Point of Sale
The core of our all-in-one restaurant management system
From food trucks to FSRs, get the POS built for restaurants.
By Katherine Pendrill
If you’re in the market for a new POS, you’ve probably discovered that finding reliable information on the best restaurant POS systems can be tricky.
Not only are there dozens of different providers to choose from, but each one has a unique set of features, tools, and services to offer – it’s enough information to make anyone’s head spin. And if you’re a restaurateur, you don’t have the time to scour through company websites and online reviews just to find the information you need.
To help you cut through the noise and make shopping for a new POS a little less painful, we’ve put together an ultimate guide to the best restaurant POS systems. With in-depth reviews of all the top POS providers (including our own), this guide will help you narrow down the best restaurant POS for your specific business.
In each review, you’ll find:
We know that no restaurant POS system is a one-size-fits-all solution, and you need all the information you can get in order to make an informed decision. We hope that with this guide to the best restaurant POS systems, you’ll find the answers to all your burning questions (and then some).
Compare the top restaurant POS systems on features, pricing, payments, and more.
TouchBistro is an award-winning iPad POS system and integrated payment processing solution built for restaurant people, by restaurant people. Used in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, and over 100 other countries, TouchBistro is one of the best restaurant POS systems for independent restaurants. It has even been featured as Gordon Ramsay’s POS system of choice on the hit show Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.
TouchBistro’s strengths include:
There are also some drawbacks to TouchBistro, including:
Unlike some of the other POS providers on the market, TouchBistro offers more flexibility when it comes to payment processing. TouchBistro partners with a number of other payment partners, like TSYS and Moneris in Canada, Barclaycard in the U.K., and EVO in Mexico. This means you have a bit more freedom to go with the payment processing solution that fits your business model or your location-specific needs.
In addition to partnerships with third-party payment processors, TouchBistro also offers an integrated payments solution. In the U.S., customers can use TouchBistro Payments powered by Chase, which is an in-house, integrated payment processing solution. Unlike many other payment processors, TouchBistro Payments uses a cost plus pricing model. With a cost plus pricing model, factors such as the type of card a customer pays with, processing volume, and risk criteria are taken into consideration. This means you pay a custom rate for each transaction, instead of a flat rate for all transactions. The result? You get a more competitive rate than you would with fixed rate pricing.
Not only are TouchBistro’s payment processing fees competitive, but so are its monthly software fees. TouchBistro’s software starts at $69 per month for a single license, and its pricing is tiered so the cost decreases for each additional license you add. With each package, you get all of TouchBistro’s core POS features, cloud-based POS reports and analytics, 24/7/365 support, and unlimited users and logins for your staff and management.
Like other POS systems, you’ll also have to factor in additional costs to use TouchBistro such as installation, hardware, and payment processing fees (if you’re using integrated payments). Because TouchBistro is an iPad-based POS system, you may be able to save on some POS hardware costs by reusing your current iPad tablets (as long as it’s a compatible generation). TouchBistro also gives you the option to split the cost of your POS tablets over 24 months, which is a great alternative if you don’t want to purchase your iPads outright.
With all the POS features you need to run a restaurant, TouchBistro is a great all-around solution for independent restaurants big and small. And with in-house technology like self-serve kiosks and integrated reservations, TouchBistro is one of the best restaurant POS systems for both QSRs and FSRs.
Though TouchBistro can easily support larger restaurants, it’s not equipped with the kind of enterprise-level capabilities required to support nation-wide, multi-unit chains. For restaurants with these kinds of complex needs, a more bespoke POS solution with multi-unit reporting capabilities would be a better fit.
Want to see TouchBistro in action?
Toast is one of the top cloud-based POS systems for restaurants in the U.S. Unlike some of the other POS systems on the market, Toast runs on an Android operating system and uses proprietary tablets as its POS terminals. Beyond its core POS system, Toast also offers an integrated payments solution so you can manage everything in one platform.
Toast’s strengths include:
Drawbacks to the Toast POS system include:
Toast offers integrated payments with all of its POS packages, making it a one-stop-shop for your POS and payment processing needs. However, it’s important to note that Toast is not compatible with other payment processors, and you’re required to sign a multi-year contract. For many restaurants, this can be a big commitment to make upfront – especially if your business is relatively new.
