The 6 Best POS Systems for US Businesses

Cashier in a bakery processing payment with a POS system with shelves of fresh bread in the background

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Modern POS systems aren’t just for taking payments, they’re a digital hub where you can track inventory, orders, and staff shifts, as well as access reports. In 2024, restaurant and retail POS systems will often come with built-in marketing and loyalty tools, for instance, while bar POS systems will usually contain better tab management and dynamic pricing features.

Coupling a free software plan, sleek hardware, and features to meet the needs of a wide range of businesses, Square is the best POS system we’ve tested. That said, it might not be perfect for every business, which is why we’ve included five other research-backed picks in our list.

Whether you’re getting a POS system for the first time, or looking to switch from your current provider, we’re confident your perfect system is somewhere on this page.

What are the top 6 POS systems?

  1. Square – Best for scaling and growing your business
  2. Toast – Best for established restaurants with complex operations
  3. Clover – Best for professional hardware
  4. SpotOn – Best for simplifying staff scheduling and communication
  5. Lightspeed – Best in driving repeat business and loyalty
  6. Shopify – Best for managing in-store and online sales

These are the providers we recommend based on our research. Click on any of the links above to use our cost comparison tool, and find the best POS system for your business.

Why you can trust our recommendations?

Here at Expert Market, we’ve been researching and testing POS systems for nearly 15 years, in order to provide businesses with up-to-date, impartial reviews. During our most recent research project, we took a closer look at 20 top POS systems available in the US.

This project has involved getting hands-on with both POS hardware and software providers and assessing their range of features, as well as how easy they are to use. We then used the results from these assessments to grade the providers against a range of criteria, including value for money and hardware quality. Find out more in our methodology section.

Best POS Systems for 2024: Comparison Table

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

Toast

Clover

SpotOn

Lightspeed

4.8
4.8
4.7
4.7
4.5
4.5
Price
Price
  • Starter Kit: $0/month
  • Point of Sale: $69/month
  • Build Your Own: custom
Price

From $14.95/month

Price

From $0/month

Price

From $69/month

Price

$89/month/location + Shopify online store ($39-$399/month)

Best For

Best for scaling and growing your business

Best For

Established restaurants with complex operations

Best For

Best for professional hardware

Best For

Simplifying staff scheduling

Best For

Driving repeat business and loyalty

Best For

Best for managing in-store and online sales

Pros
  • Free POS software
  • Affordable paid plans
  • Cheap hardware
Pros
  • Designed for the hospitality industry
  • Stock and profit management tools
  • Ingredient usage tracking
Pros
  • Handheld POS system
  • Easy to use
  • Offline mode
Pros
  • Free software and hardware package
  • Native app for staff scheduling and payroll
  • Automated tip sharing
Pros
  • Advanced inventory management
  • Gift cards and loyalty programs
  • SMS & email marketing
Pros
  • Powerful platform ideal for any-sized retail store
  • Affordable hardware options
Cons
  • No advanced cost vs profit management tools
Cons
  • Best features comes as paid add-ons
Cons
  • Hardware is expensive
Cons
  • Limited range of hardware
Cons
  • Only available through iPad or Android app
Cons
  • Requires you to sell through and pay monthly fees for your own Shopify store

Prices correct as of June 2024.

1. Square: Best for Scaling and Growing Your Business

Square
4.8
Pricing From $0/month
Suitable for

Businesses seeking a low-risk option (zero-contract)

Small to medium-sized businesses with 1-3 locations

Businesses that want to integrate an online store

Not suitable for

Businesses that require cost and profit management tools

Restaurants who need to track ingredient usage

Businesses that want low processing fees

Pricing
Item typePrice
POS software $0-$89/month
Card processing fees 2.6% + 10¢ to 3.5% + 15¢
Card machines $49-$299
iPad stand (iPad not included) $149
Countertop kits and terminals $579-$1,389
KDS $20/month/device

Why we like it

Square is the best POS system for businesses looking to scale and grow, thanks to its affordable price point, advanced features, and range of POS solutions designed to suit different types of businesses.

Square has three POS systems, one for restaurants, one for retail stores, and one for appointment-based businesses like salons. This makes it one of the most versatile providers, matched only by Clover.

Whatever POS solution you choose, you’ll be able to start on a free software plan, which is a great value option for small businesses, or ones just starting out. Square’s free retail POS software comes with multi-site stock and employee management, and customizable gift card creation, while its free restaurant software comes with menu and table management.

As your business grows, you can upgrade your Square plan, for a monthly fee of $20 to $89, depending on the solution you choose. This gives you access to more advanced features. For example, Square’s paid plan for retail businesses, which starts at $89 per month, per location, gives you access to more advanced inventory and reporting tools.

Square isn’t perfect, however. It’s missing advanced cost and profit management tools, available at competitors like Lightspeed Restaurant and Shopify, and doesn’t support ingredient tracking, unlike Clover. Its card processing fees, starting at 2.6% + 10¢ are also on the high side (you can get significantly lower ones with SpotOn or Clover).

screenshot of item listing in Square POS app
Listing an item in Square is pretty straightforward. You enter a type, name, and description, and select at what location it's sold. Source: Expert Market

How easy is it to use?

We found Square generally very easy to use. The backend was quite intuitive, and we had no trouble creating menus or listing items. We did struggle a little with more complex tasks like applying discounts to an order, or splitting a bill.

Who’s Square for?

Square’s free plan is good for small, single-location businesses, such as cafes, independent boutiques, or salons.

The paid plans will suit businesses with up to three locations, such as budding chain restaurants. Businesses with more than three locations might find Square’s reporting tools a little limiting, as they aren’t designed to handle very large operations, unless you opt for a custom plan.

Did You Know?

You can build a free online store with Square, and integrate it with your POS system. This makes it easy to keep track of profit made from both in-person and online orders. Square’s online store is one of the best ecommerce platforms for small US businesses.

Get free quotes and save on your POS system today

2. Toast: Best for Established Restaurants with Complex Operations

Toast
4.8
Pricing From $0/month
Suitable for

Medium to large restaurant establishments

Restaurants with complex and large inventories

Businesses looking to build a customer community

Not suitable for

Businesses that have iPads and require an iOS solution

Small cafes or restaurants with simple inventories

Owners who want a knowledge center for support

Pricing
Solution typePrice
Starter Kit Plan (includes basic terminal) $0/month
Point of Sale Plan (includes custom hardware options) $69/month
Build Your Own Plan (includes custom hardware options) Custom
Card processing fees 2.49% + 15¢-2.99% + 15¢

Why we like it

Toast is the best POS system for established restaurants with complex operations, whose owners are looking to optimize efficiency. It offers a large array of inventory and profit management tools, as well as some neat customer engagement features.

The provider specializes in creating POS systems for the food service industry, so all its features are specifically designed to meet of restaurants of various sizes.

You’ll get the most out of Toast by opting for one of its many add-on features, which, unfortunately, do come at an extra cost. The one that most impressed us was the inventory management add-on, which give you access to food and recipe cost management, as well as low stock alerts.

Our main issue with Toast is that a lot of its best features aren’t included in its basic software packages (you even have to pay extra for tip management), and Toast doesn’t even tell you how much each add-on costs. If clear pricing is what you need, Square is extremely transparent with its add-on costs

Screenshot of Toast POS backend management
When you arrive on the homescreen in Toast's backend, you'll see an overview of the day's sales and order history. Source: Expert Market

How easy is it to use?

Toast was easy to use, especially when completing basic tasks such as creating floorplans and menus. We even had little trouble with more complex tasks like splitting bills and applying discounts. The main action we found difficult was setting up tip sharing policies for employees.

Who is Toast for?

Toast is best suited to well-established restaurants that either have one large capacity location or several locations. You’ll benefit the most from its advanced management tools.

It’s not, however, a good option for small or new restaurants, who’ll do better with a simple solution like Square.

Get free quotes and save on your POS system today

3. Clover: Best for Professional Hardware

clover logo
Clover
4.7
Pricing From $14.95/month
Suitable for

Busy establishments experiencing rapid growth

Businesses who want to deep dive into their analytics

Owners who want cheap processing fees

Not suitable for

Small pop ups or establishments with small inventories

Owners who want to avoid hefty upfront costs

Users who want automated tip sharing tools

Pricing
Item typePrice
POS Software (including basic hardware) $14.95/month to $4,097+ $129.85/month
Countertop terminals (included in some software plans) $799-$1,999
Card machines (included in some software plans) $49-$599
KDS $799-$899 + $25/month/device
Card processing fees 2.3% + 10¢ to 3.5% + 10¢

Why we like it

Clover is the best POS system for businesses that need top-range, professional hardware that can handle fast-paced environments. Like Square, the provider offers POS systems for a variety of businesses, from retail, to restaurants, to personal services, making it a versatile choice.

Where it really shines is its extensive hardware offering. Its most popular item is the Clover Station Pro, a countertop kit with an employee and customer-facing screen, and a card machine. It’s a touchscreen device with a fingerprint login, so employees can quickly log on, and not waste customers’ time entering in a password.

Picture of Clover's terminal, set to home screen
Here’s what one of Clover’s terminals looks like when you first open it up. In the top right corner you can see a camera and a finger-pad for logging in. Source: Expert Market

The Clover POS system’s software capabilities are pretty great too. You’ll be able to track inventory, profits, and employee performance across multiple locations, and access advanced tools such as advanced features such as stock alerts and profit tracking. On top of that, the Clover system was one of the most intuitive ones we tested, an advantage if you need to train multiple employees.

Where Clover fumbles is mainly in the price. You’ll pay a premium for great hardware, with Clover’s handheld POS device costing $599, $200 to $300 to more than what you’d pay for the equivalent at SpotOn, Square, or Shopify. For fussy restaurant owners, you might not like that Clover’s food service POS doesn’t have automated tip sharing, unlike Toast.

How easy is it to use?

Clover was very easy to use. No task was particularly difficult, from creating floorplans to categorizing items. The only thing that was slightly more challenging was printing receipt for a split bill.

Who is Clover for?

We recommend Clover’s POS system to establishments with multiple locations and several staff members. Its advanced features and easy-to-use platform make it especially well-suited to fast-paced restaurants.

It’s also good solution for retail stores, although we’d say it’s slightly more catered to food and beverage businesses, thanks to extra features such as QR code ordering.

4. SpotOn: Best for Simplifying Staff Scheduling and Communication

SpotOn
4.7
Pricing From $0/month (excl. processing fees)
Suitable for

Businesses seeking a low-risk option

Restaurant owners who need seamless staff management

Small to mid-sized restaurants with 1-3 locations

Not suitable for

Restaurants that change their floor plan frequently

Businesses that want to purchase additional accessories

Restaurants owners who want a tablet-based system

Pricing
Solution typePrice
Quick Start plan (includes hardware) $0/month (excl. processing fees)
Counter-service plan (includes hardware) $99/month +$3 per employee/month
Full-service plan (includes hardware) $135/month +$3 per employee/month
Customize Your Own plan Custom
Card processing fees 1.99% + 25¢-2.89% + 25¢

Why we like it

SpotOn is the best POS system for businesses looking to simplify their staff scheduling.

The provider offers two types of POS, one for retail, and one for restaurants. However, we rate SpotOn’s restaurant POS system much higher than we do its retail one, so that’s what we’ll be focusing on here.

The system comes with the basic features necessary for restaurants, including menu and table plan management, payment processing, and reporting tools.

However, SpotOn’s crowning jewel is its proprietary “Teamwork” app, which handles shift management and payroll, and can even create cost projections based on employee salaries. Plus, it includes automatic tip sharing.

Unfortunately, these features aren’t all available on SpotOn’s amazing free plan, which includes both free POS software and hardware (on Square’s free plan you still have to pay for hardware). They are included at no extra cost in SpotOn’s paid software plans, and are available as a paid add-on on the free plan.

If we’re being picky, we also don’t love the fact that SpotOn doesn’t have wide a range of POS hardware and accessories, especially when compared to competitors like Square or Clover. There’s also no app version of the software, for use on iPad or Android tablets, making SpotOn a slightly less accessible choice.

Screenshot of menu screen in SpotOn POS
SpotOn's POS system only comes in a dark mode, which might not be to everyone's taste. However, if you're a bar or evening service restaurant, this might work to your advantage. Source: Expert Market

How easy is it to use?

SpotOn falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to ease-of-use. Most tasks weren’t challenging, but it wasn’t as much of a breeze to use as Square or Clover. The main task we struggled with was adding gratuity to a bill.

Who is SpotOn for?

SpotOn’s free POS software and hardware plan is a great option for new restaurants, allowing you to set up from scratch and pay for your system overtime with 2.89% + 25¢ card processing fees.

The $99 per month and $135 per month paid plans are perfect for slightly larger restaurants, that have a variety of staff roles, from hosts, to servers and runners.

