QuickBooks Payroll: How Much Does it Actually Cost in 2024?

Quickbooks logo written on a ringbinded notebook.

QuickBooks isn’t the most straightforward about its payroll software costs pricing structures on its website. This is quite frustrating, because if you pick the wrong plan for your business, you could end up paying for features you don’t need – or discovering that the plan doesn’t have the features you do need.

The confusing pricing also makes it hard to compare QuickBooks plans to those offered by other payroll software providers – and without comparing there’s no way to know if you’re getting a good deal.

It’s important, therefore, to get the full picture before deciding. To help you out, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to all of QuickBooks’ Payroll options, and how much they cost. It provides all the details you need on the features and pricing for each of QuickBooks’ payroll plans, and what is and isn’t available in the UK.

Quicks Payroll: Quick Plan Comparison

Core Payroll PlanAdvanced Payroll Plan
CostFrom £14 per month for QuickBooks Simple Start, plus £4 per month for the payroll add-on and £1.30 per paid employee per monthFrom £14 per month for QuickBooks Simple Start or higher, plus £8 per month for the payroll add-on and £1.30 per paid employee per month
Payroll FeaturesCloud-based, real-time HMRC submissions, customisable pay periods, statutory payments, auto pension enrollmentEverything in Core Payroll plus automatic pay runs, pension schemes, customisable integration with QuickBooks, deductions, and advanced report options
HR FeaturesNoneEmployee timesheets and rotas, leave management, expense management, and employee satisfaction features.

QuickBooks Payroll Plans Explained

QuickBooks divides its payroll software into three plans: Core Payroll, Advanced Payroll, and Bureau Payroll. Each caters to different sizes and types of businesses—so read carefully before deciding.

Since QuickBooks doesn’t directly advertise pricing for its payroll software, we reached out directly to the sales team to confirm the figures below.

QuickBooks Core Payroll Plan

  • Price: From £14 per month for QuickBooks Simple Start or higher, plus £4 per month for the payroll add-on, and £1.30 per paid employee per month
  • Features: Cloud-based, real-time HMRC submissions, customisable pay periods, statutory payments, auto pension enrollment
  • Ideal customer: Businesses run by a single director or small employers seeking a fast and straightforward payroll solution

QuickBooks’ Core Payroll plan is geared towards small businesses with basic payroll needs that only pay a handful of employees regularly and want an easy way to remain compliant with HMRC.

However, Core Payroll can only be used as an add-on for QuickBooks’ general accounting software. You’ll need to purchase the Simple Start plan or higher to add it. It can’t be added to QuickBooks’ most basic accounting software plan, Self-Employed.

The Simple Start plan costs £14 per month, rising to £90 per month with the Advanced plan. Core Payroll costs an additional £1 per paid employee per month. Here are the features you get with Core Payroll:

  • Remote payroll capabilities: Core Payroll is entirely cloud-based, which means you can manage payroll from any location, whether the office or your living room.
  • User-friendly setup: Since Core Payroll integrates directly with QuickBooks’ accounting software, the setup process is generally quick and easy. If there are problems, you can find extensive support resources, including help articles, webinars, and customer service via online chat and phone.
  • HMRC compliance: Core Payroll features real-time information submissions to HMRC for compliance purposes.
  • Flexible pay schedules: Core Payroll allows you to accommodate your employees’ different pay schedules. This means you can pay some employees weekly and others monthly, and so on.
  • Statutory payment compliance: Core Payroll supports compliance with statutory payments, including sick pay, maternity leave, and paternity leave.
  • Simplified pension management: Core Payroll has tools for employee assessment, automatic enrollment, and pension contributions, including direct submissions to Nest.

Core Payroll performs handsomely on the tasks it was designed for: running basic payroll and ensuring compliance for small businesses. A major downside is that it’s only available as an add-on for QuickBooks’ accounting software.

Additionally, Core Payroll is extremely basic. Even small or medium-sized businesses may find its feature set lacking for the sorts of tasks they need to perform, like setting up multiple different pension schemes or managing timesheets.

