These are six top restaurant POS systems worth considering:
Running a restaurant can feel like just that—running. Whether you’re providing a full-service or quick-service dining experience to your customers, your restaurant needs to be a well-oiled, fast-moving machine. Your restaurant POS system is a crucial cog in this machinery.
Glitchy, slow, or unsecure restaurant point of sale systems can have some pretty serious consequences—so how can a business owner decrease their risk by finding the best POS system for their restaurant?
Luckily, there are many different options on the market to fit restaurants of all shapes and sizes. To find the best POS system for your restaurant, therefore, you’ll want to think about what’s most important to your business and what specifically you need—considering factors like hardware options, software options, price, payment processing, and more.
In order to help you narrow down your restaurant POS system choices, we’ve compiled this list of the best POS systems for restaurants on the market. We’ll explore the ins and outs of these six restaurant POS systems so that you can determine if one of them will be the right fit for your business.
As we mentioned, in order to choose the best POS system for your restaurant, it’s important to know what your business needs and what to look for in your POS system. Your restaurant POS system will consist of both hardware and software and the specifics of each will vary depending on the POS provider. On the whole, however, you’ll want to consider the usability of your restaurant point of sale system, the price, as well as certain aspects of both your restaurant POS software and hardware.
With restaurant POS software, you’ll want to ensure that the platform has all of the features you need to run your business. Here are some capabilities to keep in mind:
When it comes to the hardware aspect of your restaurant POS system, you’ll want to consider what kind of hardware terminals and peripherals are compatible with the system, as well as how much they’ll cost.
Some POS providers offer iPad or android based hardware, as well as different options for countertop terminals, tableside terminals, and mobile card readers. In addition to your main POS terminal choices, you’ll also want to consider what peripherals the provider offers, including devices like kitchen and receipt printers, barcode scanners, cash drawers, and kitchen or customer display systems.
Furthermore, some providers give you the option to lease your equipment, buy it directly from them, or buy it from a third-party seller. If you already own equipment, you’ll want to determine if it’s compatible with the new restaurant POS system you’re considering or if the provider can reprogram your existing terminals.
Now that we’ve discussed the different elements you’ll want to keep in mind as you search for the best POS system for your restaurant, let’s go through our list of the top restaurant POS systems and break down what each can offer your business.
With two robust software plans and both mobile and countertop terminal options, Clover is a great restaurant POS system to accommodate well-established quick-service restaurants.
As we mentioned, Clover offers two different plans for their restaurant POS software: Register Lite and Register.
The Register Lite plan will cost $14 per month and will give you access to all of the following capabilities:
The more powerful version of Clover’s POS software is the Register plan. This restaurant POS software will cost your business an extra $29 every month, which will open up the following extra perks:
Additionally, you’ll want to note that in order to accept credit card payments with Clover POS you’ll need to sign up with a compatible third-party payment processor.
One of the reasons that Clover is so appealing for quick-service restaurants is for the variety of POS hardware options you have to choose from:
The most basic and mobile piece of Clover restaurant POS hardware is the Clover Go.
The Clover Go comes in both a Bluetooth and plugin version, and it allows your restaurant to accept swipe, dip, and contactless card payments when linked to a smart device.
This restaurant point of sale hardware is also the most affordable Clover restaurant POS hardware option—the Clover Go costs $59.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a piece of handheld restaurant POS system hardware that will do it all, then consider the Clover Flex.
The Clover Flex offers up a remarkably long list of capabilities—especially when you consider its small, smartphone-sized stature. You’ll be able to process all forms of payments, scan barcodes, capture signatures, and print receipts—all in one fully integrated restaurant POS system.
This Clover restaurant POS system hardware will cost you, though—the Clover Flex is $449.
Another piece of restaurant POS system hardware that Clover offers up is the Clover Mini. This restaurant POS system hardware is the first fully countertop option that Clover offers.
You’ll be able to access the whole package you’d expect from a countertop restaurant POS—accept all types of card payments, manage tips, and set special employee permissions. The Clover Mini restaurant POS system hardware comes with a starting cost of $599.
