The Best Clover Alternatives & Competitors For Any & Every Type Of Small Business
Since its release to the public in 2014, Clover POS has become one of the most popular POS systems for small-to-medium businesses. This unique solution uses proprietary hardware with a variety of add-ons for PIN debit, customer displays, and more, differentiating it from all of the “iPad POS systems” on the market. Clover is truly an all-in-one system, as it comes complete with a merchant account — in fact, you can only use it in conjunction with a First Data (now Fiserv) merchant account. Competitive credit card processing rates are available, and the open API and app market both make Clover adaptable to just about any industry — restaurant, retail, hospitality, or service-based. Clover is easy to set up, easy to learn, and it has serious aesthetic appeal. But it’s not for everyone.
| ||Best All-Around|
| ||Best For Low Budget|
| ||Best For eCommerce Integration|
| ||Best For Retailers|
| ||Best For Quick-Service|
Other Featured Options:
- Toast POS: Best For Full-Service Restaurants
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Why Choose Clover POS?
As mentioned, there’s a lot to like about Clover POS. Some great things about this system include:
Sleek & Attractive
Looks aren’t everything, but depending on your industry, it could be important to have a sleek-looking POS system on the counter, as opposed to some clunky black thing that uses Windows. For example, a gym or a trendy coffee shop may find that Clover fits in very nicely with their aesthetic. Clover’s beautiful hardware looks like it could be made by Apple, though it is arguably sturdier and more professional looking than a POS system with an obvious iPad.
The Clover App Market has tons of add-ons to customize your system to do just about anything you want. You can easily customize your Clover POS software with restaurant features, advanced inventory, payroll, online ordering, scheduling, rental business features — all at really low monthly software fees. Developers can even use the open API to make new apps and integrations.
You can also customize your Clover hardware setup by adding or subtracting different hardware elements, such as adding a weight scale or adding a Clover Flex to accept NFC payments. Or if you want to go cashless, you can opt to use a Clover Mini by itself, without a cash drawer.
Easy-To-Use, All-In-One System
Clover is super easy to use and get started with, even if you have minimal or no POS experience. Its short learning curve makes it easy to train employees, and proprietary features such as fingerprint login (on the Clover Station) make logging in a breeze. You don’t have to source your hardware from different places and hope it’s all compatible; Clover has everything you need to start selling out-of-the-box.
Modern, Cloud-Based POS
Yes, Clover is pretty, but the system is modern in more than just its appearance. Clover is fast, powerful, and cloud-based, bringing not only your business’s look but also its payment processing functionality and back-end business management into the 21st century. You can use Clover to accept any kind of payment from Apple Pay to gift cards, tie in a customer loyalty program, manage employees, and much more.
Clover also has mobile options that let you accept payments, not just from the counter but from wherever your customer happens to be. The Clover Mini can be used unplugged (for example, to take tableside payments at a restaurant), and the Clover Flex is even more mobile, to the point that it can be used for scanning inventory or line-busting on an all-day charge. Finally, the Clover Go, similar to Square, can be used to take payments with your smartphone.
Competitive Rates Available
Numerous different banks and other entities sell Clover — you can even buy it from Sam’s Club (not that we particularly recommend doing so). Depending on where you buy your Clover system and the accompanying First Data merchant account, you may be able to secure interchange-plus or flat-rate processing with low monthly fees, which may cost you less than your current processor. Both low-volume and high-volume businesses have the opportunity to score competitive rates with Clover, again depending on which merchant services company you go through.
See The Best Clover POS Service Providers
|heading||Clover Corporate||Payment Depot||National Processing||Dharma|
Official Clover Store
Dharma Merchant Services
Provides all Clover products
Transparent pricing with no hidden fees
Rate matching and negotiable quotes
Fair entry-level quote standard
2.3% + 0.10¢ for in-person transactions
0.00% + $0.15 markup
0.20% + $0.08 markup
0.20% + $0.08 markup
(Must process $10K+ per month)
5 Reasons To Not Choose Clover POS
Clover is perfect for some businesses, but other merchants may opt to use another POS system for various reasons. Here are some of the top reasons not to use Clover POS.
Tied To First Data Merchant Account
With Clover, merchants are limited to First Data/Fiserv for credit card payment processing. Thus, all Clover systems are sold with a First Data merchant services contract. This processor, while decent, has far from the best reputation in the industry. First Data has historically had problems on the merchant services side of things, such as withheld funds, account terminations, and excessive fees. Merchants who have been burned by First Data in the past are understandably wary of First Data POS products and support.
Moreover, with First Data merchant accounts being sold by various resellers, there is no consistency with First Data merchant services in terms of pricing or contract terms. Some First Data resellers are great, while others will lock you into a multi-year contract that includes lots of hidden fees.
