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Best POS systems for small business 2022

The best POS systems for small business make customer payments easier: woman paying her bill with pos card reader
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you're an SMB owner accepting multiple payment types, buying the best POS system for your small business is an absolute must in a competitive global and regional market

In every industry, your customers have more options than ever before when it comes to paying for goods and services. In addition to cash and credit cards, there's Apple Pay and Google Pay, mobile apps like PayPal and Venmo, and even contactless cards that enable patrons to pay with a simple tap.

Therefore, it's important that you choose a modern point of sale (POS) system designed for a small business that can handle the myriad ways your customers want to pay

However, the best small business POS systems can do more than take payments.

Most come with a suite of tools to help manage operational aspects of your business, like inventory management, employee tracking, and advanced analytics that will take your sales and marketing to the next level.

You might also want to read our articles on the Best POS systems for restaurants and bars (opens in new tab), and the Best POS systems for retail (opens in new tab), depending of which sector your small business operates in.

What is the purpose of a POS system in small business?

POS systems have two components: the software, which securely processes payments and organizes data, and the hardware, like the card reader or barcode scanner, that enables you to make transaction. 

The purpose of a POS system, in any business, is allow you to quickly and easily process sales: either in person or online. If you have an online store, this means customers can purchase your goods and your business stays active online even when you can't be at work. In essence, a POS system buys your business time.

Whether you do online or brick-and-mortar sales (or both), there are many options when it comes to POS systems. In this article, we look at the most popular ones for small businesses and break down the pros and cons of each.

For more information about point of sale systems, check out our guide to the Best POS systems (opens in new tab).

square homepage screenshot

Square is one of the most well-known POS systems for small businesses (Image credit: Squarespace)

1. Square

Best all-around POS system

Specifications

Monthly fee: $0
Card rates: 2.6% + 10¢
Free trial: N/A
Support: Phone and chat

Reasons to buy

+
No monthly fees
+
Free Square Reader
+
Process offline payments

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for large transaction volumes

If you’re just getting started building a business, you might not have much money to invest in a POS system. Fortunately, Square (opens in new tab) has one of the lowest barriers to entry on the market, making it a great option for small businesses.

Square has no monthly fees, instead making money on a per-transaction basis. Even better, the Square Reader for taking credit card payments also doesn’t cost anything, meaning that you can get started with Square completely for free.

The downside of a per-transaction model is that Square might not be right for businesses that do a large number of transactions. However, Square has plenty of upsides.

Since you can plug the Square Reader directly into a phone or tablet, it is easy to take on the road. Unlike some competitors, Square can process credit card transactions even when it’s offline, making it a great option for vendors who travel to remote locations or crowded conventions where service might be an issue.

Read our full Square review.

shopify homepage screenshot

Shopify is a powerful e-commerce POS system with in-person integration (Image credit: Shopify)

2. Shopify

Best for small online businesses

Specifications

Monthly fee: from $29 per month
Card rate: 2.7%
Free trial: 14 days
Support: 24/7 chat

Reasons to buy

+
Web and in-person integration
+
Customizable
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Cannot take offline payments

If your small business primarily does business online, Shopify (opens in new tab) is one of the best all-around e-commerce platforms. It’s easy to use, flexible, and highly customizable, with thousands of apps to choose from. It also offers a wide variety of plans for businesses with all different needs. 

Best of all, Shopify makes it easy to integrate your in-person and online sales. Simply add a card reader to your Shopify setup, and download the Shopify app to your smartphone or tablet, and you can make sales anywhere (that is, almost anywhere一unfortunately, Shopify still doesn’t enable offline payments).

Shopify’s Basic option costs $29/month, and for a basic plan, it comes with plenty of nice features. The most expensive plan, Advanced Shopify, is a full suite of management tools, including advanced analytics and staff tracking.

Shopify is available on both iOS and Android and is remarkably intuitive to set up and start using. If you do run into any problems, the customer support is excellent. 

Read our full Shopify review.

