The best punch in and out apps for small businesses in 2023

Punch in and out apps, time clocks app, or time-tracking software—it’s all six of one, half a dozen of the other. But no matter what you call ‘em, they’re all digital tools that help you stay on top of employee working hours.

Almost all hourly teams use some version of a punch in and out system. They’re game changers when it comes to saving time, paying your team, and just elevating your employee experience.

But if you’re on the hunt for a new punch in and out app, you might find yourself facing some choice overload. These days there are simply so many different time-tracking apps to choose from. Fortunately, more choices means you’re more likely to find the perfect punch in and out system for your team. After all, your business deserves the best.

We’ve gone ahead and rounded up everything you need to know about eight of the best punch in and out apps on the market—so you and your team can start punching in and out with confidence.

Let’s get started.

What is a punch in and out app? 

A punch in and out app is a digital software used by hourly employees to track their working hours. You may also know it as a time clock app or digital time-tracking tool. 

When employees come to work, they ‘punch in’ on the app. And when they’re done for the day, they ‘punch out’. The result? A time-stamped record of their working hours that can be used for shift scheduling, payroll, and even labor cost optimization.

If you wanna get extra fancy, some punch clocks will even track details like projects, tasks, and to-dos.

What to look for in a punch in and out app

Your punch in and out app is an integral part of your team’s workflow. As the name suggests, they’ll need to punch in or out at least twice a day. Plus, there are some pretty rad benefits to accurate time tracking, too.

When choosing a punch in and out app, you want to make sure it really packs a mean punch (sorry not sorry).

Of course, every small business has slightly different needs. But here are six essential features that you should be on the lookout for in your next punch in and out system.

Automatic timesheets

Timesheets record the information from your time punch app so you can easily review and use that information for scheduling or payroll

Ditch the data entry by looking for a punch in and out app that automatically creates human error-free timesheets on your behalf.

Time theft prevention features

Time theft and buddy punching are unfortunately common among businesses of all shapes and sizes. It’s been reported that time theft costs employers in the U.S. almost $400 million a year

Fortunately, a punch in and out app with the right features can help keep time theft at bay.

Some of our favorite features that help minimize time theft?

  • Geo-fencing to make sure employees only clock in at work
  • GPS snapshots help you keep track of where employees are punching in and when

Payroll integration

Those hours that have been punched in? You gotta pay them out to your employees. 

When your time punch app fits seamlessly into your payday process, you’ll save time on prep and avoid those pesky payroll errors. If you can do it all in one app—even better!

Employee scheduling 

Before employees can punch in, they need to know when they’re expected at work.

When your punch in and out app can sync to your employee schedules, your employees will get alerts for their upcoming shift, reminders to clock out and clock back in for their breaks, and you’ll get notified if they’re running late.

Reporting and analytics

Labor costs can add upget a punch in and out app that has the tools to help you optimize your labor costs. It’s the best way to be sure you’re making the most of your team’s time.

Overtime alerts and error notifications

We all miss things and that’s okay. That’s what notifications are for!

Getting notifications for time-tracking errors or when employees approach overtime are key to avoiding unpleasant labor cost surprises.

The 8 best punch in and out apps for your small business

Now that you know what a punch in and out app is and what to look for, it’s time to find the perfect solution for your team.

Fortunately, you get to skip the step of browsing through 100 different review sites: because we did it for you. We’ve put together a list of eight of the industry-leading punch in and out apps and time-tracking apps.

We’ll cover everything from pros and cons to pricingso you can spend less time evaluating and more time tracking your business growth.

Without further ado…

1. Homebase

First up on our list is Homebase

Homebase’s suite of robust employee management tools are trusted by over 100,000 small businesses.  And when it comes to punch in and punch out apps, Homebase’s time clock should be at the top of your list. 

Here are some of the most notable features of Homebase’s time clock app.

Turn your mobile device or POS into a time clock

Your time clock should be as versatile as your teamand Homebase makes clocking in from anywhere a breeze because Homebase’s app can be used on most iOS, Android, and POS devices.

Whether it’s an employee’s personal mobile device, the shared team tablet, or that point-of-sale system you already love, the Homebase time clock meets you where you work.

Built-in scheduling and shift swapping

Homebase makes employee scheduling seamless with templates that optimize your team’s schedule based on their availability, sales forecasts, and even your labor targets.

