is supported by commissions from providers listed on our site. Read our Editorial Guidelines.
BDC Hamburger Icon


BDC Logo
Search Icon
Advertising Disclosure
Advertising Disclosure aims to help business owners make informed decisions to support and grow their companies. We research and recommend products and services suitable for various business types, investing thousands of hours each year in this process.

As a business, we need to generate revenue to sustain our content. We have financial relationships with some companies we cover, earning commissions when readers purchase from our partners or share information about their needs. These relationships do not dictate our advice and recommendations. Our editorial team independently evaluates and recommends products and services based on their research and expertise. Learn more about our process and partners here.

Updated Apr 11, 2024

Gusto HR Software Review and Pricing

author image
Written By: Skye SchooleySenior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Verified CheckEditor Verified
Verified Check
Editor Verified
A editor verified this analysis to ensure it meets our standards for accuracy, expertise and integrity.

Table of Contents

Open row
Editors Score:9.4/10
Gusto is ideal for employers that want advanced payroll capabilities. Users can onboard new hires, administer employee benefits, track hours and paid time off, run payroll, and automatically file payroll taxes.
Thumbs Up Pros
  • Gusto offers multiple-tiered plans with a wide range of add-ons.
  • The platform can be implemented in less than a week.
  • An interactive demo lets you test the software before signing up.
  • Gusto doesn't require long-term contracts.
Thumbs Down Cons
  • Opting for all of Gusto's add-on features can increase your monthly per-employee cost quickly.
  • Gusto has fewer performance management features than some other human resources (HR) solutions we reviewed.
Gusto logo
Editor's Rating9.4/10

Gusto can not only handle all of your payroll processing and payroll tax responsibilities, but it can also serve all of your company’s HR needs within a single platform. This cloud-hosted solution is easy to use and available via multiple service plans with several add-on options. Gusto’s HR services include health insurance administration, time tracking, paid-time-off (PTO) management and access to certified HR pros who can assist with any HR or payroll issues. In a crowded market, Gusto stands out as the best HR software for businesses most concerned with payroll processing.

Gusto HR Software Editor's Rating:

9.4 / 10

Customizations, add-ons and integrations
Ease of use
Customer support

Why We Chose Gusto as Best for Payroll

Gusto provides comprehensive HR features with its HR software, but the company’s payroll offering is what makes this solution shine brighter than the competition. When testing the system, we found the platform intuitive and easy to navigate, with simple yet valuable payroll-processing automation. The software provides helpful tools to streamline payroll responsibilities, such as sending payroll alerts and reminders, syncing employee hours and calculating and filing payroll taxes automatically. The product also excels at multistate payroll, international payroll, garnishments, time tracking integrations, new-hire reporting, next-day direct deposit and payroll calendars.

When we tried the Gusto platform, we liked that it allows you to make changes to payroll even after it’s submitted, which isn’t something all vendors offer. If you want to automate payroll, Gusto facilitates that too. Because Gusto is a benefits broker, the program can sync employee benefits data easily, such as workers’ compensation information, with your payroll. These payroll features make Gusto stand out above and beyond traditional HR software.

FYIDid you know
Gusto has an autopilot feature, which is a great option if your employees' pay doesn't fluctuate each pay period. This tool runs payroll on a set pay schedule without any additional input needed from you.

Gusto’s Ease of Use

Part of Gusto’s appeal is how straightforward it is to use. The cloud-hosted service doesn’t require you to install or maintain any special software and you can access the system from any web browser, smartphone or tablet. 

When testing the product, we liked that the platform’s homepage prominently features important to-do items, such as payroll run dates and time-off requests. You can see or edit employee details easily and receive reminders about which contractors need to be paid.

Gusto dashboard

Gusto’s dashboard gives you a clear view of important to-do items and reminders. Source: Gusto

Gusto gives employees and contractors their own login credentials to view their pay stubs, time-off accruals and year-end forms. Gusto offers lifetime access to these accounts so workers can log in to the portal even after they’ve left your company. This is useful for former team members who need to dig into past W-2s, benefits information and more.

Gusto Features

Gusto has multiple service plans, so the exact tools available to you will depend on your package. Here are some of the functions Gusto facilitates, beginning with the area where we think this solution stands out the most.


