Trying to decide on QuickBooks vs. Gusto for accounting? Our guide breaks down the differences between the two softwares and reasons to pick one over the other. QuickBooks Online Payroll is one of the most popular accounting solutions available, with scalable software options for a variety of small businesses, including native payroll. However, for businesses that need a more robust HR ecosystem for a high number of employees, Gusto Payroll is the better choice.

QuickBooks vs. Gusto: A Quick Comparison

Gusto Payroll and QuickBooks Online Payroll are both exceptional online automated payroll platforms that allow small business owners to set up and process payroll, manage employee benefits and file payroll taxes.

Gusto is an affordable and user-friendly payroll solution. You’ll have everything you need to automate payroll, hire and onboard new employees, and take the stress out of tax time. Gusto integrates with QBO, but it only imports summary journal entries for each payroll, so the accounting records are not as detailed (i.e., you can’t see how much individual people got paid using the Gusto accounting entries in QBO, etc.).

QuickBooks Online Payroll is the best for knocking out payroll and accounting in one step. It resides within QBO and automatically posts all payroll and tax entries to your books meaning that you’ll spend less time switching between and managing two platforms and more time focusing on building your business. The accounting records are more detailed if you use QuickBooks Online Payroll (i.e., every paycheck and tax payment are recorded in detail right on your books).

Gusto is best for businesses that plan to grow beyond 50 employees or who value expanded HR capabilities in their small business. QuickBooks Online Payroll, on the other hand, is great for smaller businesses with simpler needs, especially those that already use QBO for accounting, and who want the flexibility to run payroll through an app.

Winner for small businesses: narrow advantage to QuickBooks

Winner for businesses with over 50 employees: Gusto

Comparing Features in QuickBooks vs. Gusto

HR Capabilities

Gusto has more HR functionalities to help you manage hiring processes and track your employees’ performance at work, while QuickBooks has slightly better health insurance coverage (available in 48 states vs Gusto’s 39 states).

Both Gusto and QuickBooks Online Payroll offer a self-service portal that employees can use to view their pay slips and benefits online. Both solutions also offer access to expert customer service professionals you can contact to get HR, payroll, and compliance advice.

QuickBooks Online Payroll’s Premium plan includes an HR support center, and its highest-tier Elite plan includes access to a personal HR advisor. However, its HR tools don’t extend far beyond customizable job descriptions, onboarding checklists and employee handbooks.

Overall, Gusto has more robust HR functionality. Some of Gusto’s essential HR features include new hire state reporting, hiring, performance review management, and a wide range of employee benefits options, such as health insurance, commuter benefits, and flexible spending accounts. It even has workers’ compensation administration, a functionality that QuickBooks Online Payroll offers only in its highest tiers. Additionally, you get access to job postings, online offer letters, customizable onboarding tools, and employee surveys.

Gusto also has more benefits options than QuickBooks Online Payroll, aside from health, dental and vision insurance. Other Gusto options include a 529 college savings account, flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts and commuter benefits.

Overall, Gusto offers more HR-specific features than QuickBooks Online Payroll, like a business organizational chart, a coworker directory, customizable employee profiles, online offer letters and employee surveys. For unlimited access to HR professionals, an HR resource center and a dedicated support team, business owners can upgrade to Gusto’s highest-tier Premium plan.

Winner: Gusto

Direct Deposit & Payroll

Automated direct deposit (or paperless payroll): Both Gusto and QBO have automated direct deposit (or paperless payroll), giving you the option to send employee payments electronically. But here QuickBooks shines as it offers the option to process same-day deposits, while Gusto requires at least two business days.

On the other hand, Gusto allows you to run payroll outside of normal timeframes, which comes in handy for commission or bonus payments, while QuickBooks charges a fee for this service. You can also use Gusto to pay contractors at no extra costs.

Winner: tie

Time Tracking

Gusto has rather lackluster reporting and time-tracking capabilities compared to QuickBooks. To get some of the better time-tracking capabilities (as well as the on-call center with HR professionals), you’re limited to Gusto’s higher-level (read: more expensive) plans.

