Patriot Payroll vs. Gusto Payroll 2023

Gusto Payroll has more employee benefits and HR management than Patriot, but Patriot is a cheaper choice for many business owners.
Best overall payroll software
Gusto Payroll
4.3 out of 5 stars
Starting from
$40.00/mo. + $6.00/payee (full-service)
  • pro
    Multiple payroll and HR plans
  • pro
    Unique employee benefit add-ons
  • con
    Pricier payroll plans
Most affordable
Patriot Software
Patriot Payroll
4 out of 5 stars
Starting from
$17.00/mo. + $4.00/payee (self-service)
  • pro
    Full-service and self-service plans
  • pro
    Excellent customer service reputation
  • con
    Limited HR features

Data as of 12/12/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our editorial guidelines and advertising disclosure.

The bottom line: Patriot Software is an incredibly affordable payroll service for small businesses that want straightforward payroll with few human resources (HR) perks. Gusto has a higher starting price, but its fully automated payroll and employee benefit add-ons help small, midsize, and growing businesses save time. Let’s dive into each online payroll service’s strengths and weaknesses to help you decide if Gusto or Patriot is right for you.

Compare Patriot and Gusto’s top features

Starting monthly price (full service)
Starting monthly price (self service)
Payroll tax administration (full-service plans)
Health benefit add-ons
Get started
$37.00 + $4.00/payee$17.00 + $4.00/payee
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkNo
$40.00 + $6.00/payeeN/A
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkAvailable in 37 states + DC

Data as of 12/12/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Our top-rated payroll software: Gusto

Gusto’s friendly design and full-service payroll system with HR features make it the best overall payroll software provider.

Best payroll features: Gusto

Gusto has more (and better) payroll tools than almost any other online payroll software. It includes essentials like paycheck calculation, direct deposit, and then some:

  • Fully automated payroll tax administration, including end-of-year tax filing
  • Two-day direct deposit (or next-day with the two pricier plans)
  • Automatic form W-2 and 1099 generation and distribution
  • Automatic wage garnishment deductions and direct child support payments (not available in South Carolina)
  • Tip credit management
  • Time-off tracking and reporting
  • Time-tracking software integration
  • Free multi-state payroll
  • Employee self-service portals (for W-2 and pay stub access)

Gusto also automates most of these payroll features—so if you’re worried about missing crucial tax deadlines or failing to pay employees on time, Gusto was made for you. Once you’ve entered your employees’ information and set a payroll schedule, Gusto handles tax calculations, remittances, and direct deposits on its own.

In contrast, Patriot Software has pretty basic payroll features: the self-service plan calculates paychecks and tax withholding amounts, and the full-service plan e-files taxes for you quarterly and at the end of the year. But those are also Patriot’s only payroll features, which means Gusto’s comprehensive software works better for employers who want to spend the least amount of time possible processing payroll.

Patriot vs. Gusto: Key payroll features

FeatureGustoPatriot Software
Starting monthly price (full-service)$40.00 + $6.00/payee$37.00 + $4.00/payee
Starting monthly price (self-service)N/A$17.00 + $4.00/payee
Automatic federal and state payroll tax filing
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes (full-service plan only)
Form W-2 and 1099 distribution
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes (full-service plan only)
Unlimited payroll runs
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Free multi-state payroll
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkNo ($12.00/mo./state)
Wage garnishment
Icon Yes  DarkAutomatic wage deductions and remittance
Icon Yes  DarkAutomatic wage deductions (no remittance)
Automatic payroll runs
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkNo
Employee payment options
Icon Yes  DarkDirect deposit, debit cards, or paper checks
Icon Yes  DarkDirect deposit or paper checks
Next-day direct deposit
Icon Yes  DarkYes (not available with cheapest plan)
Icon No  DarkNo
Customer supportPhone, chat, and email (no weekend support)Phone, chat, and email (no weekend support)
Accounting software integrations
Icon Yes  DarkQuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Xero, FreshBooks
Icon Yes  DarkQuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Patriot Accounting
Employee self-service portal
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Mobile payroll app
Icon No  DarkNo (site optimized for mobile)
Icon No  DarkNo (site optimized for mobile)
Get started

Data as of 12/12/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Best for HR: Gusto

First, let’s clarify: Gusto and Patriot are payroll-first solutions, not comprehensive HR software. They offer some HR tools and resources, but they aren’t comprehensive HR management or administration programs. (If you want HR management software that also handles payroll, check out ADP, Paychex, or UZIO.)

But between Gusto and Patriot’s HR features, Gusto wins hands down—because, unlike Patriot, Gusto actually has HR features. Every Gusto plan gives you key HR tools that even the smallest of small business owners need:

  • Paid-time-off (PTO) policy creation and tracking
  • Automatic state new hire reporting
  • Employee self-service benefits enrollment
  • Online offer letters
  • Standard employee self-onboarding checklists
  • Employee benefits administration

Gusto’s more expensive plans, Plus and Premium, add more HR support. (In our honest opinion, though, these higher-priced plans don’t have enough HR features to justify their cost).

