The 7 Best POS System for Restaurants of 2020

Manage your sales and inventory with one powerful tool

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Fifty-two percent of restaurant owners cite high operating and food costs as challenges to their bottom line, according to Toast's Restaurant Success report. In response, restaurateurs use point of sale (POS) systems to track inventory, process payments, and analyze sales. Moreover, with robust software, restaurant owners can efficiently manage employees, accept online orders, and otherwise try to squeeze every bit of profit from each operating dollar. 

To uncover the best of the best, we researched more than two dozen top POS systems for restaurants. To narrow down our decision, we compared plans, features, and hardware options. Plus, we looked for solutions with extra services and plenty of customer support. Here are our top picks.

The 7 Best POS System for Restaurants of 2020

TouchBistro: Best Overall

TouchBistro

TouchBistro

As an industry leader, TouchBistro provides customizable options with tons of capability.

Pros
  • Only need an iPad to start

  • Software includes inventory management

  • Comprehensive customer support center

Cons
  • Credit card processing fees aren’t listed on site

  • Online ordering is an extra fee

Founded in 2010, TouchBistro supports unlimited users and provides free 24/7 support. It's created specifically for restaurants and is our top choice for best overall POS software for restaurants.

POS software licenses start at $69 a month and include: 

  • Menu and table management
  • Integrated payment processing
  • Cloud-based reporting and analytics
  • Restaurant inventory management 
  • Unlimited logins and users for restaurant management and staff

To get started, you'll only need an iPad. But, you can choose from all types of hardware to fully equip your restaurant. TouchBistro uses POS hardware partners to supply add-ons such as:

  • Self-serve kiosks
  • Kitchen display systems
  • Customer-facing displays
  • Digital menu boards

You'll pay extra fees for payment processing, but you can choose from many companies that partner with TouchBistro to find the best rates for your restaurant. You can also select add-on features like staff management and scheduling, online ordering, reservation systems, and more. 

TouchBistro integrates with many popular programs, including QuickBooks, Sage, and 7Shifts. The company offers a comprehensive customer service lineup, from videos and self-diagnostic tools to 24/7 phone support.

Square: Best Free Option

Square

 Square

A free solution to oversee your eatery and make ordering easy.

Pros
  • Free for unlimited devices and users - Only pay for payment processing.

  • Payment processing included with POS

  • Easy to get started

Cons
  • Free plan doesn’t offer 24/7 support

  • Limited sales analytics

Since 2009, Square has provided free and paid POS options to merchants of all stripes. Its free POS system offers integrated payment processing and can be used on unlimited devices, making it a clear winner for the best free POS software. 

The free plan provides table and menu management, an order manager, and an auto gratuity feature, though you won't get tools like live reporting with the free version. To get advanced services, you can sign up for their $60 a month plan or pay for add-on services like payroll, scheduling, or loyalty systems. Square services integrate with many programs, including: 

  • 7Shifts
  • QuickBooks
  • Xero
  • Chowly

To get started, you'll need an iPad and a Square terminal. The company offers financing options to make paying for equipment easier. Use its online equipment calculator to see the prices and various configurations of dozens of devices and other hardware like:  

  • Restaurant stations
  • Printers
  • Printer-driven cash drawers
  • Terminals
  • WiFi systems

Square doubles as a credit card processor, so you'll pay 2.6% plus $0.10 per credit card transaction. With the free plan, you'll get access to customer service during select business hours.

Upserve: Best for Dine-In Restaurants

Upserve

 Upserve

Optimize your dine-in menu, oversee your marketing, and train employees all from one POS system.

Pros
  • Live mobile app

  • Built-in marketing program

  • Tons of reporting features

Cons
  • Expensive when adding terminals

  • Must manually update menus at different restaurant locations

Upserve got its start in 2009 and stands out as a flexible, restaurant-ready POS software with feature-rich options, including a training mode. Upserve places first in our best for dine-in restaurants category. 

The company offers three plans that come with various features. All programs offer tools such as:

  • Training mode
  • Built-in credit card processing
  • Sales, labor, and product analytics
  • Upserve marketing program
  • Reputation management 
  • Live mobile app

Upserve categorizes its plans as the starter version called the Core plan, the most popular Pro plan, and the Pro Plus enterprise program. All include integrated credit card processing through Upserve Payments. Although the fees vary, you’ll typically pay a flat-rate per transaction of 2.49% plus $0.15. The costs per plan are:

  • Core plan: $59 per month subscription plus $60 per terminal. Includes all features listed above
  • Pro plan: $199 per month plus $50 per terminal. Adds tons of features like menu optimization, server performance, and a loyalty program
  • Pro Plus plan: $359 per month plus $40 per terminal. Adds features such as enterprise management and API data for custom integrations

Upserve offers financing options for its systems and equipment. You can choose from hardware such as:

  • Tableside units
  • POS terminals
  • EMV readers
  • Printers
  • Kitchen display systems
  • Wireless networking

Along with offering extra services for loyalty, inventory, and advanced reporting features, this POS software integrates with many programs such as: 

  • Chowly
  • Hot Schedules
  • Resy
  • OpenTable
  • Grubhub 

You'll get access to 24/7 customer support and a dedicated support channel.

