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Best POS Hardware of June 2024

To choose the right POS hardware for your business, consider which payment types your customers commonly use and whether you need to process transactions on the go, in store or both.
By Karrin Sehmbi
Last updated on April 23, 2024
Edited byChristine Aebischer
Fact checked and reviewed

⏰ Estimated read time: 7 minutes

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Point-of-sale (POS) hardware is a crucial component of many businesses’ POS systems, because it allows them to accept in-person payments and move customers through the checkout process. In general, businesses likely need some combination of a POS terminal, credit card reader, cash drawer, barcode scanner and receipt printer. The best POS hardware options are compatible with your POS software, within your budget and easy for both your employees and customers to interact with.
Here are NerdWallet’s picks for the best POS hardware.

Best POS Hardware

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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.

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Square Register

Learn more

on Square Register's secure website

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

Best for Countertop POS terminals

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$0.00

Starts at $0/month for unlimited devices and locations.

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
Learn more

on Square Register's secure website

Clover Station Duo

Learn more

on Clover Station Duo's secure website

4.0/5

Best for Countertop POS terminals

In-person: 2.3% + $0.10

Online: 3.5% + $0.10

$49.95

and up.

Learn more

on Clover Station Duo's secure website

Toast Flex

4.5/5

Best for Countertop POS terminals

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.

Clover Flex

Learn more

on Clover Flex's secure website

4.0/5

Best for Mobile POS terminals

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 3.5% + $0.10

$14.95

and up.

Learn more

on Clover Flex's secure website

PayPal Zettle Terminal

4.0/5

Best for Mobile POS terminals

In-person: 2.29% + $0.09

Online: 2.89% + $0.49

$0.00

Toast Go 2

4.5/5

Best for Mobile POS terminals

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.

Square Reader

Learn more

on Square Reader's secure website

5.0/5

Best for Credit card readers

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$0.00

Starts at $0/month for unlimited devices and locations.

Learn more

on Square Reader's secure website

Helcim card reader

Learn more

on Helcim card reader's secure website

4.5/5

Best for Credit card readers

In-person: 0.4% + $0.08

Online: 0.5% + $0.25

Plus interchange

$0.00

Learn more

on Helcim card reader's secure website

SumUp Plus

Learn more

on SumUp Plus' secure website

4.5/5

Best for Credit card readers

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 3.5% + $0.15

$0.00

for card readers only; $99 for Connect Lite plan; $199 for Connect Plus plan; $289 for Connect Pro plan.

Learn more

on SumUp Plus' secure website

POS Nation Freedom Hardware Bundle

Best for POS hardware bundles

N/A

$149.00

and up.

Lightspeed Hardware Kit

3.5/5

Best for POS hardware bundles

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$109.00

for Basic plan, $179 for Core plan, $289 for Plus plan.

Our picks for

Countertop POS terminals

A point-of-sale terminal is the computerized device used to process payments. A countertop POS terminal may be a desktop computer, an iPad or tablet in a stand or a proprietary system, like our top picks below.

Square Register

Learn more

on Square Register's secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

Starts at $0/month for unlimited devices and locations.

Clover Station Duo

Learn more

on Clover Station Duo's secure website

Monthly fee
$49.95

and up.

Toast Flex

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 picks for

Mobile POS terminals

Mobile POS terminals allow merchants to take payments and access POS software on the go, whether tableside at a restaurant, in a food truck, at a farmer’s market or elsewhere. They may also enable barcode scanning and receipt printing within small, handheld devices.

Clover Flex

Learn more

on Clover Flex's secure website

Monthly fee
$14.95

and up.

PayPal Zettle Terminal

Monthly fee
$0.00

Toast Go 2

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 picks for

Credit card readers

Some credit card readers are mobile and can take payments on the go, while others are attached to a POS terminal.

Square Reader

Learn more

on Square Reader's secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

Starts at $0/month for unlimited devices and locations.

Helcim card reader

Learn more

on Helcim card reader's secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

SumUp Plus

Learn more

on SumUp Plus' secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

for card readers only; $99 for Connect Lite plan; $199 for Connect Plus plan; $289 for Connect Pro plan.

Our picks for

POS hardware bundles

Hardware bundles or kits typically include some of the following: POS terminal, receipt printer, barcode scanner and cash drawer. Bundles can make the hardware selection process quick and easy for businesses with simple setup needs.

POS Nation Freedom Hardware Bundle

Payment processing fees
N/A
Monthly fee
$149.00

and up.

Lightspeed Hardware Kit

Monthly fee
$109.00

for Basic plan, $179 for Core plan, $289 for Plus plan.

What type of POS hardware do you need?

The types of POS hardware you’ll need depend on the nature of your business. Although not every business requires all these hardware options, most businesses will need at least some of the following.