It’s also important to know that Toast’s processing fees are structured according to a fixed rate pricing model. This means that Toast charges your restaurant a fixed rate regardless of card type, processing volume, and other factors. In other words, it doesn’t matter if your customers are using low-cost cards like debit cards or credit cards, you pay the same fee per transaction regardless.
On the plus side, this pricing structure makes your payment processing fees more predictable and easier to budget. However, it also means you pay more because the rates are priced higher than that of other payment processors to cover the fluctuating interchange fees associated with the type of card and type of payment.
When compared to other cloud-based restaurant POS systems, Toast’s monthly software fees are in line with most other providers. Though Toast does have a basic subscription that starts at $0 per month, this package is primarily designed for food trucks and cafes because it includes very limited features. Toast’s more complete offering is its Essentials package, which starts at $165 per month and is best suited for restaurants.
While Toast’s monthly software fees are reasonable, they aren’t the only costs to take into account. Remember that you’re also obligated to use Toast as your payment processor, which comes with its own set of fees. Additionally, you also need to purchase Toast’s proprietary hardware in order to use the POS – something that you might not need to do if you switch from one restaurant iPad POS system to another.
With its robust features and numerous third-party integrations, there’s no doubt that Toast is a well-equipped restaurant POS. The system is especially well suited to enterprise-level restaurants with multiple units that need the kind of bespoke POS solution that Android technology can support.
However, Toast is less suited to independent restaurants due to its entirely cloud-based system, which can result in major service interruptions when the WiFi connection is down. Toast’s high payment processing fees and long-term contracts can also be a challenge for smaller restaurants with thinner profit margins and tighter budgets.
Wondering how Toast compares to TouchBistro?
Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Toast
Square for Restaurants is restaurant-specific software from the popular mobile payment company Square. Like the company’s other products, Square for Restaurants is designed for simplicity, combining an iOS-based POS system with Square’s signature payment processing services. Though Square itself is available in many countries, Square for Restaurants is only available in the U.S. and Canada.
Square’s main strengths include:
Some of the drawbacks to Square for Restaurants include:
When you sign up for Square for Restaurants, you also sign up with Square as your payment processor. Square is an aggregator, which means it charges higher payment processing fees because it assumes liability for its merchant base.
In other words, the fees are structured according to a fixed rate pricing model so you have to pay the same rate for every transaction, even if your customers are using low-cost cards like debit cards or credit cards. For restaurants that process high ticket items or do a lot of processing volume, this means that you will probably be paying higher fees than necessary.
Pricing is one area where Square for Restaurant shines. Unlike most of the top restaurant POS systems, Square actually offers a free version of its software with no monthly charges. However, the free version of Square for Restaurants has very limited capabilities and you still need to pay for the necessary hardware and Square’s payment processing services in order to use the system.
A more comparable offering is Square’s Plus package, which costs $60 per month per location, and $40 per month per added device. This package comes with all of Square’s core POS features, full reporting, and 24/7 support. Though you still need to account for the cost of hardware and Square’s payment processing fees, Square for Restaurant is one of the most affordable POS programs for restaurants.
With its affordable monthly software fees and easy iPad setup, Square for Restaurants is one of the best restaurant POS systems for new food service venues that are looking to get up and running very quickly. Its simple and streamlined design also makes it a great option for restaurants that process lower ticket items or process a lower volume, such as cafes and food trucks.
However, Square for Restaurants has much more limited capabilities than other restaurant POS systems. For many FSRs and QSRs – especially those that plan to scale – this means that Square for Restaurants’ POS and reporting features may not be robust enough to support their busy operations.
Wondering how Square for Restaurants compares to TouchBistro?
Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Square for Restaurants
Revel is an iPad-based POS system that’s used across North America, and in a number of countries in Europe and Asia. Revel is best known for its robust POS features and its enterprise-level capabilities. The POS system is particularly popular among major multi-unit QSR chains in the U.S.
Revel’s strengths include:
See how TouchBistro stacks up
Some drawbacks to the Revel POS system include:
As mentioned, Revel does support some other payment processing partners in addition to its in-house payment processor, Revel Advantage.
Revel Advantage is structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means that you pay 2.49%, plus $0.15 per transaction – regardless of what type of card is used. On the one hand, a fixed rate pricing model means that your payment processing rates will be more predictable and easier to budget. The tradeoff is that you pay more on a per-transaction basis than other pricing models.
