5 best pub and bar POS systems right now

If you don’t think your current POS system is capable of helping your business bounce back from our cost of living crisis, then it might be time for a better solution. 

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

Startups.co.uk is reader supported – we may earn a commission from our recommendations, at no extra cost to you and without impacting our editorial impartiality.

With business overheads rising and customer spending tightening up, running a bar or pub can be a constant struggle to stay on top of your profits. That’s why it’s so important to choose a POS system that’s true value for money. It’s tempting to opt for a free POS, but it’s essential to have a keen understanding of any ongoing transaction fees, plus features you may miss out on without spending initially.

We’re here to help. Our top five pub and bar POS systems have been analysed and chosen with the drinks industry’s needs in mind. Our results focus on specific aspects our readers have told us are important for their bar and pub businesses, such as fast order entry and back-of-house functionality.

Our expert researchers have determined that the best POS system for bars and pubs in 2024 is Zettle. It boasts an easy-to-set-up platform, compelling pricing, and deep analytics that can help you understand and influence your business’ sales. Here’s how it compares to the rest of the field:

Best pub & bar POS systems at a glance

  • *Featured* Lightspeed – great value POS plans
  • Zettle – best overall POS system for small bars and pubs
  • Epos Now – best choice for larger bars or pubs
  • TouchBistro – an excellent pick for gastropubs with a food focus
  • Square – perfect for popup bars and stalls

Click any of the links above to learn more about each brand and compare costs on a POS system for the needs and size of your own business

As inflation rises, pubs and bars have been hit hard in the UK. To help you find the best value POS deal, we’ve designed a simple 🔍cost comparison tool that can quickly match you with the best POS provider for your unique needs and budget. It takes just moments – you can start by answering the quick questions, below:

How many POS terminals does your pub or bar need?

Compare Costs

Read on for our expert bar and pub POS guide to help you find the system that best suits your customers, staff, and budget.

The best pub and bar POS systems

According to our independent evaluation, Zettle is the best overall choice for a POS system for a bar or pub thanks to its simple interface, rich reporting features, and solid value for money. It’s also one of the best POS systems for small businesses.

But, what suits one bar won’t be perfect for another – it’s essential to compare and ensure you choose a system that works out as the best possible value for the needs of your premises. Pick the wrong POS system, and you could find yourself putting up with ongoing transaction fees that are fine as you start out, but sting as you grow.

The top POS options for bar and pub businesses are:

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0 out of 0

Lightspeed Restaurant

Zettle Go

EPOS Now

TouchBistro

Square for Restaurants

Best for

Best for growing bars and pubs

Best for

Best POS system for small bars and pubs

Best for

Large bars and pubs

Best for

Gastropubs and cocktail bars

Best for

Popup bars and pubs

Pricing from
Pricing from

FREE

Pricing from

£399 upfront or £25 per month

Pricing from

£65 per month

Pricing from

FREE

Features
Features
  • Table management
  • CRM features
  • Low transaction fees
Features
  • In-depth sales reporting
  • Third party app integrations
  • Kitchen management functionality
Features
  • Excellent menu interface
  • Customer loyalty features
  • Easy set up
Features
  • Staff management
  • Integrates with a variety of apps
  • Access sales data from anywhere
Bars and pubs embrace technology for efficient service

Bars and pubs – in particular – are having to find faster ways to serve customers, including providing table service, taking contactless payments, and using order and pay platforms. Bars are having to run tighter shifts, and technology is being relied upon to run things more efficiently. 

According to statistics from Lightspeed, new technology adoption rates in the UK are highest in fine dining restaurants, with 57% automating tasks like payments, and in multi location restaurants, with 60% using it to streamline employee shifts in 2022.

It’s a good idea to think about investing in an order and pay app to use alongside your EPOS system. An order and pay app will enable you to set up click and collect, order at table, and delivery services. There are several ways to set up order and pay, which you can read more about in our guide to setting up click and collect.

1. Zettle: Best POS system for small bars and pubs

4.4 out of 5
  • Price
    5.0
  • Help & Support
    3.0
  • Till Features
    4.3

Perfect for small and startup hospitality businesses, Zettle gives you all the tools you need to take-off. In fact, you can start taking payments as soon as you receive its card reader in the post. In comparison, Lightspeed can take a full day to set up and even longer to master. 

