Patriot Payroll vs. QuickBooks Payroll 2023

We analyzed these two competing payroll solutions from the eyes of both smaller, modest businesses and growing mid-sized entities.
Best for simplicity
Patriot Software
Patriot Payroll
4.5 out of 5 stars
Monthly starting price:
$17.00 + $4.00/payee
  • pro
    More affordable
  • pro
    Easy to use
  • pro
    Tax accuracy guaranteed on all plans
Best for growth
Quickbooks Payroll
4 out of 5 stars
Monthly starting price:
$22.50 + $5.00/payee*
  • pro
  • pro
    Complex and full-featured
  • pro
    Multiple plans for scalability

Data as of 12/16/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Sales price: 50% for the first 3 months

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When considering the best payroll software for your small business, think of the Patriot Software payroll service as your friendly hometown barbershop. Sure, it isn’t the biggest or most complex around. But it’s welcoming, high on charm, and gives you a sincere deal for the money.

On the other hand, QuickBooks Payroll parallels a big department store in the city. It’s a complex operation that has everything you need under one roof. However, you’ll likely pay more for many things, and it takes patience and effort to sort through each aisle.

So, which payroll solution is right for your small business? Let’s find out.

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.

Compare Patriot Payroll and QuickBooks Payroll features and pricing

Starting price for full-service payroll (monthly)
Each additional US state
Manual payroll available
Get Started
$17.00 + $4.00/employee$12.00/state
Icon Yes  DarkYes, at $17.00/mo. + $4.00/payee/mo.
$22.50 + $5.00/employee$12.00/state (free on top-tier Elite plan)
Icon No  DarkNo

Data as of 12/16/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Current sale price: 50% for 3 mos.

Most affordable: Patriot Software

The entry-level, full-service plans on both QuickBooks Payroll and Patriot Software cost nearly the same. However, Patriot is the winner in the pricing game.

Say you’d rather save a few bucks and file payroll taxes on your own. In that case, Patriot offers a manual plan for $17 flat and $4 an employee each month.

By contrast, QuickBooks Payroll doesn’t offer such an option. Instead, manual payroll is only provided via the core QuickBooks Desktop software, which starts at $349 annually for 3 users. More users can quickly inflate that amount to over $1,000 a year. Unless you already have Desktop, Patriot is clearly the more affordable choice.

But what if the opposite is true and you want to splurge on the works? Patriot is still victorious. QuickBooks Payroll’s mid-range Premium plan adds on time-tracking, same-day direct deposit, and workers compensation options for $80 and $8 a worker per month—and that's their sales pricing of 50% for the first 3 months. Compare this to Patriot, which offers similar perks (except same-day pay) for only $37 and $4 monthly.

We can go on and on about the differences in price and value, but the end result is almost always the same: Patriot costs less than QuickBooks Payroll while still offering a full array of features.

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Most user-friendly: Patriot Software

Patriot is superior if you want an easy-to-use platform without complicated bulk. That’s because the vendor delivers a user interface filled with large print text, jargon-free explanations, and streamlined processes.

For example, the software brand boasts it only takes three mouse clicks to disperse paychecks. While it technically takes a little extra mousework, the overall theme of simple, intuitive design is omnipresent. Meanwhile, QuickBooks Payroll focuses more on complexity and plugging into other tools from its parent company, Intuit.

And you’re in luck if you’re constantly on the move: Patriot’s cloud-based platform is natively mobile-friendly. This means you don’t need to download any software on your smartphone or tablet. Instead, you have access to every feature via a mobile browser, such as Chrome or Safari. For comparison, QuickBooks Payroll settles for a mobile app that has a limited amount of functions.

The two platforms are tied when it comes to customer service, though. Both offer US-based chat and phone support 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Ultimately, the tiebreaker might lie in your geographic location: Ohio-based Patriot’s support runs in the eastern time zone, while QuickBooks’ parent company Intuit operates in the Pacific time zone.

Bottom line, Patriot’s easy-to-understand and visually alluring user interface takes the cake when it comes to handling payroll like a champ, regardless of your technical background.