But hey, things change with employee shifts, right? Not to worry. With Homebase, you can easily message individuals or the entire team to find alternative coverage right within the app. Employees can even self-manage their schedules by communicating with each other to trade or pick up shiftswith your approval, of course.

Homebase’s punch in and punch out app’s scheduling features means keeping track of your teams hours, shifts, and finding last-minute shift coverage just got easier.

Push notifications and error alerts for employees and employers

Notifications aren’t just for social media likes anymore. Homebase helps you and your team stay on track with hours and everything else with alerts to make sure you never miss a thing.

Employees can get notifications when:

  • They forget to clock out
  • They have new shifts scheduled
  • Their break is almost over

Managers can get alerts when:

  • Employees try to clock in early
  • Employees forget to clock out
  • Employees are late
  • Employees are close to overtime
  • Timesheets have potential errors

The best part? Everyone can customize their settings to get notifications by email, app, or even text message.

Employee happiness and perks

Homebase knows that happy employees are more productive and better for your business. That’s why their time clock is designed with all the necessary bells and whistles to set your team up for success.

With Homebase’s punch in and out app, you can offer easy access to schedules, wages, and PTO accruals. The team communication features help build a stronger team culture, too.

One of the features that stands out? Homebase Cash Out—a perk that provides your employees with access to their earnings early, so they can meet their financial goals without the stress. (P.S. It comes at no cost to you.)

Tools to help you stay compliant

Because Homebase isn’t just a time clock, they also have features that help you stay on top of labor laws. Homebase’s HR and compliance features help you:

But compliance can get tricky. So if you need more support, they have a team of expert HR pros who can answer any compliance-related questions you might have.

From time tracking to payroll and HR, Homebase is the ultimate all-in-one solution for employee management. No more time spent flipping between spreadsheets and different software. Instead, you’ll have your team up and running in minutes.


  • User-friendly interface for employees and managers
  • Integrations with industry-leading small business tools
  • All-in-one app means you can save time switching between tools to manage your team and small business
  • Can be used to manage multiple locations and remote teams
  • Employee pay advances at no cost to you
  • Unlimited employees to help you scale your business on all paid plans


  • Advanced employee management features may require a plan upgrade

Pricing: Homebase’s time clock app is 100% free for up to 20 employees. Paid plans start as low as $20 a month. A great solution for small growing businesses who need a robust punch in punch out solution—without having to pay an arm and a leg.

2. Buddy Punch

Not to be confused with buddy punching of the time theft variety, Buddy Punch is another popular punch in and out app. Built with time tracking in mind, Buddy Punching is a great solution for keeping tabs on employee working hours. As a cloud-based software, Buddy Punch is a solid choice for remote and digital teams.



  • Employee scheduling and shift-swapping features require a plan upgrade
  • Limited feature available in mobile app
  • Limited HR and other employee management tools

Pricing: Buddy Punching starts at $19 a month, plus $2.99 per user. They do offer a free trial for new users and an Enterprise solution for established businesses that need more custom solutions.

3. QuickBooks Time

QuickBooks is one of the leading small business accounting software platforms. Their parent company Intuit is an industry leader in financial products for individuals and companies.

They recently rebranded their time tracking solution, TSheets, into QuickBooks Time. Because QuickBooks Time is embedded directly into the QuickBooks platform, it’s a great solution for companies that already use QuickBooks for accounting and client invoicing.


  • Seamlessly integrates into QuickBooks
  • Easy to adjust billable rates by the user


  • Limited employee management features beyond time tracking
  • Additional admin roles come at a cost

Pricing: QuickBooks Time is one of the more expensive options on this list with a $30 monthly base fee and $10 per user. They do offer a free 30-day trial.

4. Inch

Inch is an employee management software that primarily focuses on time tracking and employee communication. Conveniently, Inch also doubles as a project management software, making it easy to track employee time based on the task or project they’re working on.

Because Inch is free, it’s a good solution for small businesses looking to dip their toe into time tracking and employee management.


  • Can assign employee shifts and tasks
  • Geo-fencing to reduce time theft


  • Does not support multiple locations
  • Currently no labor cost optimization features
  • Very limited customer support
  • Limited payroll and team management integrations

Pricing: Inch is free to use.

5. Connecteam

Connecteam is an employee management software that provides tools from time tracking to payroll. The benefit of all-in-one apps is that they eliminate the need to switch between several different tools.

