Toast VS Square: Find The Winner For Your Restaurant
Trying to decide between Toast or Square as your restaurant's point of sale system? Read our guide to discover the best fit for your business.
New and established food service business owners will find Toast POS and Square POS during their restaurant POS system research. But which one is the better fit for small businesses?
Keep reading this Toast VS Square comparison to find out which restaurant POS system is right for your business size, budget, and unique needs.
Table of Contents
- Toast VS Square For Restaurants At A Glance
- What’s The Difference Between Square & Toast?
- Toast VS Square Pricing
- Toast VS Square Features
- Toast VS Square Reviews
- Which Is Best For My Business Needs: Toast Or Square?
- Our Methodology For Evaluating Square VS Toast
- How Square For Restaurants & Toast Compare To Other Restaurant POS Software
- Toast VS Square Comparison: The Final Verdict
- FAQs: Toast VS Square
Toast VS Square For Restaurants At A Glance
Toast and Square are both strong restaurant point of sale systems. However, Square offers more free features like a free online ordering platform and Google Ordering integration, while Toast offers more extensive restaurant-specific features like perishable inventory management and menu performance reports.
- Highly customizable mobile POS and kitchen display system
- Excellent online ordering and loyalty program features
- Thorough perishable inventory management
- Restaurant-grade hardware
- Locked into a long-term contract
- Higher payment processing fees and an online ordering fee on lower pricing plans
- Can be expensive, especially with add-ons like online ordering and loyalty programs
Toast is a great choice for busy small to midsize restaurants because there are several restaurant-specific features like customizable ordering, tipping, online reservations, and kitchen workflow features. Toast also offers the most customizable loyalty program builder out of any restaurant POS on the market. Full-size restaurants will appreciate fast and intuitive server table management, while quick-serve restaurants can take advantage of self-serve kiosks and an order-ready screen so customers can quickly pick up to-go orders.
The system’s ingredient-level inventory tracking, easy 86-ing functions, and automated menu item syncing across locations and ordering platforms also allow for easy inventory management, especially for multilocation restaurant businesses.
Plus, Toast’s Android-based hardware can survive spills, drops, and most other restaurant mishaps (while iOS devices may not).
Square For Restaurants Overview
- Free online ordering platform for pickup and delivery orders
- Very easy to set up and use
- Unlimited devices allowed on free plan
- Connect to Square’s suite of business tools
- Affordable POS hardware
- Occasional fund holds
- No perishable inventory tracking
- Expensive for multilocation establishments
Square is overall the best free/low-cost restaurant management system for small food service business owners. Square’s free features, including your own website, online gift card generator, Google Ordering, and social media marketing integrations, make Square a fantastic all-in-one inventory, online ordering, and POS software option for those with a limited budget.
You can use an unlimited number of your own iPads as POS systems (free plan only), purchase a dedicated Square Register stand for countertop and self-serve kiosk ordering, or purchase Square’s new durable Android-based mobile POS kit (starting at the Square Plus plan). Square card readers are compact and affordable, so it’s easy to sell at a restaurant, in a food truck, and on-location at events like farmers’ markets and festivals.
What’s The Difference Between Square & Toast?
Toast offers more restaurant-specific features like highly-custom floor planning, reservation capabilities, and perishable inventory tracking, but comes with a higher price tag. Square offers many more free features and affordable hardware but lacks some features that larger restaurant businesses need to run smoothly.
While both systems offer similar features, Toast offers more granular levels of control, while Square’s features aren’t as detailed but are much less expensive.
Both Square & Toast Offer…
- Online ordering for pickup and delivery (Square offers this for free)
- Tableside ordering via QR code
- Third-party delivery platform integrations (Doordash, UberEats, Chowly, etc.)
- Gift card programs (Square online gift cards are free)
- Custom tipping and order splitting rules
- Self-ordering capabilities
- Built-in payment processing systems which support cash, card, and check payments
- Mobile and tabletop register hardware
- Loyalty program builders
Only Toast Offers…
- Perishable inventory management
- Extensive floor planning capabilities
- Dedicated self-serve kiosk hardware and software
- Credit-card-based loyalty program that works for all ordering types (online and in-person at any location)
- Several restaurant-specific analytics reports
- Restaurant-specific add-ons like catering and built-in reservation management
Only Square Offers…
- Free eCommerce/online ordering website builder
- Free integration with Google Ordering, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook
- Free built-in appointment scheduler (great for catering and as a makeshift reservation system)
- Month-to-month subscription plans
- Simple, predictable payment processing fees
Toast VS Square Pricing
|Monthly Subscription Pricing||
|In-Person Payment Processing||
|Online Payment Processing||
|Online Ordering Platform||
|Kitchen Display Systems (KDS)||
|Gift Card Program||
||$45/location-$105/location (dependent on number of loyalty customer visits)|
|Early Termination Fee||
|Subscription Renewal Price Changes||
Square and Toast both offer plans that cost $0/month. However, Toast charges higher payment processing fees on all orders to cover the cost of the “free” plan, especially if you add online ordering to your plan. Toast is a more advanced restaurant POS system, but it’s quite expensive considering the cost of add-ons like online ordering and eGift cards (which Square offers for free).
Which Is Cheaper, Square Or Toast?
Square is cheaper than Toast. With Square, you can use any iPad or smartphone and card readers cost $49. Toast’s “free” plan has high payment processing fees, which can end up being more expensive than paid plans. Toast’s paid plans require you to pay upfront for strong (but pricey) restaurant-grade hardware.
