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7 Best Restaurant POS Systems

Running Your Business, Small Business
7 of the Best POS Systems for Restaurants

When you open a restaurant, cafe or bar, you need a point-of-sale system to accept credit and debit payments. But restaurant POS systems these days do much more than accept payments: They track inventory; text and email receipts; analyze customer and sales data; do invoicing; and help manage employees, among other capabilities.

The payment system is the “technological heart of a restaurant,” says Michael Oshins, a faculty member at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration.

In a market full of point-of-sale providers marketing to restaurants, it can be hard to decide which option is best for your business. We culled seven of the best POS systems depending on a restaurant’s particular needs. All of the systems are EMV-compliant. These POS systems also support NFC (near-field communication) technology, which enables contactless payments through mobile wallets such as Apple Pay.

In addition to POS systems for restaurants, NerdWallet has compared a host of POS systems for other types of small businesses. Be sure to shop around for the right fit for your needs.

For full-service restaurants: Breadcrumb

  • Best for full-service restaurants
  • $69/month for one terminal
  • EMV compliant

Founded in 2011 and acquired by Upserve in 2016, Breadcrumb is an iPad point-of-sale system designed for restaurants. Features allow restaurants to create table maps, easily update menu items and monitor sales in real time through the Breadcrumb Live mobile app.

Breadcrumb has a service fee of $69 a month for one terminal, plus $30 for each additional terminal; business owners can choose whether to lease or buy hardware from Breadcrumb. Restaurants can process payments through Breadcrumb at a flat rate of 1.99%+15 cents per transaction or integrate with third-party processors Heartland Payments, Chase Paymentech, First Data, TSYS or Global Payment.

For restaurants that want simplicity: ShopKeep

  • Best for quick-service restaurants or cafes
  • $49/month per register
  • EMV compliant

ShopKeep, which was founded in 2008, is a cloud-based POS system for iPads designed specifically for restaurants and retailers. The easy-to-learn app looks sleek and has features that allow business owners to customize menus, track inventory, manage employees, market to customers and analyze data.

ShopKeep’s monthly $49 fee includes access to a dedicated ShopKeep expert for the first 60 days. For credit card processing, businesses can choose ShopKeep Payments or any processor in the BridgePay gateway including First Data, Chase Paymentech, Vantiv and Heartland. ShopKeep Payments pricing is “interchange plus,” which means the wholesale processing cost plus a small fee, ShopKeep spokeswoman Mady St. Onge says in an email.

For new restaurants: Square

  • Best for quick-service restaurants or cafes
  • No monthly service fee
  • EMV compliant

Square was founded in 2009 and has become one of the most popular POS systems on the market. With no monthly fee and a $49 EMV card reader available to buy, Square has a low barrier to entry that is good for new businesses. It works with both iOS and Android devices, differentiating itself from competitors that only integrate with iPads.

Square offers additional features to support businesses as they grow. The $99 Square Stand transforms an iPad into a simple cash register, and businesses can purchase additional hardware to customize their setup. Other Square features allow restaurants to send invoices, manage payroll and integrate with third-party applications such as QuickBooks, Xero and TaxJar.

The costs of restaurant point-of-sale systems

Monthly cost (doesn’t include hardware) Payment processing EMV? NFC?
Breadcrumb 1 iPad: $69/mo.2 iPads: $99/mo. 1.99%+15¢ Yes Yes*
ShopKeep $49/mo. Variable Yes Yes
Square N/A 2.75% Yes Yes
Dinerware Varies by dealer Third-party processing Yes Yes
NCR Silver $59-$79/mo. (+ 10 cents/transaction on each additional device) Third-party processing Yes Yes
Revel Variable Third-party processing Yes Yes
TouchBistro 1: $69/mo. 2: $129/mo. Third-party processing Yes Yes
Point of sale system + credit card processor
Not a credit-card processor
*Breadcrumb’s EMV reader will accept Apple Pay first, followed by other mobile wallets.

For restaurants more comfortable with Microsoft: Dinerware

  • Best for full-service restaurants
  • Independent dealers
  • EMV compliant

Dinerware is a Microsoft-based point-of-sale system that was founded in 2000 and acquired by Heartland Payment Systems in 2015. Features include menu building, table management and sales reporting. Dinerware also offers a tablet point-of-sale option, designed for food trucks and tableside ordering.

Dinerware’s independent dealers have different pricing structures, but most have monthly support plans and the option to purchase or lease hardware, Dinerware Sales and Marketing Lead Madeline Stockwell says in an email. Dinerware tends to be more expensive than tablet-based systems, but less expensive than some of the legacy POS systems, Stockwell says. Dinerware works with processors including Heartland, Chase Paymentech, First Data and HarborTouch.

For restaurants that value an established brand: NCR Silver

  • Best for quick-service or full-service restaurants
  • $59-$79/month for one terminal
  • EMV compliant

Launched in 2012, NCR Silver is a cloud-based point-of-sale system made by the legacy POS company NCR Corp., which dates back to the 1880s. There are two NCR Silver options: NCR mobile POS, which runs on iOS devices; and NCR Silver Register, which runs on a closed Android platform that prevents employees from surfing the Internet. It comes with preloaded software and syncs with iOS devices in the cloud.

Both products cost $59 to $79 a month, plus 10 cents for every transaction on an additional device, up to $29 a month. Both also offer purchase and lease options for the hardware. NCR Silver integrates with processors including Elavon, Vantiv, Worldpay and BB&T.

For restaurants with multiple locations: Revel

  • Best for quick-service or full-service restaurants
  • Variable pricing structure
  • EMV compliant

Revel, which was founded in 2010, is an iPad point-of-sale system ideal for larger restaurants such as franchises, catering services and restaurants with multiple locations. It’s customizable, with various hardware options and applications available to add-on. Restaurant-specific features include ingredient inventory tracking, table layouts, tableside and online ordering, franchise management, catering and delivery.

Revel’s pricing varies depending on a business’s type and size, among other factors, Revel spokesman Richard Tso says in an email. Revel works with processors in the USAePAY, Mercury, FreedomPay and WorldPay gateways.

For restaurants that want to process payments tableside: TouchBistro

  • Good for quick-service or full-service restaurants
  • $69/month for one terminal; $129 for two; $399 for unlimited
  • EMV compliant

TouchBistro launched in 2011 and is an iPad point-of-sale system ideal for both quick- and full-service restaurants. In addition to a full setup with an iPad stand, receipt printer and cash drawer, it offers a mobile POS option for accepting payments at the table. Other features include simple bill splitting, staff management capabilities, inventory tracking, floor layout configurations and sales reporting.

Monthly pricing is $69 for one terminal, $129 for two, $249 for five and $399 for unlimited terminal licenses. Restaurants can process payments through Moneris, Cayan, Premier and Mercury, SmoothPay and PayPal.

Does your small business need a POS system? Compare your options:

For related information, visit NerdWallet’s resources on how to start a business. For free, personalized answers to questions about starting and financing your business, visit the Small Business section of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @teddynykiel.

Updated Oct. 11, 2017


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