Gusto has a ton of features that help businesses run payroll quickly and accurately. You can use the system to pay full- and part-time W-2 employees, as well as freelancers, consultants and other 1099 contractors — a capability not all HR systems offer. Furthermore, Gusto allows for multistate payroll, as well as multiple pay rates and schedules. Below, we break down the additional reasons Gusto sets itself apart in the HR software space when it comes to payroll:

  • Payroll processing: When testing Gusto, we liked how simple it was to process payroll. Once you enter all the pertinent employee information, such as the pay rate, hours worked and deductions, into the system, the software calculates the appropriate payment automatically. Each pay period, the only new information you need to input are how many hours your hourly employees worked and any bonuses or commissions earned. After clicking the “Submit Payroll” link, you receive a confirmation that the money will be sent via direct deposit or distributed via checks that can be printed at your office.

    If your payroll is fairly consistent from pay period to pay period, you can set the process to run on autopilot. With this setting, payroll runs automatically each pay period without any manual work from you. Additionally, you can run payroll as many times as necessary each month for no additional cost. This flexibility is particularly valuable if you have a combination of full-time, part-time and freelance workers on staff.

  • Payment options: Gusto provides several ways to pay employees: direct deposit, prepaid debit cards and printed checks. With direct deposit, payments are deposited into each worker’s bank account automatically on payday. Prepaid debit cards work similarly: Payments are deposited onto the cards automatically on payday. If you prefer to pay workers with checks, you can print them right from your printer using check stock paper. This is on par with what we saw other competitors offer.

    However, one unique payment feature we especially like is that Gusto can pay international workers. With its Gusto Global add-on, you can pay employees in Canada and India (and soon other countries) and with its international contractor payments add-on, you can pay contractors in more than 120 countries. Gusto can even handle exchange rates and multiple currencies for you. This isn’t something many rivals can do and it’s especially helpful in an increasingly global work environment. [Learn about the benefits and challenges of geodiversity.]

  • Payroll taxes: Similar to other HR software providers we reviewed, Gusto can handle all payroll tax responsibilities for you. The program calculates your payroll taxes automatically and fills out and files the required tax forms with each local, state and federal agency. Gusto also submits all of the required payroll payments on your business’s behalf. The company can even do state tax registration for you when you hire new employees in different states. We found this feature to be a valuable part of the payroll experience as more employers expand their hiring across state lines.
TipBottom line
If you're curious about other payroll providers, check out our list of Gusto alternatives.

Recruiting and Onboarding

When we tested Gusto, we appreciated that it has an in-app applicant tracking system (ATS) so businesses don’t have to pay for a separate ATS as they would with some other vendors. The Gusto ATS features might not be as extensive as many third-party ATS options, but the system is comprehensive enough to handle standard recruiting and onboarding processes. 

Onboarding tools include offer letters and e-signature documents, employee directories, organizational charts, custom onboarding checklists, software provisioning and document management. We like how Gusto can also streamline onboarding by allowing new employees to fill out their own information within the platform.

Gusto onboarding

Employee onboarding is straightforward with Gusto’s task breakdown. Source: Gusto

Time and Attendance

Depending on the plan you select, Gusto can manage some or all of your tasks related to tracking employee hours and PTO. For example, employers on the Plus and Premium plans can access Gusto’s time-kiosk web-based app. This allows you to turn any tablet or computer into a time clock so employees can clock in and out from specific job sites or locations. We found this location-based time tracking especially beneficial for those working in regulated fields. 

You can also set up policies for vacation and sick time and then monitor employees’ time-off accruals and balances. With Gusto’s Plus and Premium plans, employees can submit their requests via the platform and their managers can approve or deny those requests. What’s more, select plans sync approved time off with your payroll and shared calendars. [Check out our list of PTO policy best practices.]

Gusto time tracking features

Employees can track and manage their time on a variety of devices. Source: Gusto

Benefits Administration

Unlike some competitors, we love that Gusto doesn’t charge for benefits administration. It offers online benefits enrollment for employees as well as licensed benefits advising and employee support, which is competitive with the industry standard. Benefit options include 401(k) retirement savings plans, 401(k) tax credit services, health insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, commuter benefits, health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). We like that these features directly integrate with your Gusto payroll module to make benefit deductions easier to manage.

Gusto benefits management

Gusto makes it easy for you and your employees to manage benefits. Source: Gusto

Legal Compliance

Gusto helps businesses maintain legal compliance on multiple fronts. For example, Gusto completes and files all of the required state paperwork for each new employee your company hires. The software also generates all year-end W-2 and 1099 tax forms for your team automatically and then sends digital copies of the forms to each employee and contractor.

If you’re administering employee benefits, Gusto also helps you comply with federal regulations like the Affordable Care Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. These essential features are competitive for HR software.


We love that Gusto’s HR software integrates with hundreds of popular programs for accounting, time and attendance, point of sale, business operations, tax preparation, learning and development, business insights, hiring and onboarding, performance management, expense management and more. This wide variety of possible integrations is useful for companies that want to sync all of their business applications to create a customized, interconnected solution.

