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5 Best Bar POS Systems of May 2024

Many of the notable point-of-sale providers in the restaurant space also offer great solutions for a bar POS system.
By Karrin Sehmbi
Last updated on May 24, 2024
Edited byChristine Aebischer
Fact checked and reviewed

⏰ Estimated read time: 14 minutes

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When it comes to looking for the right bar point-of-sale (POS) system, there’s no shortage of options available to bar owners. Some POS systems are specifically designed from the start to suit the needs of the restaurant and bar industry, while others are more generalized systems that offer particular features and add-ons that are well-suited to managing a bar.
The providers that make our list include most or all of the qualities you’d expect from a bar POS system, but each has particular strengths and features that may make it the right fit for your business needs.
Here are NerdWallet's picks for the best bar POS systems.

Best Bar POS Systems From Our Partners

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Estimates assume an average interchange fee of 1.81% + $0.10, based on our latest available data. Estimates provided reflect online and in-person transactions, but exclude any keyed transactions. Estimates are based on the lowest monthly plan and processing fees for each provider.

Product
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Square Restaurant POS

Learn more

on Square Restaurant POS's secure website

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
5.0/5

Best for Overall bar POS system

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$0.00

Free plan; $60 Plus plan; $192 and up for Essentials bundle.

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
Learn more

on Square Restaurant POS's secure website

Toast POS

Learn more

on Toast POS's secure website

4.0/5

Best for Bars that serve food

2.49% + $0.15

if you buy hardware upfront; 3.09% + $0.15 for pay-as-you-go option.

$0.00

Starter Kit; $69 Point of Sale plan; custom Build Your Own plan.

Learn more

on Toast POS's secure website

Clover POS

Learn more

on Clover POS's secure website

4.0/5

Best for Customer engagement tools

In-person: 2.3% + $0.10

Online: 3.5% + $0.10

$14.95

and up.

Learn more

on Clover POS's secure website

Lightspeed Restaurant POS

Learn more

on Lightspeed Restaurant POS's secure website

3.5/5

Best for Flexibility and customizability

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$69.00

Starter plan; $189 Essential plan; $399 Premium plan.

Learn more

on Lightspeed Restaurant POS's secure website

TouchBistro

Learn more

on TouchBistro's secure website

3.5/5

Best for System reliability

N/A

Quote-based.

$69.00

and up.

Learn more

on TouchBistro's secure website

Our pick for

Overall bar POS system

Square Restaurant POS

Learn more

on Square Restaurant POS's secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

Free plan; $60 Plus plan; $192 and up for Essentials bundle.

Our pick for

Bars that serve food

Toast POS

Learn more

on Toast POS's secure website

Payment processing fees
2.49% + $0.15

if you buy hardware upfront; 3.09% + $0.15 for pay-as-you-go option.

Monthly fee
$0.00

Starter Kit; $69 Point of Sale plan; custom Build Your Own plan.

Our pick for

Customer engagement tools

Clover POS

Learn more

on Clover POS's secure website

Monthly fee
$14.95

and up.

Our pick for

Flexibility and customizability

Lightspeed Restaurant POS

Learn more

on Lightspeed Restaurant POS's secure website

Monthly fee
$69.00

Starter plan; $189 Essential plan; $399 Premium plan.

Our pick for

System reliability

TouchBistro

Learn more

on TouchBistro's secure website

Payment processing fees
N/A

Quote-based.

Monthly fee
$69.00

and up.

Our picks for the best bar POS systems

Square

Best overall bar POS system
Why we like it: Square consistently comes out ahead of other POS providers not only for the strength of its system but especially because of its competitive pricing — across monthly software, hardware and payment processing fees — and lack of surprise fees and contracts. In fact, many competitors in the industry-specific POS space require longer term contracts, so for bar owners who are hesitant to make a long-term commitment just yet, Square for Restaurants is a strong choice.
Also unlike many of its competitors in this space, Square is entirely transparent with its pricing. All fees for software, hardware, payment processing and add-ons are listed clearly on Square’s website — no need to call for a quote. Square for Restaurants is a robust POS offering at both the free — yes free — and paid plan tiers. It won’t be the right fit for every bar, however. If you’re a bar with an extensive food menu and table service, for example, you’ll likely require a more specialized system from some of Square’s restaurant-specific competitors. Read our full Square for Restaurants review.

Toast

Best for bars that serve food
Why we like it: As a specialized POS system designed specifically for restaurant industry use, Toast includes all the features you’ll need (or want to add-on) for a bar that serves more than just a few nibbles, including menu, table and employee management and built-to-be-dropped-bumped-and-splashed hardware. Toast makes it easy to edit and update menus, take orders in multiple ways and get up-to-date reporting on your bar. The software also automatically breaks down the tip pool for payroll.
Bars that are short on staff or are looking to streamline their food service may benefit from Toast’s mobile solution that allows guests to scan a QR code to order and pay quickly from their own phone with Apple Pay. Many POS systems offer an offline mode which, to varying degrees, will enable you to continue using your system (often in a limited capacity) during internet outages or disruptions. Toast’s system clearly alerts the user when there’s a connection issue and uses a color-coded system to provide details on which functions are still available based on the issue. The company’s online support library provides detailed instructions for troubleshooting in various outage scenarios. Read our full Toast POS review.

