The 5 Best Payroll Apps for Small Business 2022

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Best overall
Paychex
Paychex Flex
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
Starting monthly price:
$39.00 + $5.00/payee
  • pro
    Comprehensive employer- and employee-facing apps
  • pro
    HR administration
Best for paying contractors
Square
Square
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
Starting monthly price:
$5.00/payee*
  • pro
    Easy syncing with Square Point of Sale
  • pro
    Contractor-only plans with no monthly base fee
Most user-friendly
Quickbooks
QuickBooks Payroll
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
Starting monthly price:
$37.50 + $5.00/payee**
  • pro
    Simple integration with QuickBooks Online accounting software
  • pro
    Mobile tax e-filing
Cheapest self-service payroll
SurePayroll
SurePayroll
3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4
Starting monthly price:
$19.99 + $4.00/payee
  • pro
    Mobile payroll alerts
  • pro
    Industry-leading data encryption
Best HR + payroll plans
ADP
RUN Powered by ADP
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
$79.00 + $4.00/payee
  • pro
    Easy remote employee management
  • pro
    HR document access and sharing

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*No monthly base fee for contractor plans only. Employee payroll plans starting at $35.00/month plus $5.00/payee
**Sales price: 50% off for the first 3 months

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While most payroll service providers offer mobile apps for employees, software lags on the small-business employer side. Only a handful of payroll software companies have employer-focused apps for small-business owners who need to pay employees anywhere, anytime.

Luckily, the few brands that do offer employer-facing payroll apps have put in the time, energy, and labor to make absolutely stellar products. Our favorite payroll app for employers is Paychex Flex's app, which is fully featured and highly functional for on-the-go employers. But if Paychex Flex isn't right for you, there are a few other app and mobile-friendly payroll options you can choose from instead.

Here are our picks for the best small-business payroll apps of 2022.


Our most affordable payroll solution: SurePayroll

SurePayroll is an affordable and straightforward payroll software that offers automatic payroll runs, tax filing, and exceptional customer service.


Best payroll apps plans and pricing

Payroll provider
Business.org rating
Starting monthly price
iOS or Android
Payroll type
Get started
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

$39.00 + $5.00/payee

Both

Full service

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9

$5.00/payee (contractor-only plan)

Both

Self service (contractor-only plan) or full service

4 out of 5 stars
4.0

$37.50 + $5.00/payee

Both

Full service

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4

$19.99 + $4.00/payee

Both

Self service or full service

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5

$79.00 + $4.00/payee

Both

Full service

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Paychex Flex: Best overall

App Store rating: 4.8 stars1
Google Play rating: 4.1 stars2

Paychex Flex
Paychex
Paychex
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at $39.00/mo. + $5.00/payee/mo.

Paychex Flex’s plans aren’t the cheapest, but its payroll app is easily the best one out there. If running payroll from anywhere in the world on any web-enabled device is a must for you, Paychex Flex is the way to go.

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Paychex Flex’s app is far and away the most popular payroll app for small businesses. So what makes it so great? For one thing, it does basically everything Paychex's stellar cloud-based payroll software can do—and it does quite a lot. Paychex's plans include standout HR support, including dedicated HR specialists with pricier plans. Accessing all that info on the go on a fantastic app that nixes bugs and app crashes is a bargain.

Speaking of bug- and crash-free apps, Paychex's software and app also sync effortlessly with each other. If you start entering payroll data on your office laptop but have to take off early to make a meeting, you can pick up right where you left off on your phone after you're through. Employees can use the employee-facing version of the app to access their payroll data, check out their W-2 forms and paystubs, and even tweak their 401(k) contributions.

Pros
pro Fantastic mobile app for employers and employees
pro Robust plans featuring dedicated HR solutions
pro Three full-service plans starting at $39 flat plus $5/payee, monthly
Cons
con Pricier plans than many competitors
con Extra fee for accounting software integration and multiple employee pay options

Square Payroll: Best for paying contractors

App Store rating: 4.8 stars3
Google Play rating: 4.5 stars4

Square Payroll
Square
Square
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at $5.00/contractor/mo. (contractor-only plan)*

If you work primarily with contractors, don’t want to pay extra for running payroll as many times as you need during the month, and need a super intuitive app, Square Payroll is the best (and most affordable) payroll option for you.

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The Square Payroll app is super versatile—it’s just as easy to pay your W-2 hourly and salaried employees as it is to pay your contractors.

Plus, Square’s payroll app syncs easily with its point-of-sale app; you can import employee and contractor hours and then pay them in just a few clicks.

Want to take payroll off your plate entirely? Square Payroll’s app includes an autopay option (though this option is for the employee plan only, not the contractor plan). If your salaried workers get paid on a consistent pay schedule and make a consistent rate, automatic payroll keeps things simple and ensures employees are paid—even if you forget about payday completely.