5. Lightspeed: Best for Driving Repeat Business and Loyalty

lightspeed logo
Lightspeed
4.5
Pricing From $69/month
Suitable for

Businesses who want to create a loyal community

Establishments with complex inventories or multiple locations

Users who want to pay no upfront costs

Not suitable for

Businesses who want a cheap starting plan

Owners who want a range of hardware, such as a physical terminal

Businesses who change their floor plan frequently, or require automated tip management

Pricing
Item typePrice
Retail software $89-$239/month
Restaurant software $69-$399
Card processing fees 2.6% + 10¢ to custom

Why we like it

Lightspeed is one of the best POS systems for driving customer loyalty, thanks to its array of marketing and loyalty tools.

The provider offers two types of POS systems, one for retail and one for restaurants, with the latter also earning a spot in our list of best restaurant POS.

Lightspeed’s restaurant POS system comes with gift card creation, loyalty and points programs, and customer tabs, so you have a history of all previous orders. The retail system has email and SMS marketing tools, loyalty programs, and automated marketing features.

Screenshot of Lightspeed POS system customer profile creation
Lightspeed gave us the option of creating customer profiles, which contain purchase history and make tailored marketing much easier. Source: Expert Market

Lightspeed’s customer loyalty features also include access to an app store (on both Restaurant and Retail plans) that includes tools such as customer birthday mailers. Features like these let you stay connected to your customers and give them incentives to return again and again.

However, we should warn you that Lightspeed’s POS software is completely tablet-based. You can get access to tablet stands and card machines through the provider, but not a physical countertop terminal. If that’s something you’d prefer, we’d recommend looking into Clover, or Toast. Lightspeed also isn’t the cheapest solution on the market, with its cheapest plans costing as much as Square’s most expensive ones.

How easy is it to use?

Lightspeed was a little more challenging to use compared to the other POS systems we tested. We mainly struggled with the frontend while trying to complete tasks such as adding a note to an order or adding a customer’s details.

Who is Lightspeed for?

Both of Lightspeed POS solutions, restaurant and retail, are best for medium-sized establishments, or ones with multiple locations.

Price is a major reason why, Lightspeed is just too expensive for most small or new businesses. But you do get your money’s worth. The Lightspeed POS system is equipped to handle complex inventories and help established businesses maintain their reputation by driving repeat sales.

6. Shopify: Best for Managing In-store and Online Sales

Shopify logo
Shopify POS
4.5
Pricing From $89/month/location
Suitable for

Businesses who want to integrate in-store and online sales

Businesses with extensive and varied inventories

Those interested in integrating a lot of apps into their EPOS system

Not suitable for

Businesses not interested in paying for an online store

Those who want cheap processing fees

Businesses that need a training mode for staff

Pricing
Item typePrice
POS software $89/month/location + cost of a Shopify online store ($39-$399/month)
Card machines $49-$299
Countertop terminal kit $459
Card processing fees 2.4% + 10¢ - 2.9% + 30¢

Why we like it

Shopify is the best POS system for managing both in-store and online sales, thanks to its dual offering of ecommerce and POS software.

The provider might be better known as an online store builder, but over the years it has become a destination for omnichannel selling.

Shopify’s POS system is specifically designed for retail, and has a unified dashboard that integrates both ecommerce and POS functions. From there, you’ll be able to manage inventory across channels to prevent any discrepancies in sales reports.

Screenshot of product manual entry in Shopify online store
When you list a product on Shopify, you can decide whether to make it available online, in-store, or both. Source: Expert Market

Useful features include the ability to accept in-store returns for online purchases, and low-stock reports that take both online and in-person sales into account. You can also create customer profiles that sync in-person and online purchase history, making it easier to reward customer loyalty.

It’s not without its downsides however, Using Shopify POS requires you to have a Shopify online store, adding $39 to $399 to your monthly overheads, on top of the $89 per month you’ll be paying for the POS (more if you plan on using it at more than one location). And, if you’re not using Shopify Payments to process card transactions, Shopify adds on an extra 0.6%-2% on top of third-party processing fees.

How easy is it to use?

Shopify was quite easy to use. The unified system for online and in-store sales meant that we didn’t have much trouble locating and sorting items. Even splitting a payment between cash and card was relatively simple.

Who is it for?

Shopify’s POS system is tailored to retail stores that already sell online, and want to open a brick-and-mortar location store. We wouldn’t recommend it to smaller businesses, or ones that don’t have high online sales, since its ecommerce plans are expensive, and you have to pay for one to access POS features.

Did You Know?

You can sell on Shopify for less with its $5 per month Starter plan. Small startups or casual sellers looking to sell online and in-person get access to a basic version of the Shopify POS app,  accessible on smartphones and tablets. The Starter plan also lets you accept in-person payments via smartphone with tap-to-pay, no card machine required.

