A bar point-of-sale (POS) system is a software and hardware tool that takes customer orders, processes payments, tracks sales, and analyzes your bar’s performance metrics. Bars specifically need POS systems that pre-authorize credit cards, manage bar tabs, and track cash transactions. The best POS systems for bars are also user-friendly and update your inventory as items are sold.
Top 6 Bar POS Systems for Small Businesses
- Toast: Best overall bar POS system
- Upserve: Best for multi-location bars and upscale lounges
- Square: Best free to low-cost bar POS for breweries and small bars
- Revel: Best high volume bar POS system for bars that process lots of cash
- Touchbistro: Best POS for pubs and small footprint bars that serve food
- Rezku: Best Bar POS for inventory control
Which Bar POS Is Right for You?
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How We Evaluated Bar POS Systems
- Price: We considered monthly fees, payment processing fees, and hardware costs.
- Ease of use: Bars need a POS that hourly employees can easily use without error in a fast-paced environment, allowing bar managers to pull detailed sales and cost reports.
- Tab and check management: We considered features like the ability to pre-authorize credit cards, run tabs, split payment methods, and transfer tabs between servers and dining areas.
- Payment processing: We looked at whether each system offers built-in payment processing or uses third-party integrations and what the processing rates are.
- Menu and inventory management: We considered features like ingredient-level tracking, storing and managing drink recipes, and the ability to keep real-time stock counts.
- Tip tracking: Bars need a system that accepts credit card tips, tracks tips by employee, and permits tip payouts in cash at the end of each shift or on paychecks.
- Staff management: We considered features like employee logins, various permission levels, and employee sales tracking.
- Customer relationship management: We considered any built-in CRM features like storing customer data, email marketing, or loyalty programs.
- Reporting and analytics: We looked at what kind of reporting tools each POS system has on sales, inventory, employees, and customers.
Based on our criteria, Toast is the best overall bar POS system for small businesses. It’s affordable, easy to use, and provides the best reporting data for bars out of all the systems we evaluated under $100 per month. Toast also has a reputation for excellent customer support, and it is available by phone 24/7, so there is always a person available during nights and weekends when bars are busy.
Toast: Best Overall Bar POS System
Toast is a cloud-based POS system designed for the restaurant industry. Toast’s pricing starts at $69 per month, per register, which falls in the middle of the pack, price-wise. However, Toast offers features like flexible tab management with payment pre-authorization settings, automated happy hour pricing, and mobile POS options for that price. Toast’s interface is incredibly intuitive; buttons and menus swipe to reveal additional information. On the back-end, reports are clean and easy to navigate.
Very user friendly
Mandatory installation fee
24/7, US-based Customer support
Must use Toast Flex tablets
Designed specifically for food and beverage businesses
Cannot shop around for a payment processor
- Software: Toast POS comes at three different pricing tiers, Starter, Essentials, and Growth. Pricing for the Starter package starts at $69 per month for a single terminal. Essentials is $99, while the Growth package designed for multi-location bars is $189.
- Hardware: Toast POS only operates on Toast’s IP54 spill-proof rated Toast Flex tablets and mobile devices. You can purchase these directly through Toast. Toast doesn’t list pricing publicly; you’ll need to contact them for a custom quote.
- Installation: Toast is a deeply networked system comprised of tablets, printers, card readers, and optional kitchen display systems. The system requires a Toast technician to set up, and so it comes with an installation fee. This fee starts at $499 but can increase based on your bar’s unique needs.
- Payment processing: Toast is built to be an all-in-one solution, so it comes with Toast’s built-in payment processing. It does not list these fees publicly, instead you’ll get a customized flat-rate transaction fee for your bar based on your sales volume and the mix of cards you accept.
The combination of proprietary hardware and installation fees makes Toast a higher upfront investment than Square or Rezku. But Toast does offer in-house financing to spread the payments over the length of your service contract. Toast also supports restaurant businesses exclusively, so Toast customers tend always to have the most cutting edge hospitality features before anyone else.
