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Which Guideline pricing plan is right for you?
401(k)

Which Guideline pricing plan is right for you?

Nicolle Willson, J.D., CFP®, C(k)P®

All small businesses should be able to open an affordable and seamless retirement plan. But not every retirement plan is right for every small business. That’s why Guideline offers three distinct pricing plans. We know that some business owners just want an out-of-the-box option that’s ready to go, while others may want a little more support for their complex business. And some might want all the bells and all the whistles.

Before we get into the specific plans, it’s important to know that all of our pricing plans include the fundamental services and features needed to offer a great retirement benefit: automated recordkeeping and plan administration, investment management, government filing, 3(38) and 3(16) fiduciary services¹, compliance testing, and more.

With that said, let’s look at our three distinct pricing plans so you can determine which one works best for your business.


Core plan

As the name implies, our Core plan provides all of the core services and features needed to provide a great 401(k). It’s our lowest priced plan and the easiest to set up, with fewer components to review and select. And as a Safe Harbor plan, it should require less administrative work for plan sponsors throughout the year.

Monthly base fee: $49 + $8 per active participant

Requirements: Must be a Safe Harbor plan.
Safe Harbor plans require companies to contribute to their employees’ 401(k) accounts. But in exchange, these plans automatically satisfy most IRS nondiscrimination tests. See all of the benefits of Safe Harbor plans in our guide.

Who may be a good fit for a Core plan

  1. Employers who want to set it and forget it. If you just want something that’s easy to set up and administer, Core plans are ready-made with several built-in components.
  2. Smaller small businesses. Navigating IRS nondiscrimination testing can be more difficult for very small businesses, where one change in personnel or contributions can have a bigger impact.

Flex plan

With our Flex plan, employers can open a Safe Harbor 401(k) plan or a traditional 401(k) plan. They can also add features like profit sharing and vesting schedules to gain more control over 401(k) plan costs. If you select a traditional 401(k) plan, Guideline will conduct the additional IRS nondiscrimination testing.

Monthly base fee: $79 + $8 per active participant

Requirements: None

Who may be a good fit for a Flex plan

  1. Employers who want the most cost-effective plan. With a traditional 401(k) plan, employers can choose to make smaller employer contributions, or none at all—which means Flex plans can end up being less expensive than a Core plan on a monthly basis overall.
  2. Growing businesses with more fluid profits. With a Flex plan you can make more adjustments to employer contributions and vesting schedules, and/or implement profit sharing after the end of the year. These options can help keep your 401(k) aligned with your business objectives.
  3. Employers who want more ways to help retain and attract talent. Profit sharing contributions can be made in lieu of, or in addition to, employer matches and are popular with employees. Conversely, vesting schedules can incentivize employees to stay with your company.

Max plan

In addition to every standard feature and service we offer, the Max plan provides access to custom features like new comparability profit sharing. It also includes a dedicated onboarding specialist to streamline plan setup and a dedicated account manager who can assist throughout the life of your plan.

Monthly base fee: $129 + $8 per active participant

Requirements: There are no limits to who can open a Max plan. However, we do require controlled groups to open a Max plan. Additionally, plan sponsors that are transferring an existing plan are required to open and maintain a Max plan for at least one year. After one year, you will be eligible to switch to a different pricing plan.

Who may be a good fit for a Max plan:

  1. Owners who want to max out their personal 401(k). New comparability profit sharing generally allows a greater disparity of contributions between different groups of employees. In other words, older employees with higher salaries can potentially receive greater allocations as a percentage of their pay than younger employees with lower salaries.
  2. Businesses with a high ratio of highly compensated employees. Generally speaking, new comparability profit sharing works best for smaller companies with older owners and a younger employee base. This could include businesses like doctor’s offices, dental practices, and law firms.
  3. Larger small businesses. With a dedicated onboarding specialist and account manager, you can get answers to your questions throughout your retirement journey—from plan setup to ongoing administrative tasks.

Side-by-side comparison of our three pricing plans

Like we stated in the beginning, there’s no “right” plan for every business. But we’ve deliberately built our pricing plan structure to help provide plans that work for your business—providing you and your employees with the right foundation to build a brighter future.

¹Our 3(16) fiduciary services are only available to clients who utilize an integrated payroll provider.

²Guideline uses a third party to provide custodial services. Learn more about our services and fees here.