6 Top-Rated Affordable Payroll Software

By: Preksha Buttan on January 12, 2024

Besides processing employee salaries, payroll software have a multitude of features for payroll and HR managers. From managing employee benefits to ensuring compliance with state and federal laws, these tools offer various functionalities that help improve the overall employee experience.

While many payroll software are available in the market, budget restrictions can limit options for small businesses. This is where choosing affordable payroll software can help.

To help you find the right tool, we have highlighted the six top-rated affordable payroll software based on their pricing, as found on vendor websites and verified software reviews. Based on our research, we've considered products priced less than $30 per month as affordable software and have arranged them in ascending order. Read more.

The software listed in this article can be categorized as human resource software, workforce management software, people operations software, or dedicated payroll software, All the listed tools offer core payroll features, including payroll management, payroll reporting, and tax compliance.

1. Factorial

Factorial is a human resources (HR) software solution that helps manage various HR operations, including paid time off, employee documents, payroll, and expenses. This HR tool leverages artificial intelligence to speed up HR and payroll processes. It automatically customizes employee agreements per their work history, automates bonuses, and generates payroll documents. It also auto-converts raw payroll data, such as employee work hours, leaves, and compensation, into actionable insights.

Product features of interest*:

  • Holidays and absence management: Automatically track employee time off, including vacations, sick days, and public holidays. The tool automates leave requests, approvals, and balances and calculates pay accordingly. This feature ensures accurate leave management and compliance with labor regulations.

  • Time tracking: Monitor employee work hours, including clock-ins, clock-outs, and breaks. The tool categorizes these hours for precise employee attendance and productivity data and facilitates accurate payroll processing. 

  • Document management: Store and organize critical paperwork, such as tax forms and contracts, in a centralized repository. This feature ensures easy retrieval, secure storage, and compliance with document retention policies.

Starting price: $4.5 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Knowledge base, emails, and chat

Who should consider Factorial?

Factorial's advanced AI capabilities can assist human resource professionals in simplifying multiple HR-related operations. The tool can rank candidates’ profiles, generate document summaries highlighting key insights, and automate reporting by converting raw data into actionable insights. These AI capabilities speed up HR and payroll processes, making the workload easy to manage for small HR teams.

Analysis performed December 2023**

Factorial

Factorial

4.48 out of 5 stars

252 reviews

2. PrimePay

PrimePay is an HR, benefits, and payroll solution that offers employees instant access to their earned wages via on-demand pay. This feature provides employees with the flexibility to get an advance of up to 60% of their gross wages whenever the need arises. PrimePay also offers other employee-centric benefits such as employee portal and mobile app, empowering them to manage personal information, check pay stubs, mark attendance, and access tax forms conveniently.

Product features of interest*:

  • Payroll tax filing: Automate the complex task of calculating and submitting payroll taxes. The tool automatically calculates and withholds the correct amount of taxes from employee paychecks. It also generates and files necessary tax forms, such as W-2s and 1099s, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring compliance with tax regulations. 

  • Manager dashboard: Helps supervisors oversee and manage various aspects of employee data and activities via a centralized hub. It offers real-time insights into payroll processing, employee attendance, and other relevant metrics, allowing managers to monitor and verify employee information.

  • Employee time tracking: Record employee clock-in and clock-out times, track breaks, and categorize these records for accurate payroll processing. This feature enhances efficiency by automating wage calculations based on actual worked hours, minimizing errors.

Starting price: $5 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Monthly

Customer support options: Knowledge base, phone calls, inquiry via online form

Who should consider PrimePay?

Human resources managers prioritizing employee experience can benefit from PrimePay's employee-centric features. The on-demand pay option offers financial flexibility, while the employee portal and mobile app empower employees to self-manage personal details and tax documents. PrimePay’s dashboard keeps managers informed by providing oversight of all employee activities. This helps them verify the accuracy of employee data and recorded time, contributing to a more efficient and reliable HR and payroll process.