Finally, along with running payroll, you can use Square’s app to track employees’ paid time off (PTO), sick leave, and overtime. That's not bad for a straightforward, completely affordable app.

Pros
pro Syncs easily with other popular Square products, including Square Point of Sale
pro No monthly base fee for contractor-only plan
pro Intuitive, user-friendly app
Cons
con Less scalable than competitors like Paychex and ADP
con Fewer reports than competitors
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QuickBooks Payroll: Most user-friendly

App Store rating: 4.2 stars9
Google Play rating: 4.2 stars10

QuickBooks Payroll
Quickbooks
QuickBooks Payroll
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at $37.50/mo. + $5.00/payee/mo.

Already using QuickBooks Online? QuickBooks’ payroll app syncs easily with your existing accounting software, making bookkeeping a breeze.

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

QuickBooks’ payroll app is a little less robust than the others we’ve reviewed so far. But that doesn’t mean it skimps on features: you can use the app for payroll runs and reminders, direct deposit, bank-grade security, and even e-filing your taxes.

Like QuickBooks Online's accounting app, its payroll app has a low learning curve. With a sleek dashboard and few glitches, we'd say it's the most user friendly of all our app options listed here. It's particularly user-friendly if you're already familiar with QuickBooks Online's interface—so if you're already using QuickBooks Online to track accounting, using QuickBooks Payroll is the logical next step once you've hired your first employee.

Pros
pro Syncs flawlessly with QuickBooks Online
pro User-friendly app with low learning curve
pro On-the-go tax e-filing
Cons
con Fewer mobile features than some competitors

SurePayroll: Cheapest self-service payroll app

App Store rating: 4.8 stars11
Google Play rating: 3.1 stars12

SurePayroll
SurePayroll
SurePayroll
3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4

Starting at $19.99/mo. + $4.00/payee/mo.

SurePayroll’s mobile alerts, customer service access, and detailed reporting keep you on top of on-the-go payroll.

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

SurePayroll is owned by Paychex, our top pick—which goes to show that Paychex’s team is absolutely committed to making user-friendly, accessible apps.

With the SurePayroll app, you can record your employees’ hours worked as well as their vacation days, sick leave, and other PTO accruals. Access customer service right from your phone or tablet, pull up payroll reports on individual employee earnings and tax deductions, and pay both W-2 employees and 1099 contractors.

SurePayroll also proactively addresses some of the key concerns users have with payroll apps—namely accuracy and security. Most importantly, it protects your data with industry-leading encryption and never sends account information via the app.

Want a little extra help staying on top of payroll? SurePayroll sends mobile alerts that let you know when your payroll has been submitted and approved. You can also see compliance changes and payroll deadlines with the app.

Pros
pro Affordable pricing starting at $19.99/mo.
pro Solid mobile app with excellent security and notifications
pro Workers compensation and health insurance add-ons
Cons
con Less impressive Android app
con Extra fee for two-day payroll processing and accounting software integration

RUN Powered by ADP: Best HR

App Store rating: 3.8 stars7
Google Play rating: 2.6 stars8

RUN Powered by ADP
ADP
RUN Powered by ADP
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5

Starting at $79.00 + $4.00/payee/mo.

If you need HR solutions alongside mobile payroll, RUN Powered by ADP puts HR management tips, compliance assistance, and new-hire onboarding at your fingertips.

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

We know you're looking at those user reviews and thinking, this app? Really? But hear us out: while ADP's app isn't the strongest, its software is one of our absolute favorites. Like Paychex, ADP offers a slew of HR features, which makes it a great fit for midsize and large businesses. With multiple plans and price points, it's also a scalable choice for businesses planning on growth.

But the app? Well, the app leaves a little to be desired. Customers report problems with forced logouts, and many are frustrated with the app's lack of features—for the most part, it works for payroll runs only and doesn't offer the support of ADP's software.

Still, the app does offer some payroll features alongside its HR assistance:

  • Access to employees’ contact information and pay rates
  • HR tips and alerts
  • HR document access
  • Report sharing

We know that's vague, but bear in mind that ADP is still one of the few payroll providers to even have an employer-facing app. And we've got our fingers crossed that they bring the app up to par with the software sooner than later.

Pros
pro Comprehensive plans with thorough HR features
pro Time and attendance integration
pro Versatile plans to accommodate small businesses (1 employee) to big businesses (1,000+ employees)
Cons
con Poorly reviewed app
con Expensive plans with no transparent pricing on site
con Poor customer reviews

Still not sure? We’ll help you find the right payroll software for your business.

Honorable Mentions: Mobile-Friendly Payroll Services

Using an app is often the most convenient way to run payroll on the go, but it isn’t the only way. In fact, a company can optimize its software to work just as well on a full-width laptop screen as on a small mobile screen, and that's just what Gusto and Patriot Software—two of our favorite payroll providers—have done.

