Patriot Payroll is an affordable payroll software solution for many small and midsize businesses, especially those that need fast, efficient payroll services more than they need human resource tools and support. But Patriot’s payroll processing system won’t work for every business. Could it work for yours, or should you look elsewhere?
Whether you’re looking to switch from Patriot or you’re thoroughly investigating its alternatives before committing to a Patriot software plan, keep reading. We review the best Patriot Payroll alternatives, from SurePayroll to Square, so you can decide if Patriot or a Patriot competitor is better suited to your team’s payroll needs.
- Top Patriot Payroll competitors: Feature comparison table
- Patriot’s top competitors and alternatives
- Is Patriot worth it?
- Patriot pros, cons and pricing
- Do you need an alternative to Patriot?
Top Patriot Payroll competitors: Feature comparison table
|Vendor||Starting monthly price||Free trial||International payroll||Benefits administration||Time tracking|
|SurePayroll||$19.99 + $4 per payee||Up to six months||No||Yes||Third-party integrations|
|Gusto||$40 + $6 per payee||No||Contractors only||Yes||Built-in app|
|OnPay||$40 + $6 per payee||30 days||No||Yes||Third-party integrations|
|ADP||Custom quote only||Up to three months||Yes||Yes||Built-in app|
|Paychex||$39 + $5 per payee||No||Yes||Yes||Third-party integrations|
|Square Payroll||$39 + $6 per payee||No||No||No||Square integration|
|Patriot||$17 + $4 per payee||30 days||No||No||Built-in app|
Plan details up to date as of 11/12/2023.
Patriot’s top competitors and alternatives
Apart from SurePayroll, none of the options on our list are as cheap as Patriot. However, most of them (including SurePayroll) have more payroll- and HR-specific features than Patriot.
SurePayroll: Best overall Patriot Payroll alternative
Our star rating: 4.7 out of 5
Of all the Patriot competitors on our list, SurePayroll has the most in common with Patriot. Both providers have a full-service and self-service plan, unlimited monthly payroll runs and workers’ compensation insurance policies and integration.
Plus, both payroll systems are small-business-specific, and unlike many larger payroll companies, Patriot and SurePayroll both include local payroll tax filing at no additional cost. Customers score both companies highly for the above-average quality of their customer support.
SurePayroll vs. Patriot: Features
As one of the best payroll services for businesses, SurePayroll has several HR tools — and a few payroll features — that Patriot lacks. While Patriot users must pay an extra fee for Patriot’s basic HR plan, which doesn’t offer much more than document storage, SurePayroll builds crucial HR support into both of its plans:
- Automatic state new-hire reporting.
- Labor law posters, HR document access and HR how-to guides.
- Optional group health insurance benefits, 401(k) plans and workers’ compensation coverage.
- Autopilot payroll feature.
- FSA and HSA fund management.
SurePayroll also has an employer-facing app for both Android and iOS users, though at 4.7 stars out of 5, its payroll app for iOS users is much more widely used and better scored than its Android app (which rates just 2.5 stars out of 5).
Like Patriot, SurePayroll has both a self-service and full-service payroll plan:
- The Self-Service plan costs $19.99 per month plus $4 per employee per month.
- The Full-Service plan costs $29.99 per month plus $5 per employee per month.
Since Patriot and SurePayroll have the same $4 per-employee fee for their self-service plan, you’ll pay more or less the same to process payroll with either provider. (SurePayroll’s plan costs around $36 more per year than Patriot Payroll’s.)
Although SurePayroll’s full-service starting price is lower than Patriot’s, the plan’s higher per-employee fee makes it more expensive than Patriot’s full-service plan for businesses with 10 or more employees.
|Monthly cost||One employee||Five employees||10 employees||50 employees||100 employees|
- Multiple third-party integrations, including six accounting software options (QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks, Xero and Sage50, among others).
- Award-winning U.S.-based customer support.
- Crucial HR tools included with every plan.
- Wage garnishment calculations.
- No 24/7 customer service (extended weekday and weekend hours only).
- Limited integrations compared to competitors like QuickBooks Payroll.
- Less scalable than multi-plan payroll providers like Gusto.
Learn more by reading our SurePayroll review.
