5 Best Free POS Software for Small Businesses in 2023
This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
There are dozens of free point-of-sale (POS) software on the market. Most free POS systems at least include checkout and basic inventory management functions, while the best ones also feature built-in payment processing, ecommerce tools, customer relationship management (CRM), team management, and reporting.
We tested over a dozen of the best free POS systems, 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 for interchange-plus transaction rates
Best Free POS Software Compared
1st magstripe card reader
From $49 (contactless/chip reader)
From $20 (card reader)
Integrated third party
Full starter kit*
From $609 (handheld kit)
$29 (discounted card reader)
From $79 (card reader)
$109 (card reader)
From $109 (card reader)
*Requires a two-year contract and higher payment processing fees.
CRM and Loyalty
w/ XtraChef add-on
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 POS systems on the market.
Free POS Software Quiz
Find the Best Free POS System for Your Small Business
Square: Best Overall Free POS System for Small Business
- Free mobile POS app
- Free online store
- Free versions for restaurants, salons, and retailers
- Limited support
- Tied to Square Payments
- Loyalty program costs extra
Square POS Free Features
- Built-in payment processing
- Mobile POS app
- Ecommerce tools with website builder
- Invoicing features
- Basic team management
- Basic inventory management
- Some customized reports
- CRM tools
- Magstripe reader
- Retail tools: In-store and curbside pickup, scale integration
- Restaurant tools: Pickup and delivery integration, open ticket management
Square ranked first in our evaluation of the best free POS software for small businesses, offering a completely free POS system for unlimited users and locations. With your free Square POS account, you can sell in-store, online, and on mobile, and the platform has specialty POS systems for restaurants, retailers, and salons.
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.
Square earned an overall score of 4.22 out of 5. It provides the widest range of free plan options along with a free magstripe card reader to get businesses started right away. It is also the easiest to use, most popular, and best for advanced features—both paid and free. However, it locks users into its built-in payments solution, which some small businesses may find limiting.
New this quarter: Square introduced mobile tap to pay on iPhone. Thus, when you download the Square POS app to your iOS device, you can securely accept contactless payments and NFC-enabled cards simply by tapping the payment method on your device—no card reader necessary.
- Basic POS software: $0 per month
- Advanced POS system: $60 to $69 per month
- 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 $49
- Terminals: From $149
- 30-day free trial for Plus plans
- Invoicing Plus: $20 per month
- Team Plus: $35 per month
- Payroll: $35 per month plus $5 per employee
- Marketing: Starts at $15 per month
- Loyalty program: Starts at $45 per month
Square’s free plan includes a mobile POS app, so you can start selling even without a card reader with mobile tap to pay. On top of that, it also gives you your first magstripe reader free, while an EMV chip reader costs only $49. 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.
Unlike the other POS software on this list, Square gives you 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. No other POS system offers so many native add-ons.
Cost to upgrade: $15 to $79 for software and from $49 for hardware
Loyverse: Best for Quick-service Restaurants
- Great customer support
- Strong customer management tools
- Choice of payment providers
- Loyalty program included in free plan
- Limited integrations and integration fee
- Ideal only for small restaurants, not full service
- No free card reader
Loyverse Free Features
- Free forever POS
- Mobile POS app
- Credit card payment capability
- Customer display for CRM
- Multiple location management
- CRM and loyalty program
- Inventory management
- 24/7 support
- Restaurant tools: KDS, open tickets, split bills, ingredient-level tracking, menu creation, and item modifiers
Loyverse is a popular POS system because it offers so much for free: POS, analytics, kitchen display, customer display, ticket and order management, table management, loyalty program, and customer management. The free KDS is one reason we recommend it for quick-service restaurants (QSRs), but it also has inventory tools like modifiers and real-time tracking for small food-based retailers. Loyverse is also the only system on this list that offers a free integrated loyalty program, as most popular POS software charge extra for this feature.
If you are running a restaurant and don’t want to use Square as your payment processor, Loyverse is worth considering because it lets you choose your merchant service. 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 also rivals Square in terms of restaurant features. The absence of key tools in the free plan, like employee management and ecommerce, prevented the system 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*
- Employee management: $5 per month, per employee
- Advanced inventory: $25 per month, per store
- Integrations: $9 per month, per location
- 14-day free trial on add-ons
*Compatible terminals are Android-only. You will need your own tablet for iOS.
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: $5 to $25 for add-on software
It is also important to note that Loyverse charges extra for third-party integrations and can only integrate with Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce ecommerce platforms. 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
- Zero upfront cost for pay-as-you-go plan
- Menu management in basic subscription
- Intuitive interface
- Locked into Toast’s payment processor
- Requires Toast proprietary hardware
- Expensive upgrades (mandatory installation fee for certain add-ons)
- Two-year contract length
Toast Free Features
- Platform rate: 2.99% plus 15 cents
- Add-ons priced as a percentage on top of payment processing fee
- Includes hardware, software, and payment processing
- Inventory and menu management
- Order and table management
- Digital menus
- Reporting and analytics
- 24/7 customer support
Toast has an impressive pay-as-you-go plan for one terminal, which includes its POS software, Toast payment processing, and proprietary hardware solutions without an upfront cost or monthly software fee—you simply pay the processing fees. This payment option makes Toast a great solution for full-service restaurant owners who love Toast software and hardware but find it too expensive to pay upfront.
