Which is best for your business in 2023?

The Gusto and OnPay logos.
Image: Rebecca Olason/TechRepublic

Gusto and OnPay are leading online payroll services for small and growing businesses. Both provide a comprehensive selection of features that make managing payroll effortless, fast and cost-efficient. While many of the features of the two platforms are similar, there are distinct differences and varying pricing options between the two.

SEE: Payroll processing checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

Both Gusto and OnPay are great options and made our list of small businesses’ best payroll processing services. This guide takes a closer look at each of the vendors, reviewing features, prices, customer service, advantages and disadvantages to help you select the best payroll service for your organization.

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What is Gusto?

The Gusto logo.
Image: Gusto

Gusto is an online payroll and HR platform for growing businesses. With Gusto, companies can more easily manage payroll, onboard new employees, provide benefits and comply with applicable regulations.

Gusto offers a contractor-only plan, which is helpful for companies that don’t need the full suite of services provided by other plans. Gusto also offers employee self-onboarding capabilities and integrations to allow businesses to manage their payrolls more efficiently. The company’s full-service plans include additional features such as time tracking, tax filing, garnishment processing, direct deposit, and time off requests and approval.

What is OnPay?

The Onpay logo.
Image: Onpay

OnPay is a cloud-based full-service payroll and HR solution designed to streamline and automate the entire payroll process. OnPay provides payroll and HR services, including payroll processing, tax payments and filings, direct deposit, benefits administration, automated onboarding tasks and PTO management.

Small businesses can especially benefit from OnPay’s customizable report-designing tool to generate reports on payroll, taxes and employee benefits. OnPay also offers unlimited payroll runs, making it easier for employers to keep their finances organized even during peak times.

Gusto vs. OnPay: Feature comparison table

Gusto OnPay
Hiring and onboarding Yes Limited
Employee benefits Yes Yes
Unlimited payroll runs Yes Yes
Time and attendance Yes Yes
Starting monthly fee $40 plus $6 per person per month $40 plus $6 per person per month
Automatic payroll runs Yes No
Employee self-service portal Yes Yes
Direct deposit Yes (Next-day direct deposit included in higher tiers) Yes
Automatic federal and state tax filing Yes Yes
Health insurance coverage Yes, in 39 states Yes, in all 50 states
Global payroll capabilities Yes No

Gusto vs. OnPay: Head-to-head feature comparison

When it comes to choosing the right payroll service for your business, it is essential to consider the features and capabilities of each option. This head-to-head comparison will look at some of the key features of both Gusto and OnPay and evaluate which one is the better option in each category of payroll management.


Gusto and OnPay both offer users the ability to integrate with third-party apps. OnPay users can integrate with various solutions, including accounting software, time tracking software, 401(k) and retirement tools, and HR and compliance tools. However, Gusto integrates with even more solutions — over 100 apps across 14 categories, including point of sales, rewards and recognition, tax preparation, time tracking, accounting, business operations, legal and compliance, expense management and financial benefits.

As such, Gusto is the best for businesses that want various integrations for their payroll needs. With its expansive list of integrations, it’s easier to keep track of employee information, automate tax filings, manage wages and access valuable analytics.

Global presence

Gusto and OnPay both offer unlimited payroll runs across all 50 states. However, Gusto goes one step further by offering international payments as an add-on service. OnPay is only limited to the U.S., unless you connect with a VPN that has a U.S. presence.

Payroll automation

When it comes to payroll automation, Gusto takes the lead with its AutoPilot feature. This feature allows customers to set up automated payroll runs, which eliminates the need for manual payroll processing and ensures all employees get paid on time consistently.

Gusto’s AutoPilot feature makes managing payroll more efficient and eliminates the risk of human error. OnPay is still an excellent option for those looking for a simpler payroll system, but Gusto is the clear choice for businesses looking for a more advanced and automated system.


Both services provide clear and concise reports that make tracking employee pay and other financial information easy. Gusto offers a wide range of reports, including the following:

  • Payroll journal.
  • Benefits report.
  • Employee benefit elections.
  • Agency payments.
  • Bank transactions.
  • Year-to-date report.
  • Paystubs history.
  • PPP loan forgiveness.
  • Payroll data export.

