Square Payroll Review 2022

We spent hours poring over Square Payroll's payroll features, plans, prices, HR-related add-ons, customer service reputation, and integrations to help you decide if Square will work for you.
Best for paying contractors
Square
Square Payroll
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
  • Check
    Starting at $35.00/mo. + $5.00/payee/mo.
  • Check
    No base price for contractor-only plan
  • Check
    Employer-facing app for on-the-go payroll
  • Check
    Multiple employee payment options
Plan name
Starting price
Get started
Contractor Only$5.00/contractor/mo.
Employees + Contractors$35.00/mo. + $5.00/payee

Data as of 1/3/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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The bottom line: Square Payroll is one of the best payroll solutions for small-business owners who only employ contractors—there’s no monthly base fee for contractor-only Square Payroll plans, just a $5 charge per person paid. Thanks to its high-quality mobile payroll app and seamless Square integrations, Square Payroll also works nicely for employers with W-2 employees as well (or a mix of W-2 workers and 1099 contractors).

However, with just one payroll plan, Square Payroll isn't as scalable as options like Gusto or Paychex. It also has fewer employee benefits and HR features than competitors like OnPay

Pros
Pro Bullet No base fee for contractor-only plan
Pro Bullet Workers compensation insurance
Pro Bullet Health benefits administration and 401(K) options
Pro Bullet Free multi-state payroll
Cons
Con Bullet One plan only (limited scalability)
Con Bullet Email-only customer service
Con Bullet Limited reporting

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.


Square Payroll plans and pricing

Plan type
Starting price per month
End-of-year tax forms
Payment methods
Get started
Contractors Only$5.00/contractor1099-NECDirect deposit, Cash App, or paper check
Employees + Contractors$35.00 + $5.00/payeeW-2 and 1099-NECDirect deposit, Cash App, or paper check

Data as of 1/3/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Square Payroll's key features

Square Payroll is an online payroll service provider by Square, which also offers popular point-of-sale software. As a full-service payroll provider, Square Payroll runs payroll, calculates payroll taxes, and automatically files those taxes with the right state and federal agencies. It integrates easily with Square’s other products, and employers can use its mobile app for iOS and Android, to employees on the go. 

Square Payroll's main selling point is its contractor-only plan, which doesn't have a base fee. You pay just $5 a month for each contractor you pay. Square still runs payroll for you, including filing payroll taxes and paying your employees. You can still integrate workers compensation insurance, and you can pause your account any time for no fee—ideal for employers who work with seasonal contractors. 

Apart from the features mentioned above, both the contractor-only and W-2 plan include several stand-out payroll and HR features that streamline payroll for all types of employers: 

  • Free multistate payroll
  • Tip and commission tracking
  • Multiple payment methods, including direct deposit, paper check, and Square's Cash App
  • Live support for account setup

Most payroll services do not offer free multistate payroll (OnPay and Gusto are two key exceptions). If you employ workers in more than one state, Square will save you more money on payroll than, say, QuickBooks Payroll, which charges an additional fee for multi-state payroll runs. 

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.

And Square Payroll's easy tip import feature makes it one of our top payroll picks for restaurant owners. Plus, if you accept payments with Square Point of Sale (as many restaurants and food trucks do), your employees can also use the software to clock in and out. Square Point of Sale syncs automatically with Square Payroll, so you don't necessarily have to import hours worked to run payroll for your employees.

Square Payroll vs. top competitors

Brand name
Starting price per month
Automatic payroll tax administration
Health benefits administration
Get started
$35.00 + $5.00/payee
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$39.00 + $6.00/payee
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$36.00 + $4.00/payee
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$45.00 + $4.00/payee
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$39.00 + $5.00/payee
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes

Data as of 1/3/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Square Payroll’s key drawbacks

Similarly, Square’s low cost comes with one key trade-off: it has slightly fewer features than pricier competitors. Both Paychex and ADP have more comprehensive reports, which are important for bigger businesses with complicated financials. Gusto has an autopay feature and more thorough HR and onboarding support.

And unlike multi-plan providers like Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll, Square Payroll offers just one payroll plan. It doesn't include additional features for businesses that want more as they grow—instead, you get the same payroll and HR features with Square Payroll no matter how many employees you have.

For many employers, that's just fine. Square Payroll covers all the basics, and you whether you have 10 or 50 employees, your company's payroll needs likely won't change drastically. But if you have 100+ employees, you might consider a heftier solution with multiple customizable plans like ADP or Paychex.

On the other hand, if you primarily employ freelancers or seasonal W-2 employees, you don’t really need a payroll provider with scalable plans—a flat-rate plan should suit you fine.

And even though Square Payroll doesn’t have loads of onboarding assistance, its workers comp, health insurance, and retirement add-ons are often the only HR benefits the smallest of small-business owners need.

Money
Price check: Gusto's contractor plan

Like Square Payroll, Gusto has a contractor-only plan with no base fee. Gusto's plan has a few more perks, like autopay, but it also costs $6 per contractor to Square Payroll's $5. 

