5 best free POS software for small businesses POS systems can bring healthy profit boosts - but only if you spend less than you earn. We’ve listed the top free POS options to accept payments for zero charge. Written by Helena Young Updated on 26 October 2023 Our Research When judging the best POS systems, our writers work with expert researchers to focus on key features that matter most to small businesses. These include value for money – setup, hardware and transaction fees – help and support, plus the till, stock, and business management tools available. Written and reviewed by: Helena Young Lead Writer Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. The number one free POS system for small businesses is Square. Upon testing the software, our expert researchers found that despite charging no monthly fees, Square offers high-quality hardware, reliable performance, and user-friendly features – making it a top choice for businesses of all sizes.Free software plans are a great way to trial a platform without any financial risk, especially as the cost of living crisis continues to squeeze cash flow from all angles. But in a market as crowded as POS systems, you may still have difficulty finding the right plan for your specific needs even if you're one of the most clued-in business owners, so that’s where our experts come in.Here are the best free POS systems for small businesses we picked out: Best free POS providers at a glance Square: Best overall free POS optionZettle: A solid free POS plan that's great for mobile devicesGoodtill: A highly customisable POS systemLightspeed: A great free trial and excellent value plansVend: An excellent free plan from a brand that's now owned by LightspeedClick any of the links above to learn more about each brand and begin 🔍comparing costs on POS Systems for your own business's size and needs. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward FEATURED DEAL BEST OVERALL Lightspeed Square Zettle Vend Goodtill (by Sumup) Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.4 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.7 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.4 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.3 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.2 Pricing from £39 per month (excl. VAT) Pricing from No monthly cost£16 – Square reader Pricing from No monthly fee£29 – card reader£189 – store kit Pricing from £69 per month Pricing from £29 per month (excl. VAT) Key benefits 14 day free trial!Grows with your businessCustomisable floor plansCustomer loyalty features Key benefits Manage all your orders on one deviceReal time in-depth reportsPay team members with team management tools Key benefits Free, just pay transaction feesEasy-to-read sales reportsZettle reader easily integrates with other POS systems Key benefits Easy to useGreat for help and supportExcellent stock management Key benefits Works offline or via 4GColourful, accesible interfaceSpecialist click and collect service This article will cover: Square Zettle Goodtill Lightspeed Vend Is free POS software worth it? How to choose POS software Methodology Verdict Square – Best for short-stay hospitality firms with no established till system Square 4.7 Square helps millions of sellers run their business – from secure credit card processing to point of sale solutions to setting up a free online store. Compare costs Square Review Price Reader - £16 Terminal - £149 + VAT Stand - £99 + VAT or £17/mo for 6 months Fees 1.75% 2.5% POS, payment links, Square Invoices and Virtual Terminal Highly rated for customer support Easy to use Great for stock and business management Summary Since we first opened our doors in 2009, Square has expanded from simple card readers to software and integrated, omnichannel solutions to help a wide range of businesses, including retailers and restaurants. With embedded financial services tools at the point of sale, merchants can access a business loan and manage their cash flow all in one place. Today, they are a partner to sellers of all sizes – from SME's to large, enterprise-scale businesses with complex commerce operations. Square supports sellers from Australia to the UK, Canada to Japan and across the United States. Show moreless Our analysts give Square a huge score of 4.7 out of 5 due to its unbeatable combo of an extensive feature list, coupled with sophisticated hardware.Startups’ testing of Square found it has the most product capabilities at 16. That includes the ability to schedule automatic restocks of items, important for maintaining profit margins.Square is also incredibly innovative. Its app-based software is consistently updated with new customer-centric elements.For instance, Square works with Apple to allow merchants to accept payments using just their iPhone as part of their ‘Tap to Pay’ initiative.Does Square have any hidden fees?Square has zero monthly fees and is completely free to sign up thanks to its pay-as-you-go payment model.That means you’ll only pay a one-off charge of £19 + VAT for the Square card reader to start taking payments. Zettle is the only other provider on this list with a similar model.One thing to be aware of is that you will need to pay a transaction fee of between 1.7% to 2.5% on any card payments.Square pros and cons Pros Accept every major payment type including invoice Take payments over the phone - ideal for takeaway services Square card reader costs just £19 + VAT Cons No training mode available on hardware - inadequate for large teams No in-app CRM system - bad for building customer loyalty Should my business use Square POS?We recommend Square as a free restaurant POS for firms that don’t need a fussy till area. The card reader measures just 8cm by 8cm, making it perfect for space-stretched firms like food trucks.Plus, Square’s