Using software to handle all of the HR for your small business can make your job as a small business owner that much easier. When you have help with your HR needs, you can get back to doing what you do best—actually running your business.

Two names you’ve likely seen in your preliminary research are Gusto and BambooHR. If you’re wondering which would best serve your business, this Gusto vs. BambooHR comparison can help make the decision-making process easier. Below, we’ll cover all the details of these two cloud-based HR software platforms, including some input from current users, to help you make the right decision for your business.

Overview of Gusto vs. BambooHR

We know that both Gusto and BambooHR provide HR-management tools for small businesses and that they’re both web-based, meaning you can access your account anywhere you have internet access.

Beyond that, these two products offer varying features, pricing structures, and more. Here’s a high-level comparison of Gusto vs. BambooHR.

Comparison of Gusto vs. BambooHR

Core, Complete, Concierge

Essentials, Advantage

$6/month/employee + $39/month

Quote-based pricing

$12/month/employee + $39/month

$12/month/employee + $149/month

Access to certified HR professionals, ease of use, full-service payroll

Mobile app, company and PTO calendar, open API

Free Trial

30-day free trial

Yes, duration not specified

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday

6 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT Monday through Friday

Gusto plans and pricing

With this overview in mind, let’s take a closer look at each platform. Gusto is most well-known for their payroll services, but they offer benefits and HR services, as well. Gusto offers three plans with varying price points and features, so you can find the plan that best suits your needs—and not pay for features you don’t want. Gusto also has a new option for contractor-only employers, who simply pay the $6/employee rate and no base price.

Gusto Core

The least comprehensive Gusto plan is Core, which costs $39 per month plus an additional $6 per person per month.

Features include:

  • Full-service payroll

  • Employee self service and profiles

  • Health benefits administration

  • Workers comp administration

  • Customer support

  • PTO policies

With any Gusto plan, you can also opt for additional features by choosing add-ons. These include 401(k), 529 college savings, HSA, FSA, and commuter benefits. Prices range for each add-on.

Gusto Complete

The next level up is the Complete plan from Gusto. This plan includes everything listed in the Core plan and more. The monthly base price stays the same at $39 per month, but it costs $12 per month per employee instead of $6.

The added features this plan includes are:

  • Permissions

  • Employee offers and onboarding

  • Simple time tracking

  • Employee directory

  • Employee surveys

  • PTO policies and request

As you can see, with the Complete plan you get more when it comes to hiring and onboarding your employees, as well as completing day-to-day tasks like time tracking and time-off requests.

Gusto Concierge

Finally, if you opt for the Concierge plan you’ll get everything in the Core and Complete plans, plus you’ll have access to HR professionals and a resource center to answer any questions you may have. If your business doesn’t have any in-house HR staff members, this could be incredibly useful. You’ll have live, unlimited access to a team of pros via phone and secure messaging, so it’s almost like they’re an extension of your team. The Concierge plan has a base fee of $149 per month plus an additional $12 per employee per month.

BambooHR plans and pricing

BambooHR offers two service plans plus several add-ons to further customize and expand your HR solution. A big difference between BambooHR and Gusto, though, is that BambooHR does not provide transparent pricing. All of their costs are quote-based, so you will have to reach out to their team directly to get a quote based on how many employees you have and the features you want. That said, let’s take a closer look at what their plans offer.

BambooHR Essentials

The Essentials plan comes with your basic HR management, employee self-service, and customer support features.

Features include:

  • Employee records

  • Benefit tracking

  • Standard reporting

  • Document storage

  • Standard access levels

  • Standard workflows and approvals

  • Standard email alerts

  • Time-off management

  • Employee directory and org chart

  • Company calendar

  • Mobile app (for iOS and Android)

  • Single sign-on

  • Email support

  • Customer success webinar library

According to BambooHR’s website, they’re first and foremost about “information management.” As you can see from the above list of features, a great deal of what BambooHR does is collecting employee information in one place. It’s also worth noting that this list of BambooHR features doesn’t include payroll, which Gusto handles in all plan levels.

BambooHR Advantage

The Advantage plan includes all of the features in the Essentials plan, as well as hiring and onboarding features, integrations and data sharing capabilities, and advanced components. Again, there is no pricing available, so you will have to contact BambooHR directly to learn more.

When you upgrade to the Advantage plan you’ll also have:

  • Telephone support

  • Applicant tracking system (ATS)

  • Onboarding

  • Offboarding

  • Electronic signature

  • Training tracking

  • Advanced reporting

  • Tailored workflows and approvals

  • Custom access levels

  • Custom email alerts

  • Custom tabs and fields

  • Company branding

  • Audit trail

  • BambooHR open API

  • BambooHR Marketplace

  • Employee satisfaction with eNPS

With either plan, you can also opt for different add-ons, from performance-management tools like goal-setting, assessments, and feedback—to time tracking functionality, including employee timesheets, approval workflows, and automatic overtime calculations.

How Gusto vs. BambooHR Compare

With all of this information in mind, you may feel no closer to coming to a decision between BambooHR vs. Gusto. To help, we’ve pulled out where each platform stands out and areas where they’re lacking so you can better compare the two.

Gusto Pros

These Gusto features are especially noteworthy and may make this software provider the better choice for your business.

