2019’s Best Payroll Software

45% of companies use payroll software for anything between calculating wages to paying employees and filing taxes. The market is flooded with these solutions that minimize human error and guarantee accurate calculations.

To help you make an informed decision among that vast competition, we compiled this list of the top payroll platforms you can rely on. Scroll past it to find all the parameters we took into consideration when ranking them, read individual reviews, and refer to the buying guide to make sure you find the perfect match for you.

Top 10 Payroll Management Software

Rank Provider Highlights Prices Starting From Website
  • Unlimited payrolls
  • 24-hour direct deposits
  • Automatic tax updates
$18/month + $4/employee Learn More
QuickBooks offers multiple software solutions for companies, payroll included. Easily integrated with any of the brand’s products, this system will handle your salaries in less than five minutes. And with the QuickBooks app, anyone can run their payroll on the move, too.
  • Time-off accruals
  • Free direct deposit
  • Employee portal
$10/month + $4/employee Learn More
Those looking for the cheapest payroll software available should consider Patriot’s robust system. This is an excellent product for businesses with up to 100 employees. From handling basic compensation to taxes, Patriot Software does it all—it even works on mobile devices.
  • Employee hours tracking
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Timecards and tips import
$29/month + $5/employee Learn More
Fair pricing, automated tax filings, and time-saving tools are some of Square Payroll’s main strengths. The web-based payroll software offers an all-in-one solution that suits any business and enables a quick setup. Customers praise it for enabling them to run payroll in less than 10 minutes.
  • 100% guaranteed accuracy
  • Automatic filings and payments
  • Automated payroll journal entries
$20/month + $4 per employee Learn More
Simple yet powerful, Wave Payroll comes with tons of functionalities. The system is ready for businesses from any industry and size. Most importantly, combined with all the other free Wave platforms, this payroll system software creates a perfect automated workplace.
  • Gusto payroll
  • Federal and local taxes
  • Automated payroll filings
$39/month +$6/employee Learn More
Xero gives its customers access to the Gusto Payroll solution, which seamlessly integrates with all other Xero systems. Suitable for big and small companies, regardless of industry, the product will put your payroll on Autopilot®, making it one of the best online payroll software options.
  • Payroll tax compliance
  • Automated direct deposits
  • Seamless integration
$49/month/employee Learn More
Anyone looking for a single-stop payroll, benefits, HR, and compliance solution should consider Justworks. You can schedule payroll from one place, regardless of the shape and size of your team. Justworks covers salaried, hourly, full-time, and part-time employees, as well as contractors.
  • Multi-state employee support
  • Tax capabilities
  • Real-time payroll preview
upon request Learn More
SuitePeople tackles payroll, HR, and ERP. Accurate, integrated, simple, and flexible, this stand-alone payroll system streamlines payroll management for businesses of any size. SuitePeople recently got a strong 4.7 out of 5 rating in customer support satisfaction.
  • Payroll & tax
  • Manager self-service
  • Employment verification services
upon request Learn More
A fast-growing business software provider, Netchex constantly upgrades its products and offers top support. Its software for payroll covers the payroll and tax basics for companies of all sizes. When it’s integrated with other Netchex products, you get automatic, error-free processes, start to finish.
  • Payroll and timesheet journals
  • Direct deposit and pay cards
  • Customer reports
$44/pay + $2.70/check Learn More
Bakeries, pet shops, restaurants, and ambulances alike all use PrimePay. The cloud payroll software easily meets the needs of any type or size of company. With the Time Clock, Benefits, Compliance, and HR Solutions add-ons, you can automate your most important processes in a breeze.
  • Automatic salary changes
  • Direct deposit
  • 35+ integrations
$14/month/employee Learn More
Companies in a range of industries trust Zenefits with their payroll. Users have reported savings of up to $60,000 just by moving their compensation to the service. The software comes with advanced features, automated syncing, effortless compliance, and painless integrations.

Our Ranking Criteria of the Best Online Payroll Software Explained

Any product listed here must meet our strict ranking criteria. We don’t simply focus on price when evaluating software solutions. Instead, we make sure these systems come equipped with useful features and provide excellent value for the price you pay. Keep reading and discover our reliable ranking strategy.


Before we move on to our actual evaluation criteria, we must first go over the categorization. Any of these software solutions can either meet general needs or target specific businesses. So the classification plays a huge role when choosing the best payroll software for your individual needs.

Business Size

Most solutions from our list focus on the needs of the small players. Some of them, nonetheless, have the potential to tackle the complicated processes of midsize and large enterprises too. Here, we pay attention to whether systems have the necessary tools for any business size, meaning their features will work for companies with many employees. Nevertheless, we don’t overlook options for self-employed individuals either.

Industry Focus

Here, we aim to find relevant information regarding the software’s industry focus. Most payroll solutions are designed to cover the essentials, regardless of the business type. However, some systems perform better when used as health care scheduling and payroll software, for example. On a similar note, law firms may need specific features from their payroll solution, too. So we never overlook any industry-specific functionalities.


Do you prefer a product available on your premises, regardless of your internet connection? Would you like a full SaaS solution? Are cloud-hosted systems the best for your needs? All these systems (on-premise, Saas, and cloud-hosted) come with their own advantages and drawbacks. The first two are pricey but often more robust and highly reliable. The last one is easy to use, affordable, and highly accessible.

Payroll Management Tools

The primary function of payroll software is to tackle and automate your payroll processes. So products with many relevant functionalities always rank better. For example, we value software that automatically calculates payroll on a daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.

You also want your solution to consolidate wage-related items too. These include attendance, salary grade, benefits, and so on. As always, we give ranking boosts to solutions that are easily configurable and provide full automation. You should be able to add and edit data and create automated payrolls to maximize efficiency rates.

Gross Pay, Net Pay, and Direct Deposit

These three features always lead to a higher ranking. The top payroll software must be able to calculate gross and net pay for your employees. These should be done for each pay cycle and be based on relevant data. For instance, gross pay is calculated by combining hours worked, salary, and bonuses. These details are entered either manually or through a separate tracking tool.

Regarding direct deposits, these save time and eliminate paper checks. This is a crucial functionality for payroll solutions, regardless of your industry focus or business size.

Tax Calculation, Filing, and Depositing

Good payroll software that doesn’t successfully handle taxes is next to useless. The software you choose should be able to calculate both state and federal payroll taxes. Ideally, the product would also file and deposit the taxes for you. Again, these functionalities not only save time but also guarantee correct numbers. As a result, any software that has them earns a better ranking.


Robust reporting capabilities are always highly desired. The product you purchase should give you access to old data and generate useful reports. The best payroll software also provides insights on anything payroll-related, while revealing trends and patterns that help you cut costs. These high-level reports give you an overview of your budget, employee compensation, taxes, and other relevant data. When used smartly, the insights help you to implement smarter operating practices.

Time and Attendance Tracking

Time and attendance tracking also guarantee better rankings. Even the simplest tools will do the trick. Some products may not include this feature for free but as a paid add-on. Either way, time and attendance tracking are crucial for correct payroll calculations. These help toward tracking worked hours, absences, paid time off, increments, etc.

Employee Self-Service (ESS) Portal

Another must-have feature of the best software for payroll is an employee self-service (ESS) portal. This dashboard gives employees freedom and control over their data. They get to check, enter, and edit details. The platform should also include pay stubs, paid-time-off balances, and W-2 forms. Making all this accessible via mobile devices is even better.

Integration and Ease of Use

Businesses often use various tools to handle different operations. We value products that are easy to integrate with other platforms such as time management systems or expense tracking software. The more integration options, the better.

Also, we rank payroll check software higher when it’s easy to set up and requires no specialized training or certification. You should be able to conveniently register, add necessary data, and reap the benefits of your investment.

Pricing and Free Trial

Finding the best software means shortlisting an option that falls within your budget and has all the features you need. Price rarely plays a significant role in our ranking process. Instead, we focus on options that give good value for the money, meaning we want payroll software that has reasonable pricing. When we say inexpensive, we mean nothing significantly higher, or unreasonably lower, than the average market price.

Here, we must mention two other criteria that grant boosted rankings: a free trial and a money-back guarantee. A free trial is the best way to test a system before purchasing it. It also shows that the brand believes in its product. A money-back guarantee works the same, giving you the freedom to stop using a product you dislike.

Honest Payroll Software Reviews

QuickBooks Payroll

Offered as an add-on to all QuickBooks packages, the brand’s payroll option is among the cheapest. With it, business owners can run their entire payroll process within five minutes from the office or on the go. QuickBooks Payroll is excellent for small businesses in any industry.

  • Payroll tax filing
  • Same-day direct deposits
  • W-2 filing and sending
  • Paycheck calculations
  • Penalty-Free Guarantee
  • Approval levels need an update
  • No data backup

You can expect this easy payroll software to tackle the payroll essentials but nothing more. With it, you can automate paying your employees, provide direct deposits, and calculate compensation. The system also handles your compensation taxes. In this sector, it elegantly files taxes and offers the unique Penalty-Free Guarantee. With it, in case there are errors in your filings, QuickBooks will resolve the issues and pay any penalties.