POS terminal

A POS terminal will have an interface that the merchant uses to manage transactions. Some merchants use a desktop computer as their POS terminal, but it is much more common nowadays for an iPad or tablet to be used as the POS terminal. These are often paired with a stand to turn them into a countertop device. Keep in mind that some POS providers build their own proprietary POS terminals, such as the Square Register and Clover Station.
The POS terminal is often one of the most expensive components of a POS hardware kit. You’ll either have to pay the price of an iPad or tablet or the more expensive price tag on a proprietary terminal.

Credit card reader

There are three different ways a credit card reader can take payment:
  • Reading the credit card’s magstripe via swipe.
  • Reading the card’s chip via an EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) reader.
  • Using near-field communication, or NFC, to accept payments from a virtual wallet such as Apple Pay.
Consider how your customers like to pay when selecting a credit card reader. Most people have a card with a magstripe, but many customers now more commonly prefer the more secure EMV payment method. Others don’t carry a credit card at all and use only a digital wallet to pay for products.
There are other features to consider when picking out your credit card reader, such as the ability to print or email receipts, suggest tip amounts or key in customers’ card info manually. You may also want a credit card reader that works in conjunction with your mobile device in order to accept payments from anywhere.
Some POS providers sell their own proprietary credit card readers (such as Square and PayPal); others are compatible with third-party hardware or may require you to buy one from your credit card processing company.

Cash drawer

Most businesses still need to accept cash payments, which means they need a cash drawer. The main thing to consider with a cash drawer is the locking mechanism, as you’ll want something that can’t be broken into. You’ll also want to find a cash drawer that is compatible with your POS software, as it should open every time you complete a cash transaction via a USB or Bluetooth connection. Other considerations are the size of the cash drawer and the number of slots and coin trays.

Barcode scanner

Businesses that carry lots of inventory need a barcode scanner to help them keep track of stock and expedite the checkout process. Similar to cash drawers, you can have a USB-enabled barcode scanner or a Bluetooth barcode scanner — just make sure it is compatible with your POS software. Popular barcode scanner brands include Zebra, Motorola and Socket Mobile.

Receipt printer

Although many POS providers now offer software that can send a text or email receipt to customers, it’s still necessary to offer a printed receipt option. Like barcode scanners and cash drawers, receipt printers can be connected to compatible POS software via USB or Bluetooth. Most receipt printers use thermal or ink printing. If you operate a food-service business, you may also want to invest in a kitchen printer, which syncs with your POS software to print tickets in the kitchen whenever an order is placed. Popular brands include Star Micronics and Epson.

Other POS accessories

Some additional products are specific to certain types of businesses. If you operate a restaurant, for example, you may also want to invest in a user-facing kiosk, digital menu board or kitchen display system. Other products that can be considered POS hardware include digital scales, kitchen buzzers, digital menu boards and customer-facing display systems. Most restaurant POS providers sell these items.

Explore more POS hardware options

For a deeper dive into specific types of POS hardware, see NerdWallet’s picks for:

How to choose POS hardware

When shopping for POS hardware, there are a variety of factors to keep in mind to ensure you get equipment that makes sense for your business.

POS system compatibility

POS hardware works in conjunction with POS software to allow your business to run transactions. But POS hardware does not work with all POS software. Typically, POS companies make software that is only compatible with certain types of hardware.
When shopping around for hardware, make sure you confirm which software it can integrate with. Your POS provider will normally sell all the hardware that is compatible with its POS software, but if you decide to buy from third-party vendors, you may run into some issues.

Price

The type of POS hardware your business needs will determine how much you pay. For instance, a basic credit card reader may be free or inexpensive, while a terminal with all the accessories could be several thousand dollars. If you need several pieces of POS hardware, look at bundling options to save money and always shop around — at both direct providers and third-party vendors — to make sure you’re getting the most competitive price.

Usability

You’re going to be using your POS hardware a lot, so you need to find something that is easy to use and responsive to your business’s needs. For example, if you sell your wares primarily from events, pop-up shops or conventions, it might make sense to use a cloud-based POS system so you never risk losing your data. Other things to consider are whether the POS system can operate offline, the kind of Wi-Fi router the POS software needs to operate and the durability of the hardware (make sure your hardware comes with a warranty).
Many POS providers offer a money-back guarantee on their POS hardware products — so you should feel empowered to try out their hardware risk-free. Also check to see what level of support they offer (ideally you want free 24/7 support). Some POS providers also offer on-site installation and training on how to use their products.

Learn more about industry-specific POS systems

Businesses in the following industries may need more specialized POS equipment. Here are NerdWallet’s top picks for industry-specific POS systems.
Last updated on April 23, 2024
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