The best payroll for contractors in 2024

Contractors help keep your business flexible, but juggling freelancers in multiple locations can get complicated quickly. The best payroll for independent contractors will have unlimited payroll runs with multiple payment options, a smooth onboarding process, and handle 1099s at the end of the year. It should allow you to easily pay both employees and contractors, all with a price tag that won’t break the bank.  

We’ve put together a handy guide to compare the best payroll for contractors on the market to help you make the right choice for your growing business.

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1. Gusto – Best all-in-one contractor & employee payroll software

Overview

Gusto tops our list for best all-in-one contractor payroll software with a wealth of easy-to-use, people-first features and fully integrated and automated functionality. Payroll for both employees and contractors—whether domestic or international—is out the door in just a few clicks, and their intuitive interface simplifies even the most complex tasks. 

They offer a discounted contractor-only plan for businesses who don’t have full-time employees on the payroll, and self-onboarding for contractors is the easiest we’ve encountered. 1099 filing is included in all plans, as well as unlimited payroll runs each month, which is great when you need to pay multiple contractors by project instead of in regular pay cycles. 

Multiple pay rates and schedules along with all federal, state, and local taxes are also included with every plan as well as basic hiring, onboarding, and benefits administration. For more robust HR tools like time tracking and PTO, you’ll need to upgrade to their mid-range plan. 

Compared with other players in the space, Gusto offers a more robust set of tools at a more attractive price point than behemoths like Paychex and ADP. Their customer service is some of the highest rated in the industry, and their pricing is transparent, which is becoming a rarity.  

AUTOMATIC TAX FILING & COMPLIANCE

Every time you run payroll, all federal, state, and local taxes are automatically calculated, filed, and paid along with benefits deductions, workers’ comp, and PTO. This can be a lifesaver for small businesses that struggle with complex payroll tax requirements. End-of-year 1099 and W-2 filing is included at no extra cost with all of their plans. Both Paychex and ADP charge extra for this. 

EMPLOYEE SELF-SERVICE

Employee self-onboarding makes it easy to upload documents, e-sign contracts, and gives employees and contractors lifetime access to paystubs, 1099s, and more. Employees and contractors can view their paychecks, manage PTO, clock in and out, and access financial management tools right from the app. 

ALL-IN-ONE SOLUTION

Having a single system to manage payroll, taxes, time tracking, and compliance, as well as hiring, onboarding, performance, and benefits, reduces your admin burden and streamlines your tech stack. Gusto also makes it easy to offer custom no-cost, low-cost, and premium benefits packages, which is great for smaller businesses who may feel traditional benefits are cost prohibitive.

DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT
Gusto recently expanded new-hire support to all 50 states with FUTA and SUI payments calculated and paid automatically. They also expanded international contractor support to 120+ countries, and they are in the process of rolling out an Employer of Record service for global employees.

Key Features

  • Seamlessly integrated payroll, HR, time tracking, and benefits
  • Payroll, taxes, and compliance in all 50 states
  • W-9, W-2, and 1099 filing included
  • New-hire reporting for contractors
  • Contractor-only plan available
  • Unlimited payroll runs 
  • Pay by direct deposit, check, or prepaid debit card
  • Integrated time tracking tools
  • Support for international contractors in 120+ countries; global payroll available through Remote
  • Employee & contractor self-service with lifetime access 
  • Hundreds of software integrations at no extra cost   

Learn More about Gusto Pricing & features

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Intuitive, easy to use interfaceOnly 4-day direct deposit for contractors
1099-NEC and new-hire filing includedPaying international contractors incurs a small fee
Easy self-onboarding for new hiresContractor-only plan requires at least one domestic contractor
Unlimited payroll runs at no extra cost
Transparent pricing, no hidden fees
Contractor payments in 120+ countries
Excellent customer support
Hundreds of software integrations included with all plans

Pricing

Gusto offers a contractor-only plan for just $35 a month plus $6 per contractor per month, and you’ll only pay for a contractor in the months you pay them. They’re currently running a promotion to pay $0 a month plus $6 per contractor per month for the first six months. The contractor plan comes with end-of-year 1099 payroll services and allows you to pay contractors in all 50 states, but it doesn’t come loaded with faster direct deposit times included with their full packages. If you need to pay international contractors, you’ll be charged a small exchange fee. 