QuickBooks Payroll comes at a really amazing price but only because it’s actually an add-on. So, basically, you need to have one of the base QuickBooks products to use the Self-Service or Full-Service Payroll platform. The Self-Service Payroll costs $18 per month plus $4 per employee per month. It includes basic features such as employee compensation, paycheck calculation, and direct deposits.

Full-Service by QuickBooks costs $40 per month and an additional $4 per employee per month. Besides the Self-Service functionalities, it also does your payroll taxes and files W-2s for you. Moreover, it comes with same-day direct deposits.

Patriot Software

Perfect for small and midsize businesses, Patriot Software comes with all the basic payroll system functionalities. The product doesn’t target companies in a specific industry. Instead, it guarantees automated employee compensation and correct tax filings. Patriot Software works on desktop and mobile devices, no mobile app needed.

  • Easy setup
  • Unlimited and flexible payrolls
  • Printable W-2s
  • Local, state, and federal tax handling
  • Workers’ comp integration
  • Time and attendance cost extra
  • Limited features in Basic Payroll

Patriot online payroll software comes well-equipped with expert support, direct deposit, an employee portal, and compensation integration. It also provides flexible, customizable, and unlimited payrolls to users. Time-off accruals and printable W-2s are two other functionalities that deserve mention here. The upgraded version also files and deposits year-end taxes alongside federal, state, and local taxes.

Patriot has two payroll software packages. The first is the Basic Payroll, which costs $10 per month plus $4 per employee per month. It lets you run payroll and do taxes yourself. Some included features here are the employee portal, customizable compensation, and direct deposits.

The Full-Service Payroll is $30 per month plus $4 per employee per month. In addition to tackling your compensation, this package also files your taxes.

For an additional $5 per month, you can get the Time and Attendance add-on, while the HR add-on costs $4 per month.

Square Payroll

Square Payroll provides a smooth and professional service to businesses of any kind. Thanks to features created with larger companies in mind, the system can tackle the needs of small-sized, mid-sized, and big enterprises. Square is among the rare payroll software programs that include automated tax filings and time tracking without additional costs.

  • Timecards and tips import
  • Automated tax filings
  • Employee benefits
  • Free mobile app
  • Time tracking
  • Slow support
  • No training

Pay salaried and hourly employees within minutes, offer health and other benefits, and track employee hours with Square Payroll. The robust features provided by this service also include online employee accounts, a free mobile app, and seamless integration with timecards and tips tracking platforms. Other functionalities that place Square among our handpicked payroll software companies are the pre-tax benefits calculations, 401(k) plans, and easy setup.

Square Payroll is an excellent option both for businesses with full-time employees and for contractors. The standard subscription fee for the full-service option is $29 per month plus an additional $5 per person paid. This package includes the full range of Square features.

Those who work with contractors don’t need to pay the subscription fee. Instead, they simply cover $5 per contractor per month. This is the best payroll software for small businesses of this type. Besides being affordable, it also comes with essential features like timecards import, 1099-MISC filing, and direct deposit.


Business owners recognize Wave as the best and cheapest software provider on the market. The brand has free solutions for invoicing, billing, and time tracking. Its Payroll platform isn’t free, but it seamlessly integrates with the rest of Wave’s products. Besides the 100% guaranteed accuracy, this payroll services software comes with no hidden fees and several other useful functionalities.

  • Direct deposit
  • Pay stubs and tax forms
  • Priority customer support
  • Payroll reminders
  • Automatic data back-up
  • Self-service only in 41 states

Wave Payroll is the only paid service from the company. So it makes sense that it’s packed with useful features. With this system, you can pay employees and contractors, as well as generate W-2s and 1099 forms. Direct deposits, automatic filings, and automated compensation journal entries are additional helpful traits. Your employees will be able to log into this payroll software and manage their profiles alongside their pay stubs. Finally, for selected states, the service also handles your payroll taxes for you.

Depending on your state, you can get either full-service or self-service payroll from Wave. Full-service is offered to those based in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. The remaining 41 states have access to self-service only.

Full-service payroll has a base monthly fee of $35, while the self-service costs $20 per month. Both packages come with an additional $4 fee per active employee or per contractor paid. The same features are offered to both plans. However, only the full-service gets automated tax payments and paperwork filing.

Wave offers a 30-day free trial of its simple payroll software.


Xero doesn’t target any specific audience and instead focuses on offering features helpful to any business owner. The company has various business solutions that come at a reasonable price and work smoothly with the full-service Gusto payroll add-on. Besides seamless integration, this solution comes with the exclusive Autopilot® feature, which makes your payroll run itself.

