When it comes to the best mobile point-of-sale (POS) system, we recommend Square because it’s versatile, reliable, and affordable for a wide range of businesses. Turn your phone or iPad into a POS system with a free card reader when you sign up with Square.
Mobile POS systems have changed the way customers pay for everything from meals to MacBook Pros. When done well, mobile POS systems streamline the customer experience—and make life easier for everyone else involved in a sale, too.
That’s why we took a look at every mobile POS on the market to decide which mobile POS systems offer the best features and functionality. After analyzing reviews and carefully researching each product, we narrowed our list down to the five best mobile POS systems around.
The Top 5 Best Mobile POS Systems
Each of the companies on this list excels at offering portable payment processing and sales management. Square rose to the top of our list thanks to how well it works for an impressive variety of use cases. Plus, you’ll get a free magstripe card reader when you sign up with Square.
- Square — Best overall
- Shopify POS — Best for managing online and in-person retail sales
- PayPal Zettle — Best for dedicated Paypal users
- Toast — Best for food service businesses
- Clover — Best for taking payments offline
Let’s explore some different scenarios and use cases for these mobile POS systems.
Match Your Scenario to the Right Mobile POS System Solution
We’ve thought of several scenarios where you might need a mobile POS system. Check them out and see which ones apply to you—and which tools we recommend for each scenario.
- You’re a personal trainer who needs an easy way to make appointments and take payments
- You need a way to sell your art at local festivals and fairs
- You’re an ex-pat living in Norway, and you need to collect payments for your clothing business
- You want to give the wait staff at your restaurant a quicker way to take orders and collect payments
- You work as a locksmith, and you routinely need to take payments in the middle of nowhere
You’re a personal trainer who needs an easy way to make appointments and take payments
Best Option: Square
Whether you work out of a home gym or provide services at a local workout spot, Square makes it easy for you to manage client appointments and take payments. Use the magstripe card reader or chip reader and Square Appointments, and you’re good to go.
Another great choice: Clover
Clover’s mobile card reader and handheld Flex make taking payments easy no matter where you are. While there’s no dedicated Clover appointment app, you can use one of Clover’s appointment scheduling app integrations to manage that side of your business.
If you need to schedule appointments and process payments on the go, keep these points in mind:
- Apps: is there an app specifically designed for appointments?
- Integrations: if there’s no native appointment app, does the mobile POS system come with a suitable integration?
- Payment types: can you accept a variety of payments and send invoices if needed?
You need a way to sell your art pieces at local festivals and fairs
Best Option: Shopify POS
Do you sell handmade art and prints on your Shopify store? Start selling your wares at local festivals and fairs with Shopify POS. Keep it inexpensive by using your iPhone to accept contactless payments or invest in a dedicated mobile Shopify POS Go.
Another great choice: PayPal Zettle
If you already use PayPal to process online payments, it makes more sense to go with PayPal Zettle for those in-person sales opportunities. Get a mobile Zettle card reader and link it to your PayPal account.
If you want to link online and in-person retail sales, consider:
- Payment processors: can you use a card reader to take payments on your phone, or do you need a dedicated card reader?
- Fees: how much does the mobile POS system charge for in-person card payments?
- Integrations: does the mobile POS integrate with your online store or preferred online method of payment?
You’re an ex-pat living in Norway, and you need to collect payments for your clothing business
Best Option: PayPal Zettle
As long as you open your Zettle account while living in Norway, you’ll be able to process all your payments in kroner with Zettle. You can also continue to take orders from other countries using your online storefront and PayPal.
Another great choice: Shopify POS
You can use Shopify POS in a variety of countries, including Norway, but you’ll need to use a partnered payment gateway system to process transactions. For example, in Norway, you’d need to use Klarna, Stripe, or another supported payment method.
If you do business outside of your native country, pay attention to:
- Compatibility: does the POS system work in the country you want to do business in?
- Fees: what are the fees for credit card transactions in the country?
- Customer service: can you get customer support in the language you speak best?
You want to give the wait staff at your restaurant a quicker way to take orders and collect payments
Best Option: Toast
A restaurant POS all-star, Toast lets you take orders and process payments from a mobile POS device. Whether you want to take orders while customers are waiting in line or process payments at each diner’s table, you can do it with Toast.
Another great choice: Square
With mobile card readers and an app dedicated to restaurant POS and management, Square is an excellent alternative. Using Square makes sense, especially if you already run other businesses with Square tools.
If you need a mobile POS for restaurants, here’s what to think about:
- Payment device: does the service offer a handheld payment processor that sends orders to the kitchen right away, or does it depend on a payment processor plus an app?
- Durability: will the device survive if you accidentally drop it or spill Coke all over it?
- Integration: how well does the mobile POS integrate with the rest of your kitchen management system?