- Bar tab management: Employees can pre-authorize payment cards, so no cards are left at the bar. You can set the Toast system to give any employee the ability to add items to an open tab from any register. You can split checks via multiple payment methods. Toast also has a mobile POS solution so employees can take orders or closeout tabs even when they’re not behind the bar.
- Inventory management: Toast tracks wholesale and retail prices of individual ingredients so that bars can track costs and profit margins for different cocktail recipes. It also offers the ability to attach a photo and recipe to your cocktails, so bartenders have a ready reference for new cocktails or specials.
- Reporting and analytics: You can manage individual recipes and their wholesale costs and profit margins to track ingredient-inventory and costs in real time. Toast also has reports to track employee productivity. These real-time analytics can be viewed and managed on Toast Back Office, which you can access from any browser or smartphone.
- Additional functions: Advanced inventory, gift card, payroll, and labor management are available as add-ons with prices ranging from $25 to $50 each per month. Guests can choose to sign up for loyalty programs at checkout. Toast stores order histories under each guest profile, so bartenders can see customers’ visits and what they have previously ordered.
What Toast Is Missing
Toast may be more machine than small bars need. It would be nice if they carved out a POS solution with more targeted functions and a smaller price point to suit pubs, craft breweries, and wine bars that have a smaller operational footprint. Toast only operates on Toast-designed tablets. Toast users are also locked into Toast Payments and cannot shop around for the lowest processing rates. For more on Toast, see our full review.
Upserve: Best Bar POS for Marketing
Upserve POS is a hybrid, touch-screen POS with a laser focus on marketing and reputation management. Even the entry-level Upserve subscription includes marketing and reputation management functions. Pricing is transparently listed on the Upserve website and starts at $59 per month. Upserve also operates on either iPads or Android tablets that you can purchase through Upserve or bring your own.
Built-in Reputation Management alerts you to negative online reviews
Can get pricey
Baseline system includes marketing and staff scheduling
May be more than a small bar needs
Bartender productivity reports identify training opportunities to strengthen your team
Automated Inventory is only available as an add-on
- Software: Upserve offers a unique, highly transparent pricing structure for various levels of business. Upserve’s entry-level Basic package starts at $59 per month plus $60 for each terminal. Bars looking to unlock additional functions like automated inventory management, loyalty program, and bartender performance insights will need the Pro package at $199 plus $50 for each terminal per month.
- Hardware: Upserve operates on both iPads and Android tablets. You can purchase these through Upserve or bring your own. Upserve sells accessories like iPad stands, cash drawers, receipt printers, kitchen printers, kitchen display systems, kitchen and receipt printers, and handheld tableside ordering and payment devices. Pricing for iPads starts at $459, and full terminal setups are available at $1350.
- Installation: Upserve offers an in-person installation and configuration service that starts at $1,700. However, you can install and configure the system yourself using Upserve’s comprehensive online resources as a guide.
- Payment processing: Like Toast, Square, and Revel, Upserve customers must use Upserve’s in-built payment processing. Rates are flat rate and based on a custom quote. Upserve will match competitors’ lower rates and is open to working with other processors if your bar has a pre-existing relationship.
- Bar tab management: The Upserve system easily pre-authorizes cards and has flexible check management functions that allow for several forms of payment and easy check-splitting.
- Inventory management: Upserve’s inventory management tracks ingredient-level inventory and automates purchasing so you can place orders directly through the POS. It measures costs and margins for menu items as you create recipes, suggesting menu pricing based on your target beverage costs. The inventory module speeds up physical inventory, counting with a smartphone app. The module is standard at the Pro level or can be added to the Basic package for an additional $100 per month.
- Reporting and analytics: In addition to standard sales, labor, and product mix reports, Upserve generates sales and labor analysis to illustrate hourly staff performance. It also has a unique feature in the back office dashboard that allows bar owners to survey reviews from online review sites and compare them to competitors’ reviews.
- Additional functions: The built-in manager log streamlines communication across the management team. You can add in-house online ordering and delivery management functions. Upserve offers an in-depth look at staff performance at the Pro level to help managers identify training opportunities.