Analysis performed December 2023**

PrimePay

PrimePay

3.58 out of 5 stars

181 reviews

Pro tip

Check if the selected tool has multi-state support to ensure compliance with diverse state-specific tax regulations, wage laws, and reporting requirements. This feature guarantees accurate and efficient payroll processing across different jurisdictions, minimizing the risk of errors, penalties, and legal complications.

3. Rippling

Rippling, being a workforce management platform, offers IT management features along with HR and finance features. It connects HR and IT data to ease the set up of employee computers and work apps. It also helps implement security best practices such as single sign-on and encryption. Rippling supports a global workforce, allowing you to remotely manage your employees’ systems, apps, and payroll. You can customize your policies and benefits, such as work hours, tax forms, and holidays, by country, and this tool will track employee data to ensure each employee meets the labor laws and security protocols of their country.

Product features of interest*:

  • Performance management: Assess and enhance employee performance by setting goals, conducting evaluations, and offering feedback. By integrating performance data with payroll, this feature allows objective assessment and rewards alignment. 

  • Pulse employee survey: Collect real-time employee feedback to gauge their satisfaction, engagement, and sentiments. By integrating survey results into the payroll system, businesses can correlate feedback with performance metrics, enhancing their understanding of workforce dynamics.

  • Expense management: Track and reimburse employee expenses by automating the submission, approval, and processing of expense reports, ensuring accuracy and compliance. By integrating with payroll, this feature streamlines the reimbursement process, reducing manual effort and minimizing errors.

Starting price: $8 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Monthly

Customer support options: Knowledge base, chat, and inquiry via online form

Who should consider Rippling?

Small business managers working with a global team of freelancers or contractors can benefit from the integrated functionality of Rippling. Having IT, HR, and finance features in a single interface will make workforce management and payroll processing efficient and cost-effective. The tool will allow business managers to swiftly update employee information, monitor performance, and ensure the business remains compliant with country-specific policies.

Analysis performed December 2023**

Rippling

Rippling

4.88 out of 5 stars

3033 reviews

4. TriNet Zenefits

TriNet Zenefits is a people operations tool that offers people analytics, empowering leaders to gain insights into their workforce. The tool visualizes employee data, including headcount by department, compensation across the organization, gender diversity metrics, and employee turnover. These visual representations simplify data exploration, understanding, and sharing of insights for leaders. Moreover, TriNet Zenefits incorporates artificial intelligence features to analyze data and make predictions, enhancing data-driven decision-making and strategic workforce management.

Product features of interest*:

  • Compensation management: Set and adjust salary structures, manage bonuses, and ensure fair and competitive pay practices. This feature assists in aligning compensation with organizational goals, industry standards, and individual performance metrics.

  • General ledger reporting: Get a detailed view of financial transactions that summarize income, deductions, and tax withholdings. This feature helps you maintain accurate financial records and aids in budgeting, auditing, and financial analysis by offering insights into payroll-related expenses.

  • Health insurance: Manage and customize health insurance plans, track employee enrollment, and automate premium calculations. This feature ensures compliance with healthcare regulations, simplifies benefits administration, and provides employees access to crucial healthcare coverage.

Starting price: $8 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Knowledge base, chat, emails, and phone calls

Who should consider TriNet Zenefits?

Payroll managers can leverage TriNet Zenefits to derive insights using its people analytics features. The tool can provide details about employee compensation, headcount, and turnover rates. These insights can help them make data-driven decisions for workforce management. Additionally, the benefits administration features of the TriNet Zenefits can help payroll managers offer and manage benefits, such as health insurance, commuter, and flexible spending accounts, to their employees. Such employee benefit plans make them feel valued and improve their morale.

Analysis performed December 2023**

TriNet Zenefits

TriNet Zenefits

4.21 out of 5 stars

817 reviews

Pro tip

Opt for a payroll software with mobile access to manage payroll tasks conveniently anytime, anywhere. The enhanced flexibility will increase your responsiveness and allow quick approvals, employee interactions, and real-time updates.

