Financial Management

Gusto vs TriNet: A Comprehensive Comparison for Startups

Choosing the right payroll and HR platform is crucial for startups for several reasons. Firstly, it enhances efficiency, allowing businesses to streamline processes and focus on growth. Secondly, it ensures accuracy in tasks like payroll processing and tax filings, minimizing compliance risks. Compliance with regulations is vital, and a suitable platform should help navigate legal requirements while also enhancing the employee experience. Scalability is key for startups experiencing growth, ensuring the platform can adapt without disruption or added costs. Lastly, cost-effectiveness is essential, and startups benefit from transparent pricing structures to manage finances while accessing necessary services.

Gusto and TriNet stand out as leading solutions, offering startups streamlined ways to handle payroll and HR tasks. In this comparison, we'll explore the features, pricing, and suitability of Gusto and TriNet for startups, helping you make an informed decision for your business's needs.

In this article, we will do an extensive review of both, including:

  • Features and pricing
  • Pros and cons
  • Comparison and contrast
  • Users Reviews
  • Best scenarios for use

Gusto Vs TriNet


Gusto is a cloud-based platform that provides comprehensive payroll, benefits, and human resource management software. Its primary focus is to simplify and automate administrative processes for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Established in 2011 by Josh Reeves, Tomer London, and Edward Kim, Gusto has become a popular choice for SMBs seeking cost-effective HR solutions. The company's success is backed by significant investments from prominent investors like General Catalyst, Kleiner Perkins, and CapitalG.

Gusto primarily serves small to medium-sized businesses across various industries. Its scalable services cater to companies with a few employees up to those with several hundred, offering a versatile solution that grows with the business.

Key Features

Gusto's platform offers a suite of cloud-based HR management tools designed to automate and simplify various HR functions:

  1. Payroll Management:
  • Automated Payroll Processing
  • Direct Deposit
  • Payroll Tax Filing
  • Year-End Forms

  1. Employee Benefits Administration:
  • Health Benefits
  • Retirement Plans
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Commuter Benefits

  1. HR Tools:
  • Onboarding
  • Employee Self-Service
  • Time Tracking
  • Compliance

  1. Time and Attendance:
  • Time Clock
  • Time-Off Requests
  • Overtime Calculation

  1. Compensation and Reporting:
  • Compensation Management
  • Customizable Reports
  • Garnishments

  1. Integrations and Add-Ons: 
  • Third-Party Integrations
  • Custom Workflows
  • API Access


Established in 1988 and headquartered in Dublin, California, TriNet offers a wide range of services that include payroll processing, employee benefits, risk management, compliance with employment regulations, and strategic HR support. The company empowers small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with comprehensive HR solutions, making advanced HR capabilities accessible to businesses of all sizes. TriNet serves a diverse range of industries, helping businesses streamline HR functions and focus on their core operations.

Key Features of TriNet

  1. Comprehensive HR Solutions:
  • Payroll Administration: Handles all aspects of payroll processing, including wage calculations, tax deductions, direct deposits, and regulatory compliance.
  • HR Technology Platform: Provides tools for time and attendance tracking, employee self-service, and benefits enrollment, enhancing operational efficiency.

  1. Employee Benefits and Wellness Programs:
  • Health Insurance: Access to a wide range of medical, dental, and vision insurance plans at competitive rates.
  • Retirement Plans: Offers 401(k) plans and other retirement savings options.
  • Wellness Programs: Supports employee well-being through various wellness initiatives.

  1. Compliance and Risk Management: 
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensures adherence to employment laws and regulations, covering wage and hour laws, workplace harassment, and employee classification.
  • Risk Mitigation: Provides workplace safety programs and support for workers' compensation claims to minimize legal risks.

  1. Strategic HR Advisory Services:
  • HR Consulting: Offers strategic guidance on performance management, employee relations, and organizational development.
  • Policy Development: Assists in developing and implementing customized HR policies and procedures.

