payroll software review

Best Payroll 2021

Online payroll systems are powerful yet convenient tools that are essential to businesses big & small. Check out our detailed comparison for the top 3 service providers available in the market today!

#1 Gusto
#2 OnPay
#3 Patriot Software

Year Founded

Base Price /mo

Pay Run

Bulk Add Employees

PTO Management

Direct Deposit

Tax Filing


Live Chat, Email, Phone
Live Chat, Email, Phone
Live Chat, Email, Phone

Ranked: The 3 Best Payroll on the Planet in 2021 (Based on Ease of Use, Features & HR Capabilities)


best payroll software


With the introduction of online payroll providers, processes that used to take hours to do can now be automated and done within minutes, cutting out a big portion of stress and helping you run your business more efficiently.


The problem is, there are way too many of them and it’s getting increasingly difficult for the small business owner to pick one that suits their needs.


Lucky for you, dear readers, we’ve made it our mission to try out these payroll systems ourselves, and come up with comprehensive reviews and our very own list of best payroll services for small business owners.


How Do We Choose The Best Payroll?


After months of testing each of our top 3 in detail – and here’s what cumulates into the 3 criteria (User experience) that we value in a payroll software. Let’s take a look;


  1. Ease of Use To us, this is highly important. The software has to be intuitive and easy to use. All the best features and benefits in the world are useless if nobody knows how to utilize it. Quality UI and UX are key to choosing a good payroll system.
  2. Features Running payroll is the most basic thing a payroll software has to do. We take a look to see if the payroll software we tested has additional features which are unique yet beneficial to the user.
  3. HR Capabilities Payroll and HR duties sometimes overlap, and some companies provide excellent HR features with their software. We’ll be looking at the very basic HR capabilities of the app and how it can benefit your business.


Without further ado, here is the list of our top payroll providers:


Ease of Use


Base Price


Key Features

  • Great UI & UX
  • Good HR Capabilities
  • AutoPilot® Mode
  • 4 Payroll Types Available

“By far, Bitcatcha’s #1 online payroll software! Buttery smooth and rich with both payroll & HR features.”


  1. Ease of Use Using Gusto Payroll is easily one of life’s little pleasures. It’s obvious that the team behind the UI and UX poured in a lot of effort to create Gusto’s interface. From the cute little doodles that brighten up one’s day to the general intuitiveness of the software, Gusto Payroll is simply a dream to use.

    Using the classic black text on white background approach for the general interface, Gusto brings a sense of professionalism and neatness to the table.

    To keep things from being boring, the team shows off their quirkiness and creativity by keeping important buttons, navigational markers and doodles accentuated in orange and teal, complementary colours that are pleasing to the eye.

    Kudos to the designers for excellent use of colour science!

    Long story short, Gusto is designed to be easily used by anyone and everyone. We learned how to use it in under 30 mins, without any training. Absolutely love everything about it.
  2. Features With Gusto, you’ll get to run not 1, not 2, but 4 types of payroll! If you’re all set up and confident, you can even let Gusto run on AutoPilot®, which means payroll is literally automated – you won’t have to do a single thing except approving it.

    You’ll also get Team Insights, plenty of reports and useful benefits – making it that much easier to run your business.
  3. HR CapabilitiesGusto’s HR features are basic, but they get the job done. You get to manage vacation time, employee time tracking and use Gusto’s time-saving HR templates. Nothing groundbreaking but we’re happy that they’re there.

    Gusto is obviously a cut above the competition in the online payroll industry. It’s not just easy to use – it has plenty of features, looks fantastic and is impressive all around.


The Downside: Cost


Gusto has all but one major downside – its price. Out of the 3 payroll providers on this list, Gusto is easily the most expensive payroll service of them all. However, given their level of service and their plentiful features, we feel that their price point is well deserved.


Read our in-depth review on Gusto for more information!


Ease of Use


Base Price


Key Features

  • Professional UI
  • Employee Search
  • Great Support
  • Customisable Dashboard

“Very useful with great features, perfect for small businesses!”


  1. Ease of Use OnPay’s interface looks really good. Clean and professional, I’m sure it’ll appeal to most people. Naturally, when an app’s interface is good, it’s usually also quite easy to use.