You work as a locksmith, and you routinely need to take payments in the middle of nowhere
Best Option: Clover
Thanks to its robust offline payment system, you can take Clover with you to get someone back into their car on a remote highway with zero internet connectivity. Once you’re back in range, the payment will process and upload to your Clover POS dashboard.
Another great choice: Square
Even though it’s not as versatile when it comes to offline payments, Square will accept swipes on a magstripe reader if you’re out of range. It’ll do in a pinch.
If you need a credit card reader that takes payments without an internet connection, think about:
- Reliability: does the processor reliably store payments for at least a day and upload them to the cloud once you’re connected to the internet?
- Time: how long does it take for offline payments to process?
Mobile POS Systems Company Reviews
When you urgently need a mobile POS system that fits your business model, the last thing you want to do is spend hours deep-diving into each potential brand. That’s why our research team has taken care of that step for you. In this section, you’ll get a breakdown of each of our top mobile POS systems—and what types of businesses they serve best.
Square – Best Overall
Square innovated the mobile credit-card reader in 2010. Ever since then, the brand has continued to provide more ways for businesses to get paid without being tied to a checkout counter.
With Square, you can choose from three types of mobile payment processing hardware that wirelessly connect to the Square POS app on your phone or tablet:
- Magstripe card reader: just plug this small square-shaped card reader into your Android headset jack or iOS Lightning connector, and you’re ready to take orders.
- Contactless and chip reader: a square-shaped card reader about half the size of a standard iPhone that takes chip cards and contactless payments.
- Square Terminal: a portable swipe, dip, and tap-compatible credit card reader that also prints receipts—and it’s about the size and shape of a cheese wedge.
If you want to get your money faster and avoid a bunch of banking fees, sign up for a business checking account with Square Checking. This service is offered through Sutton Bank, Member FDIC, and your checking account is linked to a Square debit card.
You can also automatically funnel a percentage of each sale into a savings account for taxes, investments, and emergencies with Square Savings. And to tie up the neat package that is Square, you can use Square Payroll to:
- Track employee hours
- Manage commissions and tips
- Pay your employees
- File payroll taxes
- Manage employee benefits like health insurance, workers’ comp, and retirement
Square truly is the one-size-fits-all solution that just about any business can use. Some of the reviews we studied complained of difficult-to-reach, unreliable customer service. Square would do well to address this common post-COVID problem so it can stay at the front of the mobile POS pack.
What Makes Square Great
There’s a definite benefit to narrowing a POS service down to one industry, and some of the brands on our top list—like Toast—do just that. But what’s great about Square is that it’s a one-stop shop for just about any business you can think of.
In addition to the general Square POS app, Square offers several apps designed for specific businesses. For example, the Square Restaurants POS and Square Kitchen Display System apps allow you to process and collect payment for food orders, whether they’re in-person or online.
Square Appointments is designed for businesses in healthcare, massage, and talk therapy, to name a few. This app takes care of everything related to appointments: scheduling, booking, reminders, and payments. And yes—Square can be HIPAA compliant.
If you need to create invoices for a home repair or auto maintenance business, the Square Invoices app has you covered. And the Square Retail POS app offers retailers a place to manage inventory, process online and in-person orders, and take payments. In short, no other POS system makes mobile POS easier for a wider range of businesses than Square does.
Square’s free version is ideal for solopreneurs and small businesses. We love that it comes with a free magstripe card reader. For this tier, Square charges 2.6% + $0.10 for in-person payments and 2.6% + $0.30 for online payments.
No matter which tier you choose, Square includes a free online store for your business. Learn more in our review of the Square online store feature.
Shopify POS – Best for In-person and Online Retail Sales
Shopify is a global ecommerce powerhouse, and its dedication to providing services for in-person and online retailers is impressive. If you have a pop-up shop or brick-and-mortar storefront backed up by an online Shopify store, Shopify POS is the tool you need.
But you don’t even have to have a Shopify website to get started with Shopify POS. If you’re just getting started in the retail world and haven’t had time to build a website, you can still use Shopify POS.
To get started with your mobile Shopify POS, just download the Shopify POS app onto your Android or iOS device. Next, you’ll choose a mobile payment processing system:
- Shopify POS Go: a smartphone-like device that contains a barcode scanner, Wi-Fi, and a card reader
- Shopify Tap & Chip Card Reader: a mobile card reader that accepts tap and swipe payments
- Chipper 2X BT: mobile tap, chip, and swipe reader, which integrates fully with your Shopify POS account
While some users complain of the occasional technological glitch, many praise Shopify POS for making it incredibly easy to link ecommerce and in-person sales.
What Makes Shopify POS Great
Shopify POS excels at making omnichannel selling as smooth as can be. For example, do your customers like browsing your products in person and then making purchasing decisions later online? With Shopify POS, you can email your customers their in-store favorites to make that decision easier.
Shopify POS also offers:
- Buy online, pick up at your brick-and-mortar store
- Buy in-store and ship to customer—perfect for when you run out of stock of the desired item
- Buy and return anywhere—allow your customers to return items purchased online in your physical store
- QR-code purchasing—label products with a QR code that customers can scan and buy online
All of these buying methods are supported by Shopify’s portable card readers and the Shopify POS app. If you want to skip the hardware altogether, Shopify POS offers Tap to Pay for iPhones.
You’ll need a Shopify Plan to get started with Shopify POS. Plans begin at $29 a month with an in-person credit card fee of 2.7% + $0.00. Shopify POS Lite is included with all Shopify plans. For inventory management and omnichannel selling, you’ll need Shopify Pro, which starts at $89 a month on top of your Shopify Plan payment.
Take a deeper dive into Shopify with our full review.
PayPal Zettle – Best for Dedicated PayPal Users
PayPal has an estimated three to four million users across 200 countries and 25 currencies. If you already use PayPal for online sales, PayPal Zettle is the mobile POS system for you.
Zettle replaced PayPal’s old POS app, PayPal Here, in 2021.
Before we dive deeper into Zettle, it’s important to point out that while Zettle is available for use in several countries, including Brazil, Mexico, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway, the US, and the UK, you can only use Zettle in the country you live in when you sign up for it.
That said, Zettle knows that people want to be able to use Zettle internationally and is actively working on making this happen. For now, you can use PayPal to process international sales and Zettle for all your in-person needs. The Zettle Go app manages your Zettle sales. If you’re an existing PayPal user signing up for Zettle, it’s easy to connect Zettle to your PayPal account to keep your money flowing into the same place.
One downside to Zettle is that while PayPal acquired Zettle in 2018, the transition period is ongoing. This can make things confusing for users.
For example, merchants who used Zettle before PayPal acquired it cannot link their Zettle and PayPal accounts. And PayPal Here users can still use PayPal Here, but the old POS system does not accept any new merchants, instead redirecting them to PayPal Zettle.
What Makes PayPal Zettle Great
PayPal Zettle is a perfect POS tool for businesses based in Latin America, Europe, and the US. If you’re in the United States, you’ll sign up for Zettle through PayPal’s website. You can also order the Zettle portable card reader from the PayPal site.
The Zettle card reader integrates with the PayPal Zettle POS app. It accepts swipe, tap, and chip payments from all major credit card companies. It also accepts contactless payments from Paypal, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay.
You can also skip the card reader by using your Zettle POS app on your smartphone or tablet. Just create QR codes with PayPal and have customers scan them with their devices for easy payment.
If you’re not in the United States, you’ll work through the dedicated Zettle website, which calls the service Zettle by PayPal instead of PayPal Zettle. It’s confusing, I know, and it points to the uneven transition period going on with Zettle and PayPal.
Still, Zettle transactions are reliable and secure regardless of the country. Zettle is PCI DSS certified and all transactions are backed by the full force of PayPal’s encryption and security measures.
Your first Zettle card reader costs $29, with additional readers coming in at $79 apiece. Transaction fees begin at 2.29% + $0.09 for swipe, tap, and chip entries.
Toast – Best for food service businesses
As an established restaurant management and POS system, Toast delivers excellent mobile POS services with its portable card reader. This portable payment processor—the Toast Go 2—offers everything a food service business needs to succeed on the go.
The Toast Go 2 fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. It weighs just over one pound and can withstand falls up to four feet. If you accidentally drop it when you’re about to ring up your customers, it’s no problem. The Toast Go 2 is also rated IP54 for water and dust resistance.
In short, Toast designed the device designed specifically for the organized chaos of a restaurant environment.
With the Toast GO 2, you can take credit card payments via swipe, tap, and chip from inside your food truck or at the table in your sit-down restaurant. The Toast Go 2 also supports Apple Pay and Google Pay. Best of all, it seamlessly integrates with the rest of Toast’s POS and restaurant management features.
What Makes Toast Great
Unlike some of the other mobile POS systems we love, like Square, Toast focuses on providing outstanding services in one industry. Every service the company offers has one goal: to make running a restaurant easier.
Smaller businesses can use the Toast Go 2 as their complete mobile POS system. Medium and large businesses can anchor their POS with a Toast Flex hardware system, using the mobile Toast Go 2 POS to take orders while guests are waiting in line or sitting at their tables.
If you want a seamless kitchen display system to minimize mistakes and lost tickets, The Toast Go 2 integrates with the restaurant-grade Toast Flex Kitchen Display System (KDS).
Toast offers starter kits with $0 down. A Toast Go 2 kit will get you the Toast Go 2, an indoor wireless access point, a router, Toast POS software, and dedicated customer support. You’ll pay 2.99% + $0.15 on each transaction to pay for this setup. Or, you can pay $609 upfront and $69 a month to buy the equipment and pay a lower processing fