There are lots of free point-of-sale (POS) software on the market. We tested over a dozen of these, evaluating them on the quality of their free features, ease of use, and our expert assessment.
According to our evaluation, the five best free POS software for small businesses include:
- Square: Best overall free POS
- Loyverse: Best for quick-service restaurants
- Toast: Best for full-service restaurants
- PayPal Zettle: Best for solopreneurs and PayPal users
- Helcim: Best free POS with cheap payment processing
Grow your business with Square's full suite of products
Grow your business with Square's full suite of products
While all of these software are free, some of them require hardware to start selling—usually a card reader that you can purchase directly from the provider. On the other hand, most free POS systems already contain checkout and basic inventory management functions; the best ones also feature built-in payment processing, ecommerce tools, customer relationship management (CRM), team management, and advanced reporting.
Best Free POS Software Compared
There are many low-cost POS systems available with advanced features for less than $100 per month. See our guide to the best POS systems for a peek at the top competitively priced systems on the market.
Square: Best Overall Free POS System
Square ranked highest in our evaluation of the best free POS software for small businesses, with an overall score of 4.22 out of 5. It offers a completely free POS system for unlimited users and locations. With your free Square POS account, you can sell in-store, online, and via mobile app, and the platform has dedicated POS systems for restaurants, retailers, and salons. Square provides the widest range of free plan options, along with a free magstripe card reader to get businesses started right away. Finally, contactless payments are available for NFC-enabled mobile devices—both Android and iOS. Given all this, it’s no wonder that Square is so beloved, claiming over 28% of the market share in POS systems.
While its processing fees are more expensive than most―PayPal Zettle offers the least expensive rates―Square’s free plan offers everything you might need to run your business, plus advanced plans and add-ons to support your business as it grows. Also, Square locks users into its built-in payments solution, which some small businesses may find limiting.
- Basic POS software: $0 per month
- Advanced POS system: $29–$69 (Custom pricing available)
- Card-present processing fee: 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction
- Keyed-in processing fee and card on file: 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction
- Online payment processing: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction
- Card readers: From $59
- Terminals: From $149 (iPad POS plus card reader)
- 30-day free trial for Plus plans
- Invoicing Plus: $20 per month
- Team Plus: $35 per month, per location
- Payroll: $35 per month, plus $6 per employee (No base monthly fee if you are paying contractors)
- Marketing: Starts at $10 (text message) or $15 (email) per month
- Loyalty program: Starts at $45 per month
Square’s free plan includes a mobile POS app, so if you use mobile tap-to-pay, you can start selling even without a card reader. On top of that, it also gives you your first magstripe reader free, while an EMV chip reader costs only $59. POS terminals and kits run from $149 to $799. These prices compare well to most of the software on our list. Learn more in our complete guide to Square fees.
Though Square’s free plan features are more than adequate for running a small business, there are still plenty of reasons and ways to upgrade. In addition to upgrading your software plan to get advanced inventory, reports, and team management, there are paid add-ons for loyalty, marketing, and payroll that you can add to any Square account. Once you’ve purchased these add-ons, they appear directly on your POS dashboard, ready for immediate use. No other POS system offers so many native add-ons.
Cost to upgrade: $29 to $69 for software and from $59 for hardware
Loyverse: Best for Quick-service Restaurants
Loyverse earned an overall score of 4.05 out of 5, scoring better than Toast and Square for flexible hardware options and upgrade costs. It is a popular POS system because it offers so much for free: analytics, kitchen display, customer display, ticket and order management, table management, and customer management. The free KDS is one reason we recommend it for quick-service restaurants (QSRs). Loyverse is also the only system on this list that offers a free integrated loyalty program.
If you are running a restaurant and don’t want to use Square as your payment processor, Loyverse is also worth considering because it lets you choose your merchant service.
However, the absence of key tools in the free plan, like employee management and ecommerce (which you get with Square), prevented Loyverse from getting a better score.
- POS: Free (no paid plans)
- Payment processing: Varies―separate merchant account required
- Card readers: Compatible options starting at $20
- POS systems: Compatible options starting at $439*
* Compatible terminals are Android-only. You will need your own tablet for iOS.
- Employee management: $25 per month, per store
- Advanced inventory: $25 per month, per store (Custom pricing if over three locations)
- Integrations: From $9 per month, per store
- 14-day free trial for all add-ons
Busy restaurants and caterers wanting to track ingredients should consider adding Loyverse’s advanced inventory and employee management, which includes time clocks, sales tracking, and efficiency reports. Better yet, restaurants that have the budget for a paid system should consider investing in one of our recommended restaurant POS systems.
