• Best overall contractor payroll: Square Payroll
  • Best for third-party integrations: Gusto
  • Best for midsize businesses: Rippling
  • Best for paying employees + contractors: Paychex
  • Best PEO service: Justworks
  • Best for international contractor payments: Papaya Global
  • Most comprehensive payroll service: OnPay
  • Best international contractor plan: Deel

Contractor payroll software tools ensure you pay your independent contractors on time while freeing up your human resource staff and accountants so that they can concentrate on day-to-day business tasks.

For most small businesses most of the time, we find that Square Payroll is the best contractor payroll service. Square’s contractor payroll plan has no monthly base fee and can be paused seasonally with no fee, which makes it both flexible and affordable for businesses in many industries.

In this article, we review the top eight contractor payroll services of 2023, Square included, to help you support your staff and improve your payroll operations.

Jump to:

Best contractor payroll services: Feature comparison

Starting base priceStarting per-payee priceInternational payrollStandalone contractor planLearn more
Square Payroll$0$6/mo.NoYesTry Square
Gusto$35/mo.$6/mo.Contractors onlyYesTry Gusto
RipplingCustom$8/mo.YesNoTry Rippling
Paychex$39/mo.$5/mo.YesNoTry Paychex
JustworksNone$49/mo.NoNoTry Justworks
Papaya GlobalNone$25/employee/mo.*
YesYesTry Papaya
OnPay$40$6/mo.NoNoTry OnPay
Deel$49/mo.NoneYesYesTry Deel

*Starting price for businesses with 101+ global employees. Price decreases to $20/employee with 501+ employees and $15/employee with 1,001+ employees.

Plan and pricing information up to date as of 11/12/2023.

The top contractor payroll solutions for 2023

Square Payroll: Best overall contractor payroll

The Square logo.
Image: Square

Our star rating: 4.2 out of 5

Square Payroll is a comprehensive payroll solution designed specifically to support small-business payroll. With Square Payroll, you can easily pay W-2 employees and 1099 contractors, process year-end information, file and pay taxes and access helpful support resources. The software also comes with an app for Android and iOS devices that makes it easy to manage your contractor payroll from anywhere.

Why we chose it:

We love that Square Payroll’s affordable pricing structure makes it accessible to businesses of all sizes. With its intuitive interface and straightforward features, Square Payroll is a great choice for startups looking for an efficient way to manage their payroll needs.

Our Square Payroll review can tell you more about Square’s prices and plans.

Pricing

  • Contractor-only plan: Costs just $6 per contractor per month.
  • Employee and contractor payroll plan: Base fee is $35 per month plus $6 per employee or contractor paid per month.

Features

  • Automatic unlimited payroll runs.
  • Integration with Square Point of Sale.
  • Standalone contractor-only plan.
  • Optional Cash App on-demand payment.
  • Extended weekday customer service hours.

Pros

  • Intuitive user interface.
  • Automated built-in time tracking.
  • 1099-NEC tax form preparation and mailing included free.
  • No base fee for contractor-only plan.

Cons

  • Fewer payroll reports than more robust payroll tools.

Gusto: Best for third-party integrations

The Gusto logo.
Image: Gusto

Our star rating: 4.6 out of 5

Gusto is a contractor payroll software ideal for first-time employers. As one of the best payroll solutions for small and midsize businesses alike, it offers modern HR features such as payroll, benefits, hiring and management resources. The vendor serves over 200,000 small and large companies.

Why we chose it:

Gusto is far and away one of the best (and most popular) 1099 payroll software services for small, midsize and large businesses. You can use it to pay both contractors and employers, and it syncs with more accounting and HR tools than just about any other payroll software on the market. Plus, its tax administration includes automatic 1099 and W-2 form generation at no additional cost — which can’t be said for many of Gusto’s major competitors, including Paychex.

Our Gusto review can tell you more about Gusto’s prices and plans.

Pricing

Gusto’s payroll plans start at $40 per month plus $6 per payee per month. For contractor-only payments, Gusto waives its base price for six months, then charges $35 per month plus $6 per contractor.

Features

Gusto’s comprehensive payroll software includes automated tax filing, employee onboarding, direct deposit and more. It also provides an easy-to-use interface that allows you to manage your payroll with ease. Its other key payroll features include:

  • Contractor self-service portal.
  • Unlimited monthly payroll runs.
  • End-of-year 1099-NEC preparation.
  • Four-day direct deposit for contractors.
  • Fully automated payroll runs.

