Paycor Payroll Review 2021

Paycor’s standalone payroll plan offers basic payroll features with accessible, easy-to-integrate HR add-ons. Will it work for your small business? Our Paycor review covers Paycor’s key features, plans, pricing, and customer service reputation to help you decide.
Best for basic payroll needs
Paycor
Paycor
2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6
  • Check
    Full-service payroll software
  • Check
    HR add-ons
  • X
    Basic payroll features only
  • X
    Declining customer satisfaction

Paycor is most commonly known as a comprehensive human resource information system (HRIS) solution. But along with its more thorough HR technology, Paycor also offers standalone payroll software for small businesses with no more than 40 employees, plus mid-level HR and payroll bundles for businesses with up to 1,000 workers.

If you simply want payroll basics with a few optional HR add-ons, Paycor is a (potentially) affordable option for your business, especially if you have around 10 employees. But its declining customer service reputation and limited integrations make Paycor’s payroll plans hard to truly recommend.

Table of contents

Paycor payroll plans and pricing 2021

Plan name
Starting base price
Automatic payroll tax calculation
PTO requests and approvals
1:1 HR support
Learn more
Basic
$99
/mo
Icon Yes  DarkIcon No  DarkIcon No  Dark
Essential
$149
/mo
Icon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon No  Dark
Complete
$199
/mo
Icon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  Dark

Data effective 4/26/21. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Paycor’s standalone payroll is best for basic payroll needs

Paycor’s payroll-only features for small businesses are pretty basic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—every business definitely needs the payroll basics. But Paycor is principally an HR solution, which means Paycor’s payroll plans make the most sense for small businesses that want to integrate basic HR with basic payroll. In other words, if you’re looking for automatic payroll tax deductions, direct deposit, and, say, optional employee onboarding help, Paycor’s small-business payroll plans should suit you nicely.

But if you want more payroll features, including automatic wage garnishment and built-in time tracking, you should look elsewhere. (We have a few recommendations if you’re not sure where to start.) And even if you only want basic payroll, Paycor isn’t the cheapest option. Depending on the number of employees you have, you’ll get more bang for your buck with a provider like OnPay, SurePayroll, or Patriot.

Paycor payroll plans and pricing

Like we said above, you won’t find anything too remarkable about Paycor’s payroll-only features. Beginning with the Basic plan (starting at $99 a month), all three of Paycor’s small-business payroll plans include automatic tax calculation and filing, direct deposit, employee self-service (including pay stub access), and a mobile app. You’ll also get limited reporting in an exportable PDF-only format, plus self-service wage garnishment and child support payments—automatic wage garnishment costs extra.

The Essentials plan (starting at $149 a month) includes a few HR-adjacent perks, namely PTO tracking and new hire onboarding, plus more thorough reporting. Honestly, though, most small-business payroll providers include all three of those features in their basic plans. And the same is true of the additional actions you get with the Complete plan (starting at $199 a month), which adds three more features:

  • 401(k) retirement plan integration
  • General ledger integration
  • One-on-one HR support

Honestly, Paycor payroll’s main perk is its seamless integration with its optional HR services, which include the following:

  • Benefits administration
  • Centralized learning management system
  • Recruiting, applicant tracking, and onboarding
  • Time tracking, including timesheet integration
  • Employee surveys and talent development

Each of these services cost extra, and you’ll have to contact Paycor directly to find out how much—pricing isn’t listed directly on the site.

Additional fees

Paycor doesn’t list an additional cost per employee on its website, but we assume it has one. (It’s a standard industry practice.1) We’re frustrated that we can’t tell you exactly what that number is—or if Paycor even charges a fee for businesses with 10 or fewer employees.

Our best guess? Paycor’s affordability likely depends on the number of employees you have. For instance, if you have just one employee, Paycor is much too expensive for your needs, and we can’t recommend it for budget-conscious customers. But if you have exactly 10 employees and don’t want many add-ons, Paycor is probably on the cheaper end of the spectrum. We really can’t say for sure, though: a Paycor representative will have to give you the exact details.

Paycor also charges extra for essential payroll features most business owners can’t do without, such as time tracking (with timesheet integration) and general ledger (GL) integration. It’s particularly frustrating that general ledger integration is included with the priciest plan only and not offered as a standalone add-on (like it is with providers like SurePayroll, for instance). Regardless of your business’s size, GL integration saves you quite a bit of time and hassle, not to mention cuts down on the possibility of introducing accounting errors.

Best Small Business Payroll Software
Gusto
Best overall
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
Paychex
Best for growth
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
OnPay
Best for new employers
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
ADP
Best Payroll + HR packages
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
SurePayroll
Best customer service
3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4
Learn more about our top brands.

Paycor mid-market payroll (40 to 1,000 employees)

If you have 40 or more employees, you can’t choose a standalone Paycor payroll service. Instead, you’ll need to choose a human capital management (HCM) solution for total people management, payroll included. You’ll select from the following options to build a payroll and HR package:

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) management and assistance
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Employee onboarding, recruiting, applicant tracking, and scheduling
  • Employee career management and talent development
  • Automatic wage garnishment
  • Benefits administration

Paycor’s ACA Connect software is especially helpful for business owners who worry about open enrollment and IRS compliance. Its thorough people management helps you guide your employees through every step of their careers, from application to promotions.

However, Paycor doesn’t list the pricing for its mid-market solutions online. Instead, you’ll need to contact a Paycor representative directly for a quote. Unlike Paycor’s small-business payroll, its HCM solutions include a three-month free trial that we recommend you take advantage of.