What Upserve Is Missing
Upserve is built to be an all-in-one solution, so the baseline system is pretty robust. This might make the POS more machine than a small bar will use. Bar owners that need ingredient level inventory will need to upgrade to the more expensive Pro membership.
Square: Best Low-Cost Bar POS Software for Breweries and Small bars
Square is a free POS system that runs on Apple and Android tablets and smartphones. Square offers a basic set of inventory, sales, ticket management, and payment tools for free, making it a low-cost bar POS option for new bars with a low budget and operations like breweries that don’t need detailed ingredient tracking. Bars that want foodservice specific functions may want to check out Square for Restaurants (which also offers a free baseline subscription).
Extremely low-cost POS
Inventory is not robust
Works on iPads or Android Devices
Cannot pre-authorize credit cards to start tabs
Must use Square’s built-in payment processing
- Software: Square POS is a free POS system. That means there are no monthly, startup, or cancellation fees to access and use the POS software on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. So, if you already have an iPad or smartphone, you can quite literally run your bar using Square POS on your existing device and have no initial costs at all.
- Hardware: Square sends all new customers a free magstripe card reader that connects to iOS or Android tablets or smartphones. You can purchase EMV enabled chip readers for $49, as well as other accessories like cash drawers, bar code scanners, and mobile Square Terminals via the Square website.
- Installation: To get started with Square only requires creating a free account on the Square website, downloading the app onto a tablet or smart device, and connecting your business bank account. There are no installation fees to pay because you need to do it all yourself, from uploading your menu items, setting prices, and connecting peripherals like card readers and printers.
- Payment processing: Like Toast and Revel, Square POS comes with in-built payment processing. Unlike those competitors, however, Square lists its transaction rates transparently on its website.
- Bar tab management: Square doesn’t support credit card pre-authorization to start bar tabs. Some bar operators get around this by using the customer profile function to store payment information. This requires a few extra steps, but for a free POS—and a lower volume bar—it can be worth it.
- Inventory management: Square allows you to create menu items and track sales by item. Unlike Toast, Square doesn’t store recipes or track ingredient-level inventory. For this reason, Square is best for bars that mainly serve beer or wine, which don’t need as detailed tracking as complicated cocktails.
- Reporting and analytics: Square shows standard reports like daily sales totals, sales per category, and item, as well as information on discounts and refunds. Square can also show you which customers spend the most and who your most frequent customers are. However, if you want to print shift reports by employee, you’ll need to upgrade to Square for Restaurant’s Plus subscription at $60 per month or add Square’s Team Management Plus for $35 per month.
- Additional functions: Square offers additional modules such as Square Loyalty, Square Marketing, Square Payroll, Square Appointments, and Square Online Store that all communicate seamlessly with the Square POS. Pricing for each module varies from free to $35+ per month; pricing is transparently listed on its website.
What Square Is Missing
Square doesn’t support credit card pre-authorization, which can be a real drawback for high volume bars. Like Toast, Square has built-in payment processing which is convenient, but high volume bars may be able to get better payment processing rates with another system. You can get a deeper look at Square by checking out our full Square review.
Revel Systems: Best POS Software for Cash Handling
Revel Systems is a hybrid iPad POS that operates via a local area network with the cloud as a backup. This enables the system to work even in the case of an internet outage. Revel Systems has features like precise alcohol inventory tracking and credit card pre-authorization for bar tabs. Starting at $99 per month, Revel Systems also has dual till cash registers functions and allows you to set high cash alerts when tills hit a percent amount.
Revel Systems Strengths
Revel Systems Weaknesses
High till alerts let you move cash to the safe when the tills get full
Best pricing requires a 3-year contract
Robust inventory management features help control costs
Can get pricey
Loyalty and Marketing are included in baseline membership
Robust system can be overwhelming for small bars
Revel Systems Pricing
- Software: Revel Systems’ pricing starts at $99 per month per register, which is a higher base cost than most other systems on our list. However, Revel includes customer relationship management and employee management features in the base model, where many POS systems charge extra monthly fees.
