March 21, 2024

Best Free POS Systems for 2024

Written by
Why is TechnologyAdvice Free?

Point-of-sale (POS) systems are arguably the most important part of running a business. Luckily, there are many free POS options on the market, including all the tools you need to get your business off the ground and running successfully. 

In this guide, we evaluated the top free POS systems on the market, scoring them based on dozens of factors, including usability, features (and limitations), and integration. The best free POS systems should have all the basic tools you expect from a POS system—inventory management, payment processing, omnichannel integrations, CRM tools, staff management, and reporting—plus plans and paid features to continue to support you as you grow. Based on our evaluation, the top free POS systems are:

  • Square: Best overall free POS system
  • Loyverse: Best for grocers and markets
  • Toast: Best for restaurants
  • PayPal Zettle: Best for solopreneurs and microbusinesses
  • Helcim: Best for professional services

Expert Tips

If you’re looking for more POS options for running your business, check out our guides to the Best Restaurant POS Systems and the Top Retail POS Systems for 2024.

Square Loyverse Toast PayPal Zettle Helcim
Standout Free Features
• Online store • Unlimited locations and inventory
• Variant tracking
• Multilocation management • Loyalty program
• Inventory management
• Menu management • Industry-grade hardware
• Order and table management
• Payment processing with PayPal • Staff, order, and inventory management
• Invoicing • Subscription management
• Interchange plus processing
Payment Processing Fees
Square Payments In-person: 2.5%-2.6% + 10 cents Online: 2.9% + 30 cents
Rates vary based on payment processor
Toast Payments In-person: 2.49%–3.29% + 15 cents Online: 3.5%–3.89% + 15 cents
Paypal Payments In-person: 2.29% + 9 cents Online: 3.49% + 9 cents
Helcim Payments In-person: 0.25%–0.4% + 6–8 cents Online: 0.15%–0.5% + 15–25 cents
Rates vary based on sales volume
Mobile Compatible
Square POS app for Android and iOS Mobile hardware options
Loyverse POS app for Android and iOS Mobile hardware options
POS only operates on proprietary hardware; no mobile apps Mobile hardware options
PayPal Zettle POS app for Android and iOS Mobile hardware options
Helcim POS app for Android and iOS Mobile hardware options
Upfront Costs
None
Must purchase card reader to accept payments (starting at $40)
None (if you opt to pay-as-you-go fort hardware)
None
Must purchase Helcim card reader to accept payments (starting at $99)
Visit Square
Visit Loyverse
Visit Toast
Visit Paypal Zettle
Visit Helcim

Square: Best overall free POS system


Pros

  • Retail, restaurants, and appointment-specific POS solutions
  • No hardware needed to start selling
  • Competitive flat-rate processing
  • Free online store

Cons

  • Limited customer service hours
  • Limited reporting tools in free plan
  •  Loyalty program is an add-on
  • No TikTok or Shopify integrations
Square logo.

Our Rating: 4.56/5

Square is the leader in the small business point-of-sale market, with free industry-specific POS software for retailers, restaurants, and appointment-based businesses. Each of Square’s three POS systems starts out completely free with tools for inventory management, CRM, and payment processing, an online store, and industry-specific tools designed to help your business thrive. 

As your business grows, Square offers Plus and Premium plans with advanced and custom features to support your operations. Square also supports several integrations with third-party tools but prioritizes in-house solutions with add-on tools for loyalty programs, SMS marketing, gift cards, and more, which can be added to any POS plan for as little as $15 per month.

Inventory management: Square’s free plans include detailed product pages, an inventory catalog, live inventory tracking, low stock alerts, order management for online orders, variant items, and cross-location/sales channel inventory syncing. You can also upgrade for more advanced inventory reporting, invoicing, and purchase ordering tools. 

CRM tools: Square’s free plans allow you to create customer profiles that include contact information and customer activity. You can also add customers to transactions and even add new shopper profiles right from checkout.  

