A user-friendly payroll and HR provider with straightforward pricing.
Gusto shines when it comes to its quick setup process and automated payroll capabilities. Its HR services can be especially useful for small businesses that don’t have the budget for an HR department. But it doesn’t offer international payroll and its customer service team isn’t available on weekends.
Choose this software if you’re a new business owner running payroll for the first time, or a longtime business owner looking to simplify your payroll processes.
Consider something else if you’re a large business in need of robust, customized payroll and HR services with international reach.
Gusto helps small business owners manage employees with tools to run payroll, coordinate HR benefits like health insurance and PTO, file taxes and more. Compared to other providers, Gusto is known for its intuitive interface and approachable setup process. If you don’t enjoy consulting with sales representatives and are looking for a fresh take on payroll and HR, Gusto might be for you.
It takes less than five minutes to create an account. From there, you’ll select a membership tier based on your company’s needs. It can help with:
W-2s and paystubs
Hiring and onboarding
PTO and time off requests
Pre-tax savings accounts
Gusto’s features and prices
Gusto’s services are grouped into four tiers. After purchasing a membership, add extra benefits for your employees, such as 401(k) plans, 529 college savings, HSA accounts and more.
$6 per person
$19 plus $6 per person
$39 plus $12 per person
$149 plus $12 per person
Unlimited contractor payments
Form 1099 creation and filings
Same as Contractor, plus:
Employee self-service and profiles
Health benefits administration
Workers’ comp administration
Employee access to Gusto Cashout
Same as Core, plus:
Manager access to basic employee information, compensation and work history
Employee offers and onboarding
Simple time tracking
Employee directory and surveys
Same as Complete, plus:
Admin permissions for signing documents, suspending payroll and more
Certified HR pros
HR resource center
Dedicated support team
Extra benefits from Gusto
These extra services can be added to any plan:
Workers’ comp. It partners with AP Intego to offer pay-as-you-go plans, integrated with your payroll.
Health benefits. Gusto’s licensed brokers can help you choose a healthcare provider based on your team and budget. You’ll only pay for premiums, as there aren’t any administrative fees.
401(k) retirement. Partners with Guideline to offer integrated 401(k) plans. It costs $8 a participant monthly with a base fee starting at $39 monthly.
529 college savings. Partners with Gradvisor to offer these tax-advantaged savings accounts to help your employees save money for their kids’ education. It costs $6 a participant monthly, and there’s an $18 minimum.
Tax-advantaged spending accounts. It’s $200 annually to make these accounts available to your employees.
Health savings accounts (HSAs). Pretax savings accounts for your employees to use on qualifying health-related expenses. It costs $2.50 a participant monthly, and there’s no minimum.
Commuter benefits. Pretax spending accounts for your employees’ commuting costs. It costs $4 a participant monthly, with a minimum of $20.
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs). Pretax spending accounts for your employees to use on qualified health-related expenses. It costs $4 a participant monthly, with a minimum of $20.
What is Gusto Cashout?
Gusto Cashout is a way for your employees to access up to 40% of their paycheck, at a maximum of $500 before payday. Employees can’t borrow more than they’re expected to get paid. When payday arrives, that money is automatically repaid from their paycheck, without accumulated interest or fees. It’s included starting with Gusto’s Core tier.
Does Gusto offer a free trial?
No, Gusto doesn’t offer a free trial. However, you can sign up with a monthly contract — in fact, it doesn’t even offer annual contracts. So you can try it for a month, then cancel if you’re not satisfied.
How much does Gusto cost?
The price you’ll pay for Gusto depends on the number of employees you have and whether or not you include add-ons in your plan.
Here’s what a small business with 12 employees would pay, depending on the plan it chose:
How do I sign up for Gusto?
It’s free to set up an account with Gusto. To purchase a plan, you can enroll online or contact its sales team for guidance.
Enter your name, work email address, company name, company phone number and number of employees.
Click Get started.
Indicate whether you’ve already decided on Gusto, or if you’re considering other options.
Gusto curates the account-creation experience based on your answers to a series of questions. This is unique, especially compared to its main competitor ADP, which requires you to talk to a sales representative before creating an account.
Gusto’s payroll software can integrate with external time and attendance software to automatically track your employees’ hours, to save you time manually entering this info. It also supports FLSA Tip Credits, which might be handy for business owners in the service industry.
Still, Gusto isn’t for everyone. Weigh the pros and cons before checking out, including:
Quick signup process
Highly intuitive interface
No mobile app
Doesn’t offer international payroll
No weekend support
Gusto reviews and complaints
As of October 2020, Gusto holds a “Great” rating on Trustpilot, with 4.1 of 5 stars compiled from over 1,157 reviews. Though some customers complain about billing mistakes, Gusto has replied to almost every comment with either an explanation or a promise to contact that person directly. Positive reviewers praise the intuitive setup process and strong customer service, especially when it comes to HR needs.
Conversely, Gusto has a D- rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and a 1 out of 5 star rating. However, it only has 10 reviews overall, which isn’t much to go by.
In business forums around the web, Gusto is reviewed positively. In particular, small business owners without a dedicated HR department report they’re pleased that Gusto provides an employee portal to help cover those needs.
Case study: Adrienne's experience
US Head of Publishing & Editorial
“You can tell Gusto has worked hard on creating a user-friendly interface. I appreciate its integrations into company benefits, and that it’s easy to see time off and view my paycheck.
The tradeoff of a simple UI, though, is a lack of detail. For example, when my reports make a time off request, I can’t see their PTO balance. This makes it difficult to warn them if they’re running too low or too high and should take some more time off to rest and de-stress.
That said, Gusto has made continual improvements to the platform, so it gets one more point for always making the product better.”
Case study: Jon's experience
Former CEO, Finder US
Gusto makes my life really easy. I can onboard a new employee in minutes, and payroll is a click of a button. It also integrates seamlessly with some of our other services, such as our 401(k) provider, helping us automate onboarding there as well.
The biggest downside of Gusto is that it doesn’t support work globally. With crew members in dozens of countries, having one solution for the US and one for the rest of world is not ideal.
Case study: Kelly's experience
“Gusto’s intuitive system requires no training for employees and managers to immediately jump in. The dashboard at login helpfully and clearly separates my own employee details — like payroll, tax forms and time off — from team requests awaiting approval.
The conversational copy is a welcome change from payroll and HR systems I’ve worked with in the past. Onboarding is an efficient process through Gusto’s streamlined steps, and I credit the rare question about payroll, withholdings, 401(k) details or even transit benefits to how easily it integrates our benefits in one place.
As a manager, I appreciate the ability to add personal notes with time-off approvals to keep close to my colleagues, but a drawback is that I can’t then easily see how much time they have remaining. It means I can’t readily help them avoid, for instance, bumping into our maximum hours and potentially losing time. That could be a setting I haven’t yet figured out, however.”
How do I contact Gusto support?
After you set up an account with Gusto, you’ll have access to its support team via phone, chat or email. Customer service is available weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.
Gusto only bills you for contractors during the months you pay them. For example, if you hire a contractor who works for you six months out of the year, you’ll only have to pay $6 on your Gusto plan six months out of the year.
Yes, Gusto is available in all 50 states. However, some of its HR add-ons — like 401(K) plans and pretax accounts — are only available in some states. If you’re interested in those services, confirm they’re available in your state before signing up.
Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).
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