flexible pricing plans require no minimum commitment – excellent for SMEs with irregular trading periods. Try Square POS Get started with Square POS software for zero cost Try for free Our top-rated POS system for SMEs. Zettle – Best for restaurants taking in-person and ecommerce payments Zettle 4.4 Zettle is best for businesses that want an easy way to accept in-person payments - and full control through the Zettle Go app. Compare costs Zettle Review Pricing from Free Free POS app Easy-to-read sales reports Zettle reader easily integrates with other POS systems Summary Zettle Go is fairly basic EPOS software – but that’s what makes it so great. This fancy-free software offers business owners exactly what they need to get going, from making transactions to managing stock. It’s intuitive to use, simple to set up, and best of all, it’s free. It’s also really easy to track and add stock, whether that’s notebooks or blueberry muffins. It’ll even flag up when you’re running low on something. You can also provide Zettle gift cards to help you with cash flow by keeping money in the business. Show moreless According to our results, Zettle matches Lightspeed for till management tools thanks to its impressive ecommerce integration.Users can view and manage your in-store and online inventory from the same place. So, if you’re a takeaway working on a busy Saturday shift you can easily update your online product lists to reflect current stock take.There’s not much in the way of business development features with Zettle (our analysts scored it just 3 out of 5 in this area) so we don’t recommend Zettle for businesses with big ambitions such as franchising. In comparison, our leader Square gets 5 out of 5.Still, we think Zettle is an efficient software with user-oriented gadgets that will help to streamline operations if you’re looking to move your business online.Does Zettle have any hidden fees?Zettle gets full marks from us for pricing. Like Square, Zettle prides itself on having zero hidden fees. You’ll only pay a one-off tariff for the card reader (£29 + VAT) to get started. To find out exactly how these two brands measure up, check out our comparison of Square and Zettle.In terms of transaction charges, there’s a fixed transaction fee of 1.75%. That’s regardless of which card you process with your Zettle Reader or terminal.For payments from customers who are not physically present, such as online or over the phone, this rises to 2.5%.Zettle pros and cons Pros Largest number of payment partners to give customers a wide range of options Add upsell percentage to increase profits Huge range of reporting tools to help you monitor operations and identify opportunities for improvement Cons Hardware only available on a quote-by-quote basis Not suitable for businesses with more than 5 employees Should my business use Zettle?We would recommend Zettle to any hospitality business that accepts in-person and ecommerce transactions, such as takeaway firms.This is due to Zettle’s heritage as a PayPal product – its integration between physical and virtual sales is absolutely seamless. Goodtill – Best for chain restaurants or shops with 3+ locations Goodtill 4.2 Businesses wanting additional sales features and a highly customisable POS system Compare Costs Pricing from £29 per month Inventory management Shift clock in/out feature Works offline Summary The Good Till Co offers a reputable, tailor-made iPad hospitality POS software. Your POS package is completely tailor-made and highly customisable, giving you the freedom to add or remove features as you see fit. The inventory management aspect of the software is great for keeping track of light stock, as well as managing waste. It also offers clock in/out features to monitor staff schedules. Goodtill also provides an online support portal, as well as email and phone support and best of all - it operates without wi-fi for those remote businesses on the go. Show moreless GoodTill is an iPad-based point of sale system that is all about flexibility. More-established small businesses benefit from having 13 payment plans to choose from which means you’ll be able to find the perfect solution for your operating style.Plus integrations are available for:AccountingEcommerceDeliveryBookingRestaurantMarketingLoyaltyStaff managementThe best part? Once your 30-day free trial is over (that’s twice the length of Vend or Lightspeed), GoodTill’s plans start from just £29 per month. That puts them at least £30 cheaper per month than its closest rival, Lightspeed.And, as another incentive, you’ll pay no transaction fees for the first £1,000 worth of transactions you make. As a result, it’s particularly attractive as a POS system for pubs and bars charging minimal prices.One thing to be aware of is that we awarded GoodTill the worst overall score for help and support tools with 2 out of 5 due to there being no live chat available as an option. Vend gets full marks in this area, in comparison.Does GoodTill have any hidden fees?There are no hidden fees with GoodTill unless you’re planning on installing a CRM add-on to the point of sale software. The Goodies Basic Loyalty package costs £18 per month – other platforms, like Vend, offer this perk for free.Once purchased, you’ll be able to create and communicate promotions, points-based loyalty programs and offers to your customersGoodtill pros and cons Pros Wastage report available so you can optimise processes for cost-saving 13 plans available if you’re looking to scale your business Trend-tracking available to identify opportunities for promotions Cons No option for data backup No booking feature so restaurants can’t monitor reservations No role-based permissions to limit user access Should my business use Goodtill?Choose GoodTill if you’re a scaling business planning to open several restaurants