Gusto: Most flexible benefits options
Our star rating: 4.6 out of 5
Like Patriot, Gusto’s payroll software comes with unlimited monthly payrolls, free two-day direct deposit and optional W-2 and 1099 distribution. But while Patriot only syncs with QuickBooks Online, Gusto syncs seamlessly with FreshBooks, Xero, QuickBooks Online, Sage Accounting and more. In fact, as one of the most popular payroll providers in the U.S., Gusto integrates with nearly all of the most commonly used accounting, time tracking, HR administration, point of sale and expense tracking systems.
Gusto vs. Patriot: Features
Gusto also has an in-house insurance brokerage that businesses can use to find health, vision and dental insurance for their employees. Businesses that find insurance through Gusto can integrate benefits with Gusto’s payroll software at no additional fee (though Gusto’s health insurance programs are only available in 37 states + Washington, D.C.).
Other unique features that differentiate Gusto from Patriot include the following:
- International contractor payments.
- Autopilot payroll tool.
- Custom admin permissions.
- Unique employee benefits, such as financial planning and commuter benefits.
Gusto has three plans that businesses can easily scale up to as they grow. While each plan includes more or less the same impressive suite of payroll features, the mid-tier and highest-tier plans include greater customer support and access to more HR tools:
- Gusto Simple costs $40 per month plus $6 per employee.
- Gusto Plus costs $80 per month plus $12 per employee.
- Gusto Premium has exclusive custom pricing only.
- No additional fees to integrate insurance purchased through Gusto.
- Wage garnishment administration with every plan.
- Multi-state payroll included with Plus and Premium plans.
- Hiring and onboarding tools with every plan, such as onboarding checklists, background checks and email provisioning and deprovisioning.
- Health insurance limited to 37 states.
- HR library and compliance alerts limited to Gusto Premium only.
- Expensive price jump between cheapest and mid-tier payroll plans.
- No payroll app for employers. (Like Patriot, mobile-friendly site only.)
Learn more by reading our Gusto review.
OnPay: Best HR features
Our star rating: 4.7 out of 5
In the field of customer service, Patriot and OnPay stand out starkly from the competition. Both payroll providers include free white-glove setup and account migration as part of their welcome package, and both providers also offer a 30-day free trial for users who want to test-drive their software before committing to a monthly plan.
OnPay vs. Patriot: Features
Much like Gusto (and in contrast to Patriot), OnPay is one of the most fully featured small-business payroll services. Along with industry-standard payroll features like unlimited monthly payroll runs, OnPay’s key HR and payroll features include the following:
- Onboarding features, such as offer letters and document storage.
- Workforce management tools and documents, such as org charts, employee checklists and in-app direct messaging.
- Customized PTO accrual policies and in-app time-off requests.
- Automatic state new-hire reporting.
- Health and dental insurance coverage in all 50 states.
- Optional life, vision and disability insurance add-ons.
- Comprehensive HR library access and compliance audits.
OnPay’s full-service payroll plan costs $40 a month plus $6 per employee. It has no service fees for integrating with employee benefits, includes multi-state payroll at no additional cost and bundles free setup and data migration into your 30-day free trial.
- Industry-specific payroll features for farms, restaurants, nonprofits and more.
- Expert white-glove setup.
- Multi-state payroll included at no additional cost per state.
- Next-to-no add-on fees, especially when compared to competitors like Patriot, Gusto and Paychex.
- One plan only (limited scalability).
- No mobile app. (Like Patriot, mobile-friendly site only.)
- Accounting integrations limited to Xero and Intuit QuickBooks.
Learn more by reading our OnPay review.
Run Powered by ADP: Best for growing companies
Our star rating: 4.4 out of 5
ADP’s payroll products range from professional employer organizations for small businesses to comprehensive human capital management solutions for massive enterprises. Its main payroll software product, Run Powered by ADP, supports small and midsize businesses that want to process payroll in house while offering solid employee benefits.
ADP vs. Patriot: Features
ADP’s greatest strength — and its key difference from Patriot Payroll — is the scope of HR and workforce management tools it offers with each plan. Starting with the most basic Run plan, Essential Payroll, ADP users can access the following features:
- Automatic state new-hire reporting.
- New-hire onboarding through ADP’s employee portal.
- Single-country background checks.
- Google Ads setup and management.
