This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Thermal receipt printers are tissue box-sized printers that connect to a cash register or point-of-sale (POS) system and print hardcopy receipts for sales transactions. Thermal receipt printers are the most common in small businesses because they print using heat on thermosensitive paper rather than expensive ink cartridges. Pricing for a solid thermal printer averages around $350. You can purchase them directly from retailers or via your POS system supplier.
Based on our evaluations, the best thermal printers are:
- Star Micronics TSP143III: Best overall thermal receipt printer
- Epson TM-T88VII Omnilink: Best high-speed thermal receipt printer
- Star Micronics mC-Print3: Best compact thermal receipt printer
- Epson TM-T20III: Best low-cost restaurant thermal receipt printer
- Bixolon SRP-350plusIII: Best low-cost thermal receipt printer
Looking for additional POS accessories? See our ultimate guide to POS hardware.
Top Thermal Receipt Printers Compared
$247 - $355
$356 - $499.75
$295 - $351
$183 - $309
$176 - $211
5.6 x 8 x 5.2 inches
5.71 x 7.68 x 5.83 inches
5.1 x 5.5 x 4.9 inches
5.51x 7.83 x 5.75 inches
5.70 x 7.87 x 5.74 inches
USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LAN, Powered USB
USB, Serial, Ethernet, Wireless USB (Wi-Fi), Powered USB
USB, Lightning, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Star CloudPRNT and WebPRNT
USB, Serial, Ethernet
USB, Ethernet, Serial
Compatible POS Systems*
Square, Lightspeed, TouchBistro, WineDirect, and more
Lightspeed, Revel Systems, TouchBistro, Lavu, Micros, and more
Square, Lightspeed, TouchBistro, WineDirect, and more
Lightspeed, Revel Systems, TouchBistro, Lavu, Micros, and more
Uses Epson emulation, so is compatible with any system that supports an Epson printer
*Systems listed are a sample; check with your POS provider to verify if these printers are compatible with an unlisted POS system.
How We Evaluated Thermal Receipt Printers
We compared a dozen popular and emerging thermal receipt printers based on qualities that are important to small shop and restaurant owners. We weighed the price, general printer features, and ease of use for each printer. We also considered our retail and restaurant experts’ opinions of each hardware option.
Using the above criteria, the Star Micronics TSP143III emerged as the best thermal receipt printer. This printer received the highest overall score according to our ranking system (4.45 out of 5). Based on our personal experience working in and with small businesses that use thermal receipt printers every day, the Star Micronics TSP143III is also the top printer we personally recommend.
Click through the boxes below for our full evaluation criteria:
20% of Overall Score
Many small businesses will need to purchase several thermal receipt printers so we looked for printers priced below $500 each. We awarded the highest marks to printers priced below $300.
30% of Overall Score
We considered each printer’s print speed, connection types, and available POS integrations. We looked specifically for printers that can act as a power hub for mobile POS terminals. We also looked for features like long life span auto cutters and de-curl functions.
30% of Overall Score
20% of Overall Score
Finally, we relied on our experts’ experiences with these printers and their evaluation of any standout features. We considered each printer’s popularity among small retail and restaurant businesses. We also considered whether each printer offered an overall value for the price.
Star Micronics TSP143III: Best Overall Thermal Receipt Printer
The Star Micronics TSP143III is a cost-effective, high-speed thermal printer that works on several popular POS systems. It prints at a respectable 250 millimeters (nearly 10 inches) per second. It is available in charcoal gray or white to coordinate with almost any payment terminal.
This printer has several connection options and a few insightful features to support contactless and mobile operations. The TSP143III is sold through several third-party sellers and retails for $247 to $355, depending on your preferred color and connection type.
The TSP143III earned a 4.45 out of 5 on our thermal receipt printer scoring system. This printer scored well for its combination of print speed, multiple network connection types, warranty, and reasonable price. It lost some ground with user reviews, though. The Star Micronics TSP143III averages 4.4 out of 5 on sites like Amazon. Other printers on this list—the Epson TM-T20III and the TM-T88VII Omnilink—earned ratings above 4.5.
And while 250 mm per second is an excellent print speed, it is not the highest speed on this list; the Bixolon SRP-350plusIII prints at 300 mm per second and the Epson TM-T88VII Omnilink eclipses them both at 500 mm per second.
Star Micronics TSP143III Standout Features
- Easy set up: The TSP143III has a “Push n’ Connect” button to find your POS network quickly. It also features an extra USB connector to power tablets and other mobile devices in a mobile POS setup.
- AllReceipts feature: This is Star Micronics’ digital receipt tool. When utilized, the AllReceipts function prints a QR code at the bottom of customer receipts. The customer can scan the receipt with their smartphone and get a digital copy of the receipt. If you’ve ever had a customer calling to request a receipt a month after their visit, you’ll appreciate this function. You can amp up the marketing value of these digital receipts by including digital coupons on scanned receipts.