If you need to pay both employees and contractors, Gusto offers three pricing plans, with the Simple plan starting at $40 per month plus $6 per person per month. The Simple plan includes Payroll on AutoPilot along with multiple pay rates and schedules and unlimited payroll runs. It also comes loaded with basic support for hiring and onboarding, and benefits administration and basic time-off policies, but it lacks support for multi-state payroll as well as time tracking and PTO requests. 

Plus plans start at $80 per month plus $12 per person per month and include time-tracking, PTO, multi-state payroll, and next-day direct deposit along with the full suite of advanced hiring, onboarding, and team management tools. 

Premium plans are priced exclusively, and include everything Gusto has to offer with no hidden monthly fees. For more info on Premium pricing, contact their sales team today

Free Trial? Yes, Gusto is free until you run your first payroll.

Free Version: No. 

Transform your HR processes with Gusto, a platform that’s already the choice of over 300,000 businesses.

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2. OnPay – Best basic contractor payroll software

Overview

OnPay offers a simple, straightforward set of tools at one low price. There are no tiers or extras to figure out. Their single package comes with payroll, taxes, compliance, basic HR tools, and benefits administration in all 50 states. They support multi-state payroll as well as multiple pay rates and schedules. With OnPay, what you see is what you get.  

For contractors, they’ve got everything you’d expect with 1099-NEC filings, unlimited payroll runs, multi-state filings, and worker self-onboarding included. They also support adding contractors with only ITINs—one of the only platforms to offer this. Unfortunately, they do charge extra to print and mail your 1099s, and their 2-day direct deposit is only available for qualifying customers. 

OnPay is a great choice for companies that need payroll with a few HR extras and aren’t planning on growing in the near future. But if you’re looking for more advanced features like time tracking or workforce costing reports, Onpay probably isn’t robust enough for your needs.

Key Features

  • Automated federal, state, and local taxes
  • 1099-NEC filings
  • New hire compliance and reporting in all 50 states
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Employee & contractor self-service with lifetime access
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Pay by direct deposit, paper check, or prepaid debit card
  • 2-day or 4-day direct deposit
  • Basic HR functionality including onboarding workflows and document storage

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
A single price includes (almost) everything they offerNo room to grow as your business grows
Great for basic payroll needsOnly 11 software integrations supported
No benefits administration feesCharge extra to print and mail W-2s and 1099s
Add contractors with only ITINsNo email or chat support

Pricing

OnPay has a single pricing structure with no hidden fees: $40 per month plus $6 per employee per month. All of their payroll, HR, and benefits functionality is included, and you only pay each month for the employees or contractors you paid. OnPay will create 1099s and W-2s that you can download and send out, but if you want them to physically print and mail them, that will cost extra. 

Free Trial? Yes. Three months free for a limited time. 

Free Plan: No. 

Learn more about OnPay

3. ADP Run – Best contractor payroll for quickly growing teams

Overview

ADP is the largest payroll provider in the world and offers multiple payroll solutions depending on the size of your business. Roll by ADP is an affordable solution aimed at startups and very small businesses, but comes with bare-bones payroll functionality, and we think there are better options out there for this market. 

For small- and medium-sized businesses they offer ADP Run (fewer than 50 employees) and ADP Workforce Now (50–999 employees). ADP Run includes payroll, onboarding, and reporting features, while ADP Workforce Now also includes retention tools like employee engagement and development. 

If you need to pay contractors, you’ll have to purchase a separate tool called WorkMarket, but WorkMarket is one of the most robust contractor management solutions on the market. Its powerful suite of contractor-focused tools includes recruiting, hiring, onboarding, workforce organization, and compliance support. And of course, you’ll also get the basics such as 1099-NEC filings, employee self-service, and multiple payment options. They do not, however, offer unlimited payrolls, so contractors will need to be paid in regular pay runs. WorkMarket is also modular, so you only need to pay for the contractor payroll services you need.    

For businesses with fewer than 50 employees, ADP Run is a highly rated payroll platform. But it’s not competitively priced, even for the most basic package. If you want any popular tools like time tracking or benefits administration, you’ll have to pay for yet another add-on. 

Despite ADP’s expensive pricing and lack of inclusive benefits, for businesses that are quickly scaling, ADP’s robust list of payroll, time tracking, and HR features, along with their a la carte pricing can make it an attractive candidate to grow as you grow. Especially if you’re planning on crossing that crucial “50 employee threshold” in the near future. It’s not the cheapest service on the block, but there’s no question they have the tool you need to run your business. And when you’re ready to move up from small biz to medium-sized, their Workforce Now platform is even more powerful.