- Hardware: Revel Systems operates on iPads, which can be purchased through Revel Systems along with accessories like iPad stands, cash drawers, receipt printers, bar code scanners, scales, and kitchen printers. Revel only supports iPads purchased from Revel directly, with the Revel POS software configured by their team. Using your own hardware may limit your technical support options through.
- Installation: Like Toast, Revel Systems requires an installation fee. Revels baseline set up fee is a bit higher, starting at $649. This covers the cost of the Revel team networking the hardware through an onset server, which is what gives the Revel Systems it’s excellent offline functionality.
- Payment processing: Revel Systems has a built-in payment processing solution called Revel Advantage. Payment processing rates are not disclosed on the Revel website; quotes are customized based on your bar’s sales volume and card mix. There are options for bars to negotiate to keep an existing payment processor if switching to Revel.
Revel Systems Features
- Bar tab management: Revel lets users easily pre-authorize credit cards, open tabs, and split bills as needed. Credit card pre-authorization is an important feature for bars because it allows customers to keep their payment cards (so nothing is lost or left at the bar) while also ensuring customers don’t accidentally walk out on a tab.
- Inventory management: With Revel Systems, businesses can create multiple menus including timed promotions and pricing for happy hour specials. Revel has detailed inventory reporting to show which menu items are most profitable, where you can reduce waste in your business, view costs versus profits. This data is available online and on smartphones with the Insights by Revel app.
- Reporting and analytics: Bars can run reports on labor costs and employee performance. Businesses can also set up custom alerts or push notifications for late employee clock-ins, unapproved overtime, and low-stock inventory. Servers can modify and customize orders for each guest. The only feature Revel is missing is the ability to store drink recipes.
- Additional functions: Revel Systems has standard features to create employee login and permission levels. It also offers built-in scheduling tools that use POS data to forecast how busy your bar will be. Revel Systems has standard CRM features like the ability to create customer profiles and collect information. Revel Systems stands out from other POS systems because it has a basic loyalty program built into the base price and tools to send out email marketing.
What Revel Systems Is Missing
Revel Systems POS offers a load of functionality at the price of $99 per month. The biggest drawback is the fact that securing the best pricing requires signing on for a three-year service contract. With the installation fee and the higher subscription fee, Revel can get pricey. For a comprehensive look at Revel, see our full review.
TouchBistro: Best POS for Bars Offering Food
TouchBistro is a top-rated iPad restaurant POS system with tools to track food and beverage costs. Starting at just $69 per month, TouchBistro is an affordably-priced option for bars with a full food menu and need ingredient-level inventory management. Best of all, TouchBistro offers a free trial of up to 28 days if you want to test drive the system before committing.
Reports are not highly customizable
Intuitive, easy-to-use system includes fast bar order screens
Inventory uploading can be clunky
Free Trial Available
- Software: TouchBistro POS is offered at $69 per month for a single terminal. Anything beyond that requires a custom quote from TouchBistro.
- Hardware: TouchBistro operates on all but the first generation of iPads. You can bring your own iPads or purchase them through TouchBistro. TouchBistro also sells top-rated thermal receipt and kitchen printers, customer display screens, self-service kiosks, cash drawers, and a wide array of other accessories at custom-quoted prices.
- Installation: TouchBistro doesn’t list an installation fee on its website. The company does offer “set up support” services at a custom-quoted rate for bars that want individual attention in the installation process, though.
- Payment processing: TouchBistro recently added an in-built payment option, TouchBistro Payments. Though the system integrates with a few other payment gateways like WorldPay and Moneris, so you still have the option to bring your own processor if you find a better rate.
- Bar tab management: TouchBistro allows you to load your order screens with beverage photos to increase order speed and reduce errors. TouchBistro supports card pre-authorizations on bar tabs, as well.
- Inventory management: TouchBistro supports two inventory systems; one is a basic countdown for individual items like bottles of wine, which may be all a wine bar or brewery needs. Cocktail bars and pubs that serve food may prefer the ingredient-level inventory. You can also attach descriptions, ingredient lists, and preparation instructions to menu items on the POS order screen to ensure your team always uses the correct recipe.