  • Exclusive Autopilot® feature
  • Online employee setup
  • Multiple schedules
  • Automated tax payments
  • Direct deposits
  • No proprietary solution

Partnered with an excellent payroll automation software provider, Xero covers all compensation-related essentials. The full-service product tackles both federal and local taxes by providing automated compensation tax filings and payments. Users get unlimited payrolls, direct deposits, and multiple pay rates. Plus, Xero Payroll seamlessly syncs with Xero Bills and therefore guarantees accurate expense tracking.

Xero Payroll comes as an add-on for a base monthly price of $39 and costs an additional $6 per person. Considering this covers full-service salary across all 50 states, the price is reasonable. If you already use any of Xero’s other services, you can get the payroll add-on two months for free.


Customers describe Justworks as excellent cloud-based payroll software that helps them cut costs and eliminate human error. From businesses in tech to professional services, any company can use the robust set of features this product offers. The company especially prides itself on its transparent pricing, modern experience, switching ease, and 24/7 support.

  • Payroll tax filings
  • Employment practices liability insurance
  • Online employee onboarding
  • Reporting
  • Off-cycle payments
  • Pricey
  • Benefits cost extra

Among the top 10 payroll software options on the market, this service tackles any compensation you pay to employees and contractors with ease. The tools provided for this purpose include streamlined payroll, regulations compliance, payroll tax filings, and compensation reports. Justworks supports fast integration with Xero and QuickBooks too. Some unique traits here are the harassment prevention anf inclusion training, HR consulting, and updates on relevant regulation changes.

Justworks offers two premium plans: Basic and Plus. The only difference is that the Plus package gives you access to benefits, too. Both options include automated payroll, HR tools, and compliance support. However, each online payroll system plan has three pricing levels—as the monthly costs drop for those with more employees.

Justworks Basic for less than 25 employees is $49 per month per employee. Companies with 25–99 employees will pay $44 per month per person. Those who employ 100–175 can get the service for $39 per month per person. All prices are 15% lower if you get an annual subscription and pay a lump sum.

The respective price per month per employee for the Plus plans are $99, $89, and $79. These also come 15% lower for annual subscriptions. Companies with over 175 employees get an offer upon request.

NetSuite SuitePeople

With over 18,000 customers worldwide, NetSuite SuitePeople is among the most popular payroll software systems globally. The product serves businesses in various industries, including apparel, retail, manufacturing, and healthcare. SuitePeople boasts high levels of user satisfaction, probably because it comes loaded with tons of essential functionalities.

  • Simplified reporting and compliance
  • Streamlined operational efficiencies
  • Multi-state taxation
  • Configurable payroll workflows
  • Flexible automated processes
  • Complicated setup

A sleek interface, payroll automation and configurability, and tax capabilities are the three cornerstones of SuitePeople. Each of these comes equipped with appropriate tools that guarantee smooth, glitch-free compensation processing. The system provides real-time payroll previews, automatic calculations, and local printing. It also enables users to do paycheck reversals and direct deposits, as well as configure their payroll workflows. SuitePeople is the best payroll solution for companies with employees based in different states as it offers support for multi-state workers.

If you’re interested in purchasing NetSuite SuitePeople, you can first get a free product tour. If you like it, you can ask for a quote designed for a business of your size.


Office-based businesses can make the most out of Netchex Payroll. Suitable for companies with any number of employees, this product guarantees correct, flexible, and smooth compensation for your workers. Automation and accuracy—as well as full system integration—are the main highlights of this direct deposit payroll software. Its exclusive features, such as NetDirect and NetPay, deserve mention, too.

  • NetDirect unlimited direct deposit
  • NetPay live checks
  • Netchex Mastercard pay cards
  • Time and attendance
  • Real-time accruals
  • System overloads
  • Reporting needs upgrade

Netchex helps you pay all your workforce—full-time, seasonal, or remote. You can provide direct deposits via the unique NetDirect functionality, live checks via the NetPay system, or even give out the branded Netchex Mastercard debit pay card. Time and attendance come integrated into the employee payroll software, whereas benefits come at an additional price. Netchex Payroll also automates your taxes, gives liability reports, and provides gross-to-net views prior to processing.

Interested users can fill out a short form and claim a demo for any of the Netchex products, payroll included. Based on this information, the provider will also give you a quote that suits your business size and style the best. Netchex offers pre-built packages as well as custom ones.