At $99 per month for one terminal, Revel’s monthly software fees are higher than many other POS programs for restaurants. However, this higher cost does mean you get a bit more bang for your buck as all of Revel’s plans come with a robust suite of POS features, reporting and analytics, 24/7 support, and personalized onboarding.
Beyond its monthly software fees, it’s also important to account for the other costs of using Revel’s POS system, including installation fees, hardware, and the payment processing fees for Revel Advantage. While you may be able to offset some hardware fees if you’re switching from another iPad-based POS system, Revel is still one of the priciest restaurant POS systems out there.
With some of the most robust and customizable POS features out there, Revel is an excellent option for multi-unit establishments, especially major QSR chains. Unlike other POS providers, Revel offers enterprise-level capabilities such as an extensive third-party partner network, an open API, standardized hardware bundles, and even consultative services.
Of course, not every restaurant needs the kind of bespoke POS system that Revel provides. For independent restaurants with one or just a few locations, the price of Revel’s POS system may be too steep for features that can’t or won’t be used.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece mentioned that all customers are required to sign up for Revel Advantage. This piece has been updated to clarify that not all customers are required to sign a 3-year contract for Revel Advantage.
Wondering how Revel compares to TouchBistro?
Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Revel
Clover POS is a cloud-based POS system that runs on an Android operating system and proprietary hardware. Unlike other restaurant POS systems, the Clover system is made up of a series of apps that can be downloaded to meet the needs of restaurants, retailers, and other small businesses.
Clover’s strengths include:
Weaknesses of the Clover POS system include:
As mentioned, Fiserv is the only integrated payments solution that you can use with a Clover system. This means you don’t have the option to shop around for other payment processors with better rates unless you want to use an unintegrated solution – a situation that is less than ideal for restaurants.
Fiserv’s fees are structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means you pay a fixed rate per transaction regardless of card type, processing volume, and other factors. The benefit to this model is that your rates are predictable, but the downside is that you pay more than you would with a cost plus pricing model.
Depending on the type of restaurant you operate, Clover can be a highly affordable POS solution. The company’s Counter-Service Restaurants package starts at just $39.95 per month for two systems, while its Table-Service Restaurant package starts at $69.95 per month.
In addition to Clover’s monthly software fees, it’s also important to factor in the cost of hardware. Clover uses proprietary Android hardware, which means that you need to invest in Clover’s hardware upfront in order to use the system. For restaurants that are currently using Apple hardware, this is a major consideration.
With its unique app ecosystem, Clover is one of the most flexible and versatile restaurant POS systems. The unique set up allows restaurants to pick and choose from a wide variety of apps, including extensive retail and ecommerce functions. As a result, Clover is well suited to restaurants that focus more on retail sales, and less on dine-in service.
While Clover’s app-based system is perfect for unique restaurant concepts looking for a bespoke POS solution, it’s less useful for more traditional restaurants. QSRs and FSRs may find that many of Clover’s apps lack the robust capabilities of the core features found on other restaurant POS systems. As a result, these kinds of venues may quickly outgrow their Clover POS.
Wondering how Clover compares to TouchBistro?
Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Clover
Lightspeed is a popular all-in-one iPad-based POS system that’s used across Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. Unlike some other POS systems on the market, Lightspeed sells POS systems for retail and golf courses, in addition to restaurants.
Lightspeed’s strengths include:
Wondering how TouchBistro stacks up against the competition?
Lightspeed’s weaknesses include:
Lightspeed stands out from some of the other restaurant POS providers in that the company gives you the freedom to use third-party payment processors. This flexibility can be beneficial to restaurateurs who may want to shop around for the best payment processing rates for their particular business.
Lightspeed also offers its own integrated payment processing solution, which is powered by the global payments platform Stripe. Lightspeed Payments is structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means that you pay a fixed rate regardless of card type, processing volume, and other factors. While these rates are predictable, the tradeoff is that you end up paying more on a per-transaction basis than you would with cost plus pricing. This is an important consideration for restaurateurs because it could mean that you pay more in payment processing fees than necessary if your customers are mainly using low-cost cards.