Square Payroll vs. Gusto: Key feature comparison

Contractor OnlyContractor + EmployeeGusto Core
Starting base price$0.00/mo.$35.00/mo.$39.00/mo.
Additional price per user$5.00/contractor/mo.$5.00/payee/mo.$6.00/payee/mo.
Automatic payroll tax deductions
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Direct deposit and paper check payments
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Employer-facing mobile app
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkNo
PTO and sick leave tracking
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
New hire reporting
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Accounting software integration
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Reporting
Basic, customizable payroll reports
Basic, customizable payroll reports
Thorough payroll, tax, and benefits reports
Get started

Data as of 1/3/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Square Payroll’s additional features

Unlike most payroll solutions, Square Payroll has an employer-facing mobile app that lets business owners review timecards and pay employees anytime, anywhere. While you can’t set the app to autopay employees on a set schedule, you can use it to review employee hours and submit payroll numbers even when you’re away from the office. Both the Android and iPhone payroll apps are incredibly well reviewed: iOS users give it 4.8 stars out of 5,1 and Google Play reviewers give it 4.4 out of 5.2

Square Payroll also has some crucial employee benefit add-ons, namely health insurance, 401(K) options, HSAs, and FSAs. Providers like Gusto have more employee benefits, including commuter benefits and college savings accounts. If you want a few more options, Gusto, Paychex, and ADP offer more benefits. If you're fine with the basics, though, Square Payroll has you covered.

The takeaway

We’ll make it simple: if your publishing business works mainly with freelance editors or your yoga studio hires teachers as contractors, you should probably be using Square Payroll. In the expensive world of payroll runs, paying only $5 per contractor with no monthly base fee is an absolute steal. And if you use Square’s payroll app and sync Square Payroll with your contractors’ timecards, you hardly have to do any work to pay your contractors on time.

On the other hand, if you're looking for fully featured plans that grow alongside your company, Square Payroll might not be your dream solution. Instead, check out a more comprehensive provider like Gusto, Paychex, or ADP

Not sure Square Payroll is right for your business? Check out our list of the year’s best online payroll software, which reviews more payroll solutions for businesses like yours.

Related reading

Square Payroll FAQ

Is Square Payroll expensive?

Nope, Square Payroll isn’t expensive—in fact, Square Payroll is one of the most affordable full-service payroll plans you can find. With a $35-a-month base fee (waived if you only pay contractors), Square Payroll is cheaper than many payroll providers.

Love Square Payroll’s price but not its features? SurePayroll’s $29.99-a-month full-service plan and Patriot Software’s $30-a-month plan have similar prices with slightly different features.

Does Square Payroll print checks?

Yes, Square Payroll lets you pay employees through a paper check. You can use the software to generate a PDF with the employee’s paycheck information, which you’ll then print out on a personalized check. (Bear in mind that you’ll need to purchase and customize the check stock yourself.)

Along with paper checks and direct deposit, Square Payroll also lets you pay employees via the Cash app.

Does Square Payroll have good customer service?

Square Payroll’s US-based customer service team is available slightly outside regular business hours: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Pacific time, Monday through Friday. The SquareUp payroll help center also has a pretty comprehensive forum of how-tos and customer questions.

As for customer reviews, most customers have an excellent experience with Square Payroll’s software and customer service team. On the review site Trustpilot, Square as a whole gets a 4.6 out of 5 with most reviewers calling out Square’s stellar customer service.3 Reviewers also call out Square Payroll’s simple set-up process, user-friendly interface, and (of course) affordability.

What’s the difference between a 1099 contractor and a W-2 employee?

A 1099 contractor is an independent, self-employed worker who pays their own payroll taxes at the end of the year. Employers don’t provide benefits to 1099 contractors (though depending on your state, you might need to offer workers compensation insurance). At the end of the year, you or your payroll service provider will mail contractors a 1099-MISC tax form, which shows how much the contractor made while working with you and lets them file their own taxes.

In contrast, a W-2 employee works directly for your company. Along with deducting the right amount of payroll taxes from their paycheck each pay period, you must offer benefits like health insurance. At the end of the year, you (or your payroll service provider) will mail employees a W-2 form that lists the employee’s gross wage, tax withholdings, and net wage after taxes.

Which pay schedules does Square Payroll support?

Square Payroll supports weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, and monthly pay schedules.

Methodology

To review Square Payroll and assign it a star rating, we assessed its strengths and weaknesses in several key categories: 

  • Scalability, including number of plans and users
  • Pricing
  • Payroll features, such as automatic payroll runs, unlimited payroll, and automatic tax filing
  • HR features, such as health benefits administration
  • Overall customer service reputation
  • General accessibility and user-friendliness, including mobile app access, interface, and cloud security

We also considered our payroll expert's opinion when assigning a star rating.

To calculate our rating, we weighted each category equally. Star ratings are reviewed frequently and subject to change.

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, “Square Payroll.” Accessed January 3, 2022.
2. Google Play, “Square Payroll.” Accessed January 3, 2022.
3. Trustpilot, “Square US.” Accessed January 3, 2022.

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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