- Health insurance, workers’ compensation insurance and 401(k) retirement plan add-ons.
Users who subscribe to higher-tier Run plans get features like HR tracking, forms, documents, training and toolkits — additions that make ADP a more scalable choice for growing businesses than single-plan providers like Patriot, OnPay and SurePayroll.
ADP Run’s pricing
ADP doesn’t list the starting price for most of its products online. However, the process for requesting an online quote is relatively painless, and the payroll company does offer up to three months free for qualifying customers.
- Multiple plans to support a variety of businesses as they grow.
- International payroll options.
- Comprehensive payroll and HR plans for midsize businesses.
- Well-reviewed payroll apps for both employers and employees.
- No transparent pricing online.
- More expensive than some small-business payroll competitors.
- Additional fees for time-tracking integration.
Learn more by reading our ADP RUN review.
Paychex: Best for midsize businesses
Our star rating: 4.0 out of 5
Unlike OnPay, SurePayroll (which is owned by Paychex) and Patriot, Paychex has multiple payroll plans. As a result, it’s better suited to businesses that might not want substantial HR support now — but could see themselves needing more support later on.
Paychex vs. Patriot: Features
In contrast to Patriot, each Paychex plan includes the following:
- Hiring and onboarding tools.
- Access to Paychex’s expansive HR resource library.
- Labor law posters.
- Automatic state new-hire reporting.
Higher-tier plans add in-depth HR and HCM features that business owners can’t get through small-business-centric payroll software like Patriot’s:
- Built-in learning management system.
- Job-posting integrations.
- Employee handbook template.
- Optional recruiting and applicant tracking, performance management and document management add-ons.
Although Paychex has three distinct payroll plans, the company only lists its cheapest plan’s starting price online:
- Paychex Flex Essentials starts at $39 per month plus $5 per employee.
- Paychex Flex Select requires a custom quote.
- Paychex Flex Pro requires a custom quote.
Paychex also has a variety of additional fees for add-on services that most of Paychex’s competitors include for free. With Paychex, for instance, workers’ compensation integration, general ledger integrations, wage garnishment and state unemployment insurance management all cost extra.
- Thorough HR library with templates, checklists and how-to guides.
- Three plans for easy scalability.
- More third-party integrations than competitors like Patriot and SurePayroll.
- Additional fees for features included in competitors’ base prices.
- HSA and FSA management limited to highest-tier plan.
- No option for general ledger integration with cheapest plan.
Learn more by reading our Paychex review.
Square Payroll: Best for paying contractors
Our star rating: 4.2 out of 5
Patriot and Square are both supremely affordable and extremely easy to use. They both offer workers’ compensation integration and support payments for 1099 contractors and W-2 employees alike.
Square vs. Patriot: Features
While Patriot Payroll only integrates with 401(k) plans, not health insurance benefits, Square Payroll provides integrated health insurance and 401(k) benefits. The software also supports administration of pre-existing benefits, including HSA and FSA plans.
Square Payroll also integrates seamlessly with Square Point of Sale, which functions as both a payment acceptance system and time clock for hourly employees. If you already use Square Point of Sale and you’ve just hired your first employee, Square Payroll’s interface should have a low learning curve.
Square Payroll’s pricing
Square Payroll has two main payroll plans:
- The Pay Contractors Only plan costs $6 per month per contractor paid.
- The Pay Employees & Contractors plan costs $35 per month plus $6 per employee or contractor paid.
Square Payroll only charges you for employees and contractors you actually pay in a given month. You can also pause your account seasonally at no additional fee.
Square Payroll’s pros
- Optional health insurance, workers’ compensation insurance and retirement plan add-ons.
- Multi-state payroll included at no additional cost.
- Fee-free cancellation (no contracts required).
- Seamless integration with Square Point of Sale and Cash App.
Square Payroll’s cons
- Limited scalability compared to multi-plan payroll providers.
- No 24/7 customer support (extended weekday hours only).
Learn more by reading our Square Payroll review.
Is Patriot worth it?
If your top payroll consideration is affordability, Patriot should be at the top of your list of payroll software to test-drive. Patriot’s interface is also astonishingly user-friendly, so if you’ve never processed payroll before, Patriot Payroll could make for a fantastic starting point.
