Gusto Expert Review, Pricing, Alternatives - 2023

Alison Hunter
Editor and HR expert for SelectSoftware Reviews

Contributing Experts

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Gusto Versus the Competition

Gusto debuted in 2011 and became a well-known, well-liked, simple, and affordable payroll software. As the company continues to mature, it has expanded its offerings to include benefits, workers comp, talent management, and more.

If you're ready to get a Gusto demo, we suggest getting in touch for a look at the product and quote. Otherwise, read on!

Ease of Use
Best For
Key Differentiator
Free Trial
  • The dashboard feature keeps tabs on compliance tasks
  • The hiring and onboarding sequence is nicely streamlined between HR and the new hire
  • Post-offer, pre-start tasks are made easy with integrations like CorpNet (state tax set up) Checkr (background checks)
  • Easy payroll for U.S.-based W-2 folks, domestic, and international contractors
  • Person-to-person phone support, email, and other customer service resources
  • The business model is responsive to customer needs
  • Gusto can support payments for international contractors, but not employees
  • No native accounting feature to keep earning and spending under the same roof
  • Analytics dashboard is simplistic

Gusto Review

Gusto’s software is robust: it’s not adored with fragile bells and whistles that are prone to malfunction, and it’s mostly idiot-proof in that it’s intuitive. It is constitutionally user-friendly so it’ll intervene if you're on the way to doing something ill-advised (like canceling payroll, for example). Gusto has done well in responding to the needs of HR teams since 2011, but that’s not the end of the story.

HR folks are not the primary users of this tool. When a company uses Gusto for payroll and benfits, the whole company uses Gusto, and this means that non-HR workers represent the majority of people interacting with the software. Among these users, many enter the platform via the mobile app (Gusto Wallet), which is available for iOS and Android.

The takeaway is that Gusto is ready to meet you wherever you are, Gusto has a lot of users, and they have considered them all.

Gusto’s employee dashboard on payday

Who shouldn't buy Gusto

Gusto is not designed for enterprise use, and rapidly growing companies should be aware of the drawbacks of settling into software that isn’t (yet) intended for massive teams. If your goal is exponential growth and your luck leads you there, congrats! But be sure to talk to Gusto early on about the functional limits of their platform.

Gusto Customers

Gusto’s site has some customer stories for the curious

Gusto: HIRS system with payroll and benefits

Gusto Key Features

  • ATS to create job posts, publish to job boards, and manage candidates
  • Admin dashboard:  stay compliant with reminders of state and federal requirements, like anti-harassment training and workers' compensation
  • Easy state tax registration for new hires in all U.S. states
  • The Gusto Wallet app offers employees easy access to pay history, breakdowns and other useful stats 
  • Gusto accounts are for life: your employees can dig up old tax records or time cards as needed.

Gusto Key Integrations

To imagine the momentum of Gusto’s integrations, picture a snowball rolling slowly down a gentle slope. Do not imagine a comet-sized orb crashing into an Alpine village. Gusto is thoughtful about integrations, and with more than a decade of company wisdom guiding their decisions, there are no signs of short-sighted choices.

A prime example of thoughtful integrations can be found with Guideline and Human Interest. These are the two major players trying to win the hearts and minds of small and medium-sized businesses across the United States (especially in California, where the retirement mandate is shaking things up). Gusto wisely integrates with both. 

Gusto Pricing

  • Simple: $40/month +$6/month/person
  • Plus: $60/month +$9 / month/person (limited-time sale)
  • Premium: call sales for customized plan options
  • Contractor only (no W-2 employees): $6/month/person
Motivosity Recognize
Motivosity Recognize
Motivosity Lead
Motivosity Listen
$5 per person per month
$6.50 per person per month
$2 per person per month

Gusto is Best For

Even budget-strapped startups can afford Gusto’s basic plan, and for companies who have some bank capital to invest in human capital, the top-tier Premium plan is a great choice, especially if they have an HR department of one person.

Motivosity Recognize
Motivosity Recognize
Motivosity Lead
Motivosity Listen
$5 per person per month
$6.50 per person per month
$2 per person per month

How Has Gusto Changed Over Time?

Gusto Implementation

It is evident that Gusto knows their customer base when it comes to the ease with which you can set up this platform. It’s not quite “do it on your phone while you’re commuting to work” easy, but it’s a project you can probably complete before you break for lunch.

Gusto Customer Success

The concierge service offered with the higher priced plans is an absolute luxury for that Team of One, Department of Everything HR person (many of us have been there).

While not inclined or qualified to offer legal or tax advice, the SHRM-certified people on the other end of the concierge phone line can help any HR novice through the bureaucratic eccentricity for which HR is known. Upper-tier plans also include a massive resource library so packed with knowledge, even an HR master scholar will be impressed.

For basic users (and end users) the customer service staff is reliably available and knowledgeable. The long hold times and the occasional agent who woke up on the wrong side of the bed are inevitable features of any customer success department, but Gusto’s is better than most.

About Gusto

2011 was a big year in tech, but I can’t recall a single year since tech became the center of the universe that wasn’t a big year in tech. Gusto’s history and their sometimes quiet presence in the space is relevant though. Gusto has grown gracefully despite having lived through some major shifts in the HR tech landscape. Unicorn status: achieved.

As a next step you can visit the Gusto website or read our research on the Best Payroll and Benefits Software.

As a next step you can visit the Gusto website or read our research on the Best Payroll and Benefits Software.

Gusto Alternatives

Payroll and compliance in 150 countries
Payroll & benefits for remote teams
Lowest cost option
Spend management tool in HIRS
HCM for US-based SMBs


Company HQ
San Francisco, California
Number of Employees
Year Founded
Amount Raised
Series E, ~10 billion
Listed in our research about Payroll and Benefits Software
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