Afterpay integration: Offering customer financing has been shown to boost conversion rates, and Square makes it easy to offer customer financing with its Afterpay integration for both in-store and online transactions. 

Payment processing: Square comes pre-integrated with its in-house payment processor, Square Payments. With competitive flat-rate processing fees and compatibility with any payment method, Square Payments lets you start taking payments as soon as you sign up. 

Square POS app: Square offers a free POS app for Android and iPhone so you can manage your business on the go. The app is equipped with barcode scanning and tap-to-pay functionality, so you can complete transactions with no additional hardware required. 

Reporting: Square’s free POS systems include reports on your sales, products, inventory categories, and individual location performances. 

Square Online: Every Square account includes a free ecommerce site builder, with templates and features specifically for retailers, restaurants, and appointment-based businesses. 

Restaurant-specific tools: Square’s restaurant POS includes features such as open checks, fast order entry, menu and table management, cash payments, auto gratuity, online order management, auto 86-ing, customizable tickets, ticket routing, and kitchen performance reports, in its free plan.

Retail-specific tools: The free plan for Square’s retail POS includes barcode scanning and inventory creation, product photo tools, cross-location stock-syncing, stock counting tools, SKU and GTIN barcodes, buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) tools, discounted shopping, social selling, invoicing, and more. 

Appointment-specific tools: Square’s appointment POS includes a number of appointment management tools in its free plan, including unlimited calendars for you and your staff, schedule customizations, email and text notifications, Square Assistant, time zone syncing, automated marketing campaigns, Square Go, messaging tools, contracts, and booking APIs.

Square cannot be beat when it comes to what it offers for a $0 monthly fee. With mobile compatibility that requires no additional hardware, industry-specific tools, plans to support your growth so you never have to change POS providers, and some of the best customer reviews out there—it’s no wonder Square landed at the top of our list.

Pricing: 5/5

Features and limitations: 4.33 /5

Usability: 4/5

Integrations and compatibility: 4.38/5

Security and reliability: 5/5User scores: 4.63/5

Loyverse: Best free POS for grocers and markets


Pros

  • Customizable checkout screen
  • Weight tracking and weight barcodes
  • Add thousands of inventory items at a time via bulk imports
  • Includes loyalty program, customer display, and a KDS

Cons

  • No ecommerce integration in free plan
  • Integrations cost $9/month
  • Paid subscribers get priority for customer support
  • Must purchase card reader to accept payments
Loyverse logo.

Our Rating: 4.47/5

Loyverse POS is completely free and includes tools like multistore management, sales reporting, basic inventory management, and a free loyalty program. From there, there are no advanced POS plans, but rather add-on tools, so you can add and pay for only the features you need. Loyverse’s add-ons include advanced inventory management, integrations with third-party platforms for things like ecommerce and marketing tools, and employee management. 

Loyverse is designed especially for grocers and other food sellers. It offers some of the most important tools they need, such as weight barcodes, portable scanning via the Loyverse app, a customizable checkout screen, and bulk inventory management.

Multistore management: For no additional fees, you can manage multiple stores, streamlining sales, customers, and inventory across all your locations. 

Reporting tools: Get a better understanding of your store’s performance with reports and analytics on your sales and trends, bestselling inventory items, receipt history, and shift performances. 

Inventory management: While you can pay for advanced inventory tools, Loyverse includes basic inventory management, including bulk imports, a product catalog, multilocation inventory tracking by quantity or weight, and item variants.   

Customer display: Let customers input their information, view their tickets, see their loyalty points status, and add a tip with a customer-facing checkout display. 

Weighted barcodes: For items you sell by weight, you can generate weight barcodes that you can scan at checkout. These items will then be tracked based on their weight in your inventory reports. 

Loyalty program: Add customers to your loyalty program and reward them with points to keep them coming back. 

Loyverse earned its name as the best free POS system for grocers and markets because it offers the most advanced features specifically for food sellers of any free POS option on the market. With weighted barcodes, bulk inventory controls, a point-based loyalty program, product category reporting, and multistore management—all for $0 per month—there are no other free options that can say they support so much functionality without levying any software fees. 