However, if you want software that integrates with most third-party business apps, works as an all-in-one payroll and HR solution or includes benefits administration, a Patriot software competitor will almost certainly work better for your needs than Patriot itself.
Patriot Payroll’s pricing
Patriot has two main payroll plans:
- Basic Payroll costs $17 per month plus $4 per employee per month. With this plan, Patriot will calculate your payroll taxes but leaves the actual filing up to you.
- Full Service Payroll costs $37 per month plus $4 per employee per month. This plan includes full-service payroll tax administration.
Along with its payroll services, Patriot offers the following optional add-ons:
- Accounting Basic costs $20 per month and includes expense and income tracking, invoicing, vendor payments and online payment acceptance.
- Accounting Premium costs $30 per month and adds features like recurring invoices, receipt tracking and estimates.
- Time & Attendance starts at $6 per month plus $2 per employee. It includes an online portal for employees to clock in and out, time card approval and custom PTO policy creation.
- HR Software starts at $6 per month plus $2 per employee. The plan includes document storage, custom workflows and basic HR reporting.
Patriot’s lack of third-party integrations means you’re more or less limited to using its HR and accounting plans if you want to eliminate manual data entry. Unfortunately, this can bump up Patriot Payroll’s starting cost quite a bit depending on which tools you want to add to your plan.
For the record, most of Patriot’s competitors include Patriot’s basic HR Software tools in their base prices. Additionally, Patriot’s accounting plans have fewer features than competitors’ at a higher price. For instance, Wave Accounting is a free program that includes most of Patriot’s Accounting Premium tools for $0.
Patriot Payroll + add-on plans: Starting price comparison table
|Starting price||Payroll only||Payroll + Time & Attendance||Payroll + Time & Attendance + Accounting Basic||Payroll + Time & Attendance + Accounting Premium||Payroll + Time & Attendance + Accounting Premium + HR|
|Basic Payroll||From $21/mo.||From $29/mo.||From $49/mo.||From $59/mo.||From $67/mo.|
|Full Service Payroll||From $41/mo.||From $49/mo.||From $69/mo.||From $79/mo.||From $87/mo.|
Pricing details up to date as of 11/12/2023.
Patriot Payroll’s pros and cons
Patriot Payroll’s pros
- Notably user-friendly cloud-based interface.
- Affordable self-service and full-service plans.
- Excellent customer service reputation.
- Unlimited monthly payroll runs with each plan.
- Workers’ compensation insurance and 401(k) plan integration.
- Multi-state tax filing (additional fee).
Patriot Payroll’s cons
- Limited scalability (one full-service plan only).
- Extremely limited third-party integrations.
- Minimal HR features, even with add-on HR plan.
- No benefits administration.
- No mobile app for employees or employers.
- Additional fee for time-tracking, accounting and HR plan integration.
Do you need an alternative to Patriot Payroll?
You might need an alternative to Patriot Payroll if:
- You want payroll software with multiple plans you can scale up to as you grow.
- You offer employee benefits and want to directly integrate those paycheck deductions with your payroll software.
- You want software versatile enough to sync with your favorite third-party apps instead of restricting you to a select few.
- You work remotely and would rather process payroll from your phone instead of at your laptop.
- You want your payroll provider to match you with employee benefits.
On the other hand, you might prefer Patriot to its competitors if:
- You want affordable software that won’t jump dramatically in price when you hire a new employee.
- You’re still learning how to do payroll and are looking for a user-friendly platform for first-time employers.
- You pay only contractors or aren’t required to offer benefits.
- You don’t mind calculating, withholding and remitting common paycheck deductions like insurance premiums by hand.
- You’re happy with separate payroll and HR solutions instead of finding software that bundles both services.
- You’re fine working with basic HR and accounting software features.
To rank and assess the top Patriot competitors, we looked at payroll providers with similar payroll and HR features, audiences and prices. We then chose the top-ranked Patriot competitors using the following criteria:
- Features (both payroll and HR features)
- Customer service and overall customer reputation
When possible, we either viewed demos or set up free accounts to test-drive each payroll provider for ourselves. We also thoroughly investigated third-party reviews on sites like Trustpilot, Gartner, the BBB and more to ensure our review reflected more experiences with the software than just our own.
To learn more about how we review products, visit our in-depth methodology page.
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