Pros

  • International payroll for contractors in 120+ countries (add-on service).
  • On-demand pay option through Gusto Wallet app.
  • Thorough time-tracking and accounting software integrations.

Cons

  • Time tracking available through third-party integrations only with cheapest plan.
  • No international employee payroll plan.

Rippling: Best for midsize businesses

The Rippling logo.
Image: Rippling

Our star rating: 4.3 out of 5

Rippling’s contractor payroll software provides unique support for businesses with remote contractors. The platform offers national and international payroll processing with direct deposit, tax administration and paid time off tracking. It also enables contractors to clock in and out to ensure accurate recording of hours worked, alongside other features such as quote-based pricing. Rippling also tracks individual contractor expenses through customizable reports.

Why we chose it: 

Rippling’s modular payroll software system enables fast, easy employee and contractor payments. Since businesses can add more modules to their base plan as they grow, Rippling is also extremely scalable and customizable. In other words, if your microbusiness starts out working solely with contractors but eventually expands to add an in-house W-2 employee team, Rippling has you covered.

Our Rippling review can tell you more about Rippling’s prices and plans.

Pricing

Rippling’s payroll software costs a monthly base fee plus an $8 fee per contractor paid per month. Since Rippling’s software is uniquely customizable, businesses should contact the company for a free demo and custom quote.

Features

  • Streamlined contractor onboarding.
  • Local currency contractor payments.
  • Centralized platform for all HR, IT, finance and payroll tasks.
  • Built-in time tracking.

Pros

  • Streamlined, intuitive and user-friendly experience interface.
  • Hundreds of integrations via the Rippling App Shop.
  • Manage contractor attributes and map them to other systems.

Cons

  • Comprehensive plans may be too pricey for some small businesses.
  • No standalone payroll for contractors only.

Paychex: Best for paying employees + contractors

The Paychex logo.
Image: Paychex

Our star rating: 4.0 out of 5

Paychex offers contractor payroll software with features tailored to small, medium and large organizations. Paychex doesn’t have a standalone contractor-only payroll plan, but it does have comprehensive HR-and-payroll packages with benefits for in-house employees. As a result, Paychex is a solid option for companies that hire plenty of contractors along with benefited employees.

Why we chose it:

Paychex is an extremely well-established payroll company that works with thousands of businesses across the globe. While it isn’t the most cost-effective payroll solution if your business pays contractors only, its full suite of features offers excellent support for W-2 employees. As a result, it’s a top solution for international and domestic businesses that manage both employees and contractors.

Our Paychex review can tell you more about Paychex’s prices and plans.

Pricing

The vendor has three pricing tiers as follows:

  • Paychex Flex Essentials: Base fee of $39 per month with an additional $5 per month per employee.
  • Paychex Flex Select: Custom pricing based on specific needs.
  • Paychex Flex Pro: Custom pricing based on specific needs.

Features

  • Automatic payroll runs.
  • Multiple plans for growing businesses.
  • 200+ compliance experts.
  • Direct deposit, paper check, prepaid debit card and tip disbursement pay options.
  • Comprehensive HR library.

Pros

  • Multiple add-on features to support in-house employees.
  • Optional international payroll management through Paychex’s partner FMP Global.
  • Comprehensive third-party integrations.
  • Optional employee benefits.

Cons

  • Additional fee for end-of-year tax form 1099 preparation.
  • Additional fee for general ledger reporting.
  • Time and attendance available as an add-on only.

Justworks: Best PEO service

The Justworks logo.
Image: Justworks

Our star rating: 4.2 out of 5

Justworks is a professional employer organization, or PEO, that serves as an all-in-one payroll, benefits, HR and compliance solution for businesses of any size. With Justworks, businesses can manage in-house payroll and pay contractors quickly and accurately.

The software makes it straightforward to set up payments for salaried and hourly employees as well as off-cycle payments for vendors and contractors. Businesses benefit from 24/7 customer service support to ensure that payroll is processed correctly and on time. Justworks also provides real-time GPS software to help manage employee time tracking and attendance.

Why we chose it:

The best PEOs take HR and payroll off your plate so you can focus on growing your business. While we don’t recommend full-service PEOs to small businesses that pay contractors only, co-employment organizations like Justworks can free up valuable time and resources by ensuring your contractors and team members are paid on time.

Our Justworks review can tell you more about Justwork’s prices and plans.

Pricing

Justworks offers two pricing plans for payroll services — Basic and Plus.