Best for growth: QuickBooks Payroll

Although Patriot Software pumps out plenty of value, QuickBooks Payroll still delivers far more horsepower suitable for long-term growth. This is accomplished through a native connection to the broader Intuit ecosystem. Let’s paint a picture of how this might play out down the road.

Say your business is expanding into ecommerce, or perhaps you’re fleshing out a sizable vehicle fleet. You could tap into QuickBooks Commerce to build your online empire. Meanwhile, QuickBooks Online logs mileage either manually or automatically via convenient GPS tracking. Both of these tools can then feed into Intuit’s TurboTax platform, making annual tax filing a breeze.

We’ll take it a step further. If you need fresh working capital to fund your entrepreneurial expeditions, you can count on the convenience of QuickBooks Capital for loans. This is yet another hypothetical need that many competitors, such as Patriot Software and Gusto, simply can’t solve.

Bottom line, QuickBooks Payroll is our best pick for long-term growth since it’s ripe and ready to solve a slew of evolving business needs.

Best for last-minute payroll: QuickBooks Payroll

What if you could hold on to your business’s revenue for longer? This gift of time could help you make payroll without needing short-term loans or worse—potentially delaying payday.

If your business is prone to cash crunches, QuickBooks Payroll is your best bet. That’s because the platform offers next-day or even same-day direct deposit without requiring costly wire transfers. Since there’s no charge to use this service, you could regularly take advantage of this nifty perk without breaking the bank.

Patriot Software, in comparison, requires a four-day lead time, meaning a Monday payroll initiation will disperse on Friday. You could score next-day delivery, but only if you deposit funds ahead of time. This won’t work for most small businesses, which often don’t have five- or even six-figures of cash lying around gathering dust.

Plus, as an added bonus, QuickBooks includes automatic, hands-free payroll runs. This allows you to schedule this duty ahead of time, which is particularly crucial to avoiding missed deadlines during last-minute payouts. As you can guess Patriot requires manual approval every time you cut a check.

The takeaway

Patriot Software delivers a wonderfully user-friendly payroll service that’s suitable for modest small businesses. No previous technical background is necessary since the interface is quite intuitive and most functions require just a few mouse clicks. While this sounds sweet, you’ll eventually outgrow the platform as your needs evolve to require features beyond payroll, such as human resource administration and accounting.

QuickBooks Payroll, on the other hand, can grow to encompass the entire Intuit ecosystem. This means you can nail down solutions for accounting, IRS tax filing, and professional guidance from human resource experts, to name a few things. The platform is far more complex and costly, however.

Want to snag a standalone human resource administration platform? Check out our picks for the best human resource software for small businesses.

Related content

Patriot Payroll vs. QuickBooks Payroll FAQ

Yes, Patriot Software payroll solution integrates with both QuickBooks Online and Desktop. The company clarifies that there are some limitations, although it plans to bridge these feature gaps eventually.

Most payroll services offer similar third-party integrations that still leave many features unaddressed. That’s why we’d recommend sticking with QuickBooks Payroll if you’ll depend heavily on the broader Intuit ecosystem.

We think Patriot Software is the better choice for most small businesses. That’s because QuickBooks Payroll is more expensive despite offering many similar features. Plus, it has a steeper learning curve.

It’s not all bad, though. People already using other Intuit products and those who value functionality over aesthetics will likely feel right at home with QuickBooks Payroll.

What payroll service works with QuickBooks?

Most of the top payroll services, including Patriot Software, integrate with QuickBooks Online and Desktop. You can also manually run payroll with QuickBooks Desktop, although this costs extra each month.

How does Patriot Payroll work?

Patriot Software works by offering full-service payroll, which means it automatically files federal, state, and local taxes for you. This is a massive time-saver for resource-strained small businesses lacking accounting staff. You can also use Patriot for employee time-tracking and some light human resource administration functions.


We made our recommendations after a careful review of each platform’s suitability for small businesses and applicability to different stages of growth. We also considered the following factors (not an exhaustive list):

  • Value for the money
  • Ease-of-use
  • Required learning curve
  • Long-term value
  • Customer service quality


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.

Ian Agar
Written by
Ian Agar
Former staff writer writes about human resource administration. His work has been featured in The Motley Fool and Yahoo! Finance.
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