QuickBooks Advanced Payroll Plan

  • Price: From £14 per month for QuickBooks Simple Start or higher, plus £8 per month for the payroll add-on, and £1.30 per paid employee per month
  • Features: Everything in Core Payroll plus automatic pay runs, pension schemes, customisable integration with QuickBooks, deductions, and advanced report options
  • Ideal customer: Employers requiring HR capabilities and detailed, customisable reporting analysis

QuickBooks’ Advanced Payroll plan is tailored towards larger businesses that need customisable payroll functionality as well as reporting and HR features for employee compliance and well-being.

Like Core Payroll, Advanced Payroll is only available as an add-on for QuickBooks’ general accounting software. Again, you need to sign up for the Simple Start plan (£14 per month) or higher (up to £90 per month for the Advanced plan) to get the add-on. You won’t be able to get it with the Self-Employed plan.

Once you purchase one of these plans, Advanced Payroll is available for an additional £8 per month, and £1.30 per paid employee per month. Here are the additional features offered by Advanced Payroll:

  • Automated pay runs: You can schedule automatic pay runs for directors or salaried employees, along with notifications alerting them to any required actions.
  • Diverse pension options: Advanced Payroll allows you to easily set up multiple pension schemes within QuickBooks, with the ability to customise them for individual employees.
  • Comprehensive deductions management: Advanced Payroll automatically handles deductions for your business, such as court orders, cycle-to-work schemes, and salary sacrifice.
  • Seamless integration with QuickBooks: You can automatically sync payroll costs to QuickBooks to minimise manual data entry, with advanced options for splitting entries by class and location.
  • Enhanced HR tools: Advanced Payroll contains valuable HR features for managing timesheets, rotas, leave, expenses, and employee satisfaction—all from one unified dashboard.
  • Expanded reporting: Advanced Payroll includes over 30 additional reports beyond what’s available in Core Payroll, as well as customisable report creation and automatic delivery options.

Like the Core Payroll plan, the main drawback of QuickBooks Advanced Payroll plan is that it only works as part of QuickBooks’ general accounting software.

Many businesses large enough to need the feature set provided by Advanced Payroll may be looking for a standalone payroll solution and won’t want to make this jump over to QuickBooks for all of their accounting needs.

QuickBooks Bureau Payroll Plan

Bureau Payroll is Quickbooks’ fully standalone payroll solution geared towards independent accountants. It comes with features like automated workflow enhancement, mobile payroll management, and collaborative multi-user access.

It can be used with QuickBooks as well as other accounting software solutions, including Xero, Sage, Freshbooks, and FreeAgent.

Although it’s advertised on Quickbooks’ website, the sales team informed us that Bureau Payroll is currently not offered in the UK. So, if you’re an accountant looking to manage payroll for a variety of clients, you’ll need to look elsewhere for a payroll software solution.

QuickBooks Payroll Alternatives

Perhaps QuickBooks’ three payroll plans don’t contain the features your organisation needs, or the price isn’t right for you. Alternatively, you may prefer a payroll solution that isn’t bound to QuickBooks’ accounting software.

If so, take a look at our three top alternatives to QuickBooks payroll.

Sage Payroll

First up, we have a comprehensive payroll management solution designed to simplify payroll tasks for small businesses. Sage payroll costs £10 to £30 per month, depending on which of the three plans you choose.

Standard payroll features of Sage include automated payroll processing, real-time HMRC information submissions, and capabilities to view historical pay runs and analyse payroll costs to aid in decision-making.

Sage's interface. Image: Sage
The Sage interface. Image: Sage

Beyond that, the software comes with basic HR functionalities, allowing you to manage employee records, leave, and expenses all from a single platform. Employees can also access their payslips and P60s online, facilitating better employee self-service.

Though Sage Payroll is geared towards small businesses, it supports payroll management for up to 150 employees.

One of the main downsides of Sage Payroll is that the help desk isn’t available 24/7, and higher-paying customers receive priority support. If you’re on one of the lower-level plans, expect higher wait times and less consistent customer support.

We recommend going with Sage Payroll over QuickBooks if you’re seeking a cost-effective, standalone payroll solution suitable for small to medium-sized businesses, with or without the need for integrated accounting software.