Features Comparison

Gusto vs. TriNet: Features Comparison

Gusto vs. TriNet: Features Comparison

Factor Gusto TriNet
1. Monthly Fee Starting at $40/mo + $6/mo per person Varies, custom quotes
2. Setup Fee Free Varies, custom quotes
3. Extra Fees None Varies, custom quotes
1. Unlimited Payrolls Yes Yes
2. Automated Federal and State Tax Filing Yes Yes
Direct Deposit Yes Yes
File W-2s Yes Yes
File 1099s Yes Yes
Multiple Pay Rates and Schedules Yes Yes
Multiple States Yes (Plus and Premium) Yes
Contractor Payments Yes Yes
E-sign I-9 and W-4 Yes Yes
Lifetime Access for Employees Yes Yes
Household Employer Payroll No No
International Payroll Yes (International contractor add-on) No
Health Benefits Pay premiums only Premiums + fees
Workers' Comp Pay premiums only Premiums + fees
Available Add-ons Broker integration, 401(k) retirement, Commuter benefits, Life and disability, HSA and FSA, Medical, Dental, Vision HSA and FSA, Commuter benefits, 401(k) retirement, Life and disability, Supplemental
HR Tools
Time Tracking Yes (Plus and Premium) Yes
Team Directory and Org Chart Yes (Plus and Premium) Yes
Time-Off Requests Yes (Plus and Premium) Yes
Online Offer Letters Yes Yes
Secure Document Vault and E-Signing Yes Yes
Custom Employee Handbook Yes (Premium and HR add-on) Yes
Job Description and Policy Templates Yes (Premium and HR add-on) Yes
Proactive Compliance Updates Yes (Premium and HR add-on) Yes
Certified HR Pros Yes (Premium and HR add-on) Yes
Direct Phone Line for Dedicated Support Yes (Premium and HR add-on) Yes
Custom Onboarding Checklist Yes (Plus and Premium) Yes
Software Provisioning Yes (Plus and Premium) Yes (Partner apps only)
QuickBooks Yes Yes
Xero Yes Yes
Google (G-suite) SSO Yes No

  • Both Gusto and TriNet offer robust payroll, benefits, and HR solutions with varying degrees of customization, scalability, and user experience. The choice between the two ultimately depends on the specific needs and priorities of your business, as well as factors such as budget, industry, and desired level of integration and support.

  • Both Gusto and TriNet offer advanced payroll processing capabilities. Gusto provides automated payroll processing, including direct deposit and tax filing, with easy setup and management. On the other hand, TriNet offers comprehensive payroll processing with features like tax compliance and garnishment management, along with customizable payroll reports and support for multi-state payroll.

  • In terms of employee benefits options, Gusto and TriNet both provide a wide array of choices. Gusto offers benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and workers' compensation, with easy enrollment and management. TriNet provides a variety of benefits including health, dental, vision, and disability insurance, with access to a network of benefit providers and personalized guidance for selection.

  • Both platforms offer integration with other tools and software. Gusto integrates with popular accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero, as well as time tracking and scheduling software. TriNet integrates with HRIS systems, accounting software, and third-party applications, offering APIs for custom integrations.

  • Regarding mobile accessibility, both Gusto and TriNet ensure users can access HR and payroll features on the go. Gusto provides a mobile app for administrators and employees, while TriNet offers a mobile-friendly platform with a responsive design.

  • In terms of customization and scalability, Gusto and TriNet cater to the needs of businesses of all sizes. Gusto offers customizable payroll and benefits settings and flexible pricing plans for scalability. TriNet provides customizable HR and benefits solutions tailored to each client's specific requirements, accommodating businesses of all sizes and industries.

  • Regarding user experience and interface design, Gusto is known for its intuitive and user-friendly interface, offering easy navigation and clear presentation of information. TriNet provides a professional interface, though some users may find it more complex due to its depth of features and customization options.