The only questions are: how much does it cost, and is that included in the plan I have? Getting the answer requires reaching out for a custom quote. 

Key Features

  • Fully integrated payroll, HR, time tracking, and benefits
  • Payroll, taxes, and compliance in all 50 states
  • Dedicated contractor management platform
  • 1099-NEC filings
  • Employee & contractor self-service
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Pay by direct deposit, check, or prepaid debit card
  • Next-day direct deposit
  • Over 700 software integrations available
  • Job and workforce costing reports
  • Features siloed based on # of employees

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Tons of products and features for maximum scalabilityRequires an additional product to pay contractors
Largest payroll provider in the worldSlow customer service
Robust HR options for businesses with 50999 employeesPricing is not transparent and requires a custom quote
No out-of-the-box payroll solution

Pricing

ADP’s pricing tiers are confusing at best. For businesses with fewer than 50 employees, they offer 4 pricing tiers: Essential Payroll; Enhanced Payroll that includes wage garnishment, unemployment, background checks, and job postings; Complete Payroll and HR+ that adds on some HR tools like employee handbooks, proactive compliance alerts, a job description wizard, and access to the HR help desk; and HR Pro Payroll and HR, that includes an applicant tracking system, onboarding tools, and an LMS. 

ADP no longer posts pricing for any of their packages, so you’ll need to contact sales in order to get a quote. According to Forbes, users reported pricing starts from $59 per month plus $4 per employee per month, but it’s unclear if that’s still accurate, or how much any of the add-ons like contractor payments and time tracking cost. No doubt the price per month can start adding up quickly.  

ADP might make sense for quickly growing companies who need a custom-built package that’s ready to scale, but for more agile startups and small businesses looking for an easy, out-of-the box solution, Gusto consistently takes the top spot.  

Free Trial? Yes, three months free on select products. 

Free Plan: No.

Learn more about ADP

4. Square – Best contractor payroll for retail and restaurants

Overview

Square Payroll is an obvious choice for restaurants and retail shops that are already using Square’s POS software. Employee and contractor hours and sales data seamlessly flow into the payroll system, eliminating the need for manual data entry. Tips are automatically imported from the POS, and they make it easy to pool and split tips if you need to.  

Square also offers time tracking and scheduling capabilities, which makes it a great option to streamline your tech stack and have everything you need in one place. Time tracking tools cost extra, but they’re free for teams up to 5 people. 

For contractors, they can clock in and out right from the app, or you can easily import hours from another app. Unlimited payroll runs are included with every plan, and you can pay by check, direct deposit, or the Square Cash App. While Square is a very affordable option—and they offer a contractor-only plan for just $6 per contractor per month—they don’t currently offer new-hire reporting for contractors, and their customer service can be hard to reach.

Key Features

  • Full service multi-state payroll
  • Automated tax filings including 1099-NEC
  • Built-in time tracking and scheduling tools
  • E-signing, secure document storage, and employee self-service
  • Shift swapping and time-off requests
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Off-cycle payroll
  • Pool and split tips feature
  • Pay by check, direct deposit, or Square Cash App
  • Instant payments available

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Intuitive, easy-to-use interfaceNo new-hire reporting for contractors
Seamless integration with Square POSLimited customer support
Free basic time trackingFour-day direct deposit processing time
Affordable, flat-rate pricingNo custom reporting options
Powerful time & scheduling tools available

Pricing

Square’s payroll pricing is simple and straightforward. You’ll pay $35 a month plus $6 per employee or contractor per month. This includes all of the payroll features they offer along with time cards and automated tax filings. If you want to access their more robust time tracking and scheduling tools, you’ll need to sign up for “Square Shifts.” It’s free for up to 5 team members, and after that you’ll pay a per-person-per-month rate that starts at $4 and gets lower the more team members you have.  

Square also offers a very affordable “contractor only” plan with no base fee and just $6 per month per contractor. 

Free trial? No. 

Free plan? No.

