This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
A spa or salon point-of-sale (POS) system manages client transactions, sales data, and customer information just like any other POS system. It also includes industry-specific features like appointment scheduling, online booking, and client-facing account management tools. The best spa POS systems include these features and start at under $100 per month.
While you may be able to integrate an appointment application to any POS system, the best POS systems specifically designed for salons are:
- Square Appointments: Best overall salon POS system
- Fresha: Best for small salons with multiple stylists
- Vagaro: Best for health, wellness, and fitness businesses needing intake forms or SOAP notes
- DaySmart Salon: Best for managing walk-in appointments or virtual consultations
- MassageBook: Best for massage therapists looking for a simple, affordable option
Best Salon POS & Spa Management Software Compared
✓, 1 year
Free plan for a single user; paid tiers start at $50
None, certain features are paid add-ons
$25 to $85
$29 to $199
$9.99 to $34.99 (discounts available for AMTA and ABMP members)
Payment processing fees
2.55% + 10 cents or higher
2.19% + 20 cents
Sales <$4,000 per month: 2.75% for in-person;
Sales >$4,000 per month: 2.2% + 19 cents for in-person
Rates vary, works with CardConnect and OpenEdge only
2.6% + 10 cents via Square or 2.75% via Stripe
Works on desktop, Android, and iOS devices
Works on desktop, Android, and iOS devices
Works on desktop (Windows 10 and higher only), Android, and iOS devices
Works on desktop (Windows, need a boot camp version of Windows to run on Mac), Android, and iOS devices
Works on desktop, Android, and iOS devices
Client intake forms
✓, with add-on fee
Phone: M–F, 6 a.m.–6 p.m., Pacific time
No phone, via email only:
Daily, from 7 a.m.–7 p.m. in all time zones
24/7 live chat; phone:
M–F: 5 a.m.–12 a.m.,
Weekends: 7 a.m.–12 a.m. Pacific time
Email and phone:
M, Th, and F: 9 a.m.–8 p.m.,
T and W: 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Eastern time
Email, live chat*, and phone:
M–Th 9:30 a.m.–8 p.m.,
F 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Eastern time
*Certain plans only
All of the POS listed above also have appointment scheduling, online booking, and no-show protection.
How We Evaluated Salon POS & Spa Management Software
We’ve reviewed and considered nearly a hundred different POS systems for a multitude of use cases, and selected those that best serve salons and spas. These had to be easy to use, efficiently manage appointments, have time-saving features like automated confirmations, and manage customer information. This evaluation criteria eliminated some competitive systems like Clover and Vend, which are often listed for Salon POS services but depend on third-party applications.
Next, we looked for specialty features like intake forms, resource management (so spas can book appointments based on available rooms or chairs, not just available providers), no-show protection (with stored credit cards or prepayment), and SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment, and plan) notes. We also looked at CRM and marketing tools like loyalty programs, directory listings, and social media integrations so it’s easy to bring in new clients. Finally, we considered extra employee management tools, including tipping, commissions, break management, and booking notifications.
Based on our criteria, Square Appointments is the best salon POS. According to our evaluation, the system received the highest total score (4.74 out of 5). The price is reasonable—free for one user and less than $100 for 10 users—and it comes with many free features. Square also tops this list for the best overall POS systems for small businesses.
Here’s how we stacked features:
10% of Overall Score
Salons have enough overhead without adding expensive POS subscriptions. We looked for plans under $100 a month with integrated payment processing and no limits on appointments. Fresha and MassageBook topped this section.
30% of Overall Score
The backbone of any salon or spa is appointments and scheduling. We looked for online and in-person tools that made it easy for customers to make and keep appointments. Fresha and MassageBook aced this section, while Square ranked last but still earned a 4.5 out of 5.
20% of Overall Score
To make this list, all the products needed to be strong in this area, handling commissions, memberships, retail product sales, gift cards, and contactless payments. Vagaro and DaySmart Salon offered everything we looked for, while MassageBook ranked the lowest but still at 3 out of 5.
20% of Overall Score
Like any business, salons need to handle inventory, employees, payroll, and more, plus have access to reports for evaluating the present and planning for the future. Square and DaySmart Salon offer everything we looked for, while MassageBook only provides basic reports.
20% of Overall Score
This score considers our judgment on feature quality and input from real-world users on ease of use and value for the money. Fresha and Square stood out with perfect scores in this area.
Square Appointments: Best Salon POS System
Square Appointments is a cloud-based appointment booking software that is part of the larger Square system. Square’s products top our list for best POS system and best retail POS system, and makes our list of best restaurant POS systems. One reason it stands out from the competition, including on this list, is its versatility. You can integrate it with Square’s other software solutions like payroll and marketing. Plus, Square is very user-friendly, making it the best overall POS for small salons.
Square earned a 4.74 out of 5. It maxed out our expert score and back office tools categories. It lost points because it lacked integrated intake forms. (Consider Vagaro or MassageBook for those.)
Square Appointments Pricing
- Monthly subscription fee: Square is middle of the pack for pricing. No other salon POS system can beat the free plan for a single person, but the price for two or more employees ($50–$90 or custom for 11+ employees) is higher than you’ll find for Fresha or MassageBook.
- Payment processing fee: Unlike some of the POS systems on our list, you must use Square Payments. Rates vary by type of transaction.
- Hardware costs: Like all the POS software on our list, Square Appointments can run on any desktop or be downloaded onto any iOS and Android smartphone and tablet. With a contactless chip reader for $49, you’re ready to go and can accept EMV and NFC card payments. It also offers the following equipment at competitive prices:
Square Appointments Features
- Free plan: If you run a solo operation or single appointment calendar for your salon, Square’s free plan is an excellent choice. It comes with a complete set of appointment-scheduling features, POS software with inventory, and Square Assistant. Fresha also has a free plan with slightly different features; MassageBook has a one-year trial.
- Top-rated sales tools: Square is a top-rated POS system for sales. You can sell your products, memberships, classes, and gift certificates online and in person. It tracks inventory, manages stock across multiple locations, allows for billing or invoicing, and has a free website builder. You can also program discounts.
- Calendar: Each employee gets individual calendars. You can maintain full control of your calendar with set business hours, block time off, and choose to manually or automatically approve each appointment request. Square lets you assign resources to services so they are automatically booked (preventing double-booking), and you can view resource appointments on the schedule. Square also enables resource-booking.
- Square Assistant: Square Assistant sends appointment reminders via text. It can respond to customers to confirm, cancel, or reschedule appointments. Most automated texting apps for other salon POS systems on our list cannot suggest reschedules.
- Grow with Square: Of all the salon POS software on our list, Square alone has native add-ons that make it easy to add functions for marketing, loyalty programs, time-tracking, and even payroll processing. Some may come with a subscription fee, but unlike third-party add-ons, these are made to sync with your system immediately. Check DaySmart Salon or Vagaro to see if the tools you want are already included in one of their plans.
What Square Appointments Is Missing
- Client intake forms and SOAP notes: Square does not have integrated client intake forms, where you can ask health questions or get preferences like what areas of the body the therapist should concentrate on. Nor does it have SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment, and plan) notes. All our other top picks have provisions for these forms. However, Square does have a feature for contracts like COVID-19 agreements and credit card authorization forms.
- Built-in loyalty or membership programs: Square lets you make customer groups, but for a full membership or loyalty program, you need Square Loyalty, which costs extra. The other salon POS software on our list have these programs, though sometimes in higher-tier plans.
- Group bookings: Like Fresha and MassageBook, Square does not have group booking for classes, but you can create classes via the online store. Support suggests setting classes up as events and selling appointments as tickets. Vagaro and DaySmart Salon offer better tools for classes, including virtual classes.
If you want to learn more about this POS system, check out our full Square for Appointments review.
Fresha: Best for Small Salons With Multiple Stylists
Fresha is a free POS system that’s built specifically for salons and spas. This simple, flexible booking and payment processing software include full retail sales capabilities, inventory tracking, analytics, and marketing tools. Unlike Square, which is free only for individuals, Fresha is free for unlimited team members, which is why we recommend it for small salons with multiple stylists.
In our evaluation, Fresha earned a 4.65 out of 5. Its user-friendly interface, customer-facing business directory, and detailed booking features earned the system a high score. Its low price point scores it higher than Vagaro and DaySmart Salon, although they both have more features. A lack of payroll reporting and traditional gift card management prevented Fresha from earning a perfect mark. Vagaro is the best choice if you need payroll.
