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IPad point-of-sale systems are allowing small businesses to become more mobile and accept payments from anywhere. Just because a particular iPad POS system works for one business, however, doesn’t mean it’ll be suitable for another. The right solution will depend on what type of business you have, the hardware you’re pairing with the iPad (if any) and whether the majority of your sales happen in-store or on-the-go.
iPad POS system
New brick-and-mortar businesses and mobile businesses.
Free and up.
Businesses that already use Clover POS terminals or sell most of their products on-the-go.
$14.95 and up.
$69 per month and up.
Larger brick-and-mortar businesses that need advanced inventory management and CRM tools.
$39 per month and up for restaurants; $69 per month and up for retail stores.
Businesses that conduct most of their sales online.
$29 per month and up.
Here are the top iPad POS systems and who they’re best for.
Square Stand: best overall
Software: Free and up.
Hardware: $149 for Square Stand, which accepts contactless and chip payments.
Payment processing: 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction; 3.5% plus 15 cents per keyed transaction; 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction.
Free software plan available.
Can finance hardware and pay in monthly installments. APR is 15%.
No fees for early termination, payment card industry, or PCI, compliance or setup.
Offers custom plans for retail stores, restaurants and service-based businesses.
Free plans include inventory management, team management and table management for restaurants.
Phone, email and messaging support with all plans; available 24/7 in paid restaurant plans.
Customer loyalty programs and email marketing tools are monthly add-ons.
Why we like it: Square Stand is a top-notch iPad POS system that’s scalable, convenient and promises no hidden fees. In addition to being a one-stop shop for payment processing, POS hardware, POS software and payroll, it offers a variety of add-ons and plans. And its “shop now, pay over time” options, free online store builder and free POS software — which includes essentials like inventory management and employee time tracking — all lower the cost of entry for new small businesses. The company also offers its own in-house payroll software and payment processing, and business owners who don’t already own an iPad can buy one straight from Square’s hardware shop.
Clover Go: best for mostly mobile businesses
Software: $14.95 and up.
Hardware: $49 for Clover Go portable card reader; accepts swipe cards, chip cards and contactless payments.
Payment processing: 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction for Starter Plan; 2.3% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction for Standard and Advanced plans; 3.5% plus 10 cents per keyed transaction.
First month’s software fees are waived.
24/7 phone support.
Inventory management and the ability to set discounts, tips, tax rates and employee logins aren’t included in the free software plan.
Clover is sold by a number of resellers, so prices and contract terms could vary.
Why we like it: The free Clover Go app lets business owners accept payments, send receipts and track sales directly through a smartphone or tablet. Small businesses that would benefit from inventory management and need to set up employee logins, discounts, tips and tax rates might consider purchasing a software plan to use alongside the app. The Clover Essentials plan, which is more customizable and includes the aforementioned features, is $9.95 per month. The product is ideal for businesses that already use Clover or operate mostly on-the-go.
TouchBistro: best for restaurants
Software: Starts at $69 per month.
Payment processing: Quote-based for TouchBistro Payments.
24/7 phone, chat and email support.
Offers customizable plans for a variety of restaurant types.
Add-ons like customer loyalty programs and online ordering can get expensive.
No free plans.
Why we like it: TouchBistro is an iPad POS system built specifically for restaurants. It offers customizable solutions for full-service restaurants along with food trucks, quick-service restaurants, bars, bakeries and coffee shops. The company’s core software plan includes inventory management, menu and table management, reporting, tableside ordering capabilities and staff management tools. Reservations, online ordering, digital menu boards and customer loyalty programs are available for an extra monthly fee. The system is a solid option for restaurants that need more functionality than other companies’ free plans have to offer.
Lightspeed: best customer relationship management features
Software: Starts at $69 per month (billed annually) for retail businesses and $39 per month for restaurants.
Payment processing: 2.6% plus 10 cents per card-present transaction; 2.6% plus 30 cents per keyed transaction.
24/7 phone, text and email support.
One-on-one onboarding for retail stores and live online training for restaurants.
Robust set of customer relationship management and inventory management features.
No free plans.
Annual contracts required for lowering pricing.
Add-ons like accounting integrations and customer loyalty programs cost extra in restaurant plans.
Why we like it: Lightspeed’s CRM tools let businesses create customer profiles, offer discounts to regulars, record each customer’s purchase history and explore shopping trends. The product is a good fit for restaurants and retail stores that know how to use this type of data to grow and better appeal to their audience. The company’s inventory management tools are also notable. Businesses can create product variants, assign unique serial numbers to products and order new stock directly through the POS system.
Shopify: best for businesses that prioritize online sales
Software: $29 per month and up.
Hardware: $149 for Shopify Retail Stand.
Payment processing: 2.4%-2.7% per in-person transaction; varies by plan.
Low payment processing rates.
Can pay for Shopify Retail Stand in installments.
24/7 email, chat and phone support.
All plans include a free online store for your business, shipping discounts, the ability to print shipping labels and an abandoned cart recovery tool.
No free plans.
$29 per month and $79 per month software plans limited to two and five staff accounts, respectively.
Why we like it: Like Lightspeed, Shopify’s iPad POS system lets businesses create customer profiles and save order histories in all plans. Shopify really stands out, however, because of its e-commerce perks and relatively low processing rates. Businesses that do most of their sales online will benefit the most from its shipping discounts, online marketplaces and ability to add an unlimited amount of products and variants in your POS.
Maddie Shepherd contributed reporting to this article.