Not only that, if you need advanced tools for inventory, managing your staff, ecommerce, marketing, etc., you only have to pay for what you need. Because Loyverse is structured to support growth through add-ons rather than prepackaged plan options, you can add and pay for the things you need and not what you don’t. The biggest drawback for users considering using Loyverse is its somewhat dated interface, but that has not deterred its users from leaving sparkling reviews and using the system for years.

Pricing: 4.17/5

Features and limitations: 4.42/5

Usability: 4.38/5

Integrations and compatibility: 4/5

Security and reliability: 5/5User scores: 4.83/5

Toast: Best free POS for restaurants


Pros

  • No upfront fees for industry-grade hardware
  • Menu management, table management, and digital menu tools
  • Includes up to two terminals
  • Includes restaurant-specific reporting

Cons

  • Online ordering not included
  • High processing fees if you don’t pay for hardware upfront
  • No mobile POS app; must operate POS on proprietary hardware
  • No inventory management
Toast logo.

Our Rating: 4.2/5

Toast is our choice for the best free POS system for restaurant businesses. Toast’s POS system comes complete with restaurant-specific tools like menu management, table and reservation management, digital menus, invoicing, and some of the best industry-grade hardware in the restaurant market. 

While there are quite a few limitations on Toast’s free POS plan, we love it because you can opt for the pay-as-you-go option for the hardware solutions. This means you can choose to pay higher processing fees until your hardware is paid off rather than buy it upfront. Restaurant hardware can be incredibly expensive, but Toast makes it possible to get the hardware you need without incurring debts so you can start operating your business.

Pay-as-you-go hardware: If you don’t have the upfront capital to buy Toast’s hardware upfront, you can opt to pay for it over time via higher processing fees. This offer is available for up to two of Toast’s startup hardware kits. 

Order and table management: With table management, you can keep track of your tables and seating and add orders to specific tables so your staff never delivers the wrong order to a table. 

Menu management: Create a custom menu and manage it from your Toast account—update prices, introduce special deals, and add and remove items as they become available or run out of stock.

Invoicing: If you are a catering business or your restaurant is hosting an event, you can send invoices to your customers with Toast’s free invoicing tools. 

Digital menus: If you want to offer digital menus rather than, or in tandem with, your physical ones, Toast has you covered.

Mobile payments: Accept mobile payments like Apple Pay and digital credit cards.

Payment processing: All Toast accounts come complete with Toast’s in-house payment processing, so you can start accepting payments and completing sales immediately.

We chose Toast because it stands out from the rest of the restaurant POS industry for its $0 upfront costs without shorting its users on functionality. Restaurants are a hard industry to compete in, so the ability to get everything you need—from software to hardware—for $0 upfront means your business will have a better chance of survival because you won’t start out with debt. Toast is the only provider that includes industry-grade hardware in its free plan, and, while its software comes with limitations, there are a plethora of software upgrade options at extremely reasonable prices.

Pricing: 4.17/5

Features and limitations: 4.42/5

Usability: 3.75/5

Integrations and compatibility: 3.75/5

Security and reliability: 5/5User scores: 4.13/5

PayPal Zettle: Best for solopreneurs and microbusinesses


Pros

  • PayPal integration for in-store and online checkout
  • Easy-to-use POS terminal
  • Tap-to-pay functionality with the PayPal Zettle POS apps
  • Affordable hardware options

Cons

  • Basic POS features with no advanced plans
  • Very limited ecommerce integrations
  • No offline payment processing
  • PayPal has a reputation for freezing accounts
PayPal Zettle logo.

Our Rating: 3.96/5

PayPal Zettle is PayPal’s free POS system. Similar to Square, it offers completely free POS software and only charges transaction fees (and even those are competitive). The Zettle POS system includes all the basic features a small retailer needs to run their business. This includes a user-friendly checkout interface, inventory tracking, basic CRM tools, and a POS app that allows businesses to take their operations mobile with no additional hardware needs. 