Compare top mobile-friendly payroll services

Payroll provider
Starting monthly price
Payroll type
Learn more

$40.00 + $6.00/payee

Full service

$17.00 + $4.00/payee*

Self service or full service

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Base price for self-service plan only. Full-service plan starts at $37.00 per month plus $4.00 per payee.

Gusto: Most comprehensive plans

Gusto
Gusto
Gusto
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at $40.00/mo. + $6.00/payee/mo. 

Gusto’s affordable plans include workers compensation insurance and health benefits administration. As long as you’re comfortable using an internet browser app to access payroll, it’s hard to do better than Gusto.

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Gusto offers three plans: Core, Complete, and Concierge. Each full-service payroll plan includes health benefit add-ons, workers compensation administration, and PTO policy creation. At $40 a month with a $6 additional fee per employee, it’s reasonably priced (more so than QuickBooks), and like we said above, you can access all of Gusto’s features online on your mobile device, app-free.

Patriot Software: Most affordable payroll-only plans

Patriot Payroll
Patriot Software
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5

Self-service: $17.00/mo. + $4.00/employee
Full-service: $37.00/mo. + $4.00/employee 

Don’t mind dealing with taxes yourself? Patriot Software’s $17-a-month plan still includes key features like workers comp integration and unlimited payroll processing.

Data as of 9/19/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Patriot’s full-service plans are cheaper than Gusto’s at $37 a month for full-service payroll with a $4 add-on cost per employee. It also offers a self-service plan, meaning a plan without automatic payroll tax filing at $17 a month with the same per employee cost. (That's even cheaper than SurePayroll's full-service plan, which costs nearly ten dollars more per month.) If you have only a handful of employees and aren’t too stressed about taxes, Patriot’s reliable self-service software could be a good choice.

Both the self- and full-service plans include free direct deposit, employee self-service payroll portals, workers compensation integration, and unlimited payroll runs. 

The takeaway

While Paychex Flex offers our favorite employer-facing app, the other top brands we reviewed here are ahead of the curve in making payroll management as easy, accessible, and convenient as possible. Whether you’re on the road heading to your next farmers market, or taxiing on the runway before your next business trip, these cloud-based solutions give you the flexibility to pay your employees on time, every time.

Looking for more than payroll software? Check out our favorite cloud-based accounting software for small businesses—most of which pair easily with your preferred payroll solution.

Related content

Payroll app FAQ

What’s the best small-business payroll app?

We ranked Paychex Flex as the best small business payroll mobile app due to its power and user-friendliness. Nearly everything available on the desktop version of Paychex is also offered on the mobile app. For comparison, many other payroll mobile apps, like Gusto’s Wallet app, are employee-facing only. Apps like Gusto's don't offer features that let employers cut paychecks or check financial reports on the go.

Ultimately, the best small business payroll app depends on your business’s size and growth plans. Some services, like Patriot Software and Gusto, target smaller businesses needing simplicity. Other contenders, like ADP and QuickBooks Payroll, offer up more complex, richly featured platforms suitable for long-term expansion.

Are payroll apps free?

The apps listed here are free with the purchase of the associated software. For example, Paychex Flex’s app is included at no additional cost with your Paychex Flex payroll subscription.

None of the payroll software we listed here is free, but you can hop over to our piece on the best free payroll software to learn more.

Methodology

We examined each software brand's full-service payroll availability, suitability for mobile devices, small-business appeal, user-friendliness, and ability to perform unlimited payroll runs, among other factors.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources
1. App Store, “Paychex Flex.” Accessed September 19, 2022.
2. Google Play, “Paychex Flex.” Accessed September 19, 2022.
3. App Store, “Square Payroll.” Accessed September 19, 2022.
4. Google Play, “Square Payroll.” Accessed September 19, 2022.
5. App Store, “SurePayroll for Employers.” Accessed September 19, 2022.
6. Google Play, “SurePayroll for Employers.” Accessed September 19, 2022.
7. App Store, “RUN Powered by ADP.” Accessed September 19, 2022.
8. Google Play, “RUN Powered by ADP Mobile Payroll for Employers.” Accessed September 19, 2022.
9. App Store, “QuickBooks Payroll.” Accessed September 19, 2022.
10. Google Play, “QuickBooks Payroll for Employers.” Accessed September 19, 2022.

Ian Agar
Written by
Ian Agar
Ian covers human resource administration at Business.org. His expertise stems from his four years as a military HR generalist in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he held the title of yeoman and became an Oracle Peoplesoft maestro. Ian also owned an ecommerce small business for over three years and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He was previously a venture capital reporter at PitchBook Data, and his work can be seen on Seeking Alpha, The Motley Fool, and Yahoo! Finance.
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