The upfront costs of purchasing Clover Station can be prohibitive for some merchants — the MSRP is $1,349 per station, plus another $50 if you want the new NFC-capable customer-facing receipt printer. Then it’s another $200 per station for a Clover-enabled FD40 PIN Pad if you want your system to be able to accept PIN debit and/or EBT payments. Or you can opt to add one of the portable/mobile Clover products, Clover Mini or Clover Flex, which are capable of processing any payment type out-of-the-box and retail from $499-$599. (This does not include Clover’s software fees, which typically range from about $14 to $49/month.)
Clover hardware becomes even more expensive if you lease it, which is what a lot of Clover resellers will try to get you to do. (Please don’t lease any payment processing or POS hardware.) As mentioned, Clover is always sold with a merchant account, so you can’t just go out and buy the hardware on your own (without signing a merchant services contract).
Support for Clover products can also be inconsistent, as payments/merchant account support varies, depending on who you buy your Clover hardware and account from. Clover is sold by thousands of different banks, merchant services providers, and other third-party vendors, almost always with a merchant account contract. Software and hardware support comes directly from First Data, which, again, has kind of a crummy reputation with merchants. Plus, its help website and videos aren’t super useful. Support for the Clover apps that extend the POS’s basic functionality is provided by the individual app developers rather than from a centralized support center.
Lack Of Specialty Features For Niche Markets
Although Clover is customizable with purchased add-ons, it’s more of a general all-in-one POS rather than a system designed for any particular industry. You could find Clover limiting or overly simplistic if you want POS software that comes with pre-loaded with lots of industry-specific features designed for your specific type of business.
Finally, some merchants might find Clover hardware limiting. Unlike other POS systems that run on Apple or Android devices, Clover’s proprietary hardware only works with Clover POS (with one exception, which I’ll get to shortly). That means if you buy the hardware and you end up not liking Clover, you can’t use your equipment with any other system. What’s more, your unit cannot even be reprogrammed if you want to switch to another First Data-approved merchant account. You’ll have to buy a whole new hardware bundle.
A lot of merchants love Clover, but if any of its limitations are deal-breakers for your business, you might consider one of these six Clover POS alternatives. I’ll go over the basics and main draws of each Clover alternative and then list the reasons why you might choose them instead of Clover.
6 Top Competitors To Clover POS
Maybe you’re a former Clover user who wants to try something different. Or perhaps you are considering Clover but aren’t sure if Clover is the right POS for your business and are still weighing all your options. Whatever your reasons for looking at Clover alternatives, now is a good time to check out some of the top-rated competitors to Clover on the market. There are dozens of different POS systems on the market, but the following ones are the best alternatives to Clover, specifically.
1. Best All-Around: Square
Square is probably Clover’s biggest competitor, as it is another easy-to-use, all-in-one cloud POS that can work for any type of business. Mobile, flexible, and, above all, simple, Square is an amazing all-around POS product that can work as either an entry-level POS for new businesses, or a more specialized POS for specific industries, such as food/beverage, retail, and beauty/wellness. Square also has some distinct advantages over Clover.
Square has several proprietary POS hardware options that are comparable to Clover. The Square Terminal is similar in its form factor and function to the Clover Flex or Clover Mini, while the dual-screen Square Register (pictured below) is more of an answer to the Clover Station. For mobile businesses, Square’s $49 contactless and chip reader can be used to accept EMV and NFC payments, such as Apple Pay.
But the cool thing is you don’t have to use Square’s hardware (aside from a Square card reader, one of which you can get for free); you can also use your iOS, Android, or Windows hardware if you like. If you enjoy the Apple-esque, all-white look of Clover, you might prefer to use the Square Stand, which is compatible with iPads and even has a swiveling screen, just like Clover.
What truly makes Square stand out isn’t its hardware, but its payment processing. Square processing provides an alternative to a merchant account for businesses that aren’t ready for the cost or commitment a merchant account entails. Square offers a pay-as-you-go system, which has no monthly fee or monthly minimum, for just 2.6% +$0.10 per transaction. If you opt for an industry-specific POS software package, such as Square for Restaurants or Square for Retail, you’ll pay an additional $60/month, but the month-to-month contract gives you plenty of flexibility if you decide Square isn’t for you.
What Makes Square Better Than Clover?
- Free POS app with no commitment or monthly minimum
- No merchant account required
- Use on any device — iPad, laptop PC, iPhone, Android, etc.
- Affordable proprietary hardware options include Square Terminal ($299) and Square Register ($799)
- Flat-rate processing on all accounts
- Free Square Reader for taking magstripe payments
- Free eCommerce website on all accounts
Square comes packed with a lot of features — the most of any free POS we’ve evaluated. Numerous Square add-ons expand its functionality even further, such as Square Appointments, Square Payroll, Square Loyalty, and others. If you want to see how Square stacks up against Clover Go specifically, read our Square vs. Clover Go post.