Toast VS Square Features
|Online Ordering, Takeout, & Delivery||
Toast and Square both have strong tipping, check splitting, menu management, online ordering, loyalty program, gift card creation, floor planning, card pre-authorization, and email marketing features. Toast offers more customization in most of these categories, but for the average restaurant, you may not need such granular levels of custom settings.
Toast has a definitive edge over Square in terms of inventory management. Square, on the other hand, has better built-in online ordering, marketing, and offline payment capabilities.
For many restaurant needs, like reservations, Square offers free and low-cost workarounds, while Toast offers either proprietary (paid) solutions or (paid) integrations with third-party restaurant software providers.
The biggest difference between Toast and Square is the way you get (and pay for) your restaurant hardware. You have to use Toast’s proprietary hardware, while Square allows you to bring your own iPad-based devices or purchase affordable Square hardware.
Let’s dig into a more detailed feature comparison so you can decide which POS system you need.
Toast VS Square Reviews
As you would expect with two companies that are used by thousands of merchants, there is a wide range of positive reviews as well as complaints.
In general, Square user reviews praise the software’s ease of use and that it’s a straightforward, all-in-one POS, online ordering, team management, and payment processing solution. They dislike very little, but the complaints that do exist are mostly about payment processing.
Toast users, on the other hand, have many pain points. While users praise the software’s server-centric features and like the level of customization that’s possible, they have many complaints about customer service, contracts, software glitches, and the price point of said customizations.
Square For Restaurants Common Complaints
- Limited restaurant-specific reporting and inventory management
- Occasional fund holds if there’s a suspicious transaction
- Payment processing fees for businesses with higher transaction volume
Toast Common Complaints
- Horrible customer service
- Trapped in long-term contracts
- High card-not-present payment processing fees
- Expensive add-ons
- Frequently glitching hardware and time-consuming software updates
Which Is Best For My Business Needs: Toast Or Square?
Toast and Square are both great restaurant POS systems, but each one fits a certain business type. Here’s how to tell which restaurant POS is right for your business.
Choose Toast If…
- Your larger, full-scale restaurant needs in-depth features and durable, restaurant-grade hardware
- You have several restaurant locations that could benefit from master menu and inventory management
- You fully understand and are comfortable with Toast’s processing fees and contract requirements
- You have a restaurant inside a hotel or your restaurant focuses largely on catering as well as in-person orders
- Your takeout-heavy restaurant could use an order-ready screen to communicate order statuses with customers and delivery drivers
Choose Square For Restaurants If…
- You want a free/low-cost restaurant management solution
- You want affordable, diverse restaurant hardware options
- Your restaurant would benefit from a simple, easy-to-use POS system
- You don’t process a high volume of transactions
- Your restaurant could benefit from helpful add-ons like Square Loyalty and Square Payroll
- You want a month-to-month contract
Our Methodology For Evaluating Square VS Toast
At Merchant Maverick, we review Square For Restaurants and Toast restaurant POS systems multiple times throughout the year based on several factors, including pricing, core feature set, user-friendliness, payment processing fees and options, contract terms, and POS hardware availability.
We take into account real, unincentivized user reviews from review sites such as G2, Software Advice, and GetApp, as well as our own free trial/demo experiences, when evaluating POS systems. We consider which features different types and sizes of restaurants need as well as price points when deciding whether a person should use Toast or Square for their foodservice business.
Read more about how we rate POS systems at Merchant Maverick.
How Square For Restaurants & Toast Compare To Other Restaurant POS Software
Unlike Square and Toast, TouchBistro offers a built-in reservation and waitlist system that neatly integrates with the software’s web-based online ordering app and loyalty program. TouchBistro software also allows you to manage catering delivery orders, which Toast offers but Square does not.
TouchBistro also allows you to choose your own payment processor out of several options, while Square and Toast require you to use their in-house payment processors.
Like Toast, Lightspeed Restaurant integrates with several property management systems such as Stayntouch and Mews. Lightspeed Restaurant is a more affordable hotel restaurant management platform than Toast in most cases, and offers a little more transparency when it comes to pricing.
Both restaurant POS systems offer a great loyalty program, although Toast outranks Lightspeed in this area.
Square is more affordable than both restaurant POS systems, but also has fewer restaurant-centric features such as perishable inventory management.
The biggest draw of Clover over Square and Toast is the ability to customize your POS system with third-party software apps and the option to choose from a number of Clover merchant services providers (which will help you save on payment processing fees).
Unfortunately, Clover does not come with many restaurant features, so you’re almost required to add extra software to your Clover device. This can make Clover a more difficult system to work with. For example, Clover does not have its own kitchen display system software, so you’ll need to find one in the Clover app market and make it work with your POS setup.
Toast VS Square Comparison: The Final Verdict
Toast and Square restaurant POS systems both have great feature sets for restaurant owners. Toast features are more in-depth, but can also be much more expensive.
Square’s payment processing fees and hardware costs are consistent and transparent, while Toast’s custom-quoted pricing plans and customer service are anything but consistent and transparent.
If cost and responsive customer service are significant issues for your business, then Square for Restaurants is the better option. However, if you need a true top-of-the-line restaurant management system and are willing to pay for it, then choose Toast for your restaurant POS needs.
If neither of these POS providers sounds like the right fit for you, read our post on the best restaurant POS systems to find the software that will take your food service business to the next level.