Offering an all-inclusive payroll accounting software bundle is what makes PrimePay stand out. The company made sure to tackle applicant tracking, employee onboarding, time tracking, and online payroll all in one product. PrimePay aims to meet the needs of any business, disregarding their size or industry focus. Therefore, it works great across a vast range of companies and organizations.

  • Flexible pay frequency
  • Unlimited online reports
  • Workers’ comp
  • Employee online access
  • Employee onboarding
  • Slow support
  • Outdated design

Straightforward and extensive, the list of PrimePay functionalities can easily impress. Besides handling your federal, state, and local payroll taxes, the solution also offers delivery options, unlimited reports, and timesheet journals. Accessing your documents and reports is within a few clicks, plus you can expect some custom reporting options with the payroll processing software. Deductions, accruals, and worker’s comp insurance recaps are additional features that guarantee smooth compensation.

Additional features that not many other tools offer include applicant tracking and employee onboarding. PrimePay can also handle work opportunity tax credit filings and background checks. Simple time tracking timesheets and punch in/out functionalities are included too.

Experience how PrimePay Payroll works using the online demo provided by the company. Handling the financials of the demo company, you can add checks, test the dashboards, and see how the system works. If it seems like the right fit, you can get PrimePay for $44 per pay plus $2.70 per check. This premium plan includes the essential features.

For an additional price, you can get useful software payroll add-ons. Only Time Clock comes for free with its simple timesheets and hardware punch in/out features. If you need more robust functionalities from it, you can get the Basic ($43/month), Advanced ($49/month), or Pro ($54/month) Time Clock add-on. The remaining add-ons are Benefits, HR, and Compliance, and their pricing is provided upon request.


Companies that switch to the Zenefits all-in-one platform cut operating costs by an impressive 60%. Perfect for both small and midsize businesses, this solution is much more than mere cheap payroll software. Instead, Zenefits creates a smart and automated ecosystem out of your company. The list of supported functionalities here is vast, with the lifetime accounts being the most unique feature.

  • Time tracking
  • Benefit deductions sync
  • Pay previews
  • Lifetime accounts
  • Reported tips capturing
  • Offered as an add-on only

There are six essential areas that Zenefits payroll covers. These include integrated compensation features, payroll administration functionalities, pay run solutions, integrations, reporting, and taxes and filing. Put differently, this payroll tax software can handle all payroll-related processes with ease. New hire onboarding, time tracking, automatic salary changes, and automated reminders are leading traits. Additional strengths are the dynamic pay stubs, bulk earnings uploads, direct deposits, and multiple deductions.

The platform excels in reporting, as well. Users get access to payroll timeline reports, general ledger reporting, job cost analysis, compensation summaries, and much more. The cherry on top is the way this software elegantly and automatically handles your taxes as well.

The first thing to note here is that Zenefits Payroll is offered as an add-on only. So you first need to subscribe to one of the three premium plans. Then, you can pay an additional $6 per month per employee to get the payroll management software.

The premium plans are Essentials, Growth, and Zen. Their respective monthly price per employee is $8, $14, and $21. Consequently, the lowest price for Zenefits Payroll comes at $14 per month per employee if you get the Essentials Plan with the Payroll add-on. This may seem pricey at first sight. However, remember that the packages come with other solutions such as HR, Time & Scheduling, Mobile App, and Integrations.

Each offer comes with a minimum number of five employees. Businesses with fewer workers will have to pay this as a minimum monthly fee, nonetheless.

How to Shortlist the Best Payroll Software

Remember, shopping for a payroll solution doesn’t end with our table of top products. Every option comes with different features and pricing. You need one that suits the requirements and processes of your business.

The shortlisting process, however, isn’t complicated. In fact, it includes three tested steps that will lead you right to the best payroll management tool for your company.

Step 1: Filter Based on Business Size, Industry, and Regulations

The first thing you need to do is filter out any options that don’t align with your business. If you have a small business, for example, weed out software targeting large enterprises with hundreds of employees. Also, if you own a construction company, you should stay away from health care payroll software solutions. Finally, don’t forget to check whether the system aligns with the regulations within your state. This way, you make sure that you won’t overpay for features you won’t use.

Step 2: Focus on Your Needs

The second step focuses on your needs, i.e., the features you seek in the software. Basically, you should put together a list with any essential functionalities such as automated payroll, tax filing, time tracking, etc. Then, just compare these features against the shortlisted products from step 1.

Step 3: Define Your Budget

Finally, you’ll be ready to find the right payroll software for you once you determine your budget. In this last step, set the monthly/annual amount of money you can invest in this product. Any of the qualifying solutions from step 2 that align with your budget are excellent options for your business.

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