The 5 Best iPad POS Systems for Small Businesses

IPads that function as POS systems are affordable, flexible and easy to use. Here’s how to pick the right one.
Hillary Crawford
By Hillary Crawford 
Edited by Chris Hutchison

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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

Best for

Monthly software fees

Square Stand

New brick-and-mortar businesses and mobile businesses.

  • $0 for Square POS, Restaurant, Retail and Appointments Free plans.

  • $29 for Square POS Plus and Square Appointments Plus plans.

  • $60 for Restaurant Plus and Retail Plus plans.

  • $69 for Square Appointments Premium plan.

Clover Go

Businesses that already use Clover POS terminals or sell most of their products on-the-go.

  • $14.95 for Starter Retail, Starter and Standard Professional Services, and Home & Field Services plans.

  • $44.95 for Standard Retail, Starter and Standard QSR, and Advanced Professional Services plans.

  • $54.90 for Advanced Retail and Advanced QSR plans.

  • $74.95 for Starter Full-Service Dining plan.

  • $84.90 for Standard Full-Service Dining plan.

  • $94.85 for Advanced Full-Service Dining plan.

TouchBistro

Restaurants.

  • $69 for base plan.

  • $25 for gift cards feature.

  • $50 for online ordering feature.

  • $99 for loyalty features or marketing features.

  • $229 for reservations feature.

Lightspeed

Larger brick-and-mortar businesses that need advanced inventory management and CRM tools.

  • $89 for Lean plan ($69 if billed annually).

  • $149 for Standard plan ($119 if billed annually).

  • $269 for Advanced plan ($199 if billed annually).

Prices are higher if you don’t use Lightspeed as your payments processor:

  • $119 for Lean plan ($99 if billed annually).

  • $179 for Standard plan ($149 if billed annually).

  • $299 for Advanced plan ($229 if billed annually).

Shopify

Businesses that conduct most of their sales online.

To use Shopify POS, you also have to have a Shopify plan for e-commerce.

  • $29 for Shopify Basic.

  • $79 for regular Shopify.

  • $299 for Shopify Advanced.

  • $2,000 for Shopify Plus.

Once you have a Shopify plan for e-commerce, add either:

  • $0 for Shopify POS Lite (free with all Shopify plans).

  • $89 per location for Shopify POS Pro (free with Shopify Plus).

Here are the top iPad POS systems and who they’re best for.

Square Stand: best overall

Pricing

Software monthly fees:

  • $0 for Square POS, Restaurant, Retail and Appointments Free plans.

  • $29 for Square POS Plus and Square Appointments Plus plans.

  • $60 for Restaurant Plus and Retail Plus plans.

  • $69 for Square Appointments Premium plan.

Hardware cost:

  • $0 for Square magstripe-only card reader ($10 for each additional) or if using Tap to Pay for iPhone (iPhone not included).

  • $49 for Square Reader contactless and chip card reader.

  • $149 for Square Stand iPad POS or Square Stand Mount (iPad not included).

  • $299 for Square Terminal mobile card reader with built-in printer.

  • $799 for Square Register two-screen system.

  • $659-$1,479 for various bundles of stands, cash drawers, printers and card readers.

Payment processing:

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents with Retail Plus plan).

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions or invoices without a card on file.

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions or card-on-file invoices.

Photo courtesy of Square

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • Customer loyalty programs and email marketing tools are monthly add-ons.

Square Stand

Square
Shop Now

on Square's website

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

Pricing

Software monthly fees:

  • $14.95 for Starter Retail, Starter and Standard Professional Services, and Home & Field Services plans.

  • $44.95 for Standard Retail, Starter and Standard QSR, and Advanced Professional Services plans.

  • $54.90 for Advanced Retail and Advanced QSR plans.

  • $74.95 for Starter Full-Service Dining plan.

  • $84.90 for Standard Full-Service Dining plan.

  • $94.85 for Advanced Full-Service Dining plan.

Hardware:

  • $49 for chip, swipe and contactless Clover Go card reader.

  • $499 for Clover Flex mobile POS with printer.

  • $799 for Clover Mini POS.

  • $1,349 for Clover Station Solo.

  • $1,799 for Clover Station Duo.

Payment processing:

  • 2.3% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions for most plans.

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions on Retail Starter, Personal Services Starter and Professional Services Standard plans, as well as Home & Field Services Standard and Advanced plans.

  • 3.5% plus 10 cents for online or keyed-in transactions.

Clover

Clover
NerdWallet rating 
Shop Now

on Clover's website

Pros

  • First month’s software fees are waived.

  • 24/7 phone support.

Cons

  • 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.

Clover Go being used with an iPhone.

Clover Go being used with an iPhone.

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

Pricing

Software monthly fees:

  • $69 for base plan.

  • $25 for gift cards feature.

  • $50 for online ordering feature.

  • $99 for loyalty features or marketing features.

  • $229 for reservations feature.

Hardware cost: Quote-based.

Payment processing: Quote-based for TouchBistro Payments.

Pros

  • 24/7 phone, chat and email support.

  • Offers customizable plans for a variety of restaurant types.

Cons

  • 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

Pricing

Software monthly fees:

  • $89 for Lean plan ($69 if billed annually).

  • $149 for Standard plan ($119 if billed annually).

  • $269 for Advanced plan ($199 if billed annually).

Prices are higher if you don’t use Lightspeed as your payments processor:

  • $119 for Lean plan ($99 if billed annually).

  • $179 for Standard plan ($149 if billed annually).

  • $299 for Advanced plan ($229 if billed annually).

Hardware: cost Quote-based.

Payment processing:

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction.

  • 2.6% plus 30 cents for manually keyed transactions.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • No free plans.

  • Annual contracts required for lowering pricing.

  • Add-ons such as 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.

LightSpeed POS

Lightspeed
NerdWallet rating 
Shop Now

on Lightspeed's website

Shopify: best for businesses that prioritize online sales

Pricing

Software monthly fees:

To use Shopify POS, you also have to have a Shopify plan for e-commerce.

  • $29 for Shopify Basic.

  • $79 for regular Shopify.

  • $299 for Shopify Advanced.

  • $2,000 for Shopify Plus.

Once you have a Shopify plan for e-commerce, add either:

  • $0 for Shopify POS Lite (free with all Shopify plans).

  • $89 per location for Shopify POS Pro (free with Shopify Plus).

Hardware cost:

  • $49 for Chipper 2X BT card reader or Tap & Chip card reader.

  • $219 for Retail Kit.

  • $399 for Shopify POS Go mobile device ($429 with case).

Payment processing:

  • 2.4%, 2.6% or 2.9% plus 30 cents for online payments for Advanced, Shopify or Basic plan, respectively.

  • 2.4%, 2.5% or 2.7% for in-person payments for Advanced, Shopify or Basic plan, respectively.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Shopify Retail POS

Shopify
NerdWallet rating 
Shop Now

on Shopify's website

Maddie Shepherd contributed reporting to this article.

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