- futurePRNT: This is a Star Micronics designed software tool that works on Windows OS and allows you to add detailed graphics or coupons to the bottom of your receipts.
- Two-year warranty: Star Micronics offers a two-year limited warranty on the TSP143III.
- Compatibility: The TSP143III is the higher-speed version of the popular Star Micronics TSP100 printer. Any POS system that lists the TSP100 as a compatible printer will work with the TSP143. This Star Micronics printer integrates with popular retail and restaurant POS systems Square, Lightspeed, TouchBistro, WineDirect, Vend, and many more. The TSP143III also integrates with online ordering platforms DoorDash, Grubhub, and UberEATS and reservation systems like SevenRooms and Tock.
Epson TM-T88VII Omnilink: Best High-Speed Thermal Receipt Printer
The Epson TM-T88VII Omnilink is Epson’s most recent upgrade to its TM-T88V printer. The T88 has been the most popular restaurant printer for more than a decade. These printers are absolute workhorses in a restaurant setting and integrate directly with any restaurant POS you can think of.
When you begin looking at thermal printers, you’ll frequently run across the phrase “Epson emulation.” This term simply means that a printer has been built to speak the same printer “language” as an Epson printer. The Epson T88 series printers’ ubiquity makes them the printers that so many competitors try to emulate and the one that POS software developers program for.
The TM-T88VII Omnilink earned a 4.28 out of 5 on our thermal receipt printer ranking. The printer earned high marks for its connectivity options; the TM-T88VII connects via ethernet, USB, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi (via a wireless USB dongle). The printer also scores well with customers; average customer ratings range from 4.5 to 4.7 out of 5 on Google and Amazon.
The biggest drawback of this printer is the price. Brand-new TM-T88VII’s will run you around $400, the highest price on this list. Because various versions of the T88 have been around for so long, you should take care buying through a third-party site like eBay. Sellers can easily mistakenly list their T88 printers as the latest version when they are not.
Epson TM-T88VII Standout Features
Epson TM-T88VII’s standout features include:
- Superfast print speed: The TM-T88VII prints at an astounding 500 millimeters per second. This may be more than a small coffee shop needs, but it can be a lifesaver in a busy grocery store or high-volume bar.
- Customizable connections: The T88VII’s multiple connection options support locally installed and cloud-based POS systems, mobile devices, and cloud servers. You can also print from web-based applications using Epson’s ePOS Print platform. Ghost kitchens and cloud kitchens can configure Server Direct Printing for online ordering tickets to print directly from the cloud to their kitchen.
- Simultaneous connections: The TM-T88VII Omnilink can use multiple connection interfaces simultaneously. This means you can print from a USB-connected POS, Wi-Fi-connected mobile tablets, or cloud servers from the same printer. The TM-T88VII Omnilink is the only printer on this list that supports simultaneous connections of different connection types. Like the mC-Print3, the TM-T88VII Omnilink lets you print tickets and receipts directly from a web server without going through your POS. This is an excellent feature for ghost kitchens or shops that receive a lot of ecommerce orders.
- Four-year warranty: Epson designed this printer for durability, which shows in the four-year manufacturer’s warranty. With the rugged design and long-lived auto cutter and print head, you’re unlikely to experience any issues for a couple of years. So the four-year warranty ensures that you’ll have coverage if something goes wrong years after your purchase.
- Variable language settings: In addition to standard English characters, the Epson TM-T88VII Omnilink includes 18 international characters and supports Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Korean characters. The Bixolon SRP-350plusIII comes close, supporting all the same languages, except for Thai.
Star Micronics mC-Print3: Best Compact Thermal Receipt Printer
The Star Micronics mC-Print3 is a compact, front-loading thermal receipt printer. This petite, cube-shaped printer is a little over 5 inches square, making it easy to squeeze into tight cash wraps and server stations. The front-loading design may be a little tricky to load, but it protects the print head from spills and helps your receipts print flat with no curling. The various network connection types make the mC-Print3 work for multiple POS configurations. The mC-Print3 is available in black or white to match your store’s decor.
This compact printer earned a rating of 4.24 out of 5 on our thermal receipt printer ranking system. The mC-Print3 scored well for POS compatibility and a variety of connection types. It lost points for some less favorable customer reviews and a less durable auto cutter.
For example, the mC-Print3’s sibling printer the TSP143III is rated for 2 million cuts, but Star Micronics doesn’t disclose the mC-Print3’s cutter life span, which doesn’t instill confidence. While others on this list like the Epson TM-T88VI average 4.5 to 4.7 in online customer reviews, the mC-Print3’s average user rating comes in lower at 4.4 on sites like Amazon.
Star Micronics mC-Print3 Standout Features
- Streamlined peripherals: The mC-Print3 is one part of Star Micronics mCollection—a set of compact POS products. These printers, barcode scanners, cash drawers, POS stands, and scales all have multiple connection options and a streamlined design that strives to be flexible to meet future POS needs.
