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Square is a popular point-of-sale platform and payment processor. It’s often used by restaurants, retailers and service providers, and can process in-person, online, phone and mobile credit card payments. The processing rate is 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction. There’s no monthly fee, and a free credit card reader is provided. A register costs $39 per month for 24 months, or $799 upfront. Add-ons are available to help you manage your team, process payroll, reward customers and set up marketing campaigns.
While Square is a versatile system, it does have competitors that offer similar features. Consider these alternative products that might be better suited for restaurants, retail stores and businesses looking to cut credit card expenses.
PayPal Zettle: Good overall alternative
Software cost: $0 monthly fees.
Hardware cost: $29 for Zettle card reader. Pay $79 for additional readers.
Payment processing cost: 2.29% plus 9 cents per in-person transaction.
Why we like it: This all-in-one POS system offers one of the lowest flat-rate transaction fees, making it an affordable option for starting a new business. It also integrates with accounting software such as QuickBooks. To get started, you can purchase a Store Kit Mini for $249 or browse other ready-made hardware kits and POS systems.
SumUp: Good for mobile
Software cost: $0 monthly fees.
Hardware Cost: $19 for SumUp Plus card reader.
Payment processing cost: 2.75% per in-person transaction.
Why we like it: SumUp lets you accept in-person and mobile payments or use a virtual terminal to process payments by phone. The app includes a digital cashier so you can receive cash payments and send digital receipts. Pricing is straightforward with no monthly contract, and you pay fees only for the transactions you process. Read the full review.
Shopify: Good for e-commerce
Software cost: $29 per month and up.
Hardware cost: $29 for chip and swipe reader.
Payment processing cost: Varies by plan; for the Basic plan, the cost is 2.7% per in-person transaction.
Why we like it: This POS system can help you market to customers, manage inventory and combine in-store and online sales. You can try it for free for 14 days. Plans include a month-to-month option and one-year or two-year contracts. And you can change the plan later regardless of whether you want to upgrade or downgrade. Read the full review.
Toast: Good for restaurants
Software cost: $0 per month and up.
Hardware cost: Varies by plan; for the pay-as-you-go starter plan, a hardware bundle is included.
Payment processing cost: Varies by plan; for the pay-as-you-go starter plan, it’s 2.99% plus 15 cents per transaction.
Why we like it: Toast is specifically designed for restaurant businesses. The Starter plan offers payment processing with optional add-ons so you can customize features to match your business needs. Other plans are also available that offer lower rates for card-present transactions, but higher startup costs. Read the full review.
Vend: Good for retail
Software cost: $99 per month (billed annually) and up.
Hardware cost: All-in-one hardware available starting at $499.
Payment processing cost: Not included; you’ll need to add a payment processor separately.
Why we like it: Vend offers many features that may be more appealing to retailers, including inventory management and layaway options for customers. You pay a monthly fee for the service and 0% transaction fees to Vend. Payment processing isn’t included, but Vend will integrate with several payment providers. A free trial is available.
Payment Depot: Good for high-volume sales
Software cost: $79 per month and up.
Hardware cost: Equipment available starting at $49.
Payment processing cost: Varies by plan; for the starter plan, it’s interchange plus 15 cents per transaction.
Why we like it: Payment Depot is an alternative to consider if you want lower credit card transaction fees. Instead of a flat rate, you pay the actual interchange rate that applies to the transaction plus a 15-cent transaction fee. Because Payment Depot only processes the payment, you’ll need to have your existing terminal reprogrammed, use a free virtual terminal or purchase POS hardware. Read the full review.
Clover: Good for starting a new business
Software cost: $9.95 per month and up.
Hardware cost: Equipment available starting at $99.
Payment processing cost: Varies by plan; for the Go to start your business plan, it’s 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction.
Why we like it: Clover is an all-in-one system that lets you accept in-store, mobile, online and phone payments. It works for restaurants, retail stores and service businesses, and the transaction rate is lower than other POS services. You can try it for free by taking payments on your laptop or smartphone before purchasing any hardware. Read the full review.
Lightspeed Retail: Good for dedicated customer support
Software cost: $69 per month (billed annually) and up.
Hardware cost: A register is included with all plans.
Payment processing cost: 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction.
Why we like it: Lightspeed Retail offers competitive transaction pricing along with a complimentary onboarding session to help you get started. Plus, there’s free dispute management and chargeback assistance. You can also find a large number and variety of integrations in the Lightspeed app marketplace. Read the full review.