  • Basic: Starts at $59 per month per employee (cost drops to $49 per employee after your 50th hire). Includes payroll processing, tax filing, direct deposit and access to HR tools.
  • Plus: Starts at $99 per month per employee (cost drops to $89 per employee after your 50th hire). Includes all of the features of the Basic plan plus optional medical, vision and dental benefits for employees.

Features

  • Mobile app access for contractors and employees.
  • Automated direct deposit.
  • One-off payments for bonuses, commissions and more.
  • Automatic compliance notifications.
  • Time and attendance software (available as an add-on).

Pros

  • Mobile friendly with an interactive user interface.
  • Sophisticated analytics and reporting.
  • Easy-to-configure company rules, employee policies and compliance.
  • Integration with small-business accounting software like QuickBooks Online and Xero.

Cons

  • Lacks native expense management features.
  • PEO solution may be pricey for some small businesses.
  • Additional fee for time and attendance software.

Papaya Global: Best for international contractor payments

The Papaya Global logo.
Image: Papaya Global

Our star rating: 4.2 out of 5

Papaya Global is a cloud-based global people and payroll solution that helps multinational businesses manage international payroll, cross-border payments and contractors. It integrates your entire global workforce onto a single platform.

Papaya’s automated SaaS platform simplifies the process of managing global workforces and international payroll across many countries. It also provides features such as onboarding, time tracking and compliance management.

Why we chose it:

With Papaya, companies can quickly process payroll at a fraction of the time compared with other providers serving global workforces. Its international contractor payment services are some of the cheapest you’ll find without compromising quality: Payments are made in local currencies and in accordance with local labor laws.

Our Papaya Global review can tell you more about Papaya’s prices and plans.

Pricing

Papaya offers multiple global payroll solutions starting at the following price points: 

  • Global Payroll: Starts at $25/employee/month for businesses with 101+ employees, $20/employee/month with 501+ employees, or $15/employee/month with 1,001+ employees.
  • EOR: Starts at $650/employee/month.
  • Contractor Payments & Management: Starts at $30/contractor/month.

Features

  • International employee and contractor payments in 160+ countries.
  • Multiple services including standalone contractor plan, employer of record service and global benefits plans.
  • Comprehensive compliance.
  • Powerful analytics and intelligence reporting.

Pros

  • Multi-country payroll data integration.
  • AI-based compliance automations.
  • On-the-ground compliance experts.
  • Employee relocation and immigration assistance.

Cons

  • No employer-facing payroll app.
  • Limited third-party software integrations.

OnPay: Most comprehensive payroll service

The OnPay logo.
Image: OnPay

Our star rating: 4.7 out of 5

OnPay is a cloud-based payroll software system that makes it easy for businesses to manage their payroll, taxes, HR and benefits. OnPay’s online payroll services provide an intuitive platform that simplifies the process of setting up employee records and running unlimited payrolls.

With OnPay, you can access your pay stubs and view hours worked and PTO balances on the go with the OnPay Mobile app. Plus, OnPay offers comprehensive HR solutions to help you stay compliant with state and federal regulations.

Why we chose it: 

More than nearly any other payroll competitor, OnPay offers the best value for price. It costs the same per month as Gusto but includes even more features for free, including multi-state payroll. While OnPay is most cost-effective for businesses paying W-2 employees and 1099 contractors alike, it’s a solid investment for any business, including those that only pay contractors now but plan on hiring employees later.

Our OnPay review can tell you more about OnPay’s prices and plans.

Pricing

OnPay costs $40 per month plus $6 per month per employee or contractor paid.

Features

  • Easy contractor onboarding using only ITINs.
  • Full-service payroll.
  • Self-service tools.
  • End-of-year 1099 tax form filing.

Pros

  • Easy payroll setup for contractors.
  • Intuitive, user-friendly interface.
  • Real-time payroll updates.
  • Multiple payment options.
  • Comprehensive HR solutions including onboarding and time tracking tools.

Cons

  • Fewer third-party integrations than competitors like Gusto.
  • One plan only.

Deel: Best international contractor plan

The Deel logo.
Image: Deel

Our star rating: 4.7 out of 5

Like Papaya Global, Deel is an international payroll service. Along with its employer of record service, global payroll service and immigration assistance service, Deel has a standalone contractor payroll plan that pays contractors in 100+ countries. Deel also offers a free HR admin plan that lets employers store data, automate workflows, collect documentation and manage time off at no additional fee.

