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
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.
Pros & Cons Of Toast
- Highly customizable mobile POS and kitchen display system
- Excellent online ordering features
- Thorough perishable inventory management
- Restaurant-grade hardware
- Locked into a long-term contract
- Higher payment processing fees on a pay-as-you-go plan
- Can be expensive, especially with add-ons like online ordering and loyalty program
Toast is a great choice for busy small to midsize restaurants because there are several restaurant-industry-specific features like customizable ordering, tipping, online reservation, and kitchen workflow features. Toast’s self-ordering kiosks, which allow customers to collect and redeem loyalty program points, are great additions to quick-serve restaurants of all sizes.
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 multi-location restaurant businesses.
Plus, Toast’s Android-based hardware can survive spills, drops, and most other restaurant mishaps (while iOS devices may not.)
Pros & Cons Of Square For Restaurants
- Free online ordering platform for pickup and delivery orders
- Integrations with popular third-party delivery services
- Very easy to set up and use
- Unlimited devices allowed on free plan
- 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 like your own website, tableside ordering QR code generator, online gift card generator, 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) 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 single-location multilocation 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 Toast & Square 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 kiosks
- Built-in payment processing systems which support cash, card, and check payments
- Mobile and tabletop register hardware
Only Toast Offers…
- Extensive perishable inventory management
- Extensive floor planning capabilities
- Credit-card-based loyalty program, so customers automatically earn points as they spend
- Several restaurant-specific analytics reports
Only Square Offers…
- Free integration with Google Ordering, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook
- Free built-in appointment scheduler (great for catering and as a makeshift reservation system)
- Free eCommerce/online ordering website builder
- Month-to-month subscription plans
Toast VS Square Pricing
|Monthly Subscription Pricing||
|In-Person Payment Processing||
|Online Payment Processing||3.5% + $0.15 (includes online, phone, and third-party delivery orders)||
|Online Ordering Platform||
|Self-Ordering Kiosks||Toast software is compatible with Elo self-ordering kiosks, which cost $450-$700 each||
|Kitchen Display Systems (KDS)||
|Gift Card Program||
||$45/location-$105/location (dependent on number of loyalty customer visits)|
|Contract Length||1-3 years||Month-to-month|
|Early Termination Fee||
|Subscription Renewal Price Changes||Automated 3% increase at the start of each subscription renewal||$0|
Square and Toast both offer plans that cost $0/month.
However, Toast charges higher payment processing fees to cover the cost of the “free” 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.)
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, though, 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 User Reviews
As you would expect with two companies that are used by thousands of merchants across the country and the world, 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 Complaints & Common Problems
- 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 Complaints & Common Problems
- 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
- 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 want to take advantage of Toast’s sleek and innovative hardware options
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, all-in-one 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
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 (with your time, money, and possibly your tears of frustration), then choose Toast for your restaurant POS needs.
If, after reading this Toast VS Square comparison, 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.