Meanwhile, Patriot offers standard HR services only if you add on its HR plan—which costs an additional $6 per month plus $2 per employee per month. Patriot’s HR plan gives you online data storage for employee files, generates HR and employee reports, and that’s . . . about it. Plus, Gusto offers fairly comprehensive employee benefits and add-ons, including health insurance (admittedly only in 37 states and DC). Patriot has a workers’ compensation insurance add-on but nothing else.

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Most affordable: Patriot

As long as you’re fine with a no-frills payroll process and next to no HR help, Patriot Software’s price is basically unbeatable. With a $17 base fee and low $4 per-payee fee, its self-service payroll is cheaper than most other manual payroll providers. For instance, SurePayroll’s self-service plan has a $19.99 base cost, comparable to Wave Payroll’s $20 self-service base fee. And both SurePayroll and Wave Payroll charge more per payee than Patriot Payroll.

Even with a $37-a-month base price, Patriot’s full-service plan is also one of the cheaper providers for total tax administration software. Its closest competitor, OnPay, starts at $40 a month plus $6 per payee.

However, Patriot is only the cheapest option if you want basic payroll with no HR. Patriot charges you extra for simple HR tools (like state new-hire reporting) that both Gusto and OnPay  include for free. And its time-tracking software integration costs extra too—so if you want full-service payroll and basic HR and time and attendance tracking, Patriot’s price jumps to $49 a month plus $8 per payee.

And sure, Gusto payroll has a higher per-payee price. But unlike both ADP and Paychex, Gusto doesn’t charge extra for accounting software integration, time-tracking integration, payroll tax administration, or multi-state payroll processing. In contrast, Patriot charges extra for time-tracking software and multi-state payroll, and it limits your accounting integration options to QuickBooks or Patriot Accounting.

Compare top payroll brands’ entry-level prices

Starting monthly price (full-service plan)
Price with 5 employees
Price with 10 employees
Price with 50 employees
Get started
$37.00 + $4.00/payee$57.00/mo.$77.00/mo.$237.00/mo.
$40.00 + $6.00/payee$70.00/mo.$100.00/mo.$340.00/mo.
$29.99 + $5.00/payee$54.99/mo.$79.99/mo.$279.99/mo.
$40.00 + $6.00/payee$70.00/mo.$100.00/mo.$340.00/mo.
$37.50 + $5.00/payee$62.50/mo.$87.50/mo.$287.50/mo.

Data as of 12/12/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Best customer support: Patriot

Patriot and Gusto have similar customer support hours for business owners. You can contact either provider Monday through Friday via chat, email, or phone. Neither provider offers weekend hours, so if you run into an emergency payroll problem, you’ll have to wait until Monday for any assistance. (If knowing you’ll get support in a crisis is important to you, both OnPay and SurePayroll have extended weekday and weekend hours.)

Time-saving tip: Patriot’s expert payroll setup

Patriot has a streamlined and super user-friendly startup wizard. But if you’d prefer an expert to tackle the hardest parts, Patriot will set up payroll for you, free of charge. You’ll hand your employee information over to your Patriot customer service rep, and they’ll take care of all the data entry so payroll is ready to go ASAP.

But between Patriot and Gusto, Patriot has by far the better customer service reputation. Patriot users on the review site Trustpilot give Patriot an 4.8 out of 5 with most reviews labeling their overall Patriot experience as “excellent.”1 By comparison, Gusto currently scores just 3.5 out of 5 on Trustpilot.2 Customers note Gusto’s lack of customer service response, especially when customers run into tax and benefits issues.

Typically, only the most passionate customers leave reviews—so it’s worth tempering both companies’ Trustradius scores with a grain of salt. Still, Gusto used to have one of the best customer service reputations in the industry. We’re troubled by growing customer complaints and Gusto’s lack of a response, and you should definitely take it into consideration as you find your preferred online payroll software.

Best plans for growing businesses: Gusto

Patriot’s two plans are great for small businesses that need basic payroll. But since the only difference between the two plans is their tax administration, Patriot doesn’t offer a lot of flexibility for companies that want to grow into more features—especially HR features for managing an expanding personnel base.

In contrast, Gusto’s two more expensive plans add HR features you don’t get with either of Patriot’s plans. Gusto Plus and Premium let you:

  • Customize your onboarding processes
  • Add an organization chart
  • Send employee surveys
  • Customize administrator permissions

And Premium gives you access to all of Gusto’s HR features:

  • HR handbook and compliance guide access
  • Custom employee handbooks
  • HR compliance assistance and on-demand ask-the-pro HR help

Gusto Plus and Premium also add payroll features like next-day direct deposit, built-in time and project tracking, and PTO management.