What you need to know about Zettle

With the Zettle POS software on multiple iPads you can minimise the number of staff clustered around one area. They’ll have access to Zettle’s table management feature and they can take contactless payments at the table with the Zettle card machine. Zettle also offers payment links, which allow customers to pay through a link sent to them via text or email. 

If you’re looking to grow your business quickly, Zettle offers bars and pubs in-depth reporting through its back-office web application. You’ll be able to see which menu items sell well and find out when you need to do something extra to get more customers through the door.  

As one of our top free POS systems, Zettle is a favourite amongst small businesses. However, there are no growth limitations for users.

Zettle’s interface

Zettle’s Dashboard

Zettle’s pros and cons:

Zettle Pros
  • Our researchers gave Zettle 4.3 out of 5 for till management tools - Square gets just 3.6
  • There's no need for a merchant account to get started with Zettle
  • Unlimited users are permitted - great for agency workers or those with fluctuating staff levels
Zettle Cons
  • There are no CRM capabilities. You'll need to add these on if you want to offer loyalty features
  • Zettle gets a consistently low rating for “Business Development” in our analysis

Zettle’s pricing

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Zettle by PayPal

Software cost

Free

Hardware cost

Starting from £29 + VAT

Transaction fees
  • 1.75% for all contactless or card payments

Order and pay options: separate app or website and social media integration required


2. Epos Now: best for large bars and pubs

4.2 out of 5
  • Price
    2.5
  • Help & Support
    4.0
  • Till Features
    4.3

Epos Now is a great bar and pub POS system. It offers tonnes of post-COVID features, including table-side ordering and payments and delivery app integration. Not only that, it syncs with a range of the best POS systems for restaurants, meaning you have all the tools you need to run an efficient, well-organised service. 

What you need to know about Epos Now

One of the biggest pains of running a bar or pub is stock-taking, but Epos Now offers a complete stock management system that allows you to track your inventory in real-time, automate purchase orders, and create drink recipes to prevent overpouring. 

Thanks to its in-depth reporting capabilities, you’ll have all the data you need to know what’s selling and what’s not. You’ll also be able to spot seasonal trends so you can make the most out of them and maximise your profit. 

One of its handiest features is its kitchen management functionality. Going one step further than the likes of Zettle and Square, Epos Now synchronises front-of-house and back-of-house, which means food orders can be updated and instantly changed on the kitchen display system. 

Epos Now is available as a fixed POS system and an iPad POS system, and it’s compatible with a range of merchant account providers, including Payment Sense and WorldPay.

Epos Now’s interface

Epos Now’s dashboard

Epos Now’s pros and cons

Pros
  • Compatible with a range of merchant providers, giving you flexibility over things like transaction fees
  • Versatile hardware options are available, all of which are compatible with mobile devices and offer a range of till based products.
  • Tons of apps available (such as Kitchen Display System to synchronise your front and back of house) to build the perfect POS system for your business
Cons
  • System equipment is expensive, starting at £449 for an upfront cost. That's compared to the Square card reader (£16+VAT)
  • No free trial available. Combined with high upfront hardware costs, Epos Now isn't a great choice for those with poor cash flow

Epos Now’s pricing

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0 out of 0

EPOS Now

Software cost

From £74/month

Hardware cost

Usually starts at £399 upfront, currently available for free

Transaction fees

2.6% + £0.10p


Order and pay options: POS software integrates with Yoello


3. TouchBistro: best for gastropubs and cocktail bars

4.1 out of 5
  • Price
    2.0
  • Help & Support
    5.0
  • Till Features
    3

Just like Epos Now, TouchBistro’s pub POS system is packed full of features to facilitate the daily operations of running a hospitality business. TouchBistro particularly caters to pubs and bars that want to focus on delivering a high-end service. 

What you need to know about TouchBistro

A feature that makes it one of the best POS systems for bars and pubs is its menu interface, which allows servers to quickly input orders. Thanks to a visual menu and programmable ingredients lists, new staff can quickly get to grips with different cocktails. 

TouchBistro’s tableside order management system has been set up to help hospitality businesses deliver seamless order taking. Staff can take orders for each seat, select menu items by course, and upsell on the spot thanks to menu prompts.

