Toast POS: Best Restaurant POS System
This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Toast is a flexible restaurant point-of-sale (POS) system that regularly tops our rankings of the best restaurant POS systems. It earned a 4.31 out of 5 on our most recent rankings, scoring well over more than 20 data points. With a free baseline POS subscription and pay-as-you-go options for hardware, Toast is an excellent fit for all restaurant types.
What We Like
- Free Starter POS
- Pay-as-you-go options for hardware
- Designed specifically for restaurants
- Insightful, restaurant-specific payroll and HR tools
- 2-year standard contract
- Toast is the only payment processor
- Required hardware purchases
When to Use Toast
Toast also scores well in our POS rankings for:
- Cafes: Toast is a great fit for growing cafes.
- Pizzerias: Toast won our ranking of the best pizza POS systems.
- Quick service restaurants: Toast is our top recommendation for QSRs.
- Food trucks: Toast is best for high-volume food trucks.
- Bars: Toast and is our best overall bar POS.
- Delivery restaurants: Toast is our top overall pick for a delivery restaurant POS.
When to Use an Alternative
- Seasonal restaurants: Consider a month-to-month POS like Square for Restaurants.
- If you want iPad terminals: Check out Lightspeed Restaurant or TouchBistro.
- Flexible processing: Lightspeed Restaurant integrates with multiple processors.
Toast is great for restaurants needing industry-grade hardware that can withstand a high-traffic environment. The multiple subscription tiers and flexible hardware payment options make Toast a fit for virtually every restaurant size. There really are very few cases where Toast is not a good fit.
However, Toast isn’t the best when you want to shop around for the lowest payment processing rates. Its users are locked into Toast Payments. So, if you already work with a processor you love, you’ll want to find a POS that integrates with it; consider Revel Systems. If you prefer an iPad POS system, you’ll also want to look at Lightspeed or TouchBistro. Also, two-year contracts are standard with Toast, so if you prefer a shorter-term commitment, consider Square for Restaurants.
Looking for something different? See our list of the best POS systems for small businesses.
Toast Video Review
Toast Deciding Factors
Supported Business Types
Restaurants, bars, food trucks, coffee shops, cafes, and other food service businesses
Monthly Software Fees
Setup and Installation Fees
Optional; custom-quoted by hardware type and restaurant size
Payment Processing Options
Payment Processing Fees
2.49% + 15 cents to 2.99% + 15 cents for in-person payments
*Custom rate quotes available on request
Toast Starter Kit Fee Calculator
Toast POS Alternatives
Monthly software fees
In-person processing fees
Short-term contracts and those with existing hardware
2.6% + 10 cents
A user-friendly iPad POS
Lightspeed Payments 2.6% + 10 cents; other payment processors available
Multi-location restaurant groups that need centrally managed advanced inventory and delivery tools
Toast’s upfront pricing is great, but you’ll want to consider if the contract terms and payment processing rates are a fit for you. With a free baseline Starter POS subscription and pay-as-you-go options for up to two terminals, Toast is a very affordable restaurant POS system. We awarded points for the incredibly low upfront cost for small, independent restaurants. Beyond the free Starter subscription, Toast offers additional subscription tiers for midsize, high-volume, and multilocation restaurants.
Toast POS Pricing Plans
Point of Sale
Monthly Software Fee
Small restaurants that only need two terminals
independent restaurants that want lower processing rates
Independent restaurants that need more than two terminals
High-volume or multilocation restaurants
In-person Processing Fees
2.99% + 15 cents
2.49% + 15 cents
Reporting and Analytics
Toast lost some points because users are locked into Toast Payments, and the standard Toast contract runs two years. Its built-in payment processing is, however, one of the reasons the system is so affordable. Pay-as-you-go users can get Toast’s industry-leading hardware and software with no upfront cost by enrolling in Toast Payments.
High-volume restaurants with a proven track record of high-ticket sales might balk at the in-person rates of 2.49% to 2.99% plus 15 cents. High-volume restaurants can likely find lower rates with an interchange-plus fee model, and definitely benefit when they get quotes from multiple payment processors. Toast offers custom quotes for larger restaurants.
If you are switching from another POS, Toast will try to match your current processing rates. We’ve personally never seen Toast fail to match a competitor’s rate when they have been provided with documentation of a lower rate quote.
Toast offers assisted installation, either via one-on-one virtual guidance or in-person installation for complex cases. Virtual assistance is typically included, but you may need to pay a one-time custom-quoted fee for in-person installation.
Toast offers tons of advanced features that can be added to your POS in various ways. Some add-ons require additional monthly fees (many of which are custom-quoted), while others can be added by increasing your processing rate.