  • Finally, both Gusto and TriNet offer reporting and analytics capabilities. Gusto provides basic reporting and analytics features for payroll, benefits, and employee data, offering insights into payroll costs and benefits utilization. TriNet offers robust reporting and analytics capabilities with customizable reports and dashboards, providing advanced analytics for workforce management and strategic decision-making.

Pricing Plans 

When evaluating HR management tools, pricing is a critical factor, especially for small to medium-sized businesses. Here's a detailed look at the pricing structures for Gusto and ADP:


  1. Simple: $40 per month base fee + $6 per employee per month.


  • Full-service payroll
  • Employee self-service
  • Health benefits administration
  • Workers' comp administration
  • Employee onboarding
  • PTO policies and tracking

  1. Plus: $60 per month base fee + $9 per employee per month.


  • Everything in the Core plan
  • Employee directory and surveys
  • Advanced PTO management
  • Time tracking
  • Project tracking
  • Team management tools

  1. Select Plan: Custom pricing for larger businesses.



  • Everything in the premium plan
  • Tailored pricing and service levels for larger businesses with more complex needs

Additional Costs:

  • Health Benefits: Pricing varies based on plan choices and coverage
  • 401(k) Plans: Additional costs for managing retirement plans.


TriNet typically offers customized pricing based on specific client needs. However, here are some factors that can influence the pricing:

  • Base Fee: Varies based on the size and complexity of the business.
  • Per Employee Per Month (PEPM) Fee: Additional charge per employee per month.
  • Additional Services: Costs for services like benefits administration, compliance assistance, and risk mitigation.
  • Level of Support: Pricing may vary based on the level of support and customization required.
  • Geographic Location: Regional factors may influence pricing.
  • Industry-Specific Needs: Pricing may be affected by industry-specific requirements.
  • Contract Terms: Contracts with varying lengths and terms may impact pricing.

For a personalized quote and detailed pricing information, businesses interested in TriNet's services should contact TriNet directly to discuss their specific needs and requirements.

When comparing the pricing structures of Gusto and TriNet, notable differences emerge in their approach and transparency. 

Gusto offers clear, tiered pricing plans designed to cater to the needs of businesses of varying sizes. Their Core plan starts at $39 per month plus $6 per employee per month, offering essential payroll and HR features. As businesses grow, they can opt for the Complete plan at $39 per month plus $12 per employee per month, which includes additional HR tools and advanced features. For larger enterprises with more complex needs, Gusto offers custom pricing under their Concierge plan, providing tailored solutions and dedicated support from HR experts. 

In contrast, TriNet's pricing model is highly customized, and tailored to the specific requirements of each client. While this approach allows for flexibility in meeting diverse needs, it may lack the transparency of Gusto's fixed pricing plans. TriNet's pricing typically involves a base fee, additional charges per employee, and costs for extra services such as benefits administration and compliance support. Factors such as company size, industry, and geographic location can also influence TriNet's pricing, making it essential for businesses to engage directly with TriNet to obtain a personalized quote. 

Ultimately, while Gusto's transparent pricing appeals to businesses seeking clarity and simplicity, TriNet's customized approach offers flexibility and scalability to meet the unique needs of each client.

Customer Support Options

Both Gusto and TriNet offer comprehensive customer support options, including multiple channels for assistance and personalized guidance from dedicated account managers. While Gusto is known for its responsive support team and user-friendly interface, TriNet's personalized approach may appeal to businesses seeking tailored assistance and guidance. 

Gusto: Gusto provides customer support via phone, email, and chat, offering multiple channels for users to reach out for assistance. Additionally, Gusto offers a comprehensive help centre with articles, guides, and FAQs to address common questions and issues. Users generally report positive experiences with Gusto's customer support, noting quick response times and helpful assistance from support representatives. Gusto's support team is known for being responsive and knowledgeable, addressing inquiries and issues promptly.


TriNet: TriNet also offers customer support via phone, email, and chat, providing multiple avenues for users to seek assistance. In addition, TriNet assigns dedicated account managers to clients, offering personalized support and guidance tailored to their specific needs.