Menu and inventory management tools, real-time ingredient tracking, vendor management, purchase orders (POs), and accounts payable automation are all available with Toast via their paid XtraChef add-on, making Toast a great option for sit-down 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-user access, so you can’t add team management tools. Software and hardware upgrades are also quite expensive.
Pay-as-You-Go Starter Kit
- Upfront cost: $0 (advanced POS plans for $69–$272/month)
- Monthly software cost: $0
- Card-present transaction fee: 2.99% plus 15 cents (platform rate)
- Keyed-in transaction fee: 2.99% plus 15 cents (platform rate)
- Add-on software cost (Growth Plan): 0.4% per transaction (includes online ordering, email marketing, loyalty management and gift card management)
- 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 Toast hardware kit comes with three free plan options: A countertop kit, a handheld kit, and a self-service kiosk kit. With the pay-as-you-go plan, there is no upfront or monthly subscription cost, but the processing fees are significantly higher.
The standard plan countertop hardware kit has an upfront cost of $799, which consists of a Toast Flex POS terminal, router, and tap payment device. The standard handheld kit cost starts at $609 and includes a Toast Go 2, wireless access point, and router. You can also get a self-service kiosk kit for $999, 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 software
PayPal Zettle: Best for Solopreneurs & PayPal Users
- Works for international sales
- Includes PayPal payment processor; PayPal checkout options, peer-to-peer, and QR payments
- Free-forever POS
- No free hardware options
- Basic employee management tools
- No offline mode
- Limited POS integrations (does not integrate with PayPal online store)
- No kitting or vendor management tools
PayPal Zettle Free Features
- Free POS
- Mobile POS app
- Mobile payment processing
- Invoicing features
- Discounted first mobile card reader
- Inventory management
- Basic team management
- Bulk inventory transfers
- Multichannel sales management
- Basic reporting features
- Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and QuickBooks integrations
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.
For this update, PayPal Zettle earned an overall score of 3.79 out of 5, standing out from the other providers in our list for offering native integration to PayPal payment options. Popularly known as the best alternative to Square for mobile and POS payments, PayPal Zettle beat Square for its general pricing but fell short due to its pricing structure. 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, 2.29% plus 5 cents for transactions of $10 and below.
- Card readers: $79 (first card reader discounted $29)
- Terminals: From $249
PayPal Zettle does not have a free card reader like Square 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 hardware POS kits with a combination of touch screen, receipt printer, barcode scanner, or handheld devices. Prices for terminals run from $249 to $499, 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, however, come with a fee.
Cost to upgrade: Varies, third-party integrations
Helcim: Best for Interchange-plus Transaction Fees
- Automatic volume discount pricing
- Entirely free POS features
- Built-in ecommerce tools
- Expensive card reader
- No free hardware option
- Lacks loyalty management integration
Helcim Free Features
- Advanced inventory management
- Advanced employee management
- Native, built-in ecommerce tools including online food ordering
- Easy-to-use checkout and register
- Automatic volume discount payment processing
- Customer management
- Complete payment processing options
- Interchange-plus and volume discounted processing 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 software also had significant updates in July 2022. It now 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. It is also on our list of best credit card processing for retailers.
Helcim earned an overall score of 3.77 out of 5 for this update. 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
- Card-not-present fee: 0.20% plus 10 cents to 0.50% plus 25 cents
- ACH payment: 0.5% plus 25 cents per approved 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 integration is very limited, 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 Chose 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 the free plan, the cost to upgrade, any upfront costs, and hardware. Square topped the list, Loyverse came in second while Toast ranked third.
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, and integrations. Square leads in this category far and away, scoring 3.81 stars.
20% of Overall Score
Free is no good unless it’s easy. Here, we considered customer support, storage, if it worked on desktop and mobile, and other features that make the system easy to implement. 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 the reviews of current users of the system. Toast received a perfect score but all the products did well.
Free POS Software Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Click through the questions below to get answers to some of your most frequently asked free POS software questions.
Depending on your business type, many options allow you to set up a POS system for free without any upfront cost. Most free POS systems can allow you to download a mobile POS software for free and start selling from your available mobile device. Other providers offer a free card reader (like Square) or an all-in-one zero monthly subscription (like Toast).
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. Read our list of best mobile POS apps.
While there are lots of free POS system options, Square is the best in terms of overall value for money. Its free plans come with industry-specific features and free built-in tools like a website builder, payment processing, and a mobile POS app.
There are quite a few free POS systems available. All you need to do is research the options so you find one that will suit your needs, confirm that the free plan is forever-free (not just a trial), and then sign up! It’s as simple as that.
If you need 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 reasonable upgrades in plans or add-ons.
We recommend Square as the best free POS software for small businesses because it offers a free version with unlimited uses 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. The processing fees are reasonable, especially for the occasional user.