How Much Does A POS System Cost? Avoid Hidden Fees For Your Small Business
We break down POS hardware and software costs and provider specialties by industry so you can easily determine which system is right for your business.
A point of sale system for your small business costs between $0 and $300/month.
For most small businesses, the average cost of a POS system is around $69/month. With POS fees for extra software features like advanced analytics, loyalty, and gift cards, you could end up paying at least $100/month for your POS system.
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Cost Of POS System Software
POS software typically includes the ability to take multiple payment types, as well as sales reporting, employee management, some form of inventory management, and a customer database so you can create targeted marketing campaigns.
POS software features like gift card generation, loyalty programs, eCommerce/online ordering, and marketing capabilities are either built into the POS system pricing or available through third-party software integrations (usually on a paid monthly subscription basis.)
Here are some POS starting costs from top POS vendors (for a single register):
- Lightspeed: Lightspeed’s POS system is $69/month for retail POS and $39/month for restaurant POS; includes a customizable user interface, inventory management, multi-location management, employee management, and third-party integrations; common add-ons include an online store, loyalty programs, and marketing
Lightspeed Restaurant’s customizable third-party delivery service integrations and online ordering platform add-on make Lightspeed one of the best food delivery POS systems.
- Square: $0/month; includes free website builder, free online appointment scheduler, free social media selling, free digital gift cards, free Square online checkout links/QR code generator, and basic inventory management; common add-ons include multilocation management, Square KDS (kitchen display systems) for restaurants, loyalty program, email marketing, and advanced employee management
Square’s free website builder and appointment booking software make Square one of the best salon POS systems.
- Clover: $19.95/month for retail POS, $74.95/month for restaurant POS; includes gift card generator, loyalty program, inventory management, sales tracking, and huge app marketplace; common add-ons include online ordering platform, payroll, and third-party app subscriptions
Clover’s app marketplace includes a free EBT transaction app, lottery app, and age verification app, which makes Clover one of the best grocery store POS systems.
- Revel Systems: $198/month; includes offline payments mode, multilocation management, strong inventory management, self-ordering restaurant kiosk, employee management, delivery tracking, and intelligent reporting suite; common add-ons include an online ordering system, loyalty program integration, and gift card integration
Revel’s strong offline mode, menu pricing rules, raw ingredient management, and multilocation management features make Revel one of the best food truck POS systems.
- Toast: $0/month; includes highly customizable POS user interface, third-party delivery service integrations, tableside QR code ordering, automated inventory updates, hold-and-fire handheld POS functions, multilocation management, thorough reporting, and menu customization/pricing rules; common add-ons include takeout and delivery app, online ordering app, loyalty program, gift card program, and payroll
Toast’s durable POS hardware and numerous handheld POS server features make Toast one of the best handheld restaurant POS systems.
- Shopify: $5/month; includes buy button for online sales via blog, social media, email, text message, etc. (Learn how to sell online with buy buttons!), sales integrations for marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, inventory management, gift card creation, online order management, and customer database; common add-ons include multilocation management, employee management, and third-party app subscriptions from Shopify app marketplace.
Shopify’s omnichannel sales capabilities, shipping/delivery capabilities and huge app store make Shopify one of the best retail POS systems.
- TouchBistro: $69/month; includes offline sales mode, menu management by location, raw ingredient tracking, table planning/tracking, waitlisting, and handheld POS customizations; common add-ons include loyalty program, online ordering system, and reservation system
TouchBistro has features for most niche restaurant types, and the user interface is made with servers in mind, which is why TouchBistro is one of the best restaurant POS systems.
POS Fees For Credit Card Processing
To take credit cards, you have to use a payment processor and pay a per-transaction processing fee.
Many POS system providers, such as Square and Toast, include (and even require you to use) their own in-house POS payment processors. Other providers, such as Revel and TouchBistro, allow you to use third-party payment processors to process payments, and those third-party providers may offer you better payment processing rates.