TriNet's customer support is praised for its availability and responsiveness, with dedicated account managers providing personalized assistance to clients. However, some users may experience longer wait times during peak periods, particularly for complex inquiries.

Integration and Compatibility


Gusto offers integrations with a variety of popular accounting software such as QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks, allowing for seamless data synchronization between payroll and accounting systems. Additionally, Gusto integrates with other business tools such as time-tracking software (TSheets, Homebase), scheduling software (When I Work), and HRIS platforms (BambooHR, Zenefits). These integrations streamline workflows and enhance efficiency by eliminating manual data entry and ensuring data accuracy across multiple systems.

Gusto's compatibility with various accounting, HR, and business software makes it suitable for businesses of all sizes and industries. From synchronizing payroll data with accounting records to integrating employee time tracking with payroll processing, Gusto's compatibility ensures seamless data flow and enhances operational efficiency. Gusto provides detailed documentation and support resources to guide users through the integration process, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience.


TriNet also provides integration capabilities with HRIS systems, accounting software, and third-party applications to facilitate data exchange and workflow automation. TriNet's integrations may vary depending on the specific needs of each client, with options to connect with accounting platforms (NetSuite, Intacct), recruiting tools (Greenhouse, Lever), and other business applications. Additionally, TriNet offers APIs for custom integrations with proprietary systems, enabling businesses to tailor their integration solutions to their unique requirements.

Similarly, TriNet's compatibility with HRIS, accounting, and other business systems allows for smooth integration and data exchange across different platforms. By connecting TriNet with other tools and software used in the organization, businesses can centralize data management, improve collaboration, and streamline HR and payroll processes. TriNet's integration process may vary depending on the specific systems and applications involved, as well as the level of customization required. While TriNet offers APIs and support for custom integrations, businesses may need to work closely with TriNet's technical team or third-party developers to implement more complex integration solutions.

Both Gusto and TriNet offer robust integration capabilities, allowing businesses to connect their HR and payroll systems with other tools and software used in their operations. However, while Gusto may be preferred for its user-friendly interface and straightforward integration process, TriNet's flexibility and support for custom integrations make it a viable option for businesses with more complex integration needs. Ultimately, the choice between Gusto and TriNet in terms of integration and compatibility depends on the specific requirements and preferences of each business.

Pros & Cons of Gusto and TriNet

Gusto boasts an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it accessible for businesses of all sizes. Its transparent pricing plans and scalable options provide clarity and flexibility for growing companies. With comprehensive features like automated payroll processing and benefits administration, Gusto streamlines HR tasks efficiently. However, some users note limitations in customization options and occasional issues with customer support during busy periods.

TriNet, too, offers a comprehensive suite of HR services, making it a one-stop solution for businesses seeking payroll processing, benefits administration, compliance assistance, and risk mitigation. Its scalability and customization options cater to the specific needs of each client, while access to big company benefits helps small businesses attract and retain talent effectively. TriNet's dedicated account managers provide personalized support, although the platform's pricing may be higher compared to competitors. However, some users have reported challenges with the onboarding process and limitations in reporting functionality, highlighting areas for improvement.

We gathered these user reviews from platforms such as G2, Capterra, and Trustpilot for both tools and identified common pros and cons mentioned by users.

For Gusto: 


  1. Ease of Onboarding and User-Friendly Interface: Users consistently praise Gusto for its straightforward onboarding process and user-friendly interface. One G2 reviewer highlighted, "Gusto's onboarding process was one of the easiest payroll onboarding experiences I've ever had." Another user emphasized the simplicity of the interface, noting, "The emails are well-designed, and all written instructions are simple and easy to follow."

  1. Time Savings and Efficiency: Many users report significant time savings and increased efficiency when using Gusto for payroll processing. A Capterra reviewer mentioned, "We're seeing serious time savings when running payroll." Another user appreciated how Gusto allows them to focus on core business activities, saying, "Gusto helps me focus on what matters—my clients and my team."