ADP Payroll

ADP Payroll is a cutting-edge solution that aims to help businesses save resources through highly automated payroll processing and tax handling. Pricing is fully bespoke for all four of its plans.

ADP automates paid time off, expense reimbursements, bonus checks, and other irregular, time-consuming tasks in payroll processing. Like Sage, it also comes with real-time HMRC information submissions, which means you’ll stay compliant automatically.

All of ADP’s payroll software plans come with ADP’s HR software, which becomes more and more necessary as your organisation continues to grow. ADP Payroll is also designed to grow with your business, offering payroll solutions for companies ranging from a single employee to well over a thousand.

Example of ADP's interface. Image: ADP
ADP's interface on a mobile and desktop device. Image: ADP

Unfortunately, ADP Payroll doesn’t provide standardised pricing – the only way to get an idea of how much you’ll be paying is to contact the company for a personalised quote. Bespoke pricing often makes sense, as it allows you to pay only for the features you need—but it makes it more difficult to compare ADP with its competitors.

We recommend using ADP Payroll instead of QuickBooks if you need a scalable payroll solution that can handle everything from small to large enterprises with customisable features and HR integration.


BrightPay is a cloud-based software solution with a narrow focus on payroll solutions and no extras. It features a pay-as-you-go cost structure, at around £1 to £2 per paid employee per month.

BrightPay allows multiple users to work on payroll simultaneously and fully manages all data hosting and security. It also offers payroll integrations with QuickBooks, Xero, Sage, and others. Additionally, it automates all tasks related to pension auto-enrolment, which is mandatory in the UK.

One standout feature is its integration with Modulr to offer a secure, fast, and straightforward method for making payments to employees and HMRC. Another is the option to give employees remote access to their payslips, annual leave calendar, and other pertinent information.

Brightpay's interface.
BrightPay's interface. Source: BrightPay

At the time of writing, the cloud-based version of BrightPay can service payroll for up to 250 employees per organisation.

BrightPay is an extremely simple, straightforward payroll solution. As such, it lacks some standard features included in most other payroll solutions. For example, there’s no mention of advanced payroll reports, fully customisable payroll summaries, departmental salary reports, or year-end tax statements.

Also, there aren’t any benefit management features, like automatic calculations for employer-paid health insurance, life insurance, or retirement plans.

We recommend going with BrightPay instead of QuickBooks if you want a standalone, pay-as-you-go payroll solution with a focus on basic functionality and minimal advanced features.


The Core Payroll plan costs £14 per month for QuickBooks Simple Start accounting software plan, plus £4 for the payroll add-on, and £1.30 per paid employee per month.

The Advanced Payroll plan also costs £14 per month for the Simple Start accounting software plan, plus £8 per month for the payroll add-on, and £1.30 per paid employee per month.

The Bureau Payroll plan comes with fully bespoke pricing, tailored towards independent accountants managing payroll for multiple clients and across a variety of third-party accounting software.

To read more our favourite alternatives to QuickBooks Payroll, check out our article on the five best cloud-based payroll solutions.

QuickBooks Payroll FAQs

How much does QuickBooks payroll cost in the UK?
QuickBooks Core Payroll and Advanced Payroll plans are not standalone solutions. When paired with the requisite QuickBooks accounting software, Core Payroll is available from £14 per month for the accounting software, £4 for the payroll add-on, and £1.30 per paid employee per month. Advanced Payroll is available from £14 per month for the accounting software, £8 for the payroll add-on, and £1.30 per paid employee per month.
Does QuickBooks charge a fee for running payroll?
QuickBooks’ payroll software doesn’t charge a fee for each payroll cycle. Instead, employers must purchase a subscription to QuickBooks accounting software, then add payroll functionality on a per-user-per-month cost basis.
Which payroll software is best in the UK?
There is no objective “best” payroll software in the UK, as different solutions are best suited to different businesses. That said, the providers with the best reputations include QuickBooks, ADP, Sage, BrightPay, and Paychex.
Written by:
Headshot of Expert Market Senior Writer Tatiana Lebtreton
Tatiana is Expert Market's resident payments and online growth expert, specialising in (E)POS and merchant accounts, as well as website builders.