Reporting capabilities with Gusto include view/export options for payroll-related documents as well as documentation related to important tax and employee information. Gusto’s mid-tier Plus plan allows for simple time-tracking capabilities and allows business owners to sync up their time-tracking to their payroll.

QuickBooks Online Payroll wins here with highly robust built-in time-tracking tools that businesses can use for non-salaried, hourly employees.

QuickBooks Online Payroll’s higher-tier plans include a GPS tracking option that sets them apart from Gusto. The GPS feature, which also lets you track employee mileage, is especially helpful for teams that work at different job sites. Employers can even set up a geofence that nudges employees to clock in and out when they enter and exit a job site.

QuickBooks Online Payroll is probably most attractive to businesses that don’t want to focus so much on their HR-related processes and services as much as they do on their accounting-specific needs. QBO plans focus predominantly on payroll processing and speedy direct-deposit capabilities, which makes the most sense for companies with dispersed personnel and varying pay runs and pay dates.

Winner: QuickBooks


When it comes to ease of use, Gusto and QuickBooks Online Payroll both have user-friendly and intuitive platforms. Both offer phone support, including access to HR advisers and how-to guides. However, regarding third-party software integrations, Gusto wins with more robust integration capabilities.

QuickBooks Online Payroll primarily offers integration with Intuit products. If you use an existing accounting software other than QuickBooks, you’ll have to manually input data from your accounting software into QuickBooks Online Payroll. With Gusto, you can integrate with accounting, POS, business operations, and time tracking solutions.

Winner: Gusto


Gusto takes this one. It can accommodate very small businesses with a few employees up to medium-sized businesses with several hundred employees

QuickBooks Online Payroll is optimized for small businesses with up to 50 employees and will not work for businesses with more than 150 employees.

Winner: Gusto

Mobile App

While Gusto has a mobile-friendly site, it does not have a dedicated app like QuickBooks does. QuickBooks Online Payroll provides users with access to a mobile app to conveniently run payroll while on the go.

With the QuickBooks Online Payroll mobile app, employers can easily run payroll with just a few taps from their mobile device, edit employee hours, access tax forms, and much more.

Winner: QuickBooks


GustoQuickBooks Online Payroll
Price$40/month + $6/person to $80/month + $12/person$45/month + $5/person to $125/month + $10/person
Number Of Users650+ users150 user cap
Discounts AvailableNoYes

Gusto’s full-service payroll pricing plans start at $40/month with a $6 monthly per person fee. QuickBooks Online Payroll pricing plans start at $45 per month with a $5 per-employee monthly fee (though you may be able to obtain perpetual discount pricing through your QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisor, such as Ingenium).

A few add-on payments are available for both QuickBooks Online Payroll and Gusto pricing plans. Gusto members can purchase add-ons for certain benefits, such as 401(k) retirement plans and savings accounts. QuickBooks Online Payroll users can also purchase add-on features, including 1099 e-filing and multistate payroll processing.

Winner: Gusto at list price, QuickBooks with ProAdvisor discount

Bottom Line for Choosing QuickBooks vs. Gusto

To help you choose a payroll solution that’s best for your business—be it Gusto or QuickBooks Online Payroll—start by assessing how many employees you have and plan to have in the future, along with your need for HR support and software integrations. You should also determine if you want to offer benefits and, if so, consider if any are negotiable.

If you’re already using QuickBooks’ accounting software, then QBO may be a better option. The learning curve will be much lower than you’d get with other small business software, and you can provide your employees with health insurance benefits in any state.

However, if you need more than just health insurance benefits to build a quality team, or your business and employees are in an eligible state, consider Gusto. You’ll get more onboarding and HR support plus more affordable plan options – for example, if you pay people in multiple states, Gusto will avoid extra fees.

Get a Pro To Help

One way to relieve yourself from some bookkeeping work and issues is to outsource the task altogether. It’s a smart investment to hire someone specialized who can dig into your books and give you proper advice and guidance. The bookkeeper you choose should be someone you can trust to help you grow your business. At Ingenium, we make sure your bookkeeping is accurate and organized. We can set you up with Gusto or QBO so you stay up to date and we can even do all your accounting for you.

Give us a call or set up an appointment, and our bookkeeping experts would be happy to help!