The Best Credit Card Processing Apps for Quick-Serve Restaurants
It’s time to upgrade the POS for your coffee shop, but you haven’t got a clue what to look for. Maybe you’re not sure you need a full-fledged POS, or you’re worried about the cost — or you don’t want to be locked into a multi-year credit card processing contract. Where do you even start looking for the right solution?
As far as technology needs go, quick-serve businesses like bakeries, cafes, and ice cream parlors straddle the line between retail shop and restaurant. What POS features work for a retail business won’t quite cut it, but there’s no need for many of the features found in a full-service restaurant POS. Credit card processing apps combine the convenience of a POS and a merchant account into one single solution, with the convenience of a flexible (even mobile) setup.
We looked over the options for quick-serve businesses and put together a list of the best options. But first, a few criteria!
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Choosing the Best Apps for Quick-Serve Businesses
A lot goes into choosing a credit card processing app — the cost, of course, as well as features. Our primary criteria, the non-negotiable elements, were that the app was a true app, something available on a tablet (and ideally a smartphone), and that it had a built-in payment processing option offered by default. A couple apps on this list do allow you the choice of integrating your own processor, though you should make sure the rates are competitive if the app charges any additional fees.
Additionally, we narrowed down the options based on whether the apps offered features essential for quick-serve businesses like cafes and ice cream parlors to function. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are some core themes to look out for. Check out feature comparison chart below for more information, or read on for our top picks for credit card processing apps!
Toast is an award-winning POS targeting all sorts of restaurants, including quick-serve businesses. It runs exclusively on Android tablets, with an intuitive user interface. It’s definitely feature-rich, with several add-on programs you can opt for (inventory, loyalty, online ordering), making Toast even more functional.
Toast only allows you to use its processing services, and your rates will vary. Plans start at $79/month and allow you up to 2 registers; with higher-tier plans (starting at $99/month), you get unlimited registers. It’s also worth noting that Toast, like Square and PayPal, requires you to use its processing services, and your rates will vary.
Whereas Toast is entirely Android-based, Breadcrumb POS (see our review) is an iPad-exclusive system that works as part of Upserve’s larger restaurant management ecosystem. Feature-rich and designed to accommodate many types of businesses, Breadcrumb even integrates with GrubHub for online ordering and delivery.
Breadcrumb’s payment processing arm offers interchange-plus plans for merchants: you’ll pay interchange rates plus a $0.15 fee per each transaction. For very small-value tickets, this could wind up being more expensive than a percentage-based transaction, which is worth taking note of. However, an interchange-plus plan on a month-to-month contract is a good deal.
Breadcrumb’s monthly service fee might make to think twice compared to some of the other options on this list, but the value of the features you get is absolutely worth considering. The Core plan will start you at $99/month, with the mid-tier plan starting at $249.
Square‘s (see our review) free mPOS app, Point of Sale, remains hugely popular with all kinds of businesses. But with its inventory management and reporting, as well as custom tipping features, it has the core features most bakeries, cafes, and other quick-serve businesses need to thrive — plus multiple add-ons (such as loyalty and payroll) to make management even easier. The eCommerce integration even allows people to place orders online and pick them up in person, and there’s a delivery system through Caviar.
Without a doubt, one of Square’s biggest draws is its clear, transparent pricing. A solid 2.75% per swipe is very reasonable and the lack of a per-transaction fee keeps the costs down for businesses with low ticket values. There are no mandatory monthly fees, either — you pay only for the transactions you process, and any add-on services you opt into.
PayPal’s mPOS solution, PayPal Here (see our review), isn’t quite as robust as the full-fledged POS systems that PayPal also integrates with. But it’s a highly mobile app available on multiple platforms, including Windows devices. The app doesn’t have a glut of features the way Square does, but it has all the essentials, from tipping to discounts.
Like Square, one of the big draws — especially if you have a small average ticket size — is its pricing: 2.7% per swipe, with no monthly fees. PayPal’s easy integration with all sorts of eCommerce services and instant access to funds also tend to be big draws for merchants.
Rather than build a solution that appeals to businesses of all sizes, ShopKeep (see our review) opted to tailor its POS software to small and medium-sized businesses, a decision that continues to define its capabilities. However, the company does cater to small and medium businesses in a variety of industries, including quick-serve businesses.
Feature rich and highly intuitive, ShopKeep even offers advanced inventory and timekeeping at no extra charge, which definitely adds to the value.
ShopKeep’s payment processing arm offers interchange-plus plans based on your monthly volume, which means possible per-transaction fees. ShopKeep charges $69/month per register, but has no contracts or other monthly fees, all of which are a great deal for merchants.
Must-Have Features for Quick-Serve Businesses
Apart from being a tablet app with integrated processing, I looked at some other features in creating my list. Menu creation is important — and while variants are great, the presence of categories and add-ons was more important. Tipping, kitchen receipt printing, and location management also merited consideration. Check out the table below for detailed information.
|Integrated Processing||Yes||Yes (other options available)||Yes||Yes||Yes (other options available)|
|Processing Rates (for most swiped/dipped transactions)||varies||interchange + $0.15||2.75%||2.70%||Interchange-Plus based on volume|
|Monthly Fee||$79 and up||$99 and up||$0||$0||$69 per register|
|Number of Devices||1-2 for base plan, unlimited for higher plans||1 ($50/additional)||Unlimited||Unlimited||1 (additional registers $69/month)|
|Tablet Support||Android||Apple||Apple, Android||Apple, Android, Windows||Apple|
|Smartphone support||N/A||N/A||Apple, Android||Apple, Android, Windows||N/A|
|Email/SMS Receipts||Email/SMS||Email Only||Email/SMS||Email/SMS||Email Only|
|Receipt Printer Connectivity||LAN||Wi-Fi, Ethernet||Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB||Bluetooth, LAN, Wireless||Bluetooth, Ethernet|
|Cash Drawer Connectivity||Yes||Yes (With Printer Connectivity)||Yes (Tablet Only, With Printer Connectivity)||Yes (With Star Printer Connectivity)||Yes (With Printer Connectivity)|
|Offline Processing Mode||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Sub-User/Employee Accounts||Yes (free)||Yes (free)||Yes (monthly fee)||Yes (free)||Yes (free)|
|Tips by $ or %||No (By % only)||No (By % only)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Add Tip after Signing||Yes||Yes||Yes (iPad only)||No||Yes|
|Kitchen Ticket Printing||Yes||Yes||Yes (iPad only)||No||Yes|
|Bulk Item/Menu Upload||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Item Counts||With Inventory add-on||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Create Item from App or Dashboard||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
There’s never one right answer to the question “which software is right for me?” The best we can do is say “This is a good choice for lots of businesses” and explain the caveats. As far as credit card processing apps for quick-serve businesses, you need to have a firm number in mind for how much you’re willing to pay, and know which features or abilities the app must have, and go from. Our top picks — Toast, Breadcrumb, Square, PayPal Here, and ShopKeep are all targeted at the industry and so they do have some similarities and core capabilities. But you’ll also find major differences in costs and some features (inventory being a noteworthy one). So know what you need and make sure the system you choose fulfills those basic requirements.
As always, thanks for reading! If you’ve got questions, we’d love to help you out. Check our comment guidelines and leave us a comment!