The biggest drawback of using Zettle is that there are no additional plans or features to support more advanced operations if your business starts to grow and needs more support. Additionally, there are limited ecommerce integrations and no social media or marketplace integrations. The system is really designed for microbusinesses that operate in person, like farmers market sellers or similar businesses.

PayPal Zettle POS App: PayPal Zettle offers a free POS app for Android and iOS devices, so you can complete sales right from your personal mobile device with no additional hardware, such as a card reader, needed. The PayPal Zettle app allows you to scan barcodes and has a tap-to-pay feature where customers can simply tap their card to their device to pay—no additional hardware required. 

Simple checkout: Zettle’s checkout interface is simple and easy to use, and that goes for how it works on phones, tablets, and the Zettle terminal. Without ever leaving checkout, you can easily add discounts, remove products, and send receipts via email. Note that, however, there is no ability to add a customer to a transaction, a feature many businesses need to better understand their customers.

Reporting: View reports on your sales, products, and inventory segments so you can better understand your business and capitalize on opportunities.  

PayPal integration: PayPal is integrated into your checkout page for all your transactions. This means that customers can pay through PayPal, giving them access to PayPal’s financing options like Pay in 4 and PayPal Credit, which have been proven to drive sales and boost conversion rates.  

Inventory management tools: PayPal Zettle offers basic inventory management tools, including the ability to add products to your inventory catalog with detailed product information. The POS system will then track your inventory and provide reports on inventory segments and your best- and worst-sellers.

While the system is somewhat basic in terms of its features (with no advanced plans to utilize as you grow), PayPal Zettle is an ideal option for microbusinesses and solopreneurs who operate primarily in-person and need a system they can take on the go. PayPal Zettle offers a true $0 upfront system that you can start using via the mobile app’s tap-to-pay functionality to accept payments and start making sales with no additional hardware requirements. And, if you do want to operate on something other than your personal device, you can always opt to invest in the PayPal Terminal for just $199. 

While Zettle’s POS system is relatively basic, it offers everything you need to make sales and run a microbusiness. Couple that with low processing rates, inexpensive hardware options (that are not necessary if you don’t want them), and PayPal’s top-of-the-line customer support, the system is more than enough for microbusinesses and solo operations.

Pricing: 3.33/5

Features and limitations: 3.33/5

Usability: 3.75/5

Integrations and compatibility: 3.75/5

Security and reliability: 5/5User scores: 4.6/5

Helcim: Best for professional services


Pros

  • Interchange-plus payment processing rates
  • Invoicing tools
  • Subscription management
  • Free online store

Cons

  • No advanced POS features/plans
  • Must purchase card reader to accept payments
  • No marketing tools
  • Limited integration options
Helcim logo.

Our Rating: 3.8/5

Helcim is primarily a credit card processing and merchant services company that caters to small businesses, especially those that offer professional services in healthcare, automotive, and other service-based industries. It is best known for its affordable interchange-plus payment processing with built-in volume discounts and also offers a free POS system with every account. 

As with PayPal Zettle, Helcim only offers a basic POS system with no advanced plans or features that you can opt to pay for in the future. However, the system is equipped with a slew of great tools, including subscription management, invoicing, a free online store, basic inventory management tools, and reporting. Helcim also offers a free POS app; however, you will need to buy the Helcim card reader (or upgrade to a full POS terminal) to start accepting payments and making sales.

Interchange-plus pricing: Helcim offers interchange-plus pricing with bulk discounts for its merchant fees, meaning that you get the lowest rates and don’t pay any unnecessary markups. You can use Helcim’s fee calculator to estimate just how much you will save with their pricing model. 

Subscription management: Helcim offers a subscription management tool for setting up recurring payments and collecting payments for subscription services automatically.

Invoicing: Add Helcim’s free invoicing software to your POS to streamline your billing operations. The best part is that your invoice processing fees will also utilize Helcim’s interchange-plus pricing model so you can save and keep your profits.