    While I must say that OnPay isn’t hard to use (quite the opposite actually) they made some questionable choices with the navigational system of their UI. Not wrong, just needs a little bit of guidance (maybe training?) or getting used to.

    Overall, easy to use with minor flaws.
  2. Features The software has plenty of features and some of them you can’t live without once you get used to them.

    Take, for example, OnPay’s Employee Search feature.

    It’s a simple feature that allows you to search for employees by name, yet I don’t see other payroll companies adopting it. It saves so much time and is so convenient, you don’t have to go through your long list of employees just to make adjustments for a particular one (imagine if you have more than 30 employees, ugh).
  3. HR CapabilitiesOnPay’s HR system is quite basic, but it does what it needs to do. It has the same functionalities as competing payroll/HR programs, such as a portal for employees to request vacations, and an organisational chart.

    Not surprising, as OnPay is a payroll software first and not an HR system. We’re glad that they have HR features at all, to be honest.

    Basically, OnPay’s HR functions are nothing to phone home about, but they work well and won’t be receiving complaints anytime soon.


The Downside: “Slapdash” Features


Our only complaint about OnPay is that some of their features are there just for the sake of being there. If only those features were slightly more fleshed out, it would make it a little more useful, rather than just being there for cosmetic purposes.


In other words, some of the features they have feel tacked on and sloppy.


Read our in-depth review on OnPay for more information!


Ease of Use


Base Price


Key Features

  • Simple & Reliable
  • Employee Portal
  • Tons of Reports
  • Accounting Services
  • Good HR Capabilities

“A very good payroll software that doesn’t disappoint! One of the most reliable services available.”


  1. Ease of Use We were very happy to find that Patriot Software’s payroll is one of the easiest we’ve ever had the pleasure of trying.

    UX is great, everything feels intuitive, and site navigation comes very naturally.

    The UI might be plain, but the navigational system is fantastic and intuitive, which means it works very well. Ain’t nothing wrong with being boring when it works for the program right?
  2. Features The program is a very simple one – you’re able to run payroll, assign vacation time, manage employee hours… that’s about it. The simplicity of the program is its greatest ally, as it makes the software very easy to use, requiring no training whatsoever.

    You can just jump right in and follow their on-screen instructions. It literally is that easy to use!

    However, this means also means that Patriot Software has little going for them in terms of features.

    I will say though, they do have a trump card. Patriot Software is the only payroll software we’ve encountered with a comprehensive accounting service (a paid service) that’s as easy to use as the payroll software.
  3. HR CapabilitiesJust like its regular features, Patriot Software isn’t exactly looking to break any records with their HR features.

    You get to manage attendance, manage time offs, your employees get to log in to an employee portal… and that’s about it.

    It may seem a little limited, but Patriot’s Software’s purpose is to provide users with an easy to use payroll software – if they have to make sacrifices in HR benefits to achieve the ease-of-use desired, we’re more than happy with their decision.


The Downside: UI too clean


The only thing we have to complain about is the UI. It’s nice and safe, a clean white background accentuated with navy blue navigational bars. Our problem with it is that it looks like something straight out of a 90s banking website.


It also seems a little barebones, but that’s the price you pay for simplicity.


Read our in-depth review on Patriot Software for more information!


Bottomline: Which Payroll Should I Go For?


It’s no surprise that Gusto is ranked as Bitcatcha’s #1 online payroll software.


Somehow, they managed to combine a fantastic UI with plentiful features, yet made it so easy to learn and use. That’s some top-level magical UI wizardry right there. It’s good to look at, really fun to use, and best of all, it works beautifully without any hiccups or slowdowns whatsoever.


Our #2 choice for best online payroll software would be OnPay, with its easy-to-use system and super useful features.


Our #3 would be the super dependable Patriot Software, for its simplicity, comprehensive accounting system and superb dependability.


As always, the views stated in this list are only the author’s opinion and may not necessarily reflect your experience with the programs. In other words, there’s no way to really tell what’s best for you unless you go try it yourself.


All of the brands listed here offer a free trial of sorts (some even have interactive demo!), so go crazy and knock yourself out!


If you disagree with our point of view, write to us and let us know your thoughts!