or shops as part of a chain business model. There are 13 plans available in total with GoodTill, as well as an unlimited number of licences for additional terminals. Does your business use a POS system already? Yes No Save by comparing costs Lightspeed – Best for retailers making commission-based sales Lightspeed 4.4 Lightspeed is ideal for businesses that want an all-in-one sale system with excellent customer support and integrations. Compare costs Lightspeed Review Pricing from £39 per month Over 250 integrations Customer loyalty features 24/7 customer support Summary Lightspeed offers a range of monthly subscriptions for its POS, which is an all-in-one complete system. It's an EPOS system that utilises cloud technology. In addition to its software, Lightspeed can also provide hardware, which is available as a kit or individually so that it can be customised to your needs. Lightspeed’s hardware components range from printers to scanners and cash drawers. It offers 24/7 customer support and over 250 integrations with other software. This is a POS system that looks to help businesses future-proof themselves. You can visit Lightspeed to learn more about how they aim to help businesses be “future-ready”. For restaurants, orders can be taken tableside and are sent directly from the waiting staff to the kitchen. This means that staff no longer have to wait for an open terminal to complete the order, cutting down the time between customers ordering and receiving their food. Show moreless Lightspeed is our highest-rated POS for a free trial. Users can test out the platform for free for two weeks. Get to grips with the software and see how it complements your business operations.Notably, we gave Lightspeed a score of 4.3 out of 5 for its till management features (in comparison, Square scores just 3 out of 5).This is due to its unrivalled employee tracking tools which make it simple to set up staff goals. You can even monitor individual sales – handy if your salespeople work on commission. No other platform on this list, including Vend and GoodTill, has this feature.Long-term clients making large orders are also looked after well by the Lightspeed feature-set. You can bundle individual items to sell them as a package and automate discounts for big orders – giving wholesalers the edge over competitors.Does Lightspeed have any hidden fees?We only allocated 2.3 out of 5 to Lightspeed for pricing as it is definitely a premium product – that’s compared to Square which got 5 out of 5.Once your 14-day free trial has ended you’ll be charged £59 per month to access the Lightspeed POS.Apart from this monthly payment, you also are charged 2.6% + 10p for tapped, swiped, or inserted cards. The charges for remote card entry is 2.6% + 30p.Lightspeed pros and cons Pros Largest number of payment partners to give customers a wide range of options Add upsell percentage to products to increase profits Huge range of reporting tools to help you monitor operations and identify opportunities for improvement Cons Hardware only available on a quote-by-quote basis No upfront cost info for businesses with more than 5 employees Should my business use Lightspeed?We recommend Lightspeed for retail businesses with sales executives who are working on commission, but we reviewed a full list of POS systems for retail businesses if you want to peruse the other available options.Its performance tracking tools are second to none – but beware that if you have more than five employees you’ll need to request a custom quote for access to more than 5 employees. Vend – Best for boutique retailers charging a premium offering Vend 4.3 Sophisticated POS option for firms that want to provide their customers with the ultimate, premium payment experience. Try Vend Pricing from £81 per month Excellent help and support tools Fantastic for stock management and inventory monitoring Summary Vend is an excellent cloud-based software for small businesses with ambitious growth plans. Its pricing plans mean it is situated at the higher end of the POS cost spectrum, however if you can afford it, Vend is definitely worth it. Its unrivalled customer support tools mean it is brilliant for silver service hospitality firms or boutique retailers that want to provide their customers with the ultimate, premium payment experience. Show moreless Vend has joined forces with another big name in the EPOS space – it's now part of the Lightspeed family! One of the main reasons we like Vend’s free plan so much is that it is the only product on this list that comes with a built-in CRM and loyalty program – beating even our top-rated platform, Square.Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are hugely important for businesses offering high-quality customer service. With Vend, you can set up an integrated rewards programme to honour repeat customers, and generate automatic customer insight reports for upselling opportunities.There is no restaurant service type in Vend’s offering so it’s unsuitable as a POS system for restaurant businesses. Similarly, there’s no delivery support so we’d endorse it only for organisations with an established courier partnership.Still, Vend’s free trial is an excellent taster for businesses wanting an integrated CRM and POS solution.Does Vend have any hidden fees?Vend’s transaction charges are exactly the same as Lightspeed’s: 2.6% + 10p for tapped, swiped, or inserted cards and 2.6% + 30p for remote transactions.However, the similarities end there. Vend’s deals are much more expensive than Lightspeed’s with the former’s clocking in at a minimum monthly fee of £81.For hardware, you’ll also fork out around £1,000 for iPad setup and up to £1,300 for Mac or PC setup – far from a bargain compared to Zettle.Vend pros and cons Pros Ability to accept offline payments Phone, email, live chat