Lightspeed: Best for Carry-Out

LightSpeed

 LightSpeed

Lightspeed offers order flexibility and low-priced add-ons for delivery and loyalty programs.

Pros
  • Robust 24/7 customer support

  • Quick Service Mode

  • Good for carryout

Cons
  • Payment processing is a separate service

  • Extra fees for delivery integration

Founded in 2005, Lightspeed is the oldest POS system on the list and provides versatile carry-out features, which is why it tops our list for best POS systems for carry-out. 

You'll pay $69 per month to get all the standard features, with an extra register costing $34 per month. The highlights for carry-out orders include:

  • You can set different prices and tax rates for carry-out and delivery.
  • There's a map feature to view delivery addresses.
  • Offers two screen views and methods of processing carry-out orders.
  • Quick Service Mode suits a pay-at-order workflow.

The necessary hardware you'll need is a receipt printer, cash drawer, payment terminal, kitchen printer, Lightspeed server, iPad, and stand. However, you'll have tons of options for hardware, from Lightspeed's iPad hardware kit to software and hardware add-ons that start at $12 per month like:

  • Customer-facing displays
  • Kitchen display systems
  • Advanced reporting features
  • Self-order table menus
  • A restaurant website 

Lightspeed provides plenty of integrations for software commonly used by restaurant owners such as:

  • 7Shift
  • BevSpot
  • Chowly
  • RapidBar
  • Zenchef

You can choose your own credit card processing service or add on Lightspeed Payments. For tapped, inserted, or swiped cards you’ll pay 2.6% plus $0.10. If you manually key-in a card you’ll pay 2.6% plus $0.30.

Its robust support options give restaurateurs the support they need with a full lineup of customer service including 24/7 phone or email support, webinars, demos, and videos.

Clover: Best for Food Trucks

LightSpeed

 LightSpeed

Clover delivers space-saving POS equipment perfect for restaurants on the go.

Pros
  • Hand-held POS system

  • Low monthly price

  • Built-in credit card processing

Cons
  • Integrations must go through the Clover app market

  • Not all hardware works with Clover Flex

Since 2010, Clover has provided standalone payment and POS systems while partnering with many outlets, including Sam's Club, to sell hardware. Clover's Flex system puts a POS in the palm of your hand, making it the best choice for food trucks. 

With the Clover Flex all-in-one system, you'll pay $499 for the hardware that includes a held-held device with a five-inch touchscreen, built-in receipt printer, camera, and barcode scanner. It comes with an all-day battery, and Clover offers a convenient three-month payment plan. Then you'll choose from two monthly plans:

  • Register Lite: $9.95 per month plus credit card processing of 2.7% plus $0.10 for in-person transactions and 3.5% plus $0.10 for keyed-in transactions
  • Register: $39.95 per month plus credit card processing of 2.3% plus $0.10 for in-person transactions and 3.5% plus $0.10 for keyed-in transactions

Both the Register Lite and Register monthly plans include features like:

  • Employee and payroll management 
  • Sales, tax, and payroll reports
  • Remote monitoring of activity, sales, and refunds
  • Credit card processing
  • Item-level analytics

If you decide to open a full-service restaurant or need additional equipment, Clover offers a full line of hardware and equipment options, from printers to full-size POS systems. However, not all devices integrate with the Flex system. The company also provides a Clover App Market, where you can find more than 200 apps and integrations.

To get help with your Clover products, the company offers 24/7 phone and email support.

Revel: Best for Bars

Revel

 Revel

An intuitive POS system that integrates with popular bar software.

Pros
  • Integrates with bar and management software

  • Offers an age prompt feature

  • 24/7 customer support

Cons
  • Credit card processing is an extra service

  • Three-year contract required for best price

Revel's been a top choice for restaurant and bar owners since 2010. The software provides bar-specific features, making Revel the best POS system for bars. 