Global Employer of Record (EOR)

If you want to hire employees in countries other than your own, you can add Gusto Global to your Simple, Plus or Premium plan. This allows Gusto to act as an EOR for your business. Implementation time for getting an international employee set up on Gusto Global will depend on your onboarding process and each country’s requirements but, generally, it takes between five and 10 business days. We like that when employees are up and running on the platform, HR staffers can view employee payroll information for all employees (domestic and global) from the same page within the Gusto platform. 

Currently, Gusto Global is available for employees in Canada and India, but the vendor has plans to expand it to more countries over the next year.

Gusto HR Software’s Pricing and Terms

Unlike some HR software vendors and payroll providers that sell only one or two plans, Gusto gives businesses a choice of four plans. Each includes payroll processing and payroll tax services but, beyond that, the packages differ in the number of HR features and tools they include:

  • Contractor: This plan costs $35 per month, plus $6 per contractor, per month. It’s designed for workforces comprised solely of contractors and includes features like unlimited contractor payments, four-day direct deposit, 1099-NECs and new-hire reporting. You can add on international contractor payments if needed.
  • Simple: This plan costs $40 per month, plus $6 per employee, per month. It includes full-service, single-state payroll, employee profiles and self-service, hiring and onboarding tools, health insurance administration, employee financial benefits, payroll and time-off reports, custom admin permissions, integration capabilities and basic customer support. 
  • Plus: This plan costs $80 per month, plus $12 per employee, per month. It includes everything in the Simple package as well as multistate payroll, next-day direct deposit, advanced hiring and onboarding tools, PTO management, time and project tracking, a time kiosk, workforce costing and reporting, team management, performance reviews and employee surveys and insights. Priority customer support and HR resources are an optional add-on for $6 per employee, per month.
  • Premium: This plan has custom pricing based on your needs. It includes everything in the Plus level, along with a dedicated customer success manager, an HR resource center, compliance alerts, certified HR expert assistance, payroll migration and account setup, health insurance broker integration, a research and development tax credit discount and dedicated customer support. 

Having access to multiple plan options can be beneficial for businesses that don’t have a full-time HR team. Gusto allows you to switch tiers at any time as the size and needs of your organization evolve.

FYIDid you know
Gusto doesn't require companies to sign a long-term contract―instead, you pay month to month. Plus, there are no setup fees or penalties for canceling. This means you can test the service for a couple of months and if it isn't meeting your needs, cancel without incurring any penalties.

We were impressed with Gusto’s wide range of add-on services, which include the following:

  • Workers’ compensation insurance: Gusto doesn’t charge you administration fees; you pay only for the premiums. The pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation plans integrate with your payroll.
  • Health insurance: Again, you won’t pay administration fees―just the premiums.
  • Broker integration: If you want to keep your current benefits broker, Gusto can integrate it into the system (in most cases) for an additional $6 per eligible employee, per month.
  • Life and disability: You can offer disability insurance to your employees without any administration fees. You only pay for the premiums.
  • 401(k) retirement savings plans: Pricing for this add-on varies.
  • HSA: Gusto doesn’t have a minimum fee if you want to offer an HSA with your other insurance benefits. The cost is $2.50 per participant, per month.
  • FSA: Adding an FSA costs $4 per participant, per month. There is a $20 minimum.
  • Dependent Care FSA: If you want to offer a pretax FSA for qualified dependent care expenses, you can add it to your plan for $4 per participant, per month. Like with the regular FSA, there is a $20 minimum.
  • Commuter benefits: Commuter benefits are pretax dollars workers can use to pay for transportation to and from the workplace. Gusto charges $4 per participant, per month, and there is a $20 minimum.
  • Gusto Global: This add-on typically costs $699 per employee, per month, although you may be able to get it for less, as a 10 percent discount was being offered during the time of this review. 

Uniquely, Gusto can also handle international contractor payments in more than 120 countries, state tax registration and research and development tax credits for various fees. However, it’s critical to keep in mind that the expense of using Gusto can quickly add up depending on the extra services you choose to incorporate and how many employees you have.

Implementation and Onboarding

When we tried the Gusto platform, we were impressed by how quick the implementation process was. The software puts onboarding in employees’ hands, so each team member can fill out their own contact information and details directly within the platform. This not only speeds up implementation but can also help reduce data-entry errors. 

A Gusto representative estimated a company could set up the platform in as little as one weekend if all of the necessary information is on hand and employees onboard themselves. This is notable, seeing as some competitors’ HR systems can take weeks or months to fully implement. 