support available plus daily back-ups of your data CRM available to help build loyalty and get to know your top customers Cons Expensive setup costs including charges of over £1,300 for Mac/PC No ecommerce integration available for websites No restaurant plan available Should my business use Vend?Firstly, we only recommend Vend if you have a considerable amount of money to spend once your free trial ends.It’s a high-end offering with lots of strengths for premium retailers. But unless you’re selling expensive products – such as a gallery – you’re unlikely to see a benefit from that specialism. Is free POS software worth it?Our experts have been helping small businesses find the best deals and discounts in the payment solution market for over twenty years.We can tell you that using a free POS won’t cost you any money and can be a good way to trial software.But experience tells us that some platforms come with hidden fees, or a costly contract at the end of your trial period that can catch you off guard.Other cons of free POS software include:No budget for third party add-ons like CRM softwareLimited customer serviceSome pay-as-you-go POS brands charge higher transaction fees To help you out, we’ve built our handy 🔍POS cost comparison tool to help keep you informed of what comes after a ‘free’ purchase.It will match you with POS quotes in just one minute, so you won’t get any nasty surprises in your bill.Alternative POS softwareBecause of the extra charges that users can incur from free POS software, paid-for products can work out cheaper in the long run.Here’s a quick breakdown of the top solutions we identified in our latest round of testing (including more information on premium POS costs): Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Square Lightspeed Clover Touchbistro Epos Now Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.7 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.4 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.3 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.1 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.2 Pricing from £0 monthly cost£16+VAT – Square Reader Pricing from £39 per month (excl. VAT) Pricing from Plans start from £4.10 per month Pricing from £65 per month Pricing from £25 per month (excl. VAT) Want to use our free comparison tool to compare costs from the best POS systems available? Compare Costs If you’re interested in looking into the above paid-for software plans, our comprehensive guide to POS systems for small businesses has more information on what’s available. How to choose POS softwareWhen choosing the right POS software, remember to think hard about the three ‘S’s: scale, sector, and sales.ScaleIf you have a large amount of employees or sell in multiple locations, you’ll need to invest in low-cost hardware, like the Square or Zettle card readers, if you’re buying multiple devices.SectorMajor POS systems – such as Epos Now – provide tailored packages for users based on their sector expertise. For example, retail SMEs won’t need a table booking system in the same way that hospitality firms do.SalesWe recommend you think about what functions you carry out surrounding your sales strategy. Do you want monthly, annual, or quarterly sales reports? Have these answers ready before you sign any contracts. MethodologyTo find our rankings for the top free POS systems, our experts worked with an independent analyst to explore six key areas of payment solutions.Value for money is a major consideration with any software. Firms want the best deal possible, so we evaluated each system for hidden pricing. We also considered till, stock, and business management tools as functionality has a big influencer on overall value.It’s important that your software aligns with your business objectives so you can scale operations and grow profits. We reviewed business development features, such as courier integrations, as another decision-making factor.Finally, we scored the systems for help and support tools. Introducing any new system brings challenges in terms of tech-know-how. The more help available, the more you and your staff gain from the system. VerdictThe best free system for small businesses is Square, due to its flexible contract and all-in-one POS solution that doesn’t tie mobile restaurant sellers into long-term commitments.We recommend Zettle for its clever, customer-focused features, like the low stock alert, are also fantastic for selling both on and offline.For a premium option, we back Lightspeed. Users can start the 14-day free trial for sophisticated features – including unrivalled reporting tools – without spending a penny. Free POS FAQs Is there a free POS? Yes, there are many free POS (Point of Sale) systems available, but the features and capabilities can vary. Our best-rated free systems are Square, Zettle, Goodtill, Lightspeed, and Vend. Which software is best for POS? Our top-rated POS system for small businesses is Square. Square’s hardware is cleverly-designed with outstanding till and business management features. What is the cheapest POS system? The most low-cost POS system is Square. Because of its zero monthly fees, you’ll pay nothing to get set up except a one-off payment of £19 + VAT for the minimalist Square card reader. Does Google have a POS system? Google does not have a POS system, but it does have a digital wallet which consumers use to pay with online. If you’re looking for an ecommerce POS system, we recommend Zettle. What is the best free inventory POS system? The best free inventory POS system depends on your specific business needs, but popular options include Zettle, Goodtill and Vend. Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Tags News and Features Written by: Helena Young Lead Writer Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.