However, OnPay gives you nearly all of those same HR features starting at $40 plus $6 per payee—which is much more affordable than Gusto Premium's exclusive pricing. And as we mentioned before, Gusto isn’t an HR-first solution. If you’d prefer a more balanced HR and payroll solution, you might look at Paychex or ADP instead.

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 for paying contractors: Gusto

Gusto is cheaper than Patriot in one key instance: paying contractors. If you don’t have any W-2 employees and run payroll solely for 1099 contractors, Gusto waives its monthly base fee. You pay the per-payee fee only—so $6 per contractor per month. (Square Payroll offers a similar contractor-only plan with a slightly cheaper per-payee fee.)

And though you can’t use Gusto to pay full- or part-time employees in other countries, you can use it to pay international contractors. In contrast, Patriot is a strictly US-based payroll provider, so it doesn’t offer any international payroll tools or support.

The takeaway

Both Patriot Software and Gusto can simplify payroll for busy small-business owners. If you still can’t choose, here are our recommendations in a nutshell:

  • Patriot Software’s self-service plan is a fully featured, affordable pick for small-business owners who don’t mind filing taxes on their own. Its full-service plan is one of the most affordable payroll options on the market—so if budget consciousness is your top consideration and you don’t need any HR support, give Patriot Software a try.
  • Gusto’s full-service plans are pricier than Patriot’s, but they include health insurance options in 36 states, faster direct deposit, and payroll for international contractors. If your growing business needs HR assistance and heftier international support, Gusto will likely work better for you than Patriot.

In keeping with its affordable reputation, Patriot Software offers a 30-day free trial. (Gusto doesn’t currently offer a free trial.) To experience payroll management software without committing to a monthly fee, take Patriot out for a spin—at the very least, the experience can give you better insight into what you really need out of a payroll service provider.

Not sold on either Gusto or Patriot? We review several alternatives on our list of the year’s best payroll companies.

Related content

Patriot vs. Gusto FAQ

Yes, Gusto payroll is an excellent choice for small businesses with employees. As a full-service online payroll company, Gusto calculates and deposits paychecks, withdraws taxes (and other allowances, like child-support wage garnishments), and files taxes for you quarterly and at the end of the year.

Gusto also offers employee benefits administration and workers’ compensation insurance add-ons, which simplifies making benefits-based paycheck deductions. And since it’s a popular payroll service for US-based businesses, Gusto syncs with similarly popular accounting software like QuickBooks Online, Xero, and FreshBooks.

Gusto’s main competitors are QuickBooks Payroll, Paychex, OnPay , and ADP. (Full-service plans from SurePayroll, Square Payroll, and Patriot Software are also comparable to Gusto, though these payroll companies offer fewer HR and payroll features than more direct competitors.) To see Gusto alternatives beyond Patriot, check out our article on the best payroll software for small businesses.

Which is better, Gusto or Paychex?

Gusto and Paychex are two of the best small-business payroll services, but the best one for you depends on your payroll and HR needs. If you want thorough HR support with a customizable payroll package, Paychex might be a better fit for you. Or if you don’t care as much about HR and prefer a fully automated payroll provider, we recommend Gusto over Paychex.

How much does Patriot Software cost?

Patriot Software’s basic payroll plan starts at $17 a month plus $4 per payee per month. At this price, Patriot calculates payroll taxes for you, but you’ll have to submit taxes yourself. If you want automatic tax filing, you’ll need Patriot’s full-service plan. Its base price jumps up to $37 a month, but the $4 per-payee charge stays the same.


To compare Gusto and Patriot Software, we weighed each brand’s performance in several key categories:

  • Pricing and affordability, including the number of plans and price points offered by each provider
  • Payroll features, such as paycheck deductions, tax filing, direct deposit, and check printing
  • HR features, such as HR handbooks, direct HR support, workers’ compensation insurance, and employee benefits
  • Customer service, including customer service communication methods, customer service hours, and user reviews
  • Overall user-friendliness, including dashboard features, setup wizard assistance, and mobile access

We also considered our payroll staff writer’s experience and expertise when deriving our star ratings. Star ratings are subject to frequent review.


At, 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.

1. Trustpilot, “Patriot Software.” Accessed December 12, 2022.
2. Trustpilot, “Gusto.” Accessed December 12, 2022.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Former staff writer Kylie McQuarrie has been writing for and about small businesses since 2014. Her work has been featured on, G2, and Fairygodboss, among others. She's worked closely with small-business owners in every industry—from freelance writing to real-estate startups—which has given her a front-row look at small-business owners' struggles, frustrations, and successes.
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