  1. Customer Support: Overall, users have positive experiences with Gusto's customer support. While some encountered initial issues, the support received was generally praised. One user commented, "I did run into some issues when first getting started with my account. But having tried a large Gusto competitor first, I can say these were minor in comparison."

  1. Comprehensive Features and Benefits Management: Users value the comprehensive features Gusto offers, particularly in benefits management. One user mentioned a project to offer benefits and how Gusto facilitated this: "My next big project is getting to a place where my business is big enough while still growing to offer benefits."

  1. Security and Protection: Gusto's security measures are highly appreciated by users, who feel confident in the protection of their information. One user remarked, "The degree of protection that Gusto offers is truly remarkable. I can log in with confidence every time because my information is protected."


  1. Issues with State Reporting and Late Payments: Some users express dissatisfaction with Gusto's state reporting consistency and timely payments. A reviewer noted, "State reporting consistency and timely payments are not great. We've had to pay penalties for late payments."

  1. Initial Learning Curve and Setup Challenges: A few users experienced challenges during the initial setup or onboarding process. One user said, "In the onboarding process, it wasn't clear how to change something in a previous step after moving on." Another mentioned, "I did run into some issues when first getting started with my account."

  1. Limited Customization and Features Discovery: Some users feel that Gusto lacks customization options or that certain features are not easily discoverable. One reviewer shared, "In the 4-5 months I've been using Gusto, I've had no issues, and haven't needed to log into my account since the info I want—breakdown of pay/taxes deducted—is included in each email on payday. Once I logged in, I was surprised to see the variety of tools available, such as spending trends. So perhaps other folks may be missing these."

  1. Occasional Technical Glitches: A few users report encountering technical glitches or issues with the platform. One user noted, "We've had penalties for late payments and Gusto doesn't seem to care."

  1. Dependency on the Platform and Future Limitations: Some users express concerns about becoming dependent on the platform, potentially limiting future possibilities. One user stated, "I see myself depending on the platform to a certain extent, which could limit my future possibilities because that is the only drawback of any type of platform: they are usually proprietary."


  1. Comprehensive HR Services: Users appreciate TriNet's all-in-one HR platform, which offers a range of services including payroll management, talent acquisition, benefits administration, and risk mitigation.

  1. Access to Big Company Benefits: Small businesses value TriNet for providing access to high-quality benefits typically associated with larger companies, enabling them to attract and retain talent effectively.

  1. Automated Processes: Users find TriNet's automated payroll and employee self-service features beneficial, streamlining administrative tasks and reducing the burden on HR personnel.

  1. One-Stop Shop: TriNet's integrated platform offers a centralized solution for all HR needs, including applicant tracking, payroll, benefits enrollment, performance management, and employee onboarding.

  1. Helpful Customer Support: While some users express mixed experiences with customer support, others appreciate the prompt assistance provided by TriNet's support team, particularly in navigating the platform and addressing issues.


  1. High Cost: Several users mention that TriNet's services are expensive, which may pose challenges for smaller businesses with limited budgets.

  1. Issues with Customer Service: Some users report dissatisfaction with TriNet's customer service, citing long response times, ineffective support, and difficulties in resolving issues.

  1. Complex Onboarding Process: Users describe the onboarding process with TriNet as cumbersome and time-consuming, with challenges such as unexpected fees, delays in policy changes, and lack of clarity in communication.

  1. Limited Reporting Functionality: Some users express frustration with TriNet's reporting capabilities, noting a lack of basic reports and challenges in generating customized reports.

  1. Changes in Service Model: A few users mention dissatisfaction with changes in TriNet's customer service model, which has led to a decline in personalized support and an increased reliance on call centre services.

Use Case Scenarios 

When evaluating the suitability of Gusto and TriNet for startups, several factors come into play to determine which platform may be better suited for different types of startups

  • Gusto:

Gusto is well-suited for startups that prioritize simplicity, transparency, and ease of use in their HR and payroll processes. Its user-friendly interface and straightforward pricing plans make it particularly attractive for small startups with limited HR resources. Startups looking for a cost-effective solution with scalable options as they grow may find Gusto appealing. Additionally, Gusto's comprehensive features, including automated payroll processing and benefits administration, cater to the needs of startups aiming for efficiency and streamlined operations.