- Monthly subscription fee: $0. Fresha stands out because it does not charge for the appointments, POS, or inventory management tools. However, it does have additional fees for using some features, such as:
- New-client fee: 20%, doesn’t apply to repeat customers or customers who book directly through your website or social page (Vagaro and MassageBook have similar services with no new-client fee)
- Blast Campaigns: Send clients SMS text messages (5 cents/each) or email (2 cents/each)
- Payment processing fee: 2.19% + 20 cents per transaction, which includes payment processing, appointment reminders, and a listing in the customer-facing Fresha marketplace. Fresha’s processing fee is one of the lowest rates we’ve seen.
- Hardware costs: Fresha is a cloud-based software and does not have any special hardware requirements.
- Free plan: Like Square’s one-person plan, the only thing you pay for is the payment processing. If you choose not to accept payments through Fresha, this plan gives you only in-person booking, inventory, and reporting features, making it a more straightforward plan than Square’s. However, add the payment processing Fresha offers, and it rivals Square.
- Fresha Marketplace: Fresha puts all its salons in its marketplace, where customers can find and book appointments with a salon in their area. Although a paid feature that incurs a 20% finder’s fee per new client, it is a cost-effective way to build your clientele as you only pay by successful lead rather than by advertisement. Fresha has booked over 250 million appointments. Vagaro has something similar, while MassageBook has an exclusive directory for massage therapists.
- Package deals: Fresha lets you create package deals, like couple’s massages, mani-pedis, or a whole spa experience. When selecting, these can be booked as a whole or in sequence so you can schedule resource rooms.
- Calendar view: Fresha has calendars for individual employees, locations and resources. You can filter by employees to see their calendars. In addition, you can add shifts and breaks.
What Fresha Is Missing
- Round-the-clock customer support: Fresha only offers support by email, and even then, it only provides support by extended hours (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.). This can get tricky if your system goes down during a busy day, you can’t count on quick assistance. If you want to reach a human voice, consider DaySmart Salon, which offers phone and chat support, or Vagaro, which has live chat support.
- POS hardware system such as register: Fresha is an online software, so you run it off your computer or tablet. It does not offer countertop POS hardware like Square, DaySmart Salon, and Vagaro.
- Group bookings: Like Square, Fresha does not provide group booking for classes, but it says it’s working on this addition. Consider Vagaro or DaySmart Salon instead.
Want to know more about Fresha? Read more in our in-depth Fresha review.
Vagaro: Best for Managing Intake Forms & SOAP Notes
Vagaro is a cloud-based POS for spas, salons, and fitness businesses. It offers an excellent span of features for scheduling, customer management, payments, and more. We were especially impressed with its payroll tools, something no other POS software had as completely. However, its recurring appointments, invoicing, and SOAP notes make it the best choice for service businesses tied to health and medical centers. It is one of only two providers on our list (MassageBook is the other) featuring the specific SOAP notes format for detailing a client’s history and progress.
We gave Vagaro a 4.63 out of 5, with perfect marks for checkout tools, and high marks for appointments. It took some hits for ease of use because of its learning curve and complaints of the app glitching. Also, it lacked a free plan like Square and Fresha. It charges for advanced marketing tools, intake forms, and its check-in app. Some of these you may find in DaySmart Salon, with its higher price, or as add-ons to Square.
- Monthly subscription fee: The pricing is similar to Square, though Vagaro lacks a free plan. It does, however, offer a 30-day free trial. If you want a free plan that handles multiple employees, look at Fresha.
- Additional fees: Vagaro charges extra for automated text marketing, online shopping carts, a website builder, forms, and other tools. Some of these tools are not offered at all with other salon POS software, although for forms, look to DaySmart Salon.
- Payment processing fee: Vagaro is unique in that it has two payment processing plans, depending on your sales volume. You may have to sign a contract.
- <$4,000 per month: 2.75% for in-person, 3.5% + 15 cents for keyed-in transactions
- >$4,000 per month: 2.2% + 19 cents for in-person, 3% + 19 cents for keyed-in transactions (with higher rates for American Express), plus a $10 monthly fee
- Card reader hardware costs: Free chip, tap, and swipe card reader with each account; additional readers are $75.