Here are some examples of payment processing costs for in-person transactions with different POS systems:
- Lightspeed: 2.6% + $0.10
- Square: 2.5%-2.6% + $0.10 (depending on subscription plan)
- Clover: 2.3 to 2.6% + $0.10 (depending on subscription plan)
- Revel Systems: 2.49% + $0.15
- Toast: 2.49% + $0.15
- Shopify: 2.4% or 2.7% + $0.00
- TouchBistro: Depends on which integrated third-party payment processor you choose (integrates with Chase, Moneris, EVO, and others)
Keeping Your Costs Down In Processing
Payment processing costs can vary widely depending on your sales volume and choice of payment processor. While some smaller businesses may find the best (and easiest) way to process payments is through a flat-rate payment processor like Square, businesses with larger sales volumes may benefit from working with a payment processor that uses an interchange-plus model. Some other sketchy payment processors are not transparent about their fee structure, include penalty fees in the fine print of your contract, and may not meet security standards. If you want to avoid unnecessary fees and issues, make sure to avoid low-quality payment processors.
If you’re not sure what you need in a payment processor, or what makes a payment processor trustworthy, read our post on the best online credit card processing companies for small businesses.
Also, read our complete guide to credit card processing rates and fees for ways to lower or offset your payment processing fees.
Hardware POS System Pricing
POS hardware pricing varies widely depending on what kind of hardware you use to take payments.
Some POS providers offer smartphone-based POS apps and low-cost card readers, which is a low-cost hardware solution to just take dip/tap card payments. Other companies need a full POS hardware system, complete with a register, cash drawer, barcode scanners, card readers, and receipt printers.
These are examples of hardware POS system pricing for popular POS providers:
- Lightspeed: Pricing ranges from $500-$1,000 for full register systems, depending on where you purchase your hardware from; you can use iPads as registers.
- Square: Pricing ranges from $49 (Square Contactless Chip + Card Reader) to $1,319 (Square Register bundle).
Square is especially known for its durable, affordable hardware for several industry types. For example, the Square Terminal and the new Square mobile POS are both great handheld POS systems for restaurants.
You can also bring your own iPads and smartphones to use as register interfaces, KDS, customer-facing displays, and self-check-in kiosks, as Square software can work as a mobile app.
You can use Square online checkout links to take payments without using any hardware at all. Not spending money on hardware may seem economical, but Square charges a higher fee to process online payments.
Translation: It’s cheaper, in the long run, to just buy a physical card reader from Square.
Clover hardware is durable, user-friendly, and highly customizable.
But it’s important to note that you can only use proprietary Clover hardware with Clover software. If you decide to stop using Clover POS software, you can’t use Clover hardware with another POS software provider.
Thoroughly test out Clover software before investing in proprietary Clover hardware.
- Revel Systems: Compatible card readers start at $79; must contact Revel for a quote or source POS hardware on your own.
Revel software runs on iPads, which you can use for registers and customer-facing displays. Revel offers its own self-ordering system, Kiosk XT, which you have to call and get a quote on.
The PayPal Zettle is the least expensive compatible card reader and costs $79.
- Toast: $o upfront, one-time $609 payment for Toast Handheld Starter kit, or one-time $799 payment for Toast Countertop Starter kit.
Toast hardware is the most durable restaurant POS hardware in the restaurant industry. The Toast Go 2, in particular, is the most durable handheld POS hardware on the market right now, which is important when you consider the number of spills and drops that happen in a fast-paced restaurant setting.
The company has a special hardware deal. You can pay $0 upfront for a countertop or mobile POS starter kit and pay a higher payment processing rate, or you can purchase your kit outright and pay a lower processing fee.
The $0 down deal sounds great, but the higher payment processing fees will add up. If you’re able to, you should purchase your Toast hardware outright.
- Shopify: Pricing ranges from $49 (Shopify Tap + Chip Card Reader to $639 (Star® mPOP™ with Scanner register bundle).
Shopify POS systems are great in the retail store setting and on the go. It’s important to note that if you want to use Shopify Payments, Shopify’s in-house payment processor, you must purchase a Shopify card reader directly from the company.
- TouchBistro: Compatible card readers range from $49 to $900 depending on what third-party card reader and merchant service provider you use to take card payments; software runs on iPads
With TouchBistro, you can use iPads for registers, KDS, and customer-facing displays at no added cost. Other POS providers such as Square and Toast, charge extra for KDS.
Avoid Fees By Steering Clear Of Leasing Agreements
Many businesses may not have the money to buy a full POS system outright, and business owners may consider hardware POS leasing agreements.
However, financing your equipment or getting a small loan to purchase your equipment is a better option in the long run. This is because you may end up paying higher monthly fees and higher interest rates if you lease your equipment.
Plus with leasing, you don’t actually own your hardware. If you finance your equipment or get a small loan, you’ll own your POS hardware by the time you pay off your equipment.
9 Features That Affect How Much A POS System Costs
Here are some POS cost factors and how they could impact your bottom line (both in upfront and monthly costs):
1. Number Of Registers
Most POS companies charge you based on the number of registers or POS devices you have. However, additional registers might cost less than the first register, or you may be able to use unlimited registers for one cost.
For example, Lightspeed Retail charges $69/month for the first register and $39/month for each additional register, while Square allows you to have an unlimited number of registers on the free Square POS plan.
2. Number Of Physical Locations
Most POS systems charge for each location your business has. This is because larger businesses have more complex needs, such as inventory transfers from one location to another.
Revel POS has built-in multilocation management features such as centralized inventory monitoring and pricing rules that vary by location.
3. eCommerce & Online Ordering
Many POS providers, such as Toast and Lightspeed, offer online ordering and online store builders as an added cost. Online ordering and third-party delivery integrations are often an added cost for restaurant POS systems.
Other POS providers, like Shopify and Square, have great built-in omnichannel sales capabilities.
4. Number Of Employees
Most POS software plans include a certain number of employees at each price level. If you need advanced employee management features (such as employee scheduling), your POS system may charge you for each employee in the system.
POS systems such as Clover and TouchBistro offer great built-in employee management systems at no added cost.
5. Industry-Specific Features
Specialized industries require very specific POS functions, one that you may have to pay extra for.
For example, catering businesses need a way to book appointments, take pre-orders, and charge deposits for services. Revel has catering-specific features to handle all of these niche industry needs.
Related: This is how to choose a restaurant POS system that fits your budget.
6. Gift Card & Loyalty Programs
Offering gift cards and loyalty programs are a great way to capture customer interest, re-engage customers who haven’t interacted with your business in a while, and can be used for marketing campaigns.
Clover includes a gift card and loyalty program in all subscription plans.
7. Marketing Tools
If you’re interested in using text or email marketing to generate more sales, Shopify has built-in customer segmentation and marketing automation features, plus Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter integrations to market on social media platforms. You can also find great free marketing apps in the Shopify app marketplace.
Revel Systems is another POS provider that helps you build a customer database and send targeted discount marketing campaigns.
8. Third-Party Integrations
If you want to add a feature that a POS provider doesn’t already have, you need to integrate your POS system with third-party software.
POS providers such as Shopify, Lightspeed, and Clover offer several ready-made third-party integrations.
9. Transaction Fees
POS providers such as Square and Toast require you to use their in-house payment processing system. Other POS providers such as Shopify and Lightspeed will give you a choice. However, they will charge an extra monthly fee if you decide not to use their in-house payment processor.
If you have (or might soon have) a preferred payment processor, consider choosing a POS provider that doesn’t charge an extra fee for third-party payment processing. Revel and TouchBistro do not charge any extra fees based on your choice of payment processor.
Final Thoughts On Finding The Right POS System For Your Budget
Your POS system costs will vary depending on what your business needs now and what it will need as it scales up.
Most single-register businesses should be able to get the POS hardware they need for $1,500 or less and spend less than $100/month for the POS software. If you have very little money to invest upfront, though, consider getting one of these best free POS systems.
Take advantage of all the free software trials available, test out the customer service, get feedback from employees who will be using the POS every day, and always be sure to read any merchant contracts before signing.
Do not commit to any long-term contracts before you’re 100% sure you’re satisfied with your POS software, hardware, and fees.
To save some time and help you make a decision, you can also read our in-depth POS software reviews.