Paycor vs. Gusto: Key feature comparison

FeatureBasicEssentialCompleteGusto Core
Starting price$99.00/mo.$149.00/mo.$199.00/mo.$39.00/mo. + $6.00/payee
Automatic payroll tax deductionsIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  Dark
Direct depositIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  Dark
Employee self-serviceIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  Dark
Mobile appIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon No  Dark
ReportingBasic, PFD-based onlyCustomizableCustomizableCustomizable
PTO trackingIcon No  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  Dark
New hire onboardingIcon No  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  Dark
401(k) integrationIcon No  DarkIcon No  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  Dark
GL integrationIcon No  DarkIcon No  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon Yes  Dark
1:1 HR supportIcon No  DarkIcon No  DarkIcon Yes  DarkIcon No  Dark
Health benefits administrationAdditional feeAdditional feeAdditional feeAdditional fee
Learn more

Data effective 4/26/21. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Paycor pros and cons

Pros
Pro Bullet Well-reviewed mobile app
Pro Bullet Customizable plans
Pro Bullet Emphasis on tax compliance
Cons
Con Bullet Increasingly poor customer satisfaction
Con Bullet Extra cost for key services

Pros

Paycor’s small-business payroll software has a user-friendly interface, simple employee self-service, and a well-rounded mobile app. In fact, Paycor’s app is one of the most used (and highly reviewed) in an industry that isn’t exactly known for its show-stopping apps. On Apple’s App store, Paycor scores a solid 4.7 out of 5 from among 16.8K reviewers.2 And on Google Play, the app has 4.5 out of 5 from 21.7K reviewers, though the app’s reviews have plunged since the most recent update.3

While Paycor doesn’t have an employer-facing app—only about five payroll companies do—its app does let managers and administrators approve time-off requests and employee time cards on the go.

Paycor’s standalone payroll plans are also extremely customizable. Once you’ve chosen a payroll plan, you can add on however many HR services your company needs. (The software itself is also fairly customizable: you can customize your dashboard and pay stub views so you aren’t overwhelmed with information you don’t need.)

Cons

Now for the bad news. On the review site Trustpilot, Paycor scores just 5.6 out of 10 stars, well below the industry norm for customer satisfaction.4 Worse, Paycor’s customer reviews took a notable downturn in the first quarter of 2021. Customers on both the Better Business Bureau and Trustradius report being on hold with customer service for four or more hours without reaching anyone.4,5 According to reviewers on Google Play, the Paycor app’s most recent update keeps the app from even opening.3 And a few reviewers have updated their previously glowing reviews to complain about the noticeable drop in quality.6

And we’ve pointed this out several times in our review, but Paycor doesn’t offer any noteworthy payroll features. It also charges extra for services like benefits administration that providers like Gusto include with each plan.

Tired of payroll? Gusto handles payroll taxes and more

With unlimited payroll runs and automatic tax filing, Gusto helps small-business owners worry less about payroll and put more time into growing their business.

  • Get automatic payroll tax filing, including end-of-year tax forms
  • Manage workers compensation insurance
  • Track paid time off, sick leave, and holiday pay

Paycor payroll FAQ

What is Paycor?

Paycor is an HRIS, HCM, and payroll-processing provider that serves small, midsize, and large businesses.

How much does Paycor cost?

Paycor’s small-business payroll solution starts at $99 a month for businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Businesses with 11+ employees should contact the company directly for a custom quote. Add-ons like time tracking, onboarding, and benefits administration may cost an additional monthly fee.

Is Paycor legit?

Yes, Paycor is a legitimate payroll system and HRIS provider. It’s based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was founded in 1990.

Is Paycor an HRIS system?

Yes, Paycor offers an integrated human resource information system (HRIS) solution. If your business isn’t big enough for a total HRIS solution, Paycor’s standalone payroll plans with optional HR add-ons target businesses with 39 or fewer employees. And Paycor’s HCM (human capital management) solution is geared towards businesses with 40 to 1,000 employees.

The takeaway

Paycor’s payroll features are pretty basic, even the features that come with its priciest small-business plan. And without a confirmed per-employee price, we can’t say for sure whether Paycor’s payroll cost justifies its limited features, especially its unfortunate lack of customer support.

Depending on your business’s size, we recommend looking at Paycor’s HCM and HRIS solutions instead—midsize businesses should get a lot out of Paycor’s combined HR software and payroll. Otherwise, if you’re a small-business owner with 10 or so employees and don’t want to search for separate payroll and HR providers, Paycor’s standalone payroll could work. Just know that you won’t get much beyond the basics at an above-average cost.

Looking for a different cloud-based payroll provider? Our list of the year’s best payroll software for small business reviews 10 Paycor alternatives.

Methodology

To arrive at our star ratings, we considered four crucial categories: pricing, features, customer service, and ease of use. We weighted each category equally.

Related reading

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. Paycor, “The True Cost of Payroll Services,” January 27, 2020. Accessed April 26, 2021.
  2. The App Store, “Paycor Mobile.” Accessed April 27, 2021.
  3. Google Play, “Paycor Mobile.” Accessed April 27, 2021.
  4. Trustradius, “Paycor Reviews.” Accessed April 26, 2021.
  5. Better Business Bureau, “Paycor, Inc.” Accessed April 26, 2021.
  6. G2, “Paycor.” Accessed April 26, 2021.
Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie McQuarrie has been writing for and about small businesses since 2014. Prior to writing full-time, she worked with a variety of small-business owners (from freelance writers to real-estate solopreneurs), which gave her a front-row look at small-business owners' struggles, frustrations, and successes. Currently, she’s Business.org’s accounting and payroll staff writer. Her work has been featured on SCORE.org, G2, and Fairygodboss, among others.
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