- POS hardware costs: Countertop terminal bundles with touch-screen monitor available from $750 to about $1,200. This is more expensive than other systems.
- Online directory: Like Fresha and MassageBook, Vagaro has an online directory that people can use to find salons in their area. You are listed if you use Vagaro’s POS system. It doesn’t just list your business, however. If you have a livestream class people can join, it will list that, making it easy to build your virtual audience no matter where you are. Fresha does not offer this. Further, Vagaro does not charge a new-client fee as Fresha does.
- Appointments: Clients can book through Yelp, Facebook, Vagaro (website or app), or your business website; you can also create a custom booking website or integrate a booking widget into your existing one. In addition, you can set lead times required for appointments, break times needed in between sessions, and types of services each employee can offer.
- SOAP notes: SOAP notes are useful for capturing details of a client’s history and recording progress, such as for personal trainers or for massage therapy for a specific condition. While all of the software on our list have places for notes, only Vagaro and MassageBook have the specific SOAP notes format, which has profiles for the human face and body anatomy—to easily identify pain points—and a pain scale. This feature is ideal for, and typically used by, massage therapists.
- Payroll: Vagaro tops the list for payroll functions, with time clocks, commission tracking, and hourly pay. You can also access pay stubs and payroll history through Vagaro. It integrates with Gusto and QuickBooks for more advanced payroll functions.
What Vagaro Is Missing
- Built-in (free) client management features: Vagaro charges extra for some features you’ll find free with other software. It charges $10 a month for form building, something you’ll find free on Fresha Plus or DaySmart Salon’ Deluxe and higher plans. Square gives you a free online store; Vagaro charges $10 a month for this.
- Consistency on software performance and good customer support: Dissatisfied users said that customer support mishandled problems, lied about fixing them, and did not offer restitution for loss of clientele, even when it admitted it was the software’s fault. However, note that Vagaro averages a 4.7 out of 5 on user review sites. It’s terrific when it works; when it does not, it can be a challenge.
If you want to read more about what we think of Vagaro, check out our full Vagaro review.
DaySmart Salon: Best for Managing Walk-in & Virtual Appointments
DaySmart Salon (formerly known as Salon Iris) is a highly popular POS system for salons and spas because it offers salon-specific features. The most expensive of those we reviewed for more than three users, it offers features the others do not, such as integrated teleconsulting and a walk-in kiosk. This makes it a good choice for salons with walk-in customers and virtual appointments.
Its credit card processing services are not among our favorites because of the monthly fees and yearslong contracts. However, the feature set is fantastic, and while users say they needed time to learn the system, they were highly satisfied.
We gave DaySmart Salon a 4.49 out of 5. It scored high across the board, except for price, where it ranks last. However, at the second level ($59) plan, you’ll find marketing, time clock, and client loyalty functions—tools you may have to pay extra for with other providers, like Square or Vagaro, or get as a third-party application.
DaySmart Salon Pricing
- Monthly subscription fee: Ranging from $29 to $199. It has a free 14-day trial
- Payment processing fee: DaySmart Salon integrates only with CardConnect and OpenEdge (also known as GlobalPayments Integrated) for payment processing. Both come with varying rates and monthly fees and contracts with termination penalties. If you want payment processing without contracts and a flat rate, try Square or Fresha.
- Hardware costs: Most of the hardware can be purchased through third-party websites. It advertises an all-in-one solution, but pricing may depend on the plan you get.
DaySmart Salon Features
- Teleconsulting: DaySmart Salon’s teleconsultation function lets clients request a virtual appointment and allows you to contact them for video conferencing through the software. Built as a response to the isolation caused by the pandemic, it’s nonetheless an excellent tool for private lessons or appointments that don’t need to be in person. While other salon POS software can let you designate virtual appointments, DaySmart Salon alone lets you work everything through the software. (Vagaro has something similar but uses a Zoom integration.)
- Online forms: DaySmart Salon’s Deluxe, Premier, and Platinum cloud subscribers can create online forms for customers to fill out before or after appointments. Use this for client intake, consent, or recording client expectations before the appointment. You can also use them for feedback surveys after. While everyone on the list but Square has this feature, DaySmart Salon is incredibly customizable and easy to build.