Gusto also offers custom report builder features, allowing you to create detailed reports based on different filters. Reports can be exported in CSV or PDF format, allowing for further analysis if needed.

OnPay offers a pre-built report template that users can use to generate various reports, including the following:

  • Payroll register.
  • Earnings summary.
  • Payroll summary.
  • Employee summary.
  • Workers’ comp summary.
  • PPP loan forgiveness report.
  • GL summary.
  • Accrual listing.
  • Retirement listing, summary and export.

With their range of reporting capabilities, both Gusto and OnPay offer excellent reporting options for a number of employer needs.

Pricing for Gusto and OnPay

The cost of payroll services can be a major factor for businesses when choosing the right service for their needs. The good news is that both Gusto and OnPay offer budget-friendly options, although each service’s pricing structure and features vary.

Gusto offers different plans that range in price based on the features needed. Their basic plan costs $40 base fee plus $6 per month per payee. It includes key features such as federal and state payroll tax filing, employee onboarding, self-service portals, accounting integrations, time tracking and expense management.

Unlike Gusto, OnPay offers one pricing plan with a $40 base fee plus $6 per person per month. This makes it much easier to estimate costs ahead of time since you know what you’re paying for. OnPay includes features like automated tax payments and filings, free W-2 and 1099 processing, unemployment insurance withholding and multi-state payroll.


Gusto offers three pricing plans. They include:

  • Simple plan: Starts at $40 per month, plus $6 per month per employee.
  • Plus plan: Starts at $60 per month, plus $9 per month per employee.
  • Premium plan: Pricing for this plan is available upon request.
  • Contractor: The base price is $35 plus $6 per month per contractor. The base rate is currently discounted at the time of this writing; for the first six months, customers pay a flat rate of $0 and only $6 per month per contractor.
  • Priority support and HR services add-on: $6 per month per person.


OnPay prices depend on the number of payees you’re working with. The company offers flat-rate pricing plans starting at a $40 base fee per month plus $6 per month per employee. Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of how pricing scales up based on how many employees you’re paying per month:

  • One payee: $46 per month.
  • 10 payees: $100 per month.
  • 50 payees: $340 per month.
  • 100 payees: $640 per month.
  • 500 payees: $3,040 per month.
  • 1,000 payees: $6,040 per month.

Pros and cons

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to payroll software and services. When making your selection, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option to determine whether Gusto or OnPay is a better fit for your company.

Gusto pros and cons

While Gusto is often praised for its advanced features and capabilities, there are still some drawbacks to using the system. Take a closer look at Gusto’s pros and cons below:


  • Good user experience.
  • Automated pay runs.
  • Contractor-only version available.
  • International contractor payment option available.
  • Automatic payroll tax administration.


  • Priority support and HR services add-on are only available with an extra fee.
  • Simple plan has limited live support hours.
  • Health benefits are limited to 39 states.

OnPay pros and cons

OnPay offers a number of valuable features and benefits to customers, but certain shortcomings should still be considered during your decision-making process. Take a closer look at OnPay’s pros and cons below:


  • Automatic payroll tax administration.
  • Unlimited monthly pay runs.
  • Health benefits available in all 50 states.
  • Free W-2 and 1099 processing.
  • Automated tax payments and filings.


  • Support is limited to weekdays.
  • No mobile app.

How to choose between Gusto and OnPay

When choosing between Gusto and OnPay, take into account the size of your business, the type of payroll services you need, and the ease of use for employers and employees. Be sure to compare fees, security, customer service and other factors that may be important to you. Customer reviews for both Gusto and OnPay can be a valuable source of information while making your decision.

SEE: Hiring kit: Human resources specialist (TechRepublic Premium)

Gusto is best for growing businesses looking to scale, offering more advanced features for automated payroll, time tracking, hiring and employee onboarding. Gusto also offers comprehensive payroll tax filing and compliance services, making it an excellent choice for businesses that manage payroll taxes for multiple states.

Alternatively, OnPay is best for small businesses that are looking for a budget-friendly tool to take burdensome payroll tasks off their plates. OnPay offers an easy-to-use interface with direct deposit, employee self-service and tax filing features. Ultimately, both Gusto and OnPay are excellent options for business owners looking to streamline their payroll process.

Read next: The best payroll software for your small business (TechRepublic)

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