Buying Guide: How to Choose a POS System

If you’ve read all the reviews, and still don’t quite know what POS system is best for your business, don’t sweat it.

Here are some of the things you should consider before making a decision:

Cost and Pricing Structure

You know your budget better than we do, and it goes without saying that you shouldn’t choose a POS system that you can’t afford. We recommend that you look closely at the pricing structure, and assess what’s included for free, and what comes at an added cost, to get the best deal.

For example, Square charges zero fees for using its POS software, but you’ll have to pay upfront for each card machine, till, or other piece of equipment you need. This can really add up if you have multiple stores.

A provider like SpotOn, on the other hand, doesn’t charge for software or hardware but compensates for this with high transaction fees. If business is booming, this could be more expensive in the long run.

POS Functions and Available Hardware

Assess your business needs, and choose a provider that meets them closely. Some POS systems are designed with certain types of businesses in mind (eg. pubs and restaurants vs retail stores), which makes locating the right fit easier.

It’s also important to look at the features included in the POS software. Are you a pub or fast-food establishment that requires QR code ordering? Providers such as Clover and Lightspeed have this, while SpotOn doesn’t.

You should also look at the physical equipment that’s available to buy or rent from each POS system provider. If your staff needs to take orders at tables, for example, a tablet-based POS system will be beneficial. If you accept cash as well as card, look for an POS provider that has a till setup.

Some POS systems are compatible with third-party hardware, but it’s always best to check if your existing equipment or the equipment you plan on buying can easily integrate with your chosen POS system.

Ease of Use

As a rule of thumb, the easier a POS system is to use, the better. This will speed up training and service times, and reduce room for error.

This doesn’t mean you need to go with the absolute easiest system to use. If you and your employees are experienced with POS systems, you could compromise on ease of use in favor of advanced features.

POS systems like Clover and Square are particularly easy to operate, while Lightspeed has a training mode for new employees.

Customer Support

Good customer support shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to POS systems. In an ideal world, you’d never have to contact customer support but, let’s face it, no system is ever perfect.

We’d recommend choosing a POS system that has a customer support phone line, since calling is usually the fastest way to get an issue resolved. Live chat channels, help centers, and community forums, if the POS system has them, can also be great for quick troubleshooting.

Don’t forget to look at opening times. Most POS customer support teams operate during the week, but a few are also available at weekends and holidays, which could be really valuable if those are your busiest times.

Next Steps

To recap, the top three POS systems in the United States are Square, Toast, and Clover.

Square and Clover are very transparent about their fees, so you’ll know right away if they fit your budget. Toast is a little murkier, only advertising the cost of its software plans.

This is pretty typical for POS providers, but we’ve got a solution. Simply tell us what you need from your next POS system using our quick form, and we’ll match your business with the best POS suppliers for your unique needs.

They’ll be in touch with no-obligation, tailored quotes. It’s quick, easy, and free to get started.

Save on your POS system by comparing free quotes today

Our Methodology

We tested and compared over 10 POS system providers, evaluating them against each other on how well they cater to the specific needs of different business types. We rated each provider according to how it performed in six key areas of interest, which were:

  • POS software: the breadth of features included in the POS software, and how valuable they are to the average restaurant.
  • Hardware/equipment: the variety of equipment available to purchase or rent, with special importance given to key items, such as KDSs, portable card machines, and cash drawers.
  • Ease-of-use: how easy the system is to use, navigate, and customize.
  • Help and support: how effective and reachable the customer support team is, with bonus points given to POS systems with help centers and training modes.
  • Cost: the price of the system, how it compares to competitors, and whether it’s good value for money.

User experience: whether everyday restaurant owners know and like the system, whether they’d recommend it, and what they say about it in online reviews

The score of each of these areas was combined to create an overall score for each of the different types of POS systems.

FAQs

Which POS system is the cheapest?
The cheapest POS system is SpotOn, since it has a completely free software package that includes basic hardware as well. A close second is Square, which also has a free software plan, but charges for hardware, with its handheld POS device retailing for $299, and its card reader for $49.
What is the best POS system for food trucks?
For a small food truck, you’re better off with a simple solution like Square or SumUp. They come with basic hospitality-specific features and affordable card readers.

See the full list in our best POS for food trucks guide.

Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts.
Reviewed by:
Headshot of Expert Market Senior Writer Tatiana Lebtreton
Tatiana is Expert Market's resident payments and online growth expert, specialising in (E)POS and merchant accounts, as well as website builders.