- Reporting and analytics: TouchBistro specializes in pre-built reports that do a lot of preliminary analysis for you. Most bar operators will appreciate the high-level view of their bars performance metrics. If, however, you are the type of bar owner that wants to drill down in your data and create custom reports, you’ll find TouchBistro’s reports limiting. You might prefer a system like Revel instead.
- Additional functions: For additional fees, you can expand your TouchBistro POS to include reservations, gift cards, online ordering, kitchen display systems, and self-service kiosks. Some pricing is listed on the TouchBistro site, but for the most accurate pricing, you’ll want to contact TouchBistro for a custom quote.
What TouchBistro Is Missing
TouchBistro’s ingredient level inventory is robust for the price. However, getting the most accurate inventory requires manually entering each ingredient, recipe, and menu item individually. TouchBistro does support bulk uploading of menu items via a CSV file, but that option is still a little clunky. You’ll still need to set tax and menu images individually. This can take up a lot of administrative time.
You can get a look at TouchBistro’s many features in our full review.
Rezku: Best Bar POS for Inventory Control
Like many other POS options on our list, Rezku is a cloud-based POS that operates on iPads. Like Upserve, Rezku offers marketing tools in its baseline system. Rezku also includes loyalty features and integrates with electronic tap and pour regulators. Rezku supports unlimited happy hour days, rules, and products so you can create multiple promotions for different times of day. Pricing for the Rezku POS software starts at $79 per month.
Integrates with electronic tap and pour regulators
Reports are not highly customizable
Streamlined all-in-one bar POS system
Can’t bring your own payment processor
The baseline system includes tons of features
Third-party integrations are not robust
- Software: Rezku pricing starts at $79 per month for a single iPad license. Bars that need additional terminals will want to get a custom quote from Rezku to ensure that they are getting the best price.
- Hardware: Rezku operates in iPads, which can be purchased via Rezku or elsewhere. Rezku sells bundles of hardware like card readers, iPad stands, cash drawers, printers, scanners, customer-facing displays, and kitchen displays. Hardware bundles start at $495 for a basic set up without a cash drawer. A stationary terminal base with peripheral printers and an inbuilt card reader comes in at $1,198.
- Installation: Rezku does not list installation fees.
- Payment processing: Like most other systems on this list, Rezku comes with inbuilt payment processing. Rates are based on a custom flat rate quote. You’ll need to contact Rezku for pricing.
- Bar tab management: Rezku generates bar tabs with a simple card swipe and pre-authorization. The system also arranges tabs alphabetically, so they are easy to find.
- Inventory management: Rezku automatically tracks your inventory and sends automatic alerts when levels get low. It also integrates with electronic pour regulators to prevent over-pouring. Like Toast and TouchBistro, Rezku also allows you to attach images and recipes to menu items, so your team always makes your drinks to spec.
- Reporting and analytics: Rezku features 60 built-in, customizable reports covering everything from daily summaries, sales, inventory, tips, taxes, and discounts. If you are looking for more detailed and custom-built reports, you might prefer something like Revel Systems.
- Additional functions: Inventory and online ordering are included in the baseline system. Rezku also has products for online ordering, reservations, and waitlists that are available at additional fees.
For bar owners, inventory control is a slightly different concept than inventory management. Inventory control is more about proactive loss-prevention than re-active ordering and costing strategies. Rezku’s integrations with pour regulators and recipe features make it a great choice for proactive prevention.
What Rezku Is Missing
Rezku is a relatively young company. The POS just rolled out in 2014, so they may still be working out some glitches that older systems like Toast and Square have already resolved. Like TouchBistro, Rezku’s reports are not incredibly customizable.
Bars need a POS system that covers basic features like payment processing and sales reporting. However, bar owners also want industry-specific features like running multiple open tabs, tracking liquor stock in real time, and pre-authorizing credit cards so that no tabs go unpaid at the end of the night.
Toast POS offers all of these features and more at a competitive price point. Toast has mobile ordering hardware, contactless payment options and provides the best reporting data for bars out of all the systems we evaluated. Visit Toast for a free demo.