Customer Support

We like that Gusto offers multiple ways to reach customer support: You can contact a representative by phone, email or web chat. Premium plan subscribers receive assistance from a dedicated support team and get a direct phone line to reach out to for help. Premium accounts also come with access to certified HR professionals who can offer help and advice on a range of HR and employee relations issues. 

Furthermore, Gusto’s HR resource center for the Premium package level includes information on custom employee handbooks, job description templates, HR guides and policy templates and proactive compliance updates. But if you’re looking for an HR provider that offers personalized HR support and guidance with every plan, read our Bambee review — and be sure to check out our comparison between Bambee and Gusto to evaluate the two solutions’ customer service offerings. 

Gusto also provides valuable tools like a help center and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on its website. One of the most impressive features we found is a demo of the vendor’s payroll software. You can test a fully interactive simulation of the program that allows you to see and browse every aspect of the system, as well as add new employees and try other important functions that pertain to your business. Not many competitors in this sector offer comprehensive demos like this.


While there is a lot to like about Gusto, we uncovered a potential drawback during our trial run: Gusto’s primary HR services don’t include robust performance management features. The Plus and Premium plans do allow users to conduct performance reviews, send anonymous employee surveys and view survey trend analyses, but if you’re seeking an HR software that excels in employee performance management, check out our review of Paycor as a worthy alternative.

That said, Gusto users do have the option to integrate the platform with third-party performance management solutions like 15Five, Culture Amp and PerformYard. If building out a comprehensive performance management process is important to you, you may want to consider Rippling as well. Read our Rippling review and Rippling vs. Gusto comparison to see how these HR solutions stack up against each other.

Another slight limitation we noticed in our investigation relates to reporting. While Gusto does offer several types of HR reports that can be customized and exported, we learned that the platform doesn’t send out recurring reports automatically. This means you’ll have to look up each specific report you want manually each time you want it as opposed to having recurring reports sent to your inbox automatically. This isn’t a deal-breaker for most users but recurring automated reports can be useful for some employers. If workflow automation is a top priority for you, consider our GoCo review instead.


To find the best HR software around, we investigated dozens of HR systems. Our examinations considered pricing, contracts, recruiting and onboarding capabilities, employee benefits administration, time-tracking tools, payroll processing abilities, performance management features, reporting, integrations, legal compliance assistance, ease of use and customer support availability. 

We watched product videos and participated in demos when possible, in addition to conducting extensive independent research and testing. When looking for the best HR software for businesses prioritizing payroll functionality, we paid particular attention to each solution’s payroll processing tools, payroll tax administration, time and attendance features, legal compliance and integrations. You can read more about our editorial process here.


While Gusto payroll is not technically free, the cost of processing payroll is included already in the platform's monthly per-employee fee. In other words, Gusto plans come with full-service payroll and there is no added processing cost.
Yes, employers (and their employees) can trust Gusto. Gusto is a trustworthy HR software that is frequently rated among the top payroll solutions on the market because of its quality of service and strict compliance. As such, if you choose Gusto as your HR software and payroll provider, you can rest assured that HR services like employee onboarding and payroll processing will be handled accurately, swiftly and appropriately with respect to current employment laws and regulations.

Bottom Line

We recommend Gusto for …

  • Organizations that want robust payroll tools integrated with HR features.
  • Businesses that need a comprehensive payroll provider.
  • Small businesses with 50 or fewer employees or contractors.
  • Companies that don’t want to be locked into a long-term contract.

We don’t recommend Gusto for …

  • Businesses looking for extensive performance management features.
  • Large organizations or enterprises.
  • Companies operating in the agriculture industry.
author image
Written By: Skye SchooleySenior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Skye Schooley is a dedicated business professional who is especially passionate about human resources and digital marketing. For more than a decade, she has helped clients navigate the employee recruitment and customer acquisition processes, ensuring small business owners have the knowledge they need to succeed and grow their companies. In recent years, Schooley has enjoyed evaluating and comparing HR software and other human resources solutions to help businesses find the tools and services that best suit their needs. With a degree in business communications, she excels at simplifying complicated subjects and interviewing business vendors and entrepreneurs to gain new insights. Her guidance spans various formats, including newsletters, long-form videos and YouTube Shorts, reflecting her commitment to providing valuable expertise in accessible ways.
Gusto logo
Editor's Rating9.4/10
BDC Logo

Get Weekly 5-Minute Business Advice

B. newsletter is your digest of bite-sized news, thought & brand leadership, and entertainment. All in one email.

Back to top