For example, Toast offers a Restaurant Basics package that includes employee scheduling, payroll, 401(k) management, and Toast PayCard features. This is available for $100 to $140 per month, plus $4 per employee. On the flip side, Starter subscribers can add the Digital Ordering and Marketing Suite—which includes online ordering, loyalty, email marketing, and gift cards—for an additional 0.40% on processing fees.
Monthly fees for Toast’s various add-ons are listed below. Though, in our experience, when you add several modules, Toast will offer a package discount. These prices are more of a jumping-off point; if you worry that it might get too expensive for you, reach out to Toast for a custom quote.
Toast Add-on Software Monthly Fees
Toast’s POS hardware is industry-grade and IP-rated to withstand steam and dust intrusion. The handheld terminals are also drop-tested to withstand a high-volume restaurant environment.
A two-digit Ingress Protection number that measures the water and dust resistance of electronics. The first number rates a device’s protection against foreign solids, and ranges from 0 to 6. The second digit measures water-tightness and ranges from 0 to 8.
You can get countertop and handheld terminals for no upfront cost if you are willing to pay slightly higher transaction fees. Toast lists its hardware options and pricing transparently on its online store so you can customize your hardware configuration before committing. For restaurants on a budget, Toast also offers a unique Starter Kit option.
Toast Starter Kit
Toast’s Starter Kit hardware option is available for Starter POS users and can be applied to up to two terminals. The Starter Kit bundles both software and hardware, plus Toast payment processing. It offers pay-as-you-go and standard paid plans, in which you can choose between a zero upfront cost with a higher payment processing fee or a $799 upfront cost and $69 monthly software subscription with standard transaction rates. Both options will tie you to Toast’s standard two-year contract.
Standard Paid Plan
Monthly software cost
2.99% + 15 cents per transaction (platform rate)
3.50% + 15 cents per transaction
2.49% + 15 cents per transaction
Add-on software cost
Add 0.40% per transaction
Prices listed reflect pricing at the time of publication. For current pricing, contact Toast.
The upfront cost is for the hardware kit bundle, which includes a Toast POS Flex terminal, Toast Tap payment device, and router. The card-present and card-not-present transaction rate for the pay-as-you-go plan is included in the platform rate. The standard paid plan subscription can be billed monthly or annually. The pay-as-you-go option allows you to pay for your kit as a percentage of your sales.
Toast also offers pay-as-you-go options for the popular Toast Go 2 handheld devices. Additional hardware options include:
Countertop Terminal Starter Kit
Handheld Terminal Starter Kit
Pay upfront: $799 + $69 per month
Pay-As-You-Go: $0 and 2.99% + 15 cents per in person transaction
Pay upfront: $999 + $99 per month
Pay-as-you-Go: $0 and 2.99% + 15 cents per in-person transaction
Pay upfront: $609 + $69 per month
Pay-as-You-Go: $0 and 2.99% + 15 cents per in-person transaction
Countertop Terminal, Toast Tap card reader, Router
Touch-screen kiosk with router and card reader
Toast Go 2 order and payment device, Wireless Access Point, Router
Kitchen Display System
$499 + $25 per month
Touch-screen KDS Screen
Toast-branded thermal receipt printer
Epson TM- L90 Thermal label printer
Did you know?
Toast features some of our favorite peripheral hardware. Check out more Toast hardware features by reading our rankings of the best kitchen display systems and top-recommended self-service kiosks. Since our last update, Toast purchased Delphi Display Systems, further expanding their digital menu and drive-thru hardware and software tools.
Toast offers every tool you need to run a successful restaurant, though some come at an additional cost. You’ll find all the usual POS functions present and accounted for: forced and optional menu modifiers, custom floorplans, unlimited user permissions, table, seat, and course management, and check splitting.
In addition to those features, Toast offers:
- All-in-one baseline POS: Toast users have a single point of contact for their POS and payments operations. The Toast POS includes detailed reporting, table, menu, course and seat management, and an intuitive user interface.
- Inventory by xtraCHEF: Toast has discontinued its built-in inventory management system and replaced it with xtraCHEF by Toast, a tool that it purchased in 2021. xtraCHEF integrates with QuickBooks and includes real-time ingredient tracking, vendor and purchase order management, and accounts payable automation. Users will need to contact Toast’s sales team for pricing.
- Multilocation tools: Toast is great for growing restaurant brands, with the ability to track multiple locations from a single dashboard. It also supports multiple revenue centers so you can track in-house sales, catering, drive-thru, takeout, curbside, delivery, or any other order type your restaurant offers.