- CloudPRNT/ WebPRNT: Star Micronics CloudPRNT and WebPRNT features allow you to print tickets and receipts directly from the cloud or web-based applications. This feature is great for printing orders directly from an online ordering platform or ecommerce sites. Using these tools requires a strong, stable internet connection, though.
- Included connections: Where printers like the Epson TM-T20III make you choose your connection type when you purchase each printer, the mC-Print3 includes all five connection types in each printer. So your mC-Print3 will grow with your business as you change POS partners or your business grows.
Epson TM-T20III: Best Low-Cost Restaurant Thermal Receipt Printer
The Epson TM-T20III is a workhorse of a thermal receipt printer. This model integrates with most any restaurant POS system, and has long been popular with small restaurants that need a cost-effective receipt printer. If you’re in the retail business, the Epson TM-T20III integrates with several retail POS systems too. The TM-T20III prints 200 millimeters (around 7.75 inches) per second, which is respectable, but also the lowest speed on this list. The TM-T20III’s greatest asset is its price; you can find these printers for as low as $175 from online retailers like Amazon.
On our thermal receipt printer scoring system, the Epson TM-T20III earned a 4.19 out of 5. The printer scored well for price and its high ratings from users. Users awarded the TM-T20III 4.6 stars on Amazon and Trust Pilot. This is a solid, sturdy printer that won’t disappoint small to medium shop or restaurant owners. But if you need a printer that can power your POS tablet or preemptively “de-curl” your receipt paper, you’ll be happier with the Star Micronics TSP143III or the mC-Print3.
Epson TM-T20III Standout Features
- Paper saver: The TM-T20III comes with an automatic paper-saving setting that can reduce your paper usage by up to 30%. The printer does this by reducing margins and combining print tasks like printing the logo on the next receipt before cutting a completed receipt. In a high volume shop or restaurant, every little bit of savings adds up.
- Variable paper sizes: Choose to use 80 millimeter or 58 millimeter width thermal paper for your receipts.
- Two-year warranty: The TM-T20III comes with a standard two-year manufacturer’s warranty. Lower than what Epson offers on the sibling TM-T88VI (which is four years), but on par with the Star Micronics TSP143III.
- Compatibility: The Epson TM-T20III is the low-cost version of the TM-T88VI. These printers operate with the ESC/POS printer language, so most any POS that integrates with the T88 will work with the T20.
Bixolon SRP-350plusIII: Best Overall Low-Cost Thermal Receipt Printer
The Bixolon SRP-350plusIII is built for durability, and it can look a little brick-like. It is larger than the others on this list, but only by about an inch of depth. It also comes with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty. If style is a primary concern for you, you might be happier with the Star Micronics mC-Print3. But with prices ranging from $176 to $211, the Bixolon SRP-350plusIII is the lowest cost printer on this list. If price is your primary concern, the Bixolon has you covered.
The Bixolon SRP-350plusIII earned a 3.93 out of 5 on our thermal receipt printer ranking system. The printer scored well for its low price and high print speed of 300 millimeters per second. This speed is higher than most of the printers on this list; only the Epson TM-T88VII Omnilink is faster at 500 millimeters per second. The Bixolon lost points because some user reviews on Amazon are lower than the others on this list, ranging as low as 3.6 stars for some models. Though other listings garner a full 5 stars.
Most of the negative reviews are from customers who received a printer that lacked the connection they needed. SRP-350plusIII printers do not contain all connection options; you need to double-check that you order the model with the connection you need. If you need all connection types in a single printer, try the Star Micronics mC-Print3.
Bixolon SRP-350plusIII Standout Features
Bixolon SRP-350plusIII’s standout features include:
- Variable print resolution: All the printers on this list print at a standard 203 dpi, which is more than high enough resolution for most receipt functions. The Bixolon SRP-350plusIII offers resolution as high as 300 dpi, allowing you to set a lower resolution if you like, down to 180 dpi. The lower resolution increases the Bixolon’s print speed close to 10 inches per second. If you don’t print barcodes or detailed logos, this lower resolution setting could be exactly what you need.
- Epson Emulation: Bixolon printers “emulate” the Epson printer ESC/POS interface. So, with a little back-end tinkering, any POS that integrates with Epson should readily accept the Bixolon SRP-350plusIII.
- Rated for durability: The Bixolon SRP-350plusIII’s printhead is rated to print up to 150 kilometers of receipts before it wears out. Similarly, the auto cutter supports 1.8 million cuts before losing its edge.
- Customizable languages: Like the Epson TM-T88VII Omnilink, the Bixolon SRP-350plusIII supports standard English characters as well as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean characters.
When it comes to thermal receipt printers, it’s hard to find a bad one. But if you’re looking for the best thermal receipt printer available, you should try the Star Micronics TSP143III. This printer combines an accessible price with respectable print speed with a durable print head and long-lived auto cutter.
The real kicker is the digital AllReceipts setting that allows your customers to turn any physical receipt into a digital one, and enables you to sneak in additional offers and promotions. To see if the TSP143III is the right printer for your shop or restaurant, explore the printer for yourself.