month free trial of Gusto (after filling out an online form). Once the trial ends, their bank account is debited each month. Subscription is a on a month-to-month basis, and the cost can scale with the business (hiring or losing employees).

For companies switching from another software vendor, Gusto can import the old payroll data into its system.

Customer Service & Support

Gusto provides an online Help Center for users to browse through articles and FAQs on payroll, taxes and other topics. They can also leave a message via the Help button.

In addition, Gusto works with the IRS on the company’s behalf if there’s any payroll tax problems or other issues.


As mentioned above, Gusto provides four pricing tiers.

  • Core – The Core plan has a base rate of $39 per month plus $6 a month per employee.
  • Complete – The Complete plan also has a base rate of $39 per month but it adds on $12 a month per employee.
  • Concierge – The Concierge plan has a base rate of $149 per month plus $12 a month per employee.
  • Select – The Select plan requires a custom quote.

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, four-day direct deposit, contractor self-service and 1099 form creation and filings.

The Contractor plan doesn’t support international contractor payment – companies that want this feature will need to upgrade to any of the four pricing tiers. Note that there’s 1.5%-2% administration fee for paying international contractors.

Gusto offers additional options for employee benefit and insurance.

  • 401(k) retirement plans – There is a $49 a month minimum to participate in this option, plus $8 per participant per month. There’s no set up fees required.
  • 529 college savings plan – There’s also no set up fees required, but there’s a $18 a month minimum, plus $6 a month per participant.
  • Broker integration (for Complete and Concierge plan users) – This feature costs $6 per month per eligible employee.


Gusto isn’t intended for large businesses. Also its benefit features is only available in 38 states and Washington D.C. (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.), but plans to provide this feature to additional states is in the pipeline.


Gusto Screenshot 1
Gusto Screenshot 2
Gusto Screenshot 3


ZenPayroll was founded in 2012 by three men with a mission to “put people first.”

In September 2015, it rebranded itself as Gusto, and began offering payroll, compliance and benefits in one package.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Gusto opened a second office in Denver in mid-2015. It also has investors such as Google Capital, Dropbox, Instagram and Eventbrite, to name a few.

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