Learn more about Square Payroll

5. Deel – Best feature-heavy international contractor payroll

Overview

The future of work is global, and Deel makes it easy to hire and pay your team in more than 150 countries around the world. Their impressive suite of international support includes global payroll, contractors, hiring, self-service onboarding, compliance, and benefits. The best part is you can pay all of your team members around the world—whether contractor, full-time, or EOR—with a single payment.  

For hiring international contractors, they provide compliant local contracts to make sure you’re staying within local labor laws as well as support for local taxes. They support different contractor types including milestone, pay-as-you-go, and full-time, and their international onboarding is best-in-class.

In 100+ countries where your business already has an established entity, they offer global payroll services that include hiring, onboarding, taxes, and local compliance. If you don’t have an entity, you can take advantage of their Employer of Record (EOR) service. 

But where Deel really differentiates themselves is their robust payment options for international contractors. As anyone who’s hired freelancers overseas knows, it can be difficult to navigate banking systems and currency exchanges without racking up fees. Many international contractors prefer to receive payments via platforms like PayPal and Payoneer. Deel is the only platform on this list that supports alternative payment methods including Wise, Bitcoin, and crypto.

The biggest downside is that Deel’s pricing can quickly add up. If you just have one or two international contractors, there are much more affordable options out there. But for small businesses and startups focused on high-volume international hiring, using Deel for global payroll and contractors is a solid solution. 

Key Features

  • Fully integrated payroll, HR, and benefits in 100+ countries
  • 2–3 day international onboarding time 
  • 15+ payment options including bank transfer, PayPal, Payoneer, and crypto 
  • Compliant local contracts for freelancers
  • GDPR compliance
  • Custom workflows by department
  • Device & equipment management 
  • Global background checks
  • Self-onboarding and onboarding checklist
  • HR package includes basic onboarding, time-off, document storage, and expense management, along with reporting and retention tools (free up to 200 people)

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Seamless integration for domestic and international employees, contractors, full-time and part-timeLimited integrations
Best-in-class onboarding processContractor misclassification protection only available for enterprise clients
Fast, 2–3 day turnaround time for international hiresExpensive for international contractors compared to other platforms
Free HR tools for businesses with fewer than 200 employeesNo transparent pricing for payroll or visa assistance
Great, user-friendly interface
24/7 customer service via chat, email, and phone

Pricing

If you’re only looking for HR tools, you can use Deel absolutely free for up to 200 people. This includes basic onboarding, secure document management, automated workflows, expense management, and org charts.

For the rest of their payroll and hiring services, they’re priced based on which kind of global hiring you need. Their international contractor payments are pricey at $49 per month per worker, but this includes compliance, taxes, and misclassification protection that more affordable providers don’t offer. However, contractor misclassification protection is only available for enterprise clients. For their EOR service, it costs $599 per employee per month, which is in line with industry standards. For global payroll in countries where you operate your own entity, as well as for immigration and visa support, you have to contact sales for pricing.

Optional add-ons include device and equipment management, benefits administration, and WeWork workspaces.

Free Trial? You can set up an account and explore features at no cost. You’ll only be charged when you hire and pay global workers.

Free Plan: No.

Learn more about Deel

6. Quickbooks – Best value contractor-only payroll software

Overview

With more than 72% market share in the bookkeeping and accounting space, you most likely use Quickbooks for your accounting, which can make it seem like an easy choice for payroll. Quickbooks payroll is a respectable tool with most of the functionality you need. 

Their platform is intuitive and easy to use, and for small businesses who are just trying to manage the books and get the team paid, it can be a dream to have everything all in one place. Plus, next-day direct deposit comes loaded on their contractor-only plan, which is a step above the industry. 

For contractor payments, Quickbooks offers some of the best value in the market, charging just $15 per month for up to 20 contractors. Contractors can set up their own accounts to add W-9s and banking info, but they do not have access to paystubs or tax documents in the future. Quickbooks will help you create 1099s for free, but when it comes time to file with the IRS and send out copies to your contractors, you’ll need to pay extra, or print and mail the forms yourself. 

While Quickbooks has one of the cheapest contractor payroll solutions out there, if you’re not already using Quickbooks for accounting, you should probably look elsewhere. Their payroll software doesn’t integrate with any other accounting platforms. While federal and state taxes are included with all full-service payroll plans, local taxes are only built into higher tiers. 

If you need any more complex functionality like multi-state payroll or off-cycle payroll runs, then there are plenty of more powerful competitors in the space that don’t cost an arm and a leg. And luckily, just about every payroll provider on the market already integrates with Quickbooks’ accounting software.