- Kitchen Display System (KDS): Toast has one of the most user-friendly KDS screens available. Its color-coded tickets display order status and order type (for here, takeout, delivery, etc.). The hardware is more robust than a standard iPad and is built to withstand hot and frequently steamy kitchen environments.
Toast offers a ton of restaurant-supporting tools that you cannot find anywhere else. It has a laser focus on the restaurant industry and it really shows, especially in the payroll and human resources departments. Expand the sections below for an in-depth look at Toast’s functions.
Toast Workforce Management
Toast’s comprehensive Payroll and Team Management module is the best workforce management available in a restaurant POS. It is available as an optional add-on at a custom-quoted price.
Toast includes tools for:
- Compliance checks: Automatically calculate tip make-up amounts when tipped staff fall short of local minimum wage and track breaks where required by state law.
- Scheduling: Build schedules and send them to employee smartphones directly from your back office dashboard.
- HR Hub: Electronically onboard new hires for paperwork such as W-2s and payroll enrollment.
- Regulation updates: Toast will update with local prevailing wage and labor laws based on your address.
- Tips: Set up tip calculations in Toast, bulk import pooled tips via a .csv file, or manage complex tip pools and send tips directly to payroll.
This add-on acts as a full-spectrum human resources tool, allowing you to onboard new employees digitally and even auto-calculate additional wages required for restaurants that take a tip credit. The module is updated with the relevant labor laws based on your location, helping you comply with regulations like California’s meal break requirements and New York’s Spread of Hours law.
Toast Payroll users gain some additional tip management tools, though. With the Toast Payroll module, you can create and manage complex tip pools for various parts of your restaurant, calculate the tips for a specific shift, and immediately report those tips to payroll so they appear on tipped employees’ payroll checks.
At the time of this writing, users could add Toast Payroll and Workforce management tools for $110 per month, plus $4 per employee. That price can change at any time at Toast’s sole discretion (the highest we’ve seen for these tools is $140 per month), so you should reach out to Toast for the most current price.
Toast’s baseline employee management options are substantial, even without the Payroll and Team Management module. The system can still act as your time clock, and you can configure tip percentages by role, hours worked, or a percentage of sales, then print the expected tips on server and bartender shift reports, so they are transparent. The system further allows negative tip reporting, so servers and bartenders are not taxed money they tip out.
Toast’s digital ordering system is one of the most user-friendly tools available. Toast Online Ordering lets customers place takeout and delivery orders from your website, the Toast TakeOut website, or the Toast TakeOut mobile aggregating app. You get the bonus of commission-free online orders along with the marketing boost that a third-party aggregating site offers. Customers can schedule future orders, and you can track order status in real time.
Toast’s digital ordering features include:
- Online and mobile app ordering
- QR code orders and payments
- Traffic control; throttle digital orders off when your kitchen is busy
- Centralized inventory that syncs in real time, so you never sell 86’d items
Toast Online Ordering is the foundation for Toast’s QR code order and payment tool. You can create a QR code for counter-style quick service or for individual tables in a full-service restaurant. Many full-service restaurant Toast users use the QR code tools in conjunction with Toast Go 2 handheld terminals to reduce floor staff while simultaneously increasing sales. Toast’s internal research indicates that this combination can increase check size by 15% and increase staff wages by 20% to 30%.
Toast’s delivery management tools are incredibly flexible and effective. It supports three options for delivery management: Toast Delivery Mode, Toast Delivery Services, and third-party delivery integrations. Toast Delivery Mode includes basic tools for establishing a delivery area and managing drivers. It stops just short of maps-based driver dispatch, but if you want the Uber-like ability to see your drivers in real time, you can add a ShipDay integration to get live driver tracking and automated route optimization.
Toast Delivery Services is a little different. It allows you to hail third-party drivers on demand. Instead of relying on a team of staff drivers, you direct the delivery task to DoorDash Drive drivers. You will only pay a flat fee per delivery—no commissions—and you can pay these fees yourself or pass them on to customers. You will still own all of your customer information. Toast does not charge monthly fees for Toast Delivery Services, the only costs are the delivery fees. Users will need to sign a separate contract with DoorDash to get started.
Lastly, you can choose to integrate directly with popular third-party ordering and delivery platforms like DoorDash, Grubhub, and UberEats. All of these platforms come with their own contracts and fees that vary based on your desired services. Toast does not charge an additional fee to integrate with these platforms. Users can receive orders from additional third-party platforms via integrations with Chowly and ItsaCheckmate. These middlemen aggregating apps come with their own monthly fees; you’ll need to contact each platform directly for current pricing.