Finally, if you’re looking for a full-blown countertop restaurant POS system from Clover, consider the Clover Station. This is the best POS system Clover offers for restaurants that need a high-speed, top-performing countertop POS system.
With the Clover Station, you’ll be able to process all forms of payments, ring customers up, scan barcodes, and print receipts. Plus, you’ll have the option between a high-speed receipt printer or one that features a customer-facing display.
The Clover Station starts at $1,199.
As you can see, although the Clover hardware options can be expensive, on the whole, this restaurant POS system can offer significant functionality at a reasonable software cost. With a variety of hardware options, both mobile and more traditional, Clover is great for quick-service restaurants who need the balance of flexibility and capability. Plus, the Clover system is known for being easy to use and set up, making it one of the most restaurant-friendly POS systems on the market.
If you’re just opening your business and looking for the right restaurant POS system, you might consider Square for Restaurants. Square for Restaurants is an updated version of Square’s POS software, designed, as you might expect, specifically for restaurants. This system is affordable, simple, and easy to use, making it a particularly attractive option for newer businesses.
The Square for Restaurants POS software is an all-in-one product, providing the full range of capabilities you need to run your restaurant. Square for Restaurants will cost a monthly fee, depending on the plan you choose.
This being said, in no particular order, the software includes:
With regard to payment processing, by choosing Square for Restaurants as your restaurant POS software, you’re also choosing Square as your payment processor. For all in-person payments, therefore, you’ll pay a flat processing fee of 2.6% + $0.10. Similarly, digital payments are subject to a 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction fee and payments via a virtual terminal get a 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction fee. All payments are backed by Square Secure, a suite of security tools that includes fraud prevention, PCI compliance, and dispute management.
In terms of hardware, this restaurant POS system offers three different kits—Square Stand Station, Windfall Station Stand, and Square Stand Station with a Square Terminal. It’s important to note that Square for Restaurants requires an iPad to run the software. iPads are sold separately from the following hardware kits, although you can order one through Square for an additional $329. Square also allows you to purchase individual hardware items rather than entire kits. If you don’t want to spend substantial money at once on hardware, there are financing options available.
This kit comes with a Windfall Stand instead of a Square Stand for your iPad. All of the other components are similar to the Square Stand Station: A card reader that can accept all types of payment, cash drawer, receipt printer, and kitchen. The cost of this restaurant POS hardware option is $1,082.
This kit comes with everything included in the Square Stand Station kit, plus a Square Terminal—an all-in-one portable payment device that is ideal for tableside transactions. The total cost of this kit is $1,473.
Unfortunately, although the Square Register is an option for Square POS, it’s not currently compatible with the Square for Restaurants software.
So–whether you’re a restaurant just starting out, or a food-service business looking for a straightforward, customizable restaurant POS system, Square for Restaurants might be the choice for you. Even though the prices of the hardware kits may seem steep, as we mentioned, other than the required iPad, Square allows you to separately purchase the terminals you need. Plus, with a low per month software fee (depending on the plan you choose), the Square for Restaurants POS software is more affordable than many alternatives.
Overall, Square for Restaurants provides you with all of the essential capabilities you need from a restaurant POS and is backed by the intuitive design and approachability that Square is known for.
If you’re looking for the best POS system for restaurants that offer full service, then you’ll likely want a system with both power and mobility, like TouchBistro. With a great variety of hardware options and versatile software equipped to handle any situation, TouchBistro is a worthy option for all kinds of full-service establishments.
Plus, whereas Clover and Square make restaurant versions of their POS systems, TouchBistro has been a restaurant POS system provider from the beginning—meaning it’s first and foremost designed for restauranteurs and their needs. Here is what this restaurant point of sale system offers in terms of software and hardware:
Similar to Square for Restaurants, TouchBistro is designed to run specifically on iOS devices. It is locally installed, meaning it can run directly from your device and does not require hosting. However, if you are operating more than one “terminal” (i.e. iPad), you must download TouchBistro’s Pro Server application, which allows all iPads running TouchBistro to synchronize with each other.
When you run the TouchBistro restaurant POS software, here’s what you can expect:
TouchBistro offers four different pricing plans ranging in cost from $69 per month all the way up to $539 per month. The pricing plan you need will depend on how many different terminals you plan to run the software on.
One of the benefits of TouchBistro, however, is they allow you to include the cost of your hardware in your monthly fees. Therefore, instead of paying a hefty fee at one time for your hardware, you can pay it off month-to-month as you use your system.
As we mentioned, you’ll need an iPad or another iOS device to run the TouchBistro software. However, TouchBistro also sells individual hardware pieces through their website that their restaurant POS software is compatible with. Here are some of your options:
In addition, you can purchase a variety of routers, keyboards, monitors, and ethernet ports through the TouchBistro website. The price of your TouchBistro hardware, however, is quote-based and depends on how many terminals you are using to run your restaurant POS software.
Moreover, unlike Square for Restaurants, TouchBistro doesn’t offer their own payment processing, meaning you’ll need to purchase your credit card terminal through a third-party provider. Your processing rates, then, will be dictated by the processor you choose.
Ultimately, although TouchBistro includes many of the same features in their POS software as Clover and Square for Restaurants, this restaurant POS system can offer more advanced functionality in their inventory and employee management features, making this a well-suited option for full-service restaurants. Plus, with a breadth of hardware choices and unique pricing plans, TouchBistro can accommodate restaurants in terms of budget and flexibility.
If you’re a small or medium-sized establishment that needs a restaurant point of sale system with robust features, a variety of integration options, and an intuitive interface, you might consider Lightspeed Restaurant. With their highly-functional software, selection of hardware, and competitive pricing, there’s no doubt that Lightspeed Restaurant can service a full range of restaurants.
The Lightspeed Restaurant POS software is cloud and web-based, meaning it’s accessible anywhere you have internet access. However, to utilize your own terminal with Lightspeed, you’ll need to run the software on an iPad or iPhone. This being said, to operate one terminal with Lightspeed Restaurant, it will cost $69 per month. This price also includes personalized onboarding, 24/7 support, and free software updates. If you want to run the Lightspeed Restaurant POS on multiple devices, you’ll need to contact Lightspeed for a multi-register quote.
This being said, the Lightspeed software is certainly one of the most feature-rich on the market, with capabilities for:
As we mentioned, Lightspeed Restaurant requires an iOS device to run their software. Lightspeed also gives you the ability to purchase a hardware bundle directly from them, which includes an iPad stand, receipt printer, cash drawer, Liteserver, and kitchen printer. On the whole, Lightspeed offers a variety of different peripherals that you can purchase to use with your iPad POS system as well. Moreover, you may be able to use existing POS hardware with the Lightspeed Restaurant software.
Unfortunately, Lightspeed does not list their hardware prices on their website—so you’ll have to reach out to their sales team directly for pricing information.
Additionally, when it comes to payment processing options, Lightspeed requires that you work with a third-party provider and get your credit card terminal from the processor you choose.
Therefore, with very similar functionality and pricing to TouchBistro, Lightspeed Restaurant is a well-rounded restaurant POS system option, especially for small and medium-sized restaurants. In particular, if you’re looking for tableside ordering, advanced floor plan tools, and significant staff management capabilities, Lightspeed is certainly worth considering.
Thus far, the majority of the restaurant POS systems we’ve discussed have required iPads or other iOS devices to operate their software. If you’re looking for a restaurant POS that doesn’t require an iOS device, however, you might then consider Toast POS. Unlike Square for Restaurants, TouchBistro, and Lightspeed Restaurant, Toast is android-based and runs on a variety of android systems. Despite this major distinction, like their competitors, Toast is a versatile point of sale system that can accommodate all kinds of different restaurant businesses.
For continued access to the Toast POS software, you’ll pay, at minimum a $79 per month fee, which will give you access to the following features:
As we mentioned, one of the distinguishing features of Toast is that their restaurant POS software runs on Android devices. You can purchase Toast hardware individually or as part of a bundle. Although you can use your own compatible hardware with Toast POS, Toast recommends using their hardware to avoid service issues.