Key Features

  • Next-day and same-day direct deposit 
  • Generate 1099s
  • Unlimited monthly payments
  • Automated federal and state taxes (local taxes included with higher-tier plans)
  • New hire compliance and payroll in all 50 states
  • Automated payroll for salaried employees
  • Employee & contractor self-onboarding
  • Health benefits and 401(k)s available with full-service plans
  • Time tracking with Premium and Elite plans

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
The gold standard for small business accounting software1099 e-filing and mailing costs extra
Easy to bundle payroll and accountingLocal taxes only included with Premium and Elite plans
Taxes include year-end filing and tax penalty guarantee Multi-state payroll only available on Elite plan
User-friendly interfaceTime tracking only available on Premium and Elite plans
24/7 chat support with extended hours phone support Monday to Friday and limited support on SaturdaysNo integrations with other bookkeeping software
Next-day direct deposit for contractors

Pricing

Quickbooks offers a contractor-only plan for just $15 a month for up to 20 contractors. It includes employee self-setup, 1099 preparation, unlimited payroll runs, and next-day direct deposit. They also offer a contractor-only plan that includes Quickbooks’ Simple Start accounting software for $45 a month for up to 20 contractors.

If you need to pay both employees and contractors, Quickbooks Payroll Core includes their full-service payroll as well as basic benefits for your team for $45 per month plus $6 per employee or contractor per month. Bundling Payroll Core + Simple Start costs $75 per month plus $6 per employee or contractor per month. 

Free Trial? Get either 50% off the monthly base price for three months or a 30-day free trial.

Free Plan: No.

Learn more about Quickbooks

7. SurePayroll – Best bare-bones contractor payroll software

Overview

SurePayroll is an online payroll and tax solution for very small businesses. SurePayroll is owned by Paychex, but the product is very different from Paychex Flex. While they’ve got all the basic functionality you’d expect to run payroll for contractors like direct deposit, tax filings, and unlimited payroll runs, SurePayroll offers much more limited capabilities in terms of HR management, and is a solution meant only for smaller teams. 

Where SurePayroll shines is their low prices and DIY tax option. If you just have a few employees and contractors to pay, and you’re happy to file and pay your own taxes, SurePayroll is the most affordable option on the list that still offers all the payroll functionality you need. They do offer basic benefits administration along with 401(k)s and workers’ comp, but you’ll pay extra for benefits, and the monthly cost can add up if you want other advanced features like time tracking and local and multi-state tax filing. SurePayroll also charges extra to integrate with your favorite time tracking software, which is a rarity among payroll providers.   

Ultimately, SurePayroll is a great choice for very small business owners with very basic needs. If you only have contractors to pay, Quickbooks is probably a better-value option. But if you have both contractors and employees, and you aren’t looking to get HR and people tools bundled with your payroll, SurePayroll is a good bare-bones solution to keep costs down.  

As soon as you’re looking for hiring, onboarding, and benefits, a more robust platform like Gusto or OnPay quickly becomes more attractive.

Key Features

  • DIY tax filing
  • Federal & state taxes on full-service plan
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Same-day and next-day direct deposit available
  • New hire compliance and reporting in all 50 states
  • Pre-employment screening
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Pay by direct deposit or paper check
  • Employee self-service

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Very affordable base packageIntegrations cost extra
Night and weekend hours for customer serviceLocal and multi-state tax filings cost extra
Same-day and next-day direct deposit availableLacks transparent pricing
No international support
No contractor-only plan

Pricing

SurePayroll’s pricing is no longer listed on their site, but they offer both self-service and full-service payroll options. If you’re comfortable filing your own taxes, the self-service payroll can save you a pretty penny each month, with user-reported pricing starting at just $19.99 per month plus $4 per employee per month. Upgrading to full service includes filing federal and state taxes, but you’ll still have to pay extra for local taxes or multi-state payroll. Full-service plans start at $29.99 per month plus $5 per month, which is still attractive pricing compared with most other providers on the list.  

As you start to add features like software integrations, time tracking, or local tax filing, the cost can add up quickly, so SurePayroll is best for those with basic payroll needs. 

Free trial? Yes. Six months free for a limited time. 

Free plan? No. 

Learn more about SurePayroll

FAQs

Prices start at $46/month

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