How Much Do Restaurant POS Systems Cost & How To Choose In 2023
Looking for a point of sale system for your restaurant, but don't know how much it should cost? Read our guide to find out everything you need to know about POS costs.
Restaurant POS systems costs vary depending on a restaurant’s size, niche, and the number of added features, and can be $0/month upwards to several hundred dollars. Keep reading to learn the true cost of a POS system for restaurants and how to make an informed restaurant POS purchase.
Table of Contents
- How Much Does A Restaurant POS System Cost?
- What To Expect In Restaurant POS System Prices
- Common Features To Expect In The Cost Of A Restaurant POS
- Restaurant POS Hardware Pricing
- Do You Really Need To Spend Extra For A Restaurant POS?
- 5 Tips When Shopping & Comparing Costs Of Your Restaurant POS
- Take The Next Step To Find The Right Restaurant POS System For Your Budget
How Much Does A Restaurant POS System Cost?
Restaurant POS systems cost between $49 and $150 per month on average. Extra POS software licenses typically cost between $9 and $99 per register per month. Restaurant POS hardware costs are a one-time fee between $400 and $2,600 depending on what hardware you already have and what you need.
What To Expect In Restaurant POS System Prices
For an idea of what you can expect to pay for your restaurant POS, here are a few of the most popular restaurant POS system pricing:
- Square For Restaurants: $0/month to $60/month/location; extra registers cost $45/register/month
- Clover: $44.95/month to $94.85/month
- TouchBistro: $69/month for one register; add-ons like online ordering and reservations range from $50/month to $229/month
- Lightspeed Restaurant: $39/month to $289/month; extra registers cost $39/register/month
- Revel Systems: $99/register/month; $674 one-time implementation fee
- Toast: $0/month to $165/month; add-ons like online ordering and delivery services range from $75/month to $175/month
- talech: $0/month to $99/month
- Lavu: $59/month to $279/month; extra registers cost $50/month/register; add-ons like tableside and online ordering range from $25/month to $99/month
Square Restaurant POS Pricing
- Monthly Subscription Range: $0/month to $60/month/location; extra registers cost $45/device/month
- Hardware Costs: $49 per Square credit card reader; $299 for Square handheld terminal; $649 to $1,329 for Square register kits; Square kitchen display systems (KDS) cost $20/device/month or $60/device/month depending on subscription plan
- Common Restaurant Add-Ons: $45/month for a customer loyalty program; $15/month to $249/month for Square marketing
Read our guide to Square POS hardware options and pricing for a more in-depth explanation of your hardware options. There are a lot of them, after all.
Clover Restaurant POS Pricing
- Monthly Subscription Range: $44.95/month to $94.85/month
- Hardware Costs: $499 (Clover Flex) to $1,649 (Clover Station)
- Common Restaurant Add-Ons: KDS costs $49.95/month
You’ll need to download apps from Clover’s app market to customize your Clover restaurant POS system. There are free and paid apps, so the amount you pay each month can be highly variable depending on your needs.
TouchBistro Restaurant POS Pricing
- Monthly Subscription Range: Starts at $69/month for one register; contact TouchBistro for custom quote
- Hardware Costs: Software runs on iPads; contact TouchBistro for quote on card readers and cash drawers
- Common Restaurant Add-Ons: Online ordering costs $50/month; reservations cost $229/month; loyalty program costs $99/month
Lightspeed Restaurant POS Pricing
- Monthly Subscription Range: $39/month to $289/month; extra registers cost $39/register/month
- Hardware Costs: Must contact for a quote
- Common Restaurant Add-Ons: Contact Lightspeed for eCommerce site, order ahead, loyalty program, and delivery integration
Revel Restaurant POS Pricing
- Monthly Subscription Range: $99/register/month plus one-time $674 onboarding fee
- Hardware Costs: iPad-based software; must contact Revel for a quote on hardware
- Common Restaurant Add-Ons: Must contact Revel for a quote on delivery and online ordering add-ons
Toast Restaurant POS Pricing
- Monthly Subscription Range: $0/month to $165/month for a base subscription
- Hardware Costs: $799 or $0 down pay-as-you-go plan for restaurant POS starter kit, which includes a POS terminal, payment device, and router; contact for pricing on additional hardware
- Common Restaurant Add-Ons: Online ordering, takeout, and delivery package starts at $75/month
talech Restaurant POS Pricing
- Monthly Subscription Range: $0/month to $99/month; $29/device/month for additional devices
- Hardware Costs: talech can operate on iPads, Androids, and Poynt terminals; contact talech for a quote on other hardware
- Common Restaurant Add-Ons: Depending on plan, online ordering costs $49/month and gift cards cost $19/month
Lavu Restaurant POS Pricing
- Monthly Subscription Range: $59/month to $279/month; extra registers cost $50/month/register
- Hardware Costs: $55 for PayPal card reader; terminals start at $200; kitchen display systems start at $650
- Common Restaurant Add-Ons: Loyalty program costs $50/month; online ordering costs $99/month; kiosks cost $50/month
Leasing Equipment: Consider This Before Signing An Agreement
Some restaurant POS hardware, especially proprietary ones like those offered by Toast and Clover, can be expensive for businesses that are just starting out. It can be tempting, then, to lease POS hardware rather than buy it outright.