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2. Best For Low Budget: SwipeSimple By Payment Depot
Payment Depot is one of the few trustworthy Clover resellers with straightforward pricing and no hidden fees or commitments. However, Payment Depot also offers another great product called SwipeSimple that works well for low-budget and low-volume processors. SwipeSimple is a fairly basic but very capable iOS and Android POS app that connects with SwipeSimple’s free chip card reader or Payment Depot’s amazingly priced $25 contactless reader. For external hardware, merchants can connect Star Micronics’ mPOP with an integrated cash drawer and receipt printer. If you want a more robust terminal, you can opt for the $299 SwipeSimple Terminal instead of one of the mobile card readers.
Similar to Square, the main thing Payment Depot has going for it is its payment processing. Payment Depot offers flat-rate pricing of 2.6% + $0.10/transaction (the same rate as Square’s and Lightspeed’s). There’s an additional $10 monthly fee, but this fee comes with Payment Depot’s excellent customer support and even your own dedicated merchant account — something you don’t get with a third-party processor, such as Square or PayPal Here. Payment Depot also offers interchange-plus pricing plans as your business grows. Once you graduate to processing $10K-$25K/month, you’ll be eligible for Payment Depot’s $49/month plan with interchange-plus pricing.
SwipeSimple is not as advanced of a system as Clover. Still, if you just need a reliable, basic iPad POS, you can potentially save a lot of money using SwipeSimple instead of Clover.
What Makes SwipeSimple By Payment Depot Better Than Clover?
- Works on Apple and Android
- Cheaper hardware with multiple options
- Free chip card reader (SwipeSimple B200)
- Excellent customer service in one place
- $10/month plan that includes your own merchant account
Again, Payment Depot also sells Clover. Note that buying Clover though Payment Depot will be more expensive than choosing SwipeSimple since the hardware costs more, and the $10/month plan isn’t available for Clover. Nevertheless, if you do decide to go with Clover POS, Payment Depot is one of the best places to get it from.
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3. Best For eCommerce Integration: Shopify POS
Shopify was one of the first companies to make it easy to sell your products online, but it’s iPad-based POS makes it every bit as easy to sell in person. Shopify POS is an affordable, mobile, and robust POS system with flat-rate in-house processing and built-in eCommerce. While it’s a great choice for any retail business that also sells online, Shopify is versatile enough that non-retail environments, such as coffee carts or salons, can also use it. If you want a powerful website with syncing for in-person sales, this is the obvious choice.
Shopify POS software fees start at just $29/month (that includes a hosted eCommerce website, by the way), though you’ll need to opt for the $79/month plan if you want to connect peripherals, such as a cash drawer and receipt printer. You will get most features with this plan level, including gift cards, staff PINs, register shifts, and reporting. The Shopify Payments flat-rate payment processing is included at just 2.5% at the $79/month plan level and only 2.6% for your online sales. You also have the option to integrate with an outside payment processor, though Shopify will add a 1% fee if you do that.
What Makes Shopify Better Than Clover?
- Cheaper hardware options (works with iPad and iPad peripherals, such as mPOP)
- A free website including eCommerce and blog included on all plans
- More retail and eCommerce features out-of-the-box
- Flat-rate payment processing on all accounts
- Highly rated customer support available 24/7
Shopify is not suitable for full-service restaurants, but just about any other type of store that wants to sell online could find Shopify to be a better fit than Clover. Shopify also integrates with other business software with apps from the Shopify App Store.
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4. Best for Retail Stores: Lightspeed
Montreal-based software Lightspeed was founded in 2005 and today includes several different POS products: Onsite, Retail, Restaurant, and eCommerce. For this list, I’m talking specifically about Lightspeed’s cloud POS offering for retail, Lightspeed Retail. This web-based solution runs on an iPad using the Lightspeed Retail iOS app, or on a desktop computer with a web browser, such as Chrome or Mozilla. Lightspeed has especially strong inventory features that make it well suited to specialty retail, including apparel, electronics, pet stores, vape shops, and more. It’s also easy to add an eCommerce plan, which syncs your online and offline inventories, sales, customers, etc.
Lightspeed is best for small to medium-sized businesses. It offers relatively advanced retail-specific functions at a very reasonable price point, starting at $69/month, with in-house flat-rate payment processing through Lightspeed Payments at 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction. However, you also have the option to integrate with an outside payment processor if you prefer.
What Makes Lightspeed Better Than Clover?