Why we chose it: 

Thanks to its affordable international contractor plan and free HR software, Deel is one of the most budget-friendly payroll software options for businesses operating internationally. It’s also extremely user friendly, which is a huge plus in the confusing, complicated realm of international payroll.

Our Deel review can tell you more about Deel’s prices and plans.

Pricing

Deel’s contractor plan starts at a flat rate of $49 per month (not per person).

Features

  • Local compliance experts.
  • Payment in 150 local currencies.
  • Automated local tax payments (when applicable).
  • Automated invoicing.
  • Completely free HR plan for up to 200 employees.

Pros

  • Multiple plans to support different business types and sizes.
  • Payroll in over 100 countries.
  • Access to free hiring resources, including a global hiring toolkit.
  • Emphasis on correct employee/contractor classification.

Cons

  • Limited transparent pricing online.
  • No mobile app.

Our methodology

To determine which contractor payroll services are best for small businesses, we looked at two dozen of the most popular payroll services in the U.S. We narrowed down our list by prioritizing payroll providers with contractor-specific features or plans. We viewed demos, signed up for free trials and downloaded free versions of each app whenever possible. We also looked at user reviews to ensure our reviews were as well rounded as possible.

To calculate our star ratings, we relied on an internal algorithm that assess brands in the following weighted categories:

  • Price (25% of overall score).
  • Contractor-specific as well as generic payroll features (35% of overall score).
  • Ease of use (15% of overall score).
  • Customer service (15% of overall score).

Our expert’s opinion and hands-on software testing experience makes up the final 10% of our calculation. You can learn more about how we calculate star ratings and write our analyses by reading our payroll review methodology page.

How to choose the right contractor payroll service for your business

Selecting the best contractor payroll service for your needs is critical. Your choice will depend on the kind of contractor-specific payroll services and features you need, as well as each contractor software service’s cost, ease of use, vendor reputation and scalability.

Once you’ve narrowed down our list of the best payroll software for contractors to one or two options, sign up for a free trial before signing a contract or committing to a payroll program. If a payroll company doesn’t offer a free trial, schedule a customized demo where you can ask questions about how the software will benefit your company specifically.

Read next: A Complete Guide to Payroll Software

Other payroll solutions

1 Deel

Visit website

Run payroll in 100+ countries and 200+ currencies from a single place. Deel’s comprehensive global platform eliminates the ongoing admin of local compliance, taxes, and benefits. With in-house experts across 100+ countries, dedicated CSM’s, visa and PTO support, and more, Deel provides unmatched payroll expertise and service. Plus, with a single point of contact, we eliminate handovers, providing you with faster support and compliance, so your entire global team gets paid quickly and securely.

Learn more about Deel

2 QuickBooks

Visit website

QuickBooks from Intuit is a small business accounting software that allows companies to manage business anywhere, anytime. It presents organizations with a clear view of their profits without manual work and provides smart and user-friendly tools for the business.

Learn more about QuickBooks

3 Paycor

Visit website

Paycor’s HR software modernizes every aspect of people management, which saves leaders time and gives them the powerful analytics they need to build winning teams. Paycor provides a full suite of HCM solutions with a single source of truth for employee data, so users never have to switch platforms, log-in to multiple systems, re-key data or open multiple spreadsheets. Everyday processes become simplified, allowing organizations to focus on their most important work.

Learn more about Paycor

4 Paychex

Visit website

Paychex is a cloud-based payroll management system offering payroll, HR, and benefits management systems for small to large businesses. Paychex covers payroll and taxes, employee 401(k) retirement services, benefits, insurance, HR, accounting, finance and Professional Employer Organization (PEO).

Learn more about Paychex

5 Remote

Visit website

Remote empowers companies of all sizes to pay and manage full-time and contract workers around the world. Our people are on the ground on every continent, building culturally aware employment packages that help you build trust with your global team. We take care of international payroll, benefits, taxes, and compliance to provide a great experience for your employees. Our ironclad intellectual property protections and industry-leading security guarantee give you peace of mind across the globe.

Learn more about Remote

Subscribe to the Daily Tech Insider Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest in technology with Daily Tech Insider. We bring you news on industry-leading companies, products, and people, as well as highlighted articles, downloads, and top resources. You’ll receive primers on hot tech topics that will help you stay ahead of the game. Delivered Weekdays

Subscribe to the Daily Tech Insider Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest in technology with Daily Tech Insider. We bring you news on industry-leading companies, products, and people, as well as highlighted articles, downloads, and top resources. You’ll receive primers on hot tech topics that will help you stay ahead of the game. Delivered Weekdays