With features like ‘Fast Bar’ enabling a two step order process, staff can focus more on speaking to the customer, whether it’s discussing different wines or making them feel welcome. On top of that, TouchBistro’s smart promotions tool facilitates promotional offers such as happy hours and seasonal events. 

If you need help encouraging customers back once they’ve left your pub or restaurant, you can set them up a loyalty account. You can use the account to track what they spend, then send them targeted offers. You can even set the account up to give them discounts at the till or after a minimum spend.

TouchBistro’s interface

TouchBistro’s Dashboard

TouchBistro’s pros and cons

Pros
  • Incredibly easy to remove or edit pricing, which is useful if you're testing a product at markets or pop-ups
  • Excellent reporting functionality. You can store years' worth of data in the system to track sales
  • Doesn't need internet to run it as it operates on a local connection, so users don’t need to worry if the internet goes down during peak business hours
Cons
  • Only available for a minimum contract length of one year - risky if you have inconsistent sales figures each month
  • TouchBistro is currently only compatible with iPads, which could waste existing hardware

TouchBistro’s pricing

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TouchBistro

Software cost

Starting at $69/month

Hardware cost

Pricing available via quote

Transaction fees

2.99% plus 15p


Order and pay option: TouchBistro Online Ordering


4. Square: best for popup bars and pubs

4.7 out of 5
  • Price
    5
  • Help and Support
    5
  • Till Features
    3.6

Like Zettle, Square is a great choice for startups and small businesses. With no need for a merchant account or wifi connection, it’s a quick and easy way for you to get your business going. 

What you need to know about Square

The only things pubs and bars need to start welcoming customers are an iPad, the Square for Restaurants app and the Square card reader. Epos Now is far more complicated to set up, in comparison, due to the huge amount of hardware required.

You can make your Square for Restaurants system as sophisticated or as basic as you need. Square’s got lots of equipment packages available for restaurants and because its POS accessories are supplied by a third party, you’ll be able to use them with other compatible software in the future. 

When it comes to the Square POS system, you can expect to take advantage of lots of handy features; from staff management to table management. Bar staff will like the repeat order function for when patrons start ordering rounds.

For those with online offerings, Square is also one of our top-rated takeaway POS systems, helped by a central dashboard that updates in realtime.

With no merchant account necessary, Square charges 1.75% per transaction, and transfers any funds straight into your business account within one to two business days. The software also integrates with heaps of third party apps, including delivery companies, customer relationship management software, and accounting software.

Square’s interface

Square’s dashboard

Square’s pros and cons

Pros
  • Overall, we gave Square a 94% approval rating for pubs and bars
  • Square's excellent payment processing database is very intelligent - it can store customer information such as email, phone number and past transaction history and payments.
  • Fantastic for those businesses that are looking to move online - Square for Restaurants has lots of great ecommerce and takeaway integrations
Cons
  • Unable to track stock on an ingredient level, frustrating for those businesses also serving food
  • Sales forecasting is dependant on a third party integration, so you can't get an exact view of how much you can expect to earn each month

Square’s pricing

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Square

Software cost

Free

Hardware cost

£19 + VAT

Transaction fees
  • 1.75% in person transaction fee
  • 1.4% + 25p for UK card transactions
  • 2.5% + 25p for non-UK card transactions
  • 2.5% Keyed-in transactions

Order and pay options: Square Online or integrations such as Deliverect


5. Lightspeed Restaurant: best for growing bars and pubs

4.4 out of 5
  • Small Business Score
    3.8
  • Large Business Score
    4.5
  • Restaurant Score
    4.1
  • Retail Score
    4.0

With specific packages for bars, restaurants, and even fine dining establishments, Lightspeed Restaurant is well equipped to help food and drink businesses provide exceptional service – which is why we named it our best POS system for hospitality.

What you need to know about Lightspeed Restaurant

Lightspeed’s package for bars and pubs is built with efficiency in mind. The menu function has been designed so bar staff can reach the till sections they require in just a few taps, while multiple menus can be created and assigned to different devices.

Lightspeed allows you to split bills by number or by seat, making it really easy for people to pay only for what they ordered. And when it comes to keeping tabs on exactly what customers are ordering, just head over to its cloud-based analytics centre to see what’s selling and what’s not.