Cost to upgrade: $9 to $25 for add-on software
It is also important to note that Loyverse charges extra for third-party integrations. If you prefer native ecommerce tools, try Square. Additionally, if you need delivery integrations to go with your online store, try Toast.
Toast: Best for Full-service Restaurants
Toast earned an overall score of 3.97 out of 5 overall in our evaluation. You would not find another zero upfront cost option with industry-grade hardware and full-featured software anywhere else. However, the processing fee is considerably higher, and the free plan is only meant for single-location access (two terminals), so you can’t add team management tools. Software and hardware upgrades are also quite expensive.
Toast has a unique pay-as-you-go plan for one terminal, which includes POS software, Toast payment processing, and proprietary hardware solutions without an upfront cost or monthly software fee—you simply pay the higher processing fees, and that pays for the hardware + software bundle over time. No other POS on this list makes an offer like this. This option makes Toast a great solution for full-service restaurant owners who love the software and hardware, but find it too expensive to pay upfront. Given that restaurants normally spend an average of over $9,000 for upfront POS costs, going with Toast’s pay-as-you-go system could leave you with a lot of initial capital in reserve.
Inventory management tools, real-time ingredient tracking and costing, vendor management, purchase orders (POs), and accounts payable automation are all available with Toast via the paid XtraChef add-on, making Toast a great option for sit-down restaurants.
Pay-as-You-Go Starter Kit
- Includes Countertop, Handheld, or Guest Self-Service Kit
- Upfront cost: $0
- Monthly software cost: $0
- Processing rate: 2.99% plus 15 cents
- Contract length: Two years
- Inactivity fee: $85 per month; fee waived if at least one credit card transaction is processed in the preceding 90-day period
The Standard plan countertop hardware kit has an upfront cost of $875, and consists of a Toast Flex POS terminal, router, and tap payment device. The standard handheld kit cost starts at $627 and includes a Toast Go 2, wireless access point, and router. You can also get a self-service kiosk kit for $1,009, including a Tap payment device, router, and Toast 22” kiosk.
Toast’s free plan is perfect for small, full-service restaurants, but you will have to consider upgrading to a paid plan if you find that your business is expanding quickly or you wish to add mobile, online, and delivery to your source of revenue. Additionally, you might want to upgrade if you see a steady increase in your monthly sales from both online and dine-in customers to save on transaction fees.
Cost to upgrade: From $69 for add-on features (Custom pricing available)
PayPal Zettle: Best for Solopreneurs & PayPal Users
PayPal Zettle is a free, full-featured POS system (replacing PayPal Here) that offers both in-person and online sales solutions. It also allows you to accept card payments, gift cards, digital wallets, and peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, such as Venmo and PayPal quick response (QR) codes. This makes PayPal Zettle a great option for solopreneurs, hobbyists, and other microbusinesses.
PayPal Zettle earned an overall score of 3.79 out of 5, standing out from the other providers in our list for offering integration to PayPal payment options. Popularly known as the best alternative to Square for mobile and POS payments, PayPal Zettle beat Square for its free plan coverage, but fell short due to its pricing structure and lack of free hardware. It also does not support offline payment processing and lacks vendor and loyalty management features.
- POS: Free (no paid advanced plans)
- Card-present processing fee: 2.29% plus 9 cents
- Keyed-in processing fee: 3.49% plus 9 cents
- QR code processing fee: 1.9% plus 10 cents for transactions of $10.01 and above, 2.40% plus 5 cents for transactions of $10 and below.
- Card readers: $79 (first card reader discounted to $29)
- Ready-made store kits: From $249
PayPal Zettle does not have a free card reader like Square does (read our comparison of the two providers), but sells you your first reader at a steep discount. You can use this with your tablet or desktop, but if you want to upgrade to a full countertop setup, Zettle also offers four ready-made POS kits with a combination of touch screen, receipt printer, barcode scanner, or handheld devices. Prices for terminals run from $249 to $699, which makes them among the cheapest on our list.
Zettle has no upgrades or add-ons, except for third-party applications. You can integrate Zettle with ecommerce software like BigCommerce, accounting software like QuickBooks, appointment software like Timely, or even other POS software like Lightspeed and Loyverse. So, if you like PayPal for payment processing but Zettle does not quite fit the bill, consider third-party options. Most of these integrations, however, come with a fee.
Cost to upgrade: Varies; third-party integrations
Helcim: Best for Interchange-plus Transaction Fees
Helcim is a popular name in payment processing for its use of interchange-plus payment processing fees and volume discounts. This means that rather than having a set processing fee, Helcim offers you wholesale processing rates and discounts on top of that if you process enough transactions.
The system includes advanced inventory tracking, a customizable interface, and a user-friendly checkout page. Coupled with its built-in ecommerce tools and customer management features, Helcim is now one of the best free POS systems for growing businesses. Check it out in our guides to the cheapest credit card processing companies and the best retail payment processors.