- Payroll: You get time clock and payroll tools in the Deluxe and higher plans. Go up to the Premier plan, and you can set sliding commissions, hourly pay, and overtime rules. Vagaro alone offers similar payroll features plus other tools, while Square has a Payroll service that integrates with its POS.
- Customer kiosk: This is an excellent tool for letting walk-ins sign in and take the next available slot, even if you and your employees are busy with customers. While you could use Square’s mobile apps to set up something similar, DaySmart Salon is already made for this purpose. Vagaro has a kiosk, but charges an extra fee for it.
DaySmart Salon Is Missing
- Free plan: DaySmart Salon does not have a free plan and is the most expensive POS system on our list. It also does not have a month-to-month credit card processing option. For either of these, Square or Fresha are your best bets.
- Unlimited marketing campaigns: The plans limit the number of texts and emails you can send. For the basic plan, it’s 500 texts and 5,000 emails. This can be limiting if you have an extensive customer list, programmed replies, or marketing.
MassageBook: Most Affordable for Solo Massage Therapists
MassageBook is cloud-based client management and appointment booking software designed for independent massage therapists, but can work for small salons needing the basics. While not as extensive in features as more expensive plans like DaySmart Salon or Vagaro, it offers an online directory where new clients can find you, strong scheduling tools suited to massage, and intake forms and SOAP notes.
The basic (Transition) plan is free for the first year, making it a great choice for new businesses and recently licensed massage therapists. It also offers discounts for massage therapists who belong to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).
MassageBook earned a solid 3.79 out of 5. It lacks inventory, employee, commission, and product tracking, although you can glean some of this information in the Sales reports. (Look at Square or DaySmart Salon for better tools.) However, it got perfect scores for price, being cheaper than DaySmart Salon and Vagaro, and appointment and customer management tools. It beat DaySmart Salon and Vagaro in ease of use and value for price.
- Monthly subscription fee: The most basic plan is free for the first year; members of AMTA receive 25% off, while ABMP members receive 15% off. These are among the lowest rates of the paid POS systems on our list, and MassageBook is the only one that offers discounts for members of professional organizations.
- Payment processing: MassageBook integrates with Square and Stripe for payment processing. These rates compare well, but if you have your payment processor, look at DaySmart Salon or Vagaro.
- Hardware: The browser-based software works on any tablet and computer, so no specific hardware is required. You must purchase chip and contactless card readers independently.
- Insurance billing receipts: MassageBook is the only POS software on our list that creates receipts specifically suited for insurance companies. These contain the information your clients need to get reimbursed by their providers.
- New client pre-pay: While Fresha and Vagaro also have a directory from which you can get new clients, MassageBook helps protect you against no-shows by requiring they pay in advance.
- Daily limits: While most calendars let you set your business hours and block employee breaks or time off, MassageBook takes a different tactic. It can let you set maximum hours in a day for taking appointments. This is a great tool for independent therapists who have more fluidity in their schedule or those who want to limit their appointment hours while still having regular business hours.
- Intake forms and SOAP notes: MassageBook alone on our list had both integrated intake forms and SOAP notes. In addition, it takes the information from the intake form and SOAP notes and makes it available to you via the client’s appointment on your schedule. That way, you don’t have to search for those past files to get basic information.
What MassageBook Is Missing
- An online store for physical products: MassageBook is not well suited for beauty salons, fitness centers, or spas. It does not promote these on its website or have an online store for selling products like many salons do. If you want a simple, inexpensive POS system that does all this, try Fresha.
- Advanced reporting, payroll, and inventory management tools: MassageBook’s reporting section is very thin, with only a few basic reports on income, such as sales, payment types, and appointments by members. It lacks reports for payroll or inventory management. Vagaro is somewhat more expensive but has these plus SOAP notes popular with massage therapists.
All the salon and spa POS software on our list are great choices. They provide comprehensive calendar tools, text messages to confirm appointments, client notes, and the ability to sell packages, memberships, and at least some types of gift certificates. As you decide what’s best for you, look at specific features (like marketing or SOAP notes) and monthly fees, as well as anticipated transaction fees.
Square Appointments earns the top rank because it’s affordable, user-friendly, and full of POS, inventory, and appointment management tools for online or in-person. It’s a versatile system that can grow with your business. Visit Square to start Appointments for free.