- Many Hardware Options: iPad, Windows PC, iMac, Chromebook, and more
- Choice Of Payment Processors: US merchants can choose from Cayan, Mercury, or BridgePay (through which you can access 30+ payment processors)
- In-house flat-rate payment processing if you don’t want to shop around for a merchant account
- Quality customer support in one place
- Advanced retail features out-of-the-box (without the need for add-ons and integrations)
Like Clover, Lightspeed Retail has many different integrations, which expand its functionality and allow the system to “talk to” other business software you use. Learn more about the top Lightspeed Retail add-ons.
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5. Best For Quick-Service: ShopKeep
Developed in 2010 as an answer to poor-quality Windows POS software, ShopKeep is another solid tablet POS for SMBs, whether you’re in retail or food service. It is especially useful for quick-service restaurants and hybrid businesses that sell some retail products and some food products. Best of all, this is the only POS system other than Clover that you can use with Clover hardware.
ShopKeep does not have as many specialty-focused features as Lightspeed or Toast (it lacks table seating and advanced inventory management functions), making it better for small specialty shops and small quick-service food operations rather than full-service restaurants or large stores. Then again, you don’t want to pay for features you won’t use anyway. And it does still have some powerful back-office features, including employee management and an email marketing integration with Mailchimp.
ShopKeep monthly pricing starts at around $69/month, though you’ll have to contact them directly for an exact quote. ShopKeep additionally offers interchange-plus processing via its in-house payment processor, ShopKeep Payments.
What Makes ShopKeep Better Than Clover?
- Several hardware options include iPads, Clover terminals (Go, Mini, Flex, or Station), and even Android tablets
- In-house payment processing with competitive interchange-plus rates
- Choice of payment processors if you don’t want to use the in-house processing
- Terrific customer support
- More features than Clover out-of-the-box
- Gives you another POS option if you want to use the Clover terminal but don’t like the interface and/or First Data
If you opt to use ShopKeep on a Clover terminal, you’ll need to source your Clover hardware directly from ShopKeep. ShopKeep also sells iPad starter kits.
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6. Best For Full-Service Restaurants: Toast
Android-based Toast’s creators developed this cloud POS as an alternative to the poorly serviced, difficult-to-update POS systems most restaurateurs had to contend with just a decade ago. Toast is restaurant-specific and suitable for full service, quick service, cafes, and pizzerias. It can also be used by businesses that just serve alcohol, such as bars and nightclubs.
Toast offers all the restaurant-centric POS features you’d expect, from seating area management to menu management. Even offering more advanced functions, such as online ordering and kiosk mode, Toast is full-fledged restaurant management software, not just a POS. It’s not the cheapest POS around — packages start at $79/month — but certainly not the most expensive, either. The core software offered at the lowest price level includes cloud-based reporting, menu management, and kitchen operations, while paid add-ons include online ordering, loyalty, and gift cards.
As for hardware, Toast uses Elo Touch i-Series 2.0 AiO touchscreen terminals with multiple size options and also has optional custom-built handheld tablets for waitstaff as well as a custom-built kitchen display screen.
Toast POS users are locked into using Toast payment processing, but rates are competitive, and not having to deal with a separate payment processor/merchant account simplifies things; there’s only one number to call for any Toast POS issues, payment-related or otherwise.
What Makes Toast Better than Clover?
- Android POS means cheaper hardware than Clover or iPad alternatives; it allows for a greater choice of device and form factor
- Suitable for enterprise-level businesses
- Restaurant-specific functions out-of-the-box
- Excellent in-house support available 24/7
- In-house payment processing from Toast
- Handheld terminal ToastGo® is designed especially for waitstaff/foodservice
As with most of the other POS systems on this list, with perhaps the exception of SwipeSimple, Toast has many integrations with other business software as well as an open API. For more restaurant POS options, including iPad POS, check out our restaurant POS comparison.
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Which POS System Is Right For Me?
Clover is a very acceptable point of sale system for small businesses, as long as you understand the risks and challenges of using First Data for payment processing and hardware/software support and are pretty confident you want to use Clover for the long-haul (or you can afford to buy new equipment if Clover doesn’t work out). Also, make sure you are comfortable with the bank/merchant account you purchase Clover from because you’ll be relying on them for most support-related issues. Check out our recommendations if you think Clover is right for you.
If Clover seems a bit pricey or restrictive, you should try out one or more of the systems on this list. Most of these systems offer a free trial or at least a free demo. Best of all, they all offer month-to-month contracts and use hardware that can be used with other POS systems in case you end up wanting to use a different system.
Still not sure which POS to choose? Not a problem! We’re always happy to help, so please leave us a comment!
A Last Look At Our Top Picks
Summary - Best All-Around
Summary - Best For Low Budget
- Shopify POS
Summary - Best For eCommerce Integration
- Lightspeed POS
Summary - Best For Retailers
- ShopKeep POS
Summary - Best For Quick-Service
- Toast POS
Summary - Best For Full-Service Restaurants