Helcim earned an overall score of 3.77 out of 5 in our evaluation. While its features are not as sophisticated as those of Square, Helcim does provide a complete suite of tools, including a native website builder and free inventory management. However, Helcim lost points for lacking free hardware options, requiring an expensive card reader ($109) as an upfront cost, and limited integrations with other software.
- POS: Free (no advanced paid plans)
- Card-present fee: 0.10% plus 5 cents to 0.30% plus 8 cents (depends on credit card sales volume)
- Card-not-present fee: 0.20% plus 10 cents to 0.50% plus 25 cents (depends on credit card sales volume)
- ACH payment: 0.5% plus 25 cents per approved transaction (fees capped at $6 per transaction)
- International payment processing: Currency conversion fee of 1% above the daily 5 p.m. Eastern time market rate
- Card reader: $109
Helcim does not provide free hardware, but the free POS software can run on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows, so you can use existing desktops, tablets, and smartphones. However, you will need to purchase the credit card reader to start accepting payments with the POS. At $109, Helcim’s 3-in-1 card reader is very similar to PayPal Zettle’s, but is not offered with a discount and is among the most expensive on the market.
Helcim’s POS software is completely free, so there is no available option to upgrade the system. Invoicing, however, is an optional payment method, which means you can start without paying for this feature and eventually add this payment option as your business grows. It’s also important to note that Helcim’s POS integrations are very limited (there is no loyalty management integration, for example), and users may find themselves looking for additional third-party apps to manage a growing business.
Cost to upgrade: 0.5% plus 25 cents to 1% for additional ACH payment option
How We Evaluated the Best Free POS Software
We wanted to give our readers a list of reliable and truly free POS software, so we focused on providers that offer zero upfront costs and no monthly fees. We then compared the quality of features included in each free plan. Five out of a dozen POS systems for a variety of industries stood out as reliable, well-featured systems with strong user approval.
Of these, Square ranks No. 1. This isn’t a surprise—Square also ranks on our lists of best POS software, top-recommended POS systems for restaurants, leading payment gateways, best mobile card readers, and more.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
30% of Overall Score
Free plans do not mean free everything. We looked at the limitations of each system’s free plan, the cost to upgrade (if applicable), any upfront costs, and hardware. Square and Loyverse tied for the top spot, while Toast came in next.
20% of Overall Score
This score addressed the tools in the free plan for sales, inventory, customer management, employee management, and loyalty. Only PayPal Zettle scored 4 stars in this category while Toast and Helcim ranked the lowest with 3.5 out of 5 stars.
15% of Overall Score
This section considered added value in the free plan, such as features specific to restaurants or retail, the ability to manage more than one store, the presence of ecommerce tools, and number and variety of integrations. Square leads in this category far and away, scoring 3.81 stars.
20% of Overall Score
Free is no good unless it’s also easy. For this category, we considered customer support availability, cloud-based storage, if the POS works on both desktop and mobile, and other features that make the system easy to use. All the providers in our list did well here, with Helcim earning a perfect score.
15% of Overall Score
Here we considered the experience of our team, who has decades of personal use and research, and other current users’ reviews of the system. Toast received a perfect score, but all the products did well.
Free POS Software Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
It depends on the size of your business, as well as the stage it’s currently in. Smaller businesses that are still figuring out their needs and optimizing their processes can use a free POS. Once the business is on its feet and becoming more successful, consider investing in a paid system.
Many options allow you to set up a POS system for free without any upfront cost. This can be as simple as downloading a mobile POS app, and selling from there. Other providers offer a free card reader (like Square) or an all-in-one zero monthly subscription (like Toast).
Yes. The best POS software typically includes a mobile POS app that you can download and install on your mobile device for free. However, you will need to consider the hardware and software compatibility, as well as the card reader options.
While there are lots of free POS system options, Square is the best in terms of overall value for money. Its free plan comes with industry-specific features and free built-in tools like a website builder, payment processing, and a mobile POS app. You also get one free card reader.
Research your options and choose one, confirm that the free plan is forever-free (not just a trial), and then sign up. You can often do this directly from the provider’s website. You will sometimes be required to provide information such as your Social Security number.
If all you need is a basic POS system, there are free ones that do the job. Those listed above are our top picks for POS systems and are great to get you started—and they may be all you need. If not, most offer more advanced features via upgrades or add-ons, for reasonable prices.
We recommend Square as the best free POS software for small businesses because it offers a free version with unlimited uses, reasonable processing fees and an extensive register and inventory feature set for practically all business types. It even has a free online store, so you are not tied to physical sales. Sign up for a Square account to experience all this for yourself.