Toast’s reporting module straddles the line between ease of use and customization. You can drill down for detailed information or stick to reading a simplified dashboard.
Reporting functions include:
- Flash reporting: Pull up real-time data to make informed decisions during service.
- Single reporting tier: All Toast subscriptions—even Starter subscriptions—include Toast’s comprehensive reports.
- Mobile availability: Accessible via any web-enabled device.
- Automated nightly reports: Auto-email nightly summary to all managers and owners.
- Taggable logs: The manager log can tag specific managers or check numbers referred to in the report.
Toast supports real-time flash reporting for labor and cost of goods sold (COGS), so you can adjust staff levels and sales strategies when they will make a difference to your bottom line. The Nightly Summary feature allows you to customize your nightly reports along with your manager log. Then you can automatically email the whole package to your management team at a set time. Even better? You can use “@” and “#” symbols to tag specific managers or check numbers where they are relevant so everyone stays on the same page.
Toast reports cover everything from staff productivity to menu management. Adding optional modules like Toast Loyalty and the KDS unlock even more reporting functions, allowing you to track customer rewards and kitchen ticket times, for example.
Loyalty & Marketing
Toast’s restaurant loyalty program offers a seamless and personalized way of building guest loyalty. Guests can sign up at the point of checkout, and points can be directly linked to their credit card so there’s no need to carry a loyalty card or sign in every time they visit. You can easily customize sign-up bonuses and set accrual and redemption rates, dollar-to-points exchange, and birthday rewards. This feature is available in Toast’s Custom subscription plan or as an add-on at $50 per month if you opt for a Starter Kit with a standard paid plan.
The Toast loyalty and marketing tools offer:
- Cardless loyalty: Credit card-linked rewards—no loyalty cards needed.
- Rewards lookup: Includes a rewards lookup tool so your guests can check their points at any time.
- Customizable templates: Design and automate email campaigns.
- Personalized messages: Create tailored messages based on your customer’s purchase history.
- Metrics: Track your email campaign performance with clear reporting and analytics.
You can leverage your customer data by adding the Toast Email Marketing module. Email Marketing is a built-in feature that directly integrates with your Toast POS system. This means you get to build your email list, run your marketing campaign and measure its performance, straight out of your POS platform. Toast Email Marketing is included in the Custom subscription plan, can be added onto a Starter plan for $75 per month, or can be added by increasing your processing fees by 0.40%.
Toast is one of the most intuitive restaurant POS systems available. Virtually every button on the POS screen displays additional options when you tap on it. Modifier menus can be nested and forced in progressions that both keep your screens tidy and ensure that customizations like meat temperatures and sauces are never forgotten. These complex menus are initially set up by the Toast team, based on a menu template you send them, which saves you administrative time.
If you are comfortable operating a smartphone, the Toast ecosystem will feel like home. We have personally trained staff on the Toast POS in a single shift. Most teams took longer to memorize the restaurant phone number than it took them to learn Toast.
Toast’s back office is only slightly trickier to navigate because there aren’t multiple colors to call your attention to things. Once you are comfortable with the vocabulary—for example, if you’re looking for a log of voids and discounts, you want the “Exceptions” report—you’ll easily find everything you need. When entering large amounts of data, whether tip pools or vendor invoices, you can typically bulk upload .csv spreadsheets to speed the process.
If you have any questions about where to find a report or how to operate a new module, Toast’s customer support representatives are available 24/7 every day of the year via phone, email, or web chat. You can also find answers to virtually any question in Toast’s comprehensive online knowledge base, Toast Central. Many of the articles have videos to accompany them, and many resources are available in both English and Spanish. You can also drop in on one of Toast’s regular online training sessions via the Toast Classroom to learn from a live Toast instructor.
Toast is a leading restaurant POS for good reason. There’s not a restaurant-supporting function that this system lacks. With the free Starter subscription and pay-as-you-go hardware options, Toast can be as big or as small a system as your restaurant needs. Toast’s optional add-ons for online ordering, delivery management, inventory, payroll, and team management are some of the most advanced available in a restaurant POS. You will not find better or more intuitive restaurant payroll management software anywhere.
If you prefer to use iPads as POS terminals, want to shop for processors, or need a month-to-month POS subscription, Toast is not for you. And there is a slight drawback to Toast’s expansive features: The constantly updating software can make you feel like you never have a full grasp on how to use your system. Toast does a good job providing training resources, but if you lack the bandwidth to keep up with new developments, this system may frustrate you.
What Users Say About Toast
Overall, Toast users love the POS software. Positive reviews mention the detailed reporting, ease of use, and overall functionality. Many users specifically say that Toast’s QR code ordering features and integrated handheld devices have enabled them to reduce staffing levels and increase sales.