Payroll features

One of the things Gusto is best at is their full-service payroll available in all 50 states. You can run payroll as many times as you need each month, including bonus payroll and off-cycle payroll runs. They’ll also calculate and pay all of your local, state, and federal payroll taxes for you, so that’s one less thing for you to worry about. While Gusto is known for its payroll services, BambooHR doesn’t offer any of its own, so you would need to connect a third-party platform. If payroll is especially important to you, Gusto will likely make more sense for your business.

Access to HR professionals 

One thing Gusto can offer customers that BambooHR is lacking is the option to work with certified HR professionals and use the HR resource center to receive assistance with any HR-related questions or issues your business encounters. While many small businesses don’t have a dedicated HR department, it will feel like you do with these Gusto resources.

Ease of use

Gusto is known for being easy to use and fairly easy to set employees up with. Not only is the interface intuitive, but it’s also backed by a friendly and helpful customer service team for any questions or problems that might arise for users.

“I used Gusto for many years, dating back to when they were known as ZenPayroll. I found their service to be excellent and very easy to use and manage and I’ve recommended them to many other business owners,” Kevin Geary, COO of Hamon Creative, told Fundera.

Their ease of use is something that consistently comes up, especially in reviews of Gusto on websites like Capterra where Gusto has a 4.7-star (out of 5) rating.

Gusto Cons

There is one downside of using Gusto that customers highlighted.

U.S. only

For businesses with employees across multiple countries, Gusto will likely not be the right fit for you, as they only work with businesses in the U.S. “There is one thing that Gusto doesn’t support and which is a necessity for us—the support for multiple countries. Half of our team works in the U.S. and the other half is in Canada, making the software useless for our Canadian team,” Cassy Aite, CEO and co-founder of Hoppier, told Fundera.

This is a unique situation, but there are some HR options out there that could be better suited for a business that employees people in both the U.S. and abroad.

BambooHR Pros

Now, let’s explore the areas where BambooHR stands out.

Onboarding process

One thing users highlight about BambooHR is the ease with which they could onboard their employees.

“What I love most about [BambooHR] is that it’s made our onboarding process so much faster. Our first day with a new employee used to be spent having them fill out paperwork, giving them all the information they needed, etc. Now, they can do all of that online before their start date by logging into the portal, or very quickly while on site.

“Our employees are very fond of the PTO features, too. They can see a calendar and select PTO dates, and their requests just need to be approved by a manager. This makes the process seamless and gives employees a no-hassle way to put in for PTO,” says Courtney Keene, director of operations at MyRoofingPal.

Overall, BambooHR has positive user reviews, which account for its 4.5-star rating on Capterra.

BambooHR API

When you go with the Advantage plan with BambooHR, you’ll be able to work with their open-access API. This means you’ll be able to add other applications and integrate them seamlessly with BambooHR.

You’ll be able to make any changes or adjustments necessary for your business by building your own HTTPS requests or by using those that are already listed on the BambooHR site. Keep in mind, though, you will need a developer or someone with the skill set to manage this.

Bamboo HR Cons

Beyond their lack of payroll functionality, there is another notable downside to BambooHR.

Lack of transparent pricing

The lack of transparent pricing from BambooHR is a big drawback. When you’re comparing options, it’s easiest to do so when you have all of the information and without having to share your business information in order to get a quote. Without upfront pricing, there’s no way to know for sure if your business is getting the best rate.

Alternatives to Gusto and BambooHR

If neither of these options feels right for your business needs, there are alternatives you can explore. Here are two to consider.


A trusted name in HR management is ADP, or Automatic Data Processing. ADP offers payroll-specific software as well as a PEO (professional employer organization) option to provide the most comprehensive HR, benefits, and payroll tools. Like BambooHR, ADP’s pricing is quote-based; however, with so many features available, it may be helpful to build a plan specific to your company, so you can get exactly what you need, without paying for what you don’t. This also makes it an extremely scalable solution.

Another positive of ADP is that since they’re such a large and time-tested company, they also offer their customers great support. You can get 24/7 support for any technical help you may need with ADP.


If you found even Gusto to be lacking in some of the features your business needs, you may also want to explore Justworks. Justworks is another PEO that offers two plans (Basic and Plus) and is priced depending on the plan you choose and how many employees you have. Unlike ADP and BambooHR, Justworks offers a transparent pricing structure.

Even with their Basic plan, you’ll have access to payroll capabilities, online employee onboarding, commuter benefits, harassment prevention and inclusion training, and much more. There are also additional add-ons you can opt for depending on your specific business needs.

They also have 24/7 support for customers over five different channels like email, phone, Slack, text, and online chat, so you can get in contact whichever way is easiest for you.

The final word

We hope this Gusto vs. BambooHR comparison gave you a comprehensive overview of what each system can offer your business and which is best suited for your needs. If you’re still unsure, we encourage you to enroll in each platform’s free trial to get a firsthand look of how they would fit into your organization. And, of course, you may need to work with BambooHR directly to find out what their system would cost, as this is one of the most important factors for any small business owner.

While this can be a time-consuming process, it will ultimately be worth it once you find the right HR software and can make these processes more efficient for both you and your team.

This article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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