This being said, Toast offers countertop terminals, handheld terminals, and kiosk terminals, as well as a customer-facing display terminal and a kitchen display system. Toast also offers a variety of peripherals including routers, mounting hardware, receipt printers, kitchen printers, and barcode scanners. If you choose to purchase a hardware bundle, you can work with Toast to find the specific bundle you need. According to their website, the most popular bundle includes a 10-inch terminal, flip stand, and magnetic card reader. This particular bundle starts at $899. On the whole, however, Toast’s hardware is available largely on a quote-basis.
In terms of payment processing, Toast POS requires that you use Toast as your processor. Unfortunately, Toast does not include their credit card processing fees on their website, only specifying that they offer a simple flat-rate custom-build for your restaurant’s needs.
At the end of the day, although Toast isn’t as upfront with their pricing as many of their competitors, their advanced service offering makes this a restaurant POS system worth considering. Even with their $79 per month software price, Toast includes a wide range of functionality, including workflows for all types of restaurants. Moreover, as a large number of restaurant point of sale systems require an iPad to run their software, Toast is a particularly noteworthy option for business owners who prefer Android devices.
If you’re a restaurant owner on a strict budget, you might be wondering—what about free restaurant POS software? All of the options on our best POS system for restaurants list so far have included a monthly software fee ranging anywhere from $14 per month to $79 per month. Luckily, the last option on our list, Loyverse POS, is a free software designed to serve all different types of food-service businesses.
Although Loyverse is not the most robust POS software option on our list, it is flexible, simple, and offers essential functionality for running a restaurant. Let’s go through the details:
As we’ve said, the Loyverse POS software is free to use and it can be run on both iOS and Android devices. Unlike many of the restaurant POS systems we’ve discussed, Loyverse is not designed solely for restaurants, as it offers features for not only food-based businesses but for retail and service businesses as well. On the whole, however, this restaurant POS software includes:
Loyverse does not offer integrations with any third-party software systems.
Loyverse POS can be operated on iOS or Android devices, including both smartphones and tablets. You can purchase compatible receipt printers, barcode scanners, terminal stands, cash drawers, label printers, as well as an all-in-one POS terminal from Loyverse directly, on a quote-basis, if you so choose. On the other hand, you can also purchase compatible hardware from third-party providers as well.
Moreover, in order to actually process payments with Loyverse, you’ll have to choose between SumUp or Worldpay and receive your credit card terminal from whichever processor you work with.
Therefore, although limited in your payment processing and feature options, Loyverse offers a significant amount of functionality for a free restaurant POS software, especially with their built-in loyalty program, which many other providers charge extra for. Additionally, Loyverse gives you the ability to extend your capabilities with a variety of paid add-ons, allowing you to customize your restaurant POS to what your business specifically needs.
Plus, since Loyverse can run on both Android and iOS devices, this is certainly one of the most flexible options on our list. Ultimately, then, if your restaurant doesn’t require advanced capabilities in a point of sale and instead, you’re looking for an affordable, approachable POS solution with notable flexibility, Loyverse might be the right option for you.
As you can see, whether you’re running a cafe or full-service restaurant, there are several restaurant POS system options worth considering. The best POS system for your restaurant, however, will depend on what exactly your business needs. This being said, with the breadth of software features, hardware options, and pricing plans that the restaurant point of sale systems on our list can offer, we’re sure you’ll be able to find a solution that’s both affordable and capable.
Plus, now that you’ve explored these six solutions with us, you know what to look for in a POS system, and therefore, you’re equipped with all of the information you need to make the right decision for your restaurant.
Maddie Shepherd is a former Fundera senior staff writer and current contributing writer for Fundera.
Maddie has an extensive knowledge of business credit cards, accounting tools, and merchant services, but specializes in small business financing advice. She has reviewed and analyzed dozens of financial tools and providers, helping business owners make better financial decisions.