5. Namely

Namely is a fully integrated human resources software solution offering HR, payroll, time tracking, and employee benefits administration capabilities. It has robust compliance management features, including a comprehensive compliance library and compliance management courses for employees. Namely's comparison tool allows you to compare and understand the different policies and regulations across the states where your business operates. You also get unlimited access to HR advisors who specialize in compliance management to get your queries answered. 

Product features of interest*:

  • Applicant tracking: Simplify the hiring process by centralizing candidate information. It facilitates posting job openings, receiving applications, and managing the entire recruitment workflow. This feature helps track the progress of each applicant, schedule interviews, and collaborate with hiring teams. 

  • E-signature capture: Sign the document electronically and eliminate the need for physical signatures. This secure and efficient method helps maintain the legality and authenticity of various payroll-related forms, such as tax documents and direct deposit authorizations. 

  • Wage garnishment: Automate the process of deducting a portion of an employee's earnings to meet legal obligations, such as court-ordered payments or debts. It ensures compliance with wage garnishment laws by accurately calculating and managing the deducted amounts.

Starting price: $9 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Monthly

Customer support options: Knowledge base, phone calls, and inquiry via web form

Who should consider Namely?

Small business payroll managers dealing with regulatory challenges can benefit from investing in Namely. The platform's robust compliance management features will assist in navigating complex regulations across operational states, ensuring strict adherence to labor laws and industry standards. Additionally, access to HR advisors will provide a valuable resource for promptly addressing issues, contributing to a smoother and more compliant payroll management process.

Analysis performed December 2023**

Namely

Namely

4.15 out of 5 stars

434 reviews

6. Patriot Payroll

Patriot Payroll is a payroll and accounting software. In addition to handling tax calculations and filings, it assists with invoicing and tracks the business's cash flow. The software seamlessly imports bank transactions, aiding in reconciling potentially inaccurate statements. Patriot Payroll further helps generate multiple financial reports, including customer estimates, payment history, profit and loss statements, and balance sheets. The flexibility to sort, filter, and export these reports according to your needs ensures efficient financial management and reporting.

Product features of interest*:

  • Employee portal: Empower employees with a self-service platform to access and manage their personal information. This allows them to view and update details such as contact information, tax withholding preferences, and direct deposit details. Additionally, employees can access pay stubs, tax forms, and other relevant documents.

  • W-2 and 1099 forms: Automatically generate and distribute essential tax documents for employees and contractors. This feature ensures accurate and timely creation of W-2s for employees and 1099s for contractors, facilitating compliance with tax regulations.

  • Expense tracking: Track employee expenses and manage reimbursements by allowing employees to submit expense reports with receipts, categorize expenses, and track approvals. The tool automatically calculates reimbursements based on company policies and facilitates payouts.

Starting price: $17 per month (additional $4 per employee or contractor)

Billing cycle: Monthly

Customer support options: Knowledge base, FAQs, chat, emails, and phone support

Who should consider Patriot Payroll?

Accounting and payroll integration features of Patriot Payroll can benefit businesses with small accounting teams. It enables efficient management of taxes, cash flow, and expenses from a unified platform. Additionally, the employee portal feature empowers staff to handle their data and tax-related forms autonomously. This consolidated approach simplifies processes for businesses with limited resources, offering a user-friendly solution that enhances overall operational efficiency.

Analysis performed December 2023**

Patriot Payroll

Patriot Payroll

4.81 out of 5 stars

3352 reviews

Pro tip

Assess the document storage limit in the payroll tool you evaluate to ensure it can securely store essential documents, such as tax forms and contracts. A sufficient storage limit helps a small business owner prevent data loss, facilitates compliance, and supports organized document management.

How much does payroll software cost?