Connecteam is a good solution if you’re looking to implement an overall employee management experience, but it doesn’t necessarily stand out as a time-tracking tool.


  • Freemium version for teams smaller than 10
  • Access to several employee management features all within one app
  • Paid plans include GPS and other time-theft prevention tools


  • Free plan includes very limited features
  • Users have reported that the app tends to crash frequently
  • Additional fees for teams larger than 30 employees

Pricing: Connecteam offers a free option for up to 10 users. However, if you need basic features such as shift swapping, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the paid plans that start at $29 per month.

6. Sling

Sling is an employee scheduling tool that was acquired in 2022 by restaurant POS software company Toast. They position themselves as an employee shift scheduling tool. However, they do also offer a time clock and other time-tracking tools.

Like other apps, Sling is a good choice if you’re primarily looking for a tool to improve your scheduling processes, but also want to add a punch in and punch out app. Businesses that already use Toast will also appreciate the integration between the two platforms.


  • Pay-per-user pricing model is great for small teams
  • Fremium version to test out shift scheduling features


  • Pay-per-user pricing model can get expensive for larger teams
  • Time clock features only available on paid plans
  • Limited integrations

Pricing: Sling uses a pay-per-user pricing model, which can be helpful for growing teams since you’re only paying for the seats you’re using. Each user starts at $1.70. They also offer a free  plan, but you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan to unlock their time-tracking features.

7. Harvest

Harvest was founded in 2006 to help teams track time and they certainly do it well. Harvest’s punch in and out app is designed to help employees make better use of their time and help businesses unlock time-related insights. 

Harvest is best for teams that need to track time on a project basis. 


  • Robust reporting and insight tools
  • Free plan unlocks access to almost all features


  • Free plan only includes one seat
  • Limited features to support desk-less teams

Pricing: Harvest’s free plan only includes one seat and two projects, which can be challenging for teams. But you can add as many seats as you like for $10.80 per seat per month.

8. Replicon

Replicon is a robust workflow management solution that helps enterprises work smarter. Their punch in and out app helps track everything from employee attendance to project time tracking.

Replicon is a good fit for established businesses that need to track time, but also want to keep tabs on hours for client billing and invoicing.


  • Integrates with many industry-leading HR and payroll platforms
  • Offers compliance features, like PTO tracking
  • Easy to turn hours into invoices for clients


  • Not the best fit for small businesses
  • Features and tools can be complicated to navigate

Pricing: Replicon’s Time And Attendance tools start at $6 a month and the Project Time Management tools start at $12 a month. There is a free trial so you can test out all the features before you commit.

The best punch in and punch out app on the market for free? (Yes—you read that right)

Track employee hours, prep for payroll, and control labor costs—all in one place. Homebase’s free punch in and out time clock packs a punch. Get started today.

Punch in and out app FAQs

What’s the difference between a time clock and a punch in and out app?

A time clock and a punch in and out app are very similar. While they have different names, both apps are designed to help employees and businesses track working hours. Whether they use a time clock or a punch in and out app, employees will clock in (or punch in) when they start their shift and clock out (or punch out) when they finish.

A time clock can also apply to a physical time clocking device but digital time clock apps are more common in modern small businesses.

How can employees punch in and out at work?

Employees can punch in and out at work in a few different ways, including:

  • Physical punch clock or time clock: This is a device that’s typically placed in a common area of the workplace. Employees will enter their ID or information to punch in at the start and end of their shifts and the clock will record the time. Back in the day, punch clocks physically punch holes in time cards—hence the name “punch clock”
  • Time clock app: Also known as a punch in and out app, a time clock app is  similar to a punch clock, but it’s 100% digital. It’s often used on mobile devices, tablets, or POS systems.
  • Manual tracking: This is the least common form of employee time tracking. This requires employees to manually input their start and end times in a time-tracking spreadsheet or on a paper sign-in sheet.

What are the benefits of using a punch in and out system?

Using employee punch in and out systems offer many benefits to small businesses, for example:

  • They make it easier to track employee hours accurately
  • They streamline the payroll process and reduce the risk of errors
  • They offer transparency around pay and scheduling for your employees
  • They reduce time theft and buddy punching
  • They help you stay compliant with overtime requirements and other labor laws.

Using a punch in and out system or a time clock helps you spend less time managing employee hours and more time growing your business.

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