Helcim POS app: Helcim offers a free POS app for both Android and iPhone so you can access your POS account from anywhere and make sales on the go. Simply connect your device to the Helcim card reader to start accepting payments. 

CRM: Helcim offers basic CRM tools, using which you can add customers to your customer directory, log their contact information, store payment methods, and view their activity. 

Reporting: Use Helcim’s reporting tools to better understand your business. View reporting on your sales totals, tipping information, all your transactions, tender use, sales by category, invoicing totals, sales by products, and discount information.   

Inventory management: If you need basic inventory management tools, Helcim has them. You can log them in your inventory catalog with detailed product information and track their levels and performance to see where the opportunity lies.

Helcim’s POS tools are not the most advanced of the options on our list, but they are ideal for service-based businesses with basic inventories and retail needs. Where Helcim really stands out is its professional service tools for businesses that operate in healthcare, the automotive industry, contracting, law, consulting, accounting, and even wholesale. Helcim offers invoicing and recurring subscription tools, Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance guarantee, and integration options specifically designed for professional service needs. This makes Helcim perfect for businesses that provide professional services, work directly with and bill clients, and need a simple, affordable way to stay on top of their business.

Pricing: 3.33/5

Features and limitations: 3.75/5

Usability: 4.13/5

Integrations and compatibility: 2.5/5

Security and reliability: 5/5User scores: 4.1/5

Features a free POS should include

While free POS systems won’t include the most advanced functionality, there are several features you should look for. Read through the list below to see exactly what you can expect from a free POS system. 

  • Inventory management: The best free POS solutions will include inventory management tools, with unlimited inventory items, real-time tracking, and barcode scanning.
  • Customer management tools: You should expect a number of free CRM tools, including a customer directory, the ability to add customers to your transactions, and, in the best cases, loyalty programs and marketing tools. 
  • Payment processing: All POS systems should include free integrated payment processing either via an in-house solution or a free integration. There should be no limitations on the types of payment methods you can process, and the best POS systems will also offer free customer financing integrations via services like Afterpay or Klarna. 
  • Accompanying POS app: To ensure you can take your business on the go and access your POS from anywhere, the POS provider should have an accompanying POS app that you can download to your personal device. 
  • Sales channel integrations: Ensure you can streamline your sales across all your sales channels, like online ordering platforms, marketplaces, and social platforms, with omnichannel sales integrations. 
  • Staff permissions and logins: While you can’t expect payroll and schedule management in a free POS solution, you should be able to set access permissions and individual logins for your staff to protect your settings and information.
  • Industry-specific tools: If you are looking at POS systems that market to specific industries, like retail, restaurants, service businesses, etc., you should expect a number of industry-specific tools that are essential to the success of your specific business type.

Choosing the right free POS

Point-of-sale systems can cost hundreds of dollars each month, but, as we learned here, they don’t have to—and you don’t have to sacrifice functionality in the process. There are many great free POS options on the market—from Square, with its industry-specific POS options with plans to support you as you grow, to Loyverse, a perfect fit for grocers and markets who are just getting off the ground. Toast is an ideal solution for restaurants that don’t have excess startup capital. PayPal Zettle is a great option for the micro-businessman. Meanwhile, Helcim is the perfect free solution for anyone offering professional services. 

If you are looking to start a small business and want to save on costs, the POS market offers a wide range of highly functional, free POS solutions.

FAQs

There are a number of POS systems with $0 monthly software fees. However, you will always incur processing fees for your transactions. These can range from 4% on the high end to less than 1% on the low end per transaction, depending on your provider.

Free POS systems are great for small businesses that are just starting out and are looking to avoid unnecessary upfront costs.


Brigitte Korte Avatar

About the author


TechnologyAdvice is able to offer our services for free because some vendors may pay us for web traffic or other sales opportunities. Our mission is to help technology buyers make better purchasing decisions, so we provide you with information for all vendors — even those that don't pay us.
In this article...