Clover

Best for customer engagement tools
Why we like it: Clover is another household name in the POS industry offering solutions for various business types, including bars. The company offers a variety of sleek and sturdy proprietary hardware options and discloses pricing for each on its website. Clover is also transparent with its monthly software fees, offered at a variety of tiers depending on business need, and payment processing fees.
It offers an extensive app market for third-party integrations that include not only the typical payroll and scheduling apps a bar owner may be interested in but also industry-specific apps such as Happy Hour, DigitalPour and Waitlist Me. Clover’s set of tools for customer engagement, in particular, make it a great fit for a bar POS system. The tools — offered in limited capacity for free or at an enhanced level for an additional $99 per month — allow for gathering customer feedback directly, getting the word out about promotions and events, rewarding loyal customers and building customer profiles from credit card data. Read our full Clover POS review.

Lightspeed Restaurant

Best for flexibility and customizability
Why we like it: Lightspeed acquired Upserve in 2020 and built on its restaurant POS prowess to create Lightspeed Restaurant POS. Like many of the other specialized systems in this space, Lightspeed Restaurant comes with a wealth of tools and features a bar POS system should have, including bill splitting, inventory management and a training mode to quickly onboard new staff.
Lightspeed stands out among its competitors, however, in its ability to flex to any business need. You can purchase hardware through Lightspeed, use your existing hardware or purchase used hardware elsewhere at a discounted price (just be sure to check Lightspeed’s compatibility guide, available in its online help center). The company also offers you the flexibility to choose its own payment processing service, Lightspeed Payments, or use any of the third-party processors it supports. This tech flexibility coupled with the customizability of the software empowers you to design just the right fit for your bar POS needs. Read our full Lightspeed Restaurant POS review.

TouchBistro

Best for system reliability
Why we like it: TouchBistro is another recognizable POS brand in the bar and restaurant industry. As such, it comes with many of the features you would expect, including tools to manage staff, menus, tables and inventory. It also comes loaded with dozens of reports to offer useful business insights on customers, employees and revenue.
Because TouchBistro is a hybrid POS system — meaning it runs both in the cloud and on a local server — you can continue with business as usual during an internet outage or disruption. Unlike some competitors’ offline modes, functionality during outages isn’t limited to a single POS terminal. With TouchBistro’s system, multiple devices will continue to communicate with one another, and you’ll retain the ability to take orders, send them to the kitchen, have employees clock in or out, and you’ll still have access to customer and reporting data (though new data won’t update until you’re back online). Read our full TouchBistro review.

Bar POS system must-have features

Any bar POS system worth its salt (and lime) should have the following features and qualities. Beyond these, the right system for your bar will depend on your particular business needs.
  • Speed and reliability. The bar environment is a fast-paced one, and you’ll need a POS system that can keep up on all fronts, from app and software response to payment processing to receipt printing. Taking advantage of a free trial opportunity or live, in-person demo could help you gauge whether the system you’re considering will power through a late-night rush or drag you down with delays and lag times.
  • User friendliness. Even if you’re a tech-savvy business owner, your staff will likely have varying degrees of comfort with tech and POS systems. And because time is definitely money in the bar and restaurant industry, you want to be sure you won’t need to invest heavily in getting you and your staff confident in using the system. This is where POS providers who offer live setup and training support (especially if it’s in-person and most especially if it’s free) can stand out among the competition. 
  • 24/7 live support. Whether by phone or through chat, customer support availability — particularly after normal business hours — is an important consideration when choosing your bar POS provider. It’s great to have a chatbot at your fingertips for quick questions that can be easily answered, but when it’s 1 a.m. and your bar is packed, you won’t want to dampen the mood if your system suddenly has an issue accepting credit card payments and you’re unable to reach a customer support representative until 9 a.m. the next day. 
  • Tabs, split checks and promos. Customers will almost certainly expect the ability to open a tab, split a check among friends or coworkers and see what’s on offer for happy hour. You’ll want to be sure your POS system can deliver on those expectations.  
  • Menu management. Whether you have a small, curated menu of specialty cocktails, an extensive beer and food menu that spans several pages, or something in between, you’re going to need the ability to easily make changes to your menu. Some systems allow you to schedule pricing changes to occur on certain days and times (think happy hours and promotions), which can help to streamline your menu management. 
  • Staff management. Any bar owner knows the amount of time and thought that goes into creating a staffing schedule that satisfies both the employee and the business needs. Not to mention how crucial it is to accurately track and pay out tips, ensure employees get paid correctly and on time and set system permissions according to employee role. A POS system that includes functionality for managing staff, whether as a built-in feature or an add-on tool, is a must.
  • Inventory tracking. It almost goes without saying that accurate inventory tracking is essential for running a bar. Many bar POS systems will include this as a built-in function; some may also offer the ability to integrate with various inventory management apps and software.
Last updated on May 24, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s point-of-sale systems provider ratings reward companies whose products and services are priced well and work in a variety of payment scenarios, among other criteria.
Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including cost, system capabilities, contract requirements, customer service and integrations and add-ons. Learn more about how we rate point-of-sale (POS) systems providers.
These ratings are a guide, but services, hardware and pricing can vary widely from business to business and provider to provider. We encourage you to shop around and compare several providers.
NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
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