When it comes to POS software, Lightspeed’s monthly fees are in line with many other restaurant POS systems. Lightspeed’s software starts at $69 per month for one terminal and each additional terminal is an extra $45 per month. The basic plan includes Lightspeed’s core POS software, personalized onboarding, basic reporting, free updates, and 24/7 support.
If you’re just using Lightspeed’s core POS features, the system is fairly reasonable. However, if you need a lot of different add-on solutions like loyalty, self-serve kiosks, a kitchen order system, and customer facing displays, your monthly fees can quickly add up. Not to mention, if you use Lightspeed Payments, you’ll also have to factor in the costs of fixed rate payment processing fees, which may be on the high end compared to other payment processors.
With expertise in POS solutions for retail businesses and ecommerce, Lightspeed is an excellent solution for restaurants that also include a retail component, such as breweries with bottle shops, or cafes that also sell groceries. Lightspeed not only offers in-house solutions for these unique restaurant concepts, but it also offers dozens of third-party integrations that allow you to create a bespoke POS solution for your business.
However, for more traditional FSRs and QSRs, Lightspeed may not be the ideal solution. Lightspeed lacks some crucial in-house solutions that many restaurants rely on for day-to-day operations, such as robust inventory management features. Additionally, Lightspeed lacks some valuable add-on features, such as in-house reservations, which are important to today’s independent restaurants – especially in the wake of COVID-19.
Wondering how Lightspeed compares to TouchBistro?
Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Lightspeed
NOTE: Upserve was acquired by Lightspeed on December 1, 2020.
Upserve, formerly known as Breadcrumb, is an all-in-one restaurant management and payment processing solution for restaurants in the U.S. Upserve works on both iOS and Android systems, making it one of the more versatile POS systems on the market. Upserve is also well known for its in-depth reporting functions and custom analytics.
Upserve’s biggests strengths include:
Some drawbacks to Upserve include:
Like many of the best restaurant POS systems on the market, Upserve offers its own integrated payments solution called Upserve Payments. This EMV solution is billed as quick to set up, easy to use, and built for modern restaurants. However, it’s worth noting that Upserve Payments is structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means that you pay a fixed rate for each transaction, regardless of card type and other factors. Though this makes your payment processing fees very predictable, the downside is that you might end up paying more in fees than necessary if your customers are mainly using low-cost cards.
If you choose not to use Upserve’s integrated payment processing solution, you do have the option to use a third-party processor. But, as mentioned above, you need to be prepared to pay a $99 per month gateway fee just to use your preferred payment processor.
When it comes to pricing, Upserve’s Core package is highly affordable at $59 per month, plus $60 per terminal per month. The drawback to this attractive pricing is that you don’t get to enjoy all of Upserve’s great POS features. For instance, menu optimization, server performance, inventory management, and online ordering are all unavailable with Upserve’s Core offering.
If you opt for Upserve’s Pro or Pro Plus subscriptions, you get to enjoy a more full range of features. However, the Pro and Pro Plus plans come with steep fees, making Upserve one of the pricier POS systems for restaurants. And keep in mind that even with the Pro and Pro Plus plans, you’ll still have to factor in the monthly cost of certain add-on features, such as gift cards.
With some of the most robust reporting features on the market, there’s no question that Upserve is a great restaurant POS option. The platform’s custom analytics, lengthy list of third-party integrations, open API, and multi-location management features make it especially well suited to enterprise-level FSRs in need of a custom solution.
Of course, Upserve is missing some important features, such as self-serve kiosks and integrated reservations software, which make the POS system less suited to the needs of independent FSRs and QSRs. Not to mention, Upserve’s Pro and Pro Plus plans are on the pricier side, which may make the system too expensive for some independent operators working with tight budgets.
Wondering how Upserve compares to TouchBistro?
Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Upserve
Lavu is an iPad-based POS and payment processing system used by restaurants in more than 90 different countries worldwide. Founded in 2010, Lavu has more than 10 years of experience providing restaurant management solutions and boasts more than 300 features and add-on solutions.
Lavu’s major strengths include:
Drawbacks to Lavu’s restaurant POS system include:
As mentioned above, Lavu sets itself apart from many other POS programs for restaurants by offering a lot of flexibility when it comes to payment processing. Lavu customers can use the company’s in-house payments solution, LavuPay, or choose from a number of other integrated payment processing partners. This type of flexibility is beneficial for restaurateurs because it means you can compare payment processing rates and choose the most cost-effective option for your specific venue.