However, there is another option: POS equipment financing. The majority of popular POS providers offer equipment financing options, often with 0% interest and no downpayment.
Financing your equipment means that you’ll eventually own the equipment, and you’ll pay less in the long run due to lower interest rates. So, if you find POS hardware you definitely like, and you plan on using your restaurant POS for a long time (read: if you’re planning on success) equipment financing is your best option.
Common Features To Expect In The Cost Of A Restaurant POS
These are the most common features to expect from both restaurant and standard POS systems.
No matter what kind of food service business you run, both customers and servers will expect some form of tipping. There are restaurant POS systems that offer straightforward tipping options and others, such as Square and Toast, that have highly customizable tipping functionalities.
For example, Toast allows you to decide whether tips are pooled or shared, what kind of roles receive tipping, how tips are calculated, and more. You can also design your own tipping policy and create custom tipping rules based on sales category and transaction value.
With check splitting, a server uses a POS system to split up a group’s check into individual checks when it’s time to pay. Most, if not all, restaurant POS systems should have check splitting capabilities. Revel and Toast have advanced check splitting options.
Menu management on your POS system includes creating and pricing items, grouping items by category, creating item combinations, attaching associated ingredients, creating menu discounts, and more.
POS systems with excellent menu management functions, like Square for Restaurants and TouchBistro, will also auto-86 menu items when ingredients run out, track how menu items are performing, and allow you to modify item availability/pricing by location and method of ordering (online, takeout, etc.)
- Related: Read our post on how to create and maintain a restaurant menu that is cost-effective and brings in more customers.
If you own a large bustling restaurant, small intimate establishment, or want to offer special events, it may be worthwhile to take reservations.
Toast and Lightspeed both integrate with OpenTable, a third-party app that costs between $39 and $449 per month (monthly fee does not include cover charges or service fees.)
TouchBistro offers its own reservation system which monitors reservations and table status. This feature costs $229/month on top of a regular TouchBistro subscription. However, TouchBistro does not include any cover charges or service fees, so this option may compete with third-party subscriptions.
Square does not have a traditional reservation system, but the company offers a free reservations workaround via Square Appointments. You schedule reservations as timed appointments, which may not be as effective as traditional reservation scheduling, but free is free, after all.
Hold & Fire
When servers take an order, some items will take longer to make than others, but most customers expect everyones’ food to come out at the same time. To make sure all the items come out at the right temperature and texture, servers can designate when items should be started with a hold and fire function.
A good POS system like Lavu allows servers to designate how long to hold an item, or to immediately start (aka “fire”) an item. The POS will automatically send orders to the kitchen after the hold time is up for a smooth cooking and serving experience.
Employee management includes everything from shift scheduling, to employee clock-in/clock-out, to employee user roles and permissions, to payroll, to performance reporting.
Some POS providers, such as Square and Lavu, offer built-in employee management functions. Other providers, like Clover, Lightspeed, and talech, integrate with popular employee management software like Homebase and 7shifts.
Reporting on sales, menu item performance, labor costs, customer engagement, profit losses, and more can give you insight into the current state of your business and the steps you can take to maximize profits.
Toast and Revel both have advanced reporting features. For example, you can generate sales reports for different locations, service types, times of the day, etc. You can also track employee performance by hours worked, number of voids or comps, speed of order completion, and more.
There are many ways for restaurants to capture (or recapture) the interest of customers: text/email marketing campaigns, gift card sales, social media campaigns, loyalty programs, and more.
POS providers such as Square and Clover offer affordable loyalty program features, as well as digital/physical gift card creation and social media integrations.
Third-Party Delivery Integrations
Even though you’ll pay more in service charges than you would if you run your own in-house delivery service, consider registering your business on popular third-party apps such as DoorDash and Uber Eats. Connecting to these services provides an easy way to offer delivery when your business doesn’t have the bandwidth, and it’s a great way to gain more exposure for your restaurant.
The ideal restaurant POS syncs third-party orders with dine-in and pickup orders, but this feature may increase your restaurant POS pricing. Keep in mind the benefits of having one place to monitor all orders before deciding against integrating your POS with third-party delivery services.
Lightspeed Restaurant has integrations for all the best third-party delivery services. Lightspeed Restaurant POS systems also allow you to customize item availability and pricing for each delivery service.
Delivery & Curbside Ordering
If you want to save on service charges, you can create an internal delivery and curbside pickup program. You can also do this in addition to registering on third-party delivery apps. As you gain more exposure and build a positive reputation, you can instruct customers to use your website to order and even offer a discount for avoiding third-party apps.
The best delivery POS systems allow you to create custom delivery settings.
For example, Square allows you to include custom service fee charges, online order tipping, fulfillment cutoff times, set free delivery parameters, and message customers about the status of orders and last-minute order substitutions. Square even offers businesses a Square On-Demand delivery fulfillment service for businesses that do not have their own delivery staff (yet.)
A floor plan is a visual layout of your restaurant, including your dining rooms, kitchen area, bathrooms, waiting areas, storage spaces, breakrooms, offices, loading areas, and entrances. You might also have a bar area, curbside/delivery driver pickup space, and outdoor seating to consider.
Floor planning helps you optimize the flow of your restaurant, maximize your restaurant space, and comply with landlord/zoning restrictions. A POS with custom floor planning, like Clover or Toast, will allow you to easily create custom floor plans for different rooms.
Inventory tracking means that you’re actively monitoring how much inventory you have on hand, which will tell you when to reorder items, whether items become damaged or get stolen, when you receive stock and how quickly items go, and a number of other insights.
Standard POS systems have inventory tracking but often lack ingredient tracking capabilities. Without ingredient tracking, you risk ingredient spoilage, not having enough ingredients to make a dish, and missing out on opportunities to improve your inventory ordering practices.
Read our full guide to restaurant inventory management to learn more about how to avoid the common pitfalls of poor restaurant inventory management. You’ll also learn how a POS system like Revel or TouchBistro can help you manage your inventory.
Offline mode for a POS means that you can take orders and payments without a WiFi connection. The best food truck POS systems, which include talech and TouchBistro, must have a strong offline mode, as food trucks are not tethered to a physical location.
If you’re selling alcohol in any capacity, you’ll need to check for ID. If your POS has an ID scanner, it’s much easier to flag fake IDs. With this line of defense, your business has a much better chance of remaining compliant with applicable laws. POS systems such as Lightspeed and Clover integrate with ID scanner apps like BlueCheck and BarPro.
Also, if you serve professionals with registered ID badges (e.g. if you run a restaurant inside a hospital cafeteria), you can scan their badges for employee discounts. You can also scan to charge their order to an associated account. Lavu POS has specifically created a badge scanner feature for this purpose.
If you run a bar or you’re serving a large party of people, it’s a good idea to pre-authorize customers’ cards, so you know they have enough to cover their bills.
The best POS systems for bars and nightclubs, which include Clover and talech, have both ID scanning and card pre-authorization capabilities.
- Related: Not sure whether you need all these restaurant-specific POS features? Read our restaurant POS VS standard POS comparison to decide which kind of POS is right for your restaurant.
Restaurant POS Hardware Pricing
There are two POS hardware categories for restaurants: front of house equipment and back of house equipment. Let’s look into pricing for both types of equipment.
Restaurant POS Pricing For Front Of House Equipment
Front of house equipment includes everything your customers can see: payment devices, registers, receipt printers, customer-facing displays, self-serve kiosks, menu displays, etc.
Some POS hardware, such as the Clover Flex, Square Terminal, and Toast Go 2, are built so that you can take orders, accept payments, and print receipts from one device. You’ll pay from $300 to $600 for fully integrated mobile POS hardware.
Restaurant POS pricing for card readers varies widely depending on whether you can source your own hardware, or you have to stick to a proprietary/designated card reader. POS providers such as Square and Clover offer their own proprietary card readers starting at $49. Providers like Lightspeed and Revel have a list of compatible card readers that range from $150 to $600 on average.
Many registers are bundled together so you get a register screen (usually an iPad), receipt printer, cash drawer, and card reader for one flat price. These usually cost around $600. You can pay to add other hardware, such as a customer-facing display, to your register package.
To offer self-serve kiosks, you can either purchase designated kiosks or add self-serve software to an iPad.
For example, POS providers such as TouchBistro, Lightspeed, and talech devices can easily be converted from registers to self-serve kiosks for free, while Clover and Square hardware can be integrated with third-party self-serve kiosk software for an additional monthly fee of at least $50. Toast POS software is compatible with self-serve hardware from Elo, which costs $450-$700.