Across the board, experts and users alike give this system high marks:
- Finances Online: Awarded the Best Restaurant Management Software award for 2021 and an overall rating of 9.50 out of 10; earns a 98% user satisfaction rating.
- G2: Rated 4.3 out of 5 based on more than 200 user reviews
- Capterra: Listed as a Top Performer and Established Payer for 2022, and rated 4.1 out of 5 based on 300+ user reviews
Some negative reviews say that some customer support representatives have been less than helpful. It’s worth noting that many of these are dated during the COVID-19 pandemic when Toast had reduced staffing levels.
Several reviews mention that one area Toast could improve is offering current users more advance notice so they can sign up to test beta modules. That’s a pretty good indication that users like Toast’s approach to constantly developing new features. In fact, another commonly cited drawback is that some Toast integration partners don’t deliver as good an experience as the Toast platform; users would prefer to see Toast build more modules and integrate less.
|Easy setup process with optional in-person installation and training||Customer service is uneven|
|Fast, detailed reporting||Add-on features can get pricey|
|Software that continually evolves to meet new business needs||Must use Toast-designed terminals and tablets and no payment processor flexibility|
|Hybrid setup provides excellent offline functionality||Can be difficult to sign up for beta modules before they launch|
|Digital ordering and delivery tools reduce staffing needs||Locked into Toast Payments|
Methodology—How We Evaluated
We score restaurant POS systems on 20+ criteria that are critical to restaurant success. First, we consider price and ease of use, and then look at general and niche POS functions. Finally, we consider how actual users respond to the system, alongside our restaurant expert’s personal experience using the software.
Click through the slides below for a detailed explanation of our criteria:
10% of Overall Score
We first considered whether each POS system offers a free plan or free trial, and entry-level software subscription under $75 per month. We gave high marks to POS systems that support multiple payment processing options. Finally, we considered hardware costs and subscription length. Systems that allow restaurants to bring their own hardware or avoid long-term service contracts earned the highest marks.
30% of Overall Score
Every restaurant needs to track employee hours, process contactless payments and gift cards, and quickly access sales and labor reports. Because many restaurants process tips for employees, we looked for systems that have robust tip-tracking functions. We also considered advanced workforce management features like built-in employee scheduling and enforced clock-ins to keep costs in line.
30% of Overall Score
We compared the number of restaurant-specific functions that are relevant to various restaurant types. We looked for functions like cash management and credit card preauthorization. We also rewarded POS systems with customizable reports, ingredient-level inventory tracking with physical counting tools, integrated online ordering, and dynamic loyalty and marketing tools.
15% of Overall Score
We prioritized restaurant POS systems that offer 24/7 customer support. We also awarded points to POS systems with hybrid installation or an offline mode, so it is still operational if your internet goes out. We also considered how much installation support each system offers and whether it is cloud-based, enabling mobile access to management and reporting dashboards.
15% of Overall Score
Lastly, we evaluated any standout features that individual systems may have. We also considered whether the system offers good overall value for its price and judged each system’s popularity among restaurant businesses. Then, we awarded points based on our personal experience interacting with the software and the company’s customer support representatives.
Toast POS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How good is the Toast POS System?
Toast is an excellent restaurant POS system. It is user-friendly with hardware designed to withstand hot kitchens and busy dining rooms. Its four subscription tiers also enable small restaurants to access top-of-the-line tools without paying enterprise-level prices.
Why is Toast POS so popular?
Toast POS is popular with restaurant owners because it includes insightful tools that other POS systems lack. The workforce management and payroll features are particularly robust, and the online ordering and delivery tools are some of the most comprehensive in a cloud POS. Beyond that, the system is simply easy to use.
Does Toast take a percentage of sales?
Toast offers a Starter POS subscription with $0 in monthly fees, but a higher payment processing rate of 2.99% + 15 cents. Toast does not take an additional percentage of users’ sales. The only fees Starter users pay are processing fees on digital payments. Though, the Starter user contract stipulates that you process a minimum amount of credit card payments on a monthly basis. So, you can’t sign up for the Toast Starter subscription and only accept cash payments to avoid paying transaction fees.
Toast POS has a laser focus on restaurant businesses and consistently drives innovation in restaurant software. This POS is an excellent fit for restaurants of any style. It is exceptionally intuitive, easy to use, and provides robust reporting functions in its baseline system. Our Toast POS review finds it an excellent tool for restaurants that want to expand into digital ordering, delivery, and contactless service models. To see if this system is right for you, visit Toast for a full demo.