Square Payroll Review 2022

Our Square Payroll review covers Square's payroll features, plans, pricing, HR add-ons, customer service reputation, and third-party integrations.
Best for paying contractors
Square
Square Payroll
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
Starts at
$5.00/mo.
  • pro
    Monthly base price waived for contractor-only plan
  • pro
    Multiple employee payment options, including instant payments
  • pro
    Automatic payroll tax withdrawal
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.

With Square Payroll, you don't have to pay a monthly base fee for contractor-only plans—just a $5-a-month 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 Contractor-only plan has no monthly base fee
pro Workers compensation insurance
pro Health benefits administration and 401(K) options
pro Free multi-state payroll
Cons
con No free trial
con One plan only (limited scalability)
con Email-only customer service
con Limited reporting

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.


Square Payroll plans and pricing

Plan type
Monthly base price
Monthly fee per payee
End-of-year tax forms
Payment methods
Get started
$0.00$5.001099-NECDirect deposit, Cash App, or paper check
SquareEmployees + Contractors
$35.00$5.00W-2 and 1099-NECDirect deposit, Cash App, or paper check

Data as of 9/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Square Payroll's key features

As a full-service payroll provider, Square Payroll processes payroll, calculates payroll taxes, and automatically withdraws and files those taxes with the right state and federal agencies.

Square Payroll integrates easily with Square’s other products, like Square POS, which is especially useful if your employees clock in and out with Square Point of Sale. Time-tracking data syncs with your Square Payroll app for easy, automatic paycheck calculations.

A few other payroll tools and HR features set Square apart: 

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

Square Payroll is one of the few online payroll services to offer free multi-state payroll. Most other payroll providers charge an extra fee for each state. Some, like SurePayroll, charge a flat fee for you to pay employees in 2+ states instead of charging per state.

Square Payroll for contractors

Square Payroll's pricing is already on the cheaper end of the scale: $35 a month with $5 per employee is about the cheapest full-service payroll you can expect. (SurePayroll's full-service payroll plan costs $5 less per month.) But Square Payroll is most affordable for employers who work solely with contractors.

If you don't hire W-2 employees, just contract workers, you don't have to pay a monthly base fee to use Square Payroll. Instead, you pay just $5 a month for every contractor paid. 

Square's contractor plan also syncs with workers compensation insurance plans via Square's marketplace. You can also pause your Square Payroll account anytime for no fee, which is ideal for employers who work with seasonal contractors. 

Gusto Payroll also offers a contractor-only plan that costs $6 per contractor per month with no monthly base fee. However, Gusto's contractor plan only includes direct deposit. Square has more payment options, including instant payments through Square's Cash App. 

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How does Square Payroll compare?

Square Payroll offers the same basic services as most of its key competitors. Where it stands out is in its payroll pricing, ease of use, and Square integrations.

Most—though not all—of Square's competitors charge a higher base price as well as a higher per-payee fee. (SurePayroll and Patriot Payroll are the two main exceptions.) Square Payroll's contractor-only payroll plans are also exceptionally cheap and rivaled only by Gusto's, which cost a dollar more than Square's pricing.

As for ease of use, Square's payroll software files payroll taxes for you so you don't have to worry about paying taxes yourself. The Square Payroll app is also remarkably easy to use. Many payroll solutions don't include a payroll app for employees, such as Wave Payroll and Patriot Payroll. This makes Square a good pick for on-the-go business owners.

Finally, Square's instant payments feature lets you store money for paychecks in your Square checking account. Employees paid through direct deposit get their funds with one business day. Employees using the Cash App receive paychecks instantly.

Many payroll solutions offer direct deposit only, especially with their cheapest plans. If your employees need more flexible payment options, Square's Cash App, direct deposit, and paper check printing makes it more versatile than, say, Gusto or Paychex.

Square Payroll vs. top competitors

Brand name
Starting monthly base price
Starting price per payee
Free trial
Employee pay options
Mobile payroll app
Get started
$0.00*$5.003 mos.**Direct deposit, check, Cash App
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$19.99$4.002 mos.Direct deposit
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$40.00$6.00NoneDirect deposit, check, payroll cards
Icon No  DarkNo
$17.00$4.0030 daysDirect deposit, check
Icon No  DarkNo
$45.00$4.0030 days or 50% off for 3 mos.Direct deposit, paper checks
Icon Yes  DarkYes

Data as of 9/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*No base price for contractor plan only
**Current offer: three months free for Business.org readers only

Square Payroll’s key drawbacks

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.

Square Payroll vs. Gusto: Key feature comparison

Payroll brand
Starting monthly price
Automatic payroll tax deductions
Direct deposit and paper check payments
Employer-facing mobile app
PTO and sick leave tracking
New hire reporting
Accounting software integration
Workers comp add-on
Health benefits administration
Get started
$35.00 + $5.00/payee
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkYes (on request)
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$40.00 + $6.00/payee
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes

Data as of 9/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Find payroll software you love

Still not sure which payroll service to try? Enter some basic business information to get up to five personalized, free quotes on payroll software.

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 4.3 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

If you work mainly with 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?

No, Square Payroll is not expensive. It's actually one of the most affordable payroll services you can find. Its $35-a-month base fee is waived if you only pay contractors. Plus, that $35 base price is cheaper than providers like ADP, Gusto, and Paychex.

If you're looking for other cheap payroll solutions, SurePayroll and Patriot Payroll have similar base prices. Both providers also have cheaper self-service plans if you don't mind filing taxes yourself. And for a completely free solution, you can try Payroll4Free for up to 25 employees or download a free payroll template.

Does Square Payroll charge for direct deposit?

No, Square Payroll does not charge an extra fee to pay employees with direct deposit. Most banks don't charge direct deposit fees either, so you should be able to use direct deposit without an additional charge. 

Does Square Payroll send checks?

No, Square Payroll won't print and mail paper checks to your employees on your behalf. However, you can still use the software to pay employees with checks—you just need to print the checks and distribute them yourself.

How does it work? Simply use the Square Payroll app to generate a PDF with the employee’s paycheck information. Print that information out on a personalized check. (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 its Cash app

How long does it take Square Payroll to deposit funds?

Like most payroll programs with direct deposit, Square Payroll deposits employee funds five business days after the end of the pay period. If you pay employees using the cash balance in a Square Checking account, direct deposit takes just one business day to process. If you use the same method to pay employees who have the Square Cash app, those employees will receive their payment instantly.

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 4.3 out of 5 with most reviewers calling out Square’s stellar customer service.3 Reviewers also say they love Square Payroll’s simple setup process, user-friendly interface, and affordable payroll pricing.

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 September 29, 2022.
2. Google Play, “Square Payroll.” Accessed September 29, 2022.
3. Trustpilot, “Square US.” Accessed September 29, 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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