If you do choose to use LavuPay, it’s important to note that this integrated payment processing solution is structured according to a fixed rate pricing model. Fixed rate pricing tends to be more expensive than cost plus pricing because payment processors set their rates higher to cover the cost of different types of cards. If you know your customers tend to use low-cost cards, it might be cheaper to go with one of Lavu’s other payment processing partners over LavuPay.
When it comes to pricing, Lavu’s software starts at a very reasonable $69 USD per month for a single POS terminal. For this price, you get all of Lavu’s core POS features, including 24/7 support, and real-time sales and labor reporting. If you need more than one terminal, you will need to contact Lavu directly as the company does not publicly disclose the price of its multi-terminal or enterprise plans.
With an extensive list of features, numerous third-party integration partners, and flexible payment processing options, Lavu is a great POS option for many restaurants. Lavu is particularly well suited to venues such as pizzerias, ice cream shops, breweries, and wineries because of its highly specialized solutions for niche restaurant concepts.
While Lavu excels when it comes to creating features for very specific restaurant concepts like pizzerias, this “do it all” approach means that some of Lavu’s core POS features are lacking. Instead of focusing on the quality of its core POS features, Lavu seems to prioritize quantity. For many busy QSRs and FSRs, this means that Lavu’s core POS features may not be robust enough to keep up with the demands of day-to-day operations.
Wondering how Lavu compares to TouchBistro?
Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Lavu
Epos Now is a cloud-based software provider that specializes in POS systems for retail and hospitality businesses. The company is based in the U.K., however, it has since expanded its availability to North America, Australia, and New Zealand.
Epos Now’s strengths include:
Some of the drawbacks of using Epos Now include:
Unlike some of the major POS providers on the market, Epos Now gives customers the flexibility to choose between several integrated payment processing partners or building a custom payments integration using the company’s API. This is beneficial for restaurateurs that want to shop around and make sure they choose the payment processing partner that offers the best rate for their particular restaurant.
However, it’s important to note if you choose to use a payment processor that’s not integrated with Epos Now, you’ll have to carry out all credit card transactions separately and enter the amounts from each transaction manually into the POS system. For any restaurant that processes a high volume of transactions, this is a major consideration because manually entering each transaction is not only time consuming, but also carried with the risk of costly data entry errors.
As mentioned already, Epos Now bills itself as one of the most affordable POS systems out there. And if you need a bare-bones POS solution and basic hardware, Epos Now is indeed a budget-friendly option.
But while Epos Now’s monthly software fees may be on the low end, there are other fees to account for. For instance, Epos Now’s software subscriptions do not include technical support, so you have to factor in the added cost of an annual support package. There are also other hidden fees to consider with Epos Now, such as the cost to upload a spreadsheet to the system, and extra fees if you don’t integrate your POS with one of Epos Now’s payment processors within 60 days – all of which can add up to make Epos Now a much more expensive option than it initially seems.
Based on its affordable pricing, flexible hardware options, and uncomplicated POS features, it’s clear that Epos Now is a good option for small-scale foodservice businesses with relatively straightforward needs. For instance, businesses such as ice cream shops, juice bars, and coffee carts would benefit from a system like Epos Now because it covers all the basics, and won’t weigh you down with unnecessary features or price add-ons.
However, if you need to carry out anything more than basic POS functions, you’ll likely find Epos Now inadequate. Epos Now was not originally created for hospitality businesses and many of its restaurant POS features are still limited. Not to mention, Epos Now also doesn’t offer any in-house solutions for add-ons like loyalty or reservations that can help your restaurant scale. For many QSRs and FSRs, a system like Epos Now is likely not robust enough to support a growing restaurant business.
Wondering how Epos Now compares to TouchBistro?
Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Epos Now
If there’s one key takeaway from this ultimate guide to the best restaurant POS systems, it’s that no two providers are the same. Each restaurant has its own unique set of needs and POS providers have developed different features, tools, and services to meet those needs. In short, the best restaurant POS for your restaurant will depend on your size, location, type of restaurant, and a wide variety of other factors. But armed with the information in this guide, you should be one step closer to finding the perfect POS fit for your business.
Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.
By Korry D.
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