You'll pay $99 per month per terminal when billed annually with a three-year Revel Advantage contract. You'll get great tools for bars like age prompts and pre-authorized payments. Other POS features include: 

  • Inventory management
  • Unlimited users
  • Employee management
  • Customer relationship management
  • Reporting and analytics

The cloud-based POS system offers tons of equipment options on their website like: 

  • iPads and stands
  • Self-service kiosks
  • Payment devices
  • Printers
  • Barcode scanners
  • Internet networking equipment
  • Cash drawers

You can add integrated payment processing for a fee per transaction, using Revel Advantage. The fees are not posted online. You must request a quote.

With Revel, you'll also benefit from bar-based and business integrations such as: 

  • Digital Pour
  • Vines OS
  • Beer Saver
  • 7Shifts
  • Hot Schedules

And with 24/7 phone and online support, including help with setup, you can quickly add a Revel POS system to your bar.

Toast: Best for Loyalty Features

Toast

 Toast

A capable POS system with an available feature-rich loyalty program.

Pros
  • Guest feedback management program

  • Built-in credit card processing

  • Intuitive, easy-to-use, loyalty program

Cons
  • No fees listed for optional services

  • Only Growth plan comes standard with its loyalty program

Founded in 2011, Toast is a well-known name in the industry. Along with POS services, Toast offers a robust loyalty program, making it the best POS software for loyalty features.

Select the $189 per month Growth plan to get the loyalty program as part of your package. If you opt for the $69 per month Starter plan or $99 per month Essential configuration, you’ll pay an extra fee per month to add the loyalty program. All three programs provide: 

  • Order, table, and menu management
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Guest feedback
  • Payment processing services

The Essential plan adds online delivery and ordering and a Toast takeout app. You'll get gift card, marketing, and loyalty programs integrated into the Growth plan. The customizable, point-based loyalty program offers easy check-out opt-in, and accounts are linked to restaurant guests' credit cards. 

When it comes to payment processing, Toast says, “Our team of dedicated payment experts will create a rate for you based on your unique card mix,” which is a great way to get a custom solution for merchant services. However, Toast’s online payment rates are higher than other processing companies.

For hardware, Toast has a variety of products and bundles to fit your needs. One starter bundle comes with a Toast Flex system, POS and credit processing software, Toast Tap, and a router. They ask that you schedule a demo before seeing the price. You can also buy extra equipment like:

  • Guest-facing displays
  • Toast Go handheld
  • Toast Flex for kitchens
  • Kiosks
  • Printers
  • Cash drawers
  • EMV card readers
  • Barcode scanners

Toast also integrates with most restaurant software, including 7Shifts, Chowly, and BevSpot. And for service, you can reach out for help via phone, email, chat, or submit a ticket on their site.

How Does a POS System Help Restaurant Owners?

On a basic level, a POS system captures transaction data to maintain inventory and revenue numbers in real-time. But, excellent POS systems deliver this information to your smartphone or home devices, so you can track action even if you're not at work. 

You can use your POS to simplify restaurant processes, from order entry to payment, while reducing errors. And with impressive reporting features, restaurant owners use the data to make informed decisions about staffing, inventory, and menu changes. 

What Does a POS System Include?

You can turn an iPad into a POS with cloud software. However, most restaurants use a complete system that connects your POS to one or more kitchen and bar printers. Along with the software, you'll want a device for your office, like a desktop, printers at each server station or cash register, and printer units in the kitchen. For credit card processing, you'll add an EMV card reader near registers, as well. 

What Are the Types of POS?

Your POS software works on many devices, making it easy to customize your hardware to what your store needs. For example, food trucks appreciate handheld options, while quick-service restaurants may want self-service kiosks. 

However, for the majority of POS systems, you can simply hook up your iPad and create a POS anywhere. A typical restaurant may use a POS with a register for carry-out and delivery orders while providing servers with a standalone POS system or iPad-connected system for inputting orders. 

What Are the Expected Costs of a POS System for Restaurants?

Whether you're using an iPad or a POS terminal, the initial equipment costs can get pricey. Since most restaurants also need multiple printers for the back of house and front of house services, you'll need to figure in the prices for these as well. Fortunately, most POS providers offer financing or payment plans to manage your initial costs. Monthly costs and fees ranges include: 

  • Monthly POS software costs: Free to $359+ per month
  • Credit card processing expenses: 2.49% to 3.89% plus $0 to $0.15 per transaction
  • Extra services: $12 to $50 per extra service, like payment processing or payroll, per month

How We Chose the Best POS Systems for Restaurants

After looking over more than two dozen POS systems, these seven made our list as the best POS systems for restaurants. We reviewed individual plans, features, and hardware to assess overall costs. Then we figured in various add-on services and integrations specific to certain categories such as loyalty or bar features. Of course, customer support is vital for restaurant owners, so we ensured that each of our top picks provided top-notch support.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Toast. "Restaurant Success Industry Report." Accessed November 13, 2020.