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Ever since Square unleashed its headphone jack card reader onto the small business masses in May 2010, iPad POS systems have become the go-to solution for affordable, easy payment processing.
To be sure, many POS systems for iPads and tablets have flooded the market since 2010, so if you’re looking for the right one for your business, you’ve got plenty of competitors to choose from.
In fact, with all of the iPad POS systems on the market now, you might have a hard time choosing which of all of your options would be best for your business.
That’s where we come in.
We’ve compiled the four best iPad POS systems of 2019 all into one guide, so read on to learn all the details on your top options:
As iPad and tablet POS systems have evolved over the past years, they’ve grown and become far more powerful than the inaugural Square reader. With extra players contributing to the iPad POS system market, Square has upped their game, as well.
So, whether it’s a more powerful version of a card reader, or a full-blown countertop iPad POS system, you’ve got a lot of options that will deliver you far more than that first Square reader.
The trick is deciding what exactly you want from your iPad POS system in the first place. Here are your top four options so that you can get an idea of which best address what your business needs out of a tablet or iPad POS system.
If you’re looking for a countertop POS system powered by an iPad, then the Square Stand is your top option. The Square Stand iPad POS system is actually a bundle of three forms of Square POS hardware:
All bundled together, this iPad POS system hardware will cost you $169. And if you don’t already have an iPad at your disposal, you can order one through Square for an extra $329.
As far as software for this iPad point of sale system goes, you’ll operate this iPad POS through the same Square Point of Sale app that you would run mobile Square POS systems with. You’ll simply download this free point of sale app to your iPad, create a Square account, and plug your iPad into your Square Stand hardware. Now, you’ve got yourself a fully-functioning iPad POS system.
One more thing to keep in mind: Beyond the cost of the hardware and the iPad itself, this iPad POS will also cost you per use. As with any POS system, you’ll need to pay payment processing fees. Any magstripe, chip, or contactless payment you process will cost you a simple 2.75% of the transaction value.
The Square Stand is the best iPad POS system for retail establishments and quick-order restaurants that need countertop POS options rather than the handheld ones that most other iPad POS systems offer.
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Alternatively, if you’re looking for more mobility than a countertop iPad POS system can allow your team, then look to the aptly named Clover Go. In the years since Square first hit the scene, Clover POS systems have seriously given them a run for their money. One of their most competitive iPad POS system offerings is their card reader, the Clover Go.
The Clover Go is a small, square, Bluetooth-enabled card reader that processes magstripe, chip, and contactless payments. This iPad POS system hardware will cost your business $69. But once you’ve purchased it, you’ll simply connect your Clover Go to any Bluetooth-enabled smart device—be it a phone, iPad, or tablet—and you’ve got yourself a mobile POS system.
To access Clover POS software, though, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee. Clover Register Lite will cost you $14 a month, and Clover Register will cost you $29 a month, although your first month of software will be free.
If you choose Clover Register Lite, payment processing fees will be 2.7% of the transaction value, plus $0.10 per in-person transaction. In-person payments for Clover Register users will only cost 2.3% of the transaction value, plus $0.10 per transaction.
All in all, if you’re looking for a tablet POS system—rather than specifically an iPad POS system—then the Clover Go will be your best option that’s compatible with non-Apple tablets.
If your business relies heavily on PayPal for sending and receiving payments, then the PayPal Here iPad POS system could be the path of least resistance for your business to start accepting in-person payments. Their Chip and Tap credit card in particular could deliver similar payment experience to other top readers, along with the convenience that comes with remaining within your PayPal account.
The PayPal Here Chip and Tap reader will connect to your iPad or tablet via Bluetooth and process magstripe, chip, and contactless payments. Together with a charging dock, this card reader will cost $79.99, but it will unlock the lower payment processing fees that PayPal Here boasts. You’ll simply have to pay 2.7% of each transaction that you process through your PayPal Here card reader.
This lower payment processing fee will be great for all business, but especially ones that tend to process larger transactions. That said, if you’re looking for particularly powerful POS system software for your iPad POS system, then this might not be your best option. We suggest that business owners consider PayPal Here as a supplement to their PayPal account, rather than a fully powered iPad POS system in and of itself.
If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck out of your iPad POS system, then consider the QuickBooks GoPayment All-in-One Card Reader. Just like the other mobile iPad POS system options, this one will connect to your iPad or tablet via Bluetooth and process magstripe, chip, and contactless payments. This one, however, will only cost you $50 to purchase.
Plus, the QuickBooks GoPayment app is totally free to download onto any smart device. That said, the different payment processing fee structure for this iPad POS option might not be so ideal for businesses with smaller transactions: You’ll have to pay 2.4% of each transaction, plus $0.25 per transaction. This larger $0.25 lump sum, per-transaction fee will be easier for businesses with larger average transactions to swallow.
Don’t forget one of the main draws of this iPad POS system option, though: All of your payment information will sync directly with your QuickBooks Online account, making bookkeeping a breeze. So, even if you’re running smaller transactions, that extra cost might be worth it.
Do none of the top four iPad POS systems sound quite right for your business? Whether you want a more solid, powerful POS system, or you’re looking for something as simple as a built-in barcode scanner, it might be time for you to consider upgrading beyond an iPad POS system.
iPad POS systems are great—don’t get us wrong—they provide a valuable payments solution for businesses that are looking for low startup payments cost and have an iPad or two on hand.
But what happens when you lose service? Or your customer wants a physical receipt rather than a texted or emailed one?
That’s when you when you might consider a POS system that doesn’t rely on a smart device to run. Luckily, many of these same names have come up with their own POS systems that are fully functioning, self-sufficient payment machines.
For instance, some of our favorite mobile POS systems that don’t rely on smart devices are the Clover Flex and the Square Terminal. If you want a more solid countertop POS system that runs on its own, look to the Square Register, which provides even lower payment processing fees and a more powerful POS software.
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All in all, iPad POS systems can only do so much, and it’s important to keep this fact top-of-mind as you search for one. Although iPad POS systems offer a valuable debut into in-person payments for many small businesses, they’re not as powerful or versatile as their self-sufficient counterparts. Be sure to weigh your options as you decide which form of POS system your business needs, and know that, though they might be flashy, iPad POS systems aren’t the be-all and end-all of modern payment processing.