  • TriNet:

TriNet is ideal for startups that prioritize comprehensive HR services and access to large company benefits to attract and retain talent. Its customizable pricing and scalability make it suitable for startups at various stages of growth, from early-stage ventures to more established companies. Startups seeking personalized support and guidance from dedicated account managers may benefit from TriNet's service model. However, startups should consider the potentially higher cost compared to other platforms and the complexity of the onboarding process when evaluating TriNet.

When deciding between Gusto and TriNet for your startup, you should consider several factors:

  1. Budget and Affordability: Evaluate the pricing plans of both platforms and assess which aligns better with the startup's budget and financial resources.

  1. HR Needs and Complexity: Consider the specific HR requirements of the startup, such as payroll processing, benefits administration, compliance assistance, and risk mitigation, and determine which platform offers the most suitable features and customization options.

  1. Growth Plans: Assess the scalability of each platform and consider whether it can accommodate the startup's growth trajectory and evolving needs over time.

  1. User Experience and Support: Evaluate the user experience and level of support provided by each platform, including factors such as interface usability, customer service responsiveness, and access to dedicated account managers.

  1. Industry and Regulatory Compliance: Consider any industry-specific requirements or regulatory compliance considerations relevant to the startup's operations and ensure that the chosen platform can meet these needs effectively.


In summary, Gusto and TriNet offer robust HR and payroll solutions with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Gusto excels in its user-friendly interface, transparent pricing, and scalability, making it ideal for startups prioritizing simplicity and efficiency. On the other hand, TriNet provides comprehensive HR services, access to large company benefits, and personalized support, catering to startups seeking a one-stop solution for their HR needs.

When deciding between Gusto and TriNet, startups should carefully evaluate their specific needs, budget constraints, and growth plans. Consider factors such as the level of customization required, industry-specific requirements, and the importance of access to dedicated support. It's essential to assess each platform's features, pricing, and user experience to determine which aligns best with the startup's priorities.


  1. What are the main differences between Gusto and TriNet?

Answer: Gusto is known for its user-friendly interface, transparent pricing, and scalability, making it suitable for small to medium-sized businesses. TriNet, on the other hand, offers comprehensive HR services, access to big company benefits, customization options, and dedicated support, catering to businesses of all sizes.

  1. How do Gusto and TriNet differ in terms of pricing?

Answer: Gusto offers transparent pricing with base fees plus a per-employee fee, while TriNet's pricing is customizable based on the specific needs and size of each client. TriNet may have higher costs compared to Gusto, especially for smaller businesses.

  1. Which platform is better suited for startups?

Answer: Gusto is ideal for startups prioritizing simplicity, transparency, and ease of use, while TriNet is suitable for startups seeking comprehensive HR services, access to big company benefits, and personalized support.

  1. What level of customer support do Gusto and TriNet provide?

Answer: Both Gusto and TriNet offer customer support via phone, email, and chat, with Gusto known for its responsiveness and TriNet for its personalized support through dedicated account managers.

  1. How customizable are Gusto and TriNet?

Answer: Gusto provides some customization options, but TriNet offers more flexibility and customization based on the specific needs and requirements of each client.

  1. Where can I find more information about Gusto and TriNet?

Answer: You can visit the official websites of Gusto and TriNet to explore their features, pricing plans, customer testimonials, and other resources for more information. Additionally, you can read reviews and comparisons on platforms like G2, Capterra, and Trustpilot for insights from other users.

  1. What mobile accessibility do Gusto and TriNet provide?

Answer: Gusto has a mobile app for administrators and employees, allowing access to payroll information and benefits. TriNet offers a mobile-friendly platform that can be accessed from any device with internet connectivity.

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