A payroll software solution can cost as low as $10 per month or all the way up to $699+ per month, depending on various factors—features, number of users, infrastructure requirements, business size/type, training availability, deployment options, integrations, and storage. Most payroll solutions typically include the following pricing plans:

  • Free trial: No-cost trial plans ranging from 7 to 30 days give users access to either all or limited features of the software. These are ideal for businesses that wish to try out a tool before purchasing it.

  • Free version: Free software plans offer basic features and limited premium feature access. These are ideal for small business owners or freelance payroll service providers with a limited budget.

  • Entry-level: Starts at $10 per month and offers limited features, such as employee onboarding, time tracking, and payroll calculation. These are ideal for small businesses with basic payroll needs.

  • Mid-tier: Range from $20 to $399 per month and offers advanced features, such as benefits administration, payroll tax filing, and automated payroll. These are ideal for businesses that have outgrown basic payroll solutions but don’t require the full range of functionality offered by enterprise-level tools.

  • High-end: Advanced plans going up to $699 per month offer unlimited payroll runs, customizable payroll reports, and global payroll. These are ideal for larger businesses spread across the globe.

Hidden costs associated with affordable payroll software

Besides the software license itself, there may be additional costs associated with the best payroll software, including:

  • Implementation and training: These include data migration, customization, and employee training. These can be substantial, especially for complex systems or large organizations.

  • Hidden fees: Beware of per-employee fees, transaction charges, and other seemingly minor costs that can add up quickly, particularly for larger workforces.

  • Compliance updates: Regular software updates to ensure compliance with changing tax regulations and labor laws can incur recurring fees.

Frequently asked questions when selecting payroll software

  • Does the software support contractor payment?

Contractor payment support in the payroll platform is crucial for your business if you engage with freelancers or independent contractors. It ensures accurate and compliant processing of contractor payments, considering specific tax regulations. This feature simplifies financial workflows, minimizes errors, and promotes adherence to legal requirements, allowing you to efficiently manage payroll for employees and contractors within the same system.

  • Does the software support multiple currencies?

If your business operates globally, multi-currency support in a payroll solution will allow accurate and compliant payroll processing in different currencies. It will help reduce currency exchange complexities and errors, ensure precise financial transactions, and promote international payroll compliance.

  • What are the security features of the tool?

Evaluating security features in payroll software is crucial for safeguarding sensitive employee and financial data. Robust security measures, such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, and audit trails, protect against unauthorized access, data breaches, and potential fraud. This ensures compliance with data protection regulations, instills user confidence, and safeguards the integrity of payroll processes.


Methodology

For this article, we selected the top six products that met the following criteria:

  • Each product should be a part of Software Advice’s Frontrunners report 2023 for payroll software.

  • We assessed all 23 products in the Frontrunners report for their monthly pricing (as of Dec. 4, 2023) and considered the products with publicly available pricing information. Based on the assessment, the average price was calculated to be $29. Products with a monthly subscription price lower than $29 were then shortlisted to be included in this list and arranged in ascending order.

  • Each product must include payroll management, payroll reporting, and tax compliance as core features.

  • Each product must meet our market definition for payroll software: “Payroll software automates the management of employees' salaries, wages, bonuses, and deductions. Payroll software can also track PTO, time off, vacation accrual, benefits, and retirement accounts.”

*Our research team identified these features from vendor websites (as of Dec. 4, 2023) based on their analysis of what users find valuable in or expect from payroll software. This list is not exhaustive. For additional features, refer to the vendor's website.  

**We selected products for this article based on their average ratings as of December 2023; however, the article displays each product’s current average rating, which may differ if more reviews have been left since our analysis.

We select and rank products based on an objective methodology developed by our research team. While some vendors may pay us when they receive web traffic or leads, this has no influence on our methodology.

Products evaluated for the pricing calculation were taken from Software Advice’s payroll software directory. The pricing ranges exclude freemium versions of the products. The features highlighted were identified based on their relevance and the percentage of products in the Software Advice directory that offer them.