Best POS systems for small business

AirPOS isn’t as well known as some competitors but is still worth checking out  (Image credit: AirPOS)

3. AirPOS

A promising all-arounder with real potential

Specifications

Monthly fee: from £29.99 per month
Card rates: Variable
Free trial: 14 days
Support type: Online form

Reasons to buy

+
No fixed contracts
+
14-day free trial
+
Integration with companion services

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as easy to use

AirPOS (opens in new tab) isn’t as well known as competitors like Square or Shopify, but it’s a promising option worth checking out if you’re a small business. Plus, AirPOS offers a 14-day free trial, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a shot. 

AirPOS has both a Basic and a Pro option, with the Pro level having slightly flashier features, like the ability to set up a customer loyalty program. Even though you pay a monthly fee, there are no contracts to tie you down. Users signing up for an annual Pro subscription will also receive a free hardware bundle, an appealing option for new businesses.

However, unlike some other POS systems, AirPOS requires integration with a companion service in order to complete certain functions, such as taking payments. This might be daunting to those just starting out, but for users familiar with plug-ins like iZettle and Worldplay, the ability to customize your POS system with these integrations can be a huge bonus.

Read our full AirPOS review.

Best POS systems for small business

Helcim charges no monthly fees to use its service (Image credit: Helcim)

4. Helcim

An option for those looking for no monthly fees

Specifications

Monthly fee: $0
Card rates: 1.92% + 8¢ (credit card ave.)
Free trial: No
Support type: Knowledge database, phone, email

Reasons to buy

+
No monthly fees
+
Impressive suite of features

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive hardware

The Canadian brand Helcim (opens in new tab) is another POS system to consider if you’re looking to pay on a per-transaction basis rather than an upfront monthly fee. However, unlike Square, there is a $199 fee to use Helcim’s card reader hardware. That might be too expensive of an upfront cost for some new businesses. 

However, if you do decide to use Helcim, you’ll get an impressive suite of features, such as inventory management, fraud detection, and advanced analytics. We are particularly impressed with Helcim’s employee management tool, which helps you keep your business secure by ensuring that your employees only have access to the necessary parts of your POS system. 

Helcim is compatible with both Mac and Windows products, and it is easy to set up and use on a mobile device, tablet, or desktop. There’s also excellent customer service if you have any issues.

Read our full Helcim review (opens in new tab).

Adyen homepage screenshot

Adyen is a transaction fee-based POS system with the option to take global payments  (Image credit: Adyen)

5. Adyen

A no-monthly fee POS system with global payment options

Reasons to buy

+
No monthly fees
+
Process payments globally

Reasons to avoid

-
Complicated pricing
-
Not suitable for low transaction volumes

Like Square and Helcim, Adyen (opens in new tab) does not charge a monthly fee, instead taking a transaction fee. Adyen does require a monthly minimum invoice, though, making it less suitable for businesses with a low volume of transactions. That said, it’s still worth checking out if you want to avoid a high monthly service fee.

One nice feature of Adyen is its ability to process payments globally. If you do business internationally, using Adyen can help you avoid certain bank and interchange fees. Adyen is also highly customizable with various popular plugins, like Shopify and WooCommerce.

Adyen can be a little more difficult to set up than with some competitors, requiring new users to speak to a team member before getting started. But once your account is set up, the service is intuitive to use and offers plenty of nice features. 

However, Adyen’s pricing model is slightly more confusing than Square’s, with the transaction fee varying by the payment method. While this could work to your advantage depending on the payments that your customers use, it might be challenging to figure that out.

Learn more about the POS systems

Looking for more information on POS systems? Try these articles: Here we advise on How to choose a POS system; this feature explains How a POS system works; and in this article we demonstrate 5 ways POS systems help you manage staff.

Sarah James is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. She has written about creativity, culture, and technology for brands like TechRadar, Submittable Content For Creatives, The Billfold, Pittsburgh City Paper, The Toast, and more.