With the option to integrate Lightspeed with order apps, delivery software, loyalty software, and supplier management software, Lightspeed is the ideal solution for growing businesses.

And when its most popular plan includes a register, personalised onboarding, and unlimited support, there’s plenty of reasons why Lightspeed is one of the best POS systems for bars and pubs. Check out our full Lightspeed POS review.

Lightspeed’s interface

Lightspeed’s dashboard

Lightspeed Restaurant’s pros and cons

Pros
  • Lightspeed is a very sophisticated POS tool capable of bringing a lot of features to your business. In our research, it scores consistently high for business development
  • Every new Lightspeed customer gets a free onboarding session with one of the brand's product specialists
  • It's is relatively cheap (£25) to add a new terminal license to your business
Cons
  • Lightspeed's lowest-paid for plan (£39 per month) is very basic if you're not prepared to upgrade - particularly for reporting
  • Due to its high upfront cost, many business margins will just not support Lightspeed in the current economic climate

Lightspeed Restaurant’s pricing

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Lightspeed

Software cost

£69 per month (excl. VAT)

Hardware cost

Pricing available via quote

Transaction fees
  • 2.6% + £0.10 for card-present transactions
  • 2.9% + £0.30 for card-not-present transactions

Order and pay integrations: Wi5 third party platform


Our methodology: How did we compile our list of the best pub and bar POS systems?

We’ve been supporting startup businesses for over 20 years. In that time, we’ve spoken to thousands of businesses, and built up a wealth of knowledge on all things point of sale. 

Over the past few months, we’ve worked to combine this experience with the results of an independent analyst, to locate the top five POS systems for bars and pubs based on eight key metrics:

  • Till features (is there a training mode? Can you split bills? etc.)
  • Business management features (does the platform help with staff management? i.e rotas)
  • Stock management features (how well does the brand monitor stock and inform purchase ordering?)
  • Business development (how well does each platform’s feature list support scaleup?)
  • Usability (how easily can you set up and master each platform?)
  • Pricing (what are the upfront costs and hidden fees?)
  • Help and support (what support options are available if an issue arises?)
  • Customer score (how popular is each system with its existing user base?)

From tableside management to stock control, our final five POS systems for bars and pubs boast all of the core POS features required by bar and pub businesses – as well as more specialist niches. For example, Lightspeed for Restaurant’s excellent bill splitting tool is perfect for those with lots of covers. 

Verdict: the best bar and pub POS systems

If you’re after a modest POS system that’ll get you on your feet as quickly as possible, both Zettle and Square for Restaurants are where to go. Both POS software products integrate with third-party equipment, however, Square’s Square Terminal enables businesses to take orders and payments and print receipts at the table at the same time – great for keeping everyone safe during the pandemic. 

For more sophisticated setups, Epos Now, TouchBistro, and Lightspeed Restaurant are all great options. That said, Epos Now is the best option if you want to pay for your pub or bar POS system up front, while TouchBistro and Lightspeed Restaurant offer different packages for different needs. 

If you’d like help comparing the POS systems, why not try out our 🔍free POS comparison tool?

Answer a few questions to tell us a little bit about your requirements. Once you’ve answered a few questions, we’ll send you your matches, where you’ll be able to compare quotes from providers that are suitable for your needs.

Bar and pub POS system FAQs
  • What is a bar POS system?
    A bar POS system is a specialised point-of-sale system designed to manage and streamline the various aspects of a bar's operations, including order processing, inventory management, and customer billing.
  • What is the best POS system for a small restaurant?
    Our top-rated POS system for small restaurant businesses is Square. We gave it 4.7 out of 5 in our industry-specific research, an astronomical score that reflects Square's generous feature library, low pricing, and oustanding customer support tools.
  • What is the best POS for a bar?
    In our extensive research, we found Zettle to be the best POS system for bars. Its user-friendly interface, efficient order management, and robust inventory tracking features firmly established Zettle as a preferred choice among bar owners and operators.
  • How much is a POS system for a bar?
    Bar POS system costs can range between £10 per month to £60 per month, plus additional hardware fees. Square and Zettle are two popular POS brands without monthly fees - they only charge one upfront cost for hardware (between £16 and £29).

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Written by:
Helena Young
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.
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