Back Of House Restaurant POS Hardware Costs
Back of house equipment includes everything your customers don’t see: kitchen display systems (KDS), barcode scanners, weight scales, etc.
You may purchase a durable, dedicated KDS from a POS provider like Toast for around $500. With POS providers like Square and Lavu, you may convert an iPad into a KDS for an extra monthly fee of around $30.
Barcode scanners cost $100 to $300 on average. Receipt printers cost anywhere from $100 to $500. Weight scales cost around $500.
Do You Really Need To Spend Extra For A Restaurant POS?
Depending on your restaurant type and size, you don’t need a lot of restaurant-specific features. If you have a quick-serve restaurant or food truck, you probably won’t need floor planning, reservation management, or advanced inventory tracking. Smaller restaurants won’t need line-busting self-serve kiosk hardware and may be able to forego a dedicated KDS.
There are POS providers that offer the features any food service would want at a great low cost.
For example, even with the free Square for Restaurant plan, you can offer self-serve ordering for free using a QR code that links to your Square online menu.
With Loyverse, another free POS provider, you can still get ingredient tracking, menu item performance, and item transfers across locations.
Check out our list of the best free restaurant POS systems to find a highly affordable POS solution for your small restaurant.
5 Tips When Shopping & Comparing Costs Of Your Restaurant POS
Visualize Your Restaurant’s Future
Are you planning to expand in any way? Are you thinking about more staff, more locations, or building out a catering or retail component of your business? Think about the changes you plan to make in the next year or two and make sure the POS you want can accommodate your vision.
Budget accordingly if those changes will mean upgrading to a higher plan tier. It’s generally much easier to upgrade to a more feature-rich plan than to switch POS systems entirely; if you know you’ll need more features down the line, plan to accommodate that now.
Consider Your Hardware Needs
Consider the following when deciding what hardware (and accompanying software) you want to include in your POS ecosystem:
- How reliable is your internet connection?
- Do you need a POS that can take payments offline?
- Do you want a backup local server?
- Would you like handhelds for ordering at the table?
- Would your restaurant benefit from kiosk-style self-ordering?
- Are your employees very tech-savvy?
- Do you want a system that works with the POS hardware you already have?
Your hardware needs will depend on your restaurant type and size.
For example, food trucks and catering businesses will benefit from a POS with a strong offline mode, but will not need much physical hardware.
Upscale sit-down restaurants won’t need self-serve kiosks, but quick-serve restaurants could use them as a line-busting tactic.
Small establishments can probably get by with one or two countertop terminals, but large restaurants will benefit from mobile POS systems that servers can carry with them.
Read User Reviews
Search online blogs, forums, and other social channels for user reviews of POS systems. See what others say. What are the pain points and most common complaints? What’s not mentioned? What do happy customers say is the best thing about that POS system? Is updating the system a pain? Are there complaints or kudos about customer support?
Also, see if customer complaints have been addressed by the company. If the company is actively working to improve its software offering and customer relationship, that’s a really good sign.
Take Advantage Of Free Restaurant POS Trials
Most restaurant POS system providers offer a free trial. Take advantage of that opportunity to see how easy the software is to set up and edit. Try out all of the features and run every alternative scenario you can imagine.
Include employees who will be using the software in the trial run, too. Ask them what the learning experience and real-world usage are like. This will help you estimate how long it will take to train someone on the new system and whether it’s effective during a rush.
Make no long-term commitments until you can get a feel for how easy the software is to use and whether it can adapt to fit your growing business’s needs.
Read Contracts Thoroughly Before Making Any Decisions
There are restaurant POS system providers, such as Square and Clover, that require you to use an in-house payment processor. Lightspeed and Lavu, on the other hand, do not require you to use their own in-house payment processors but will charge you a monthly premium if you decide to use a third-party payment processor.
Other providers, such as Revel and Toast, require you to sign a long-term contract and pay annually for the best prices.
Make sure to read your contracts thoroughly so you understand what to expect with your software subscription and exactly how much you can expect to pay per month (or year.)
Take The Next Step To Find The Right Restaurant POS System For Your Budget
The time you spend researching your options is time and money you will save in the long run, because you’ll have the system and features that best meet your specific needs. Now that you have a little background on how much restaurant POS systems cost and what your restaurant may need to pay for, look into our best restaurant POS systems.
And speaking of saving time and money, read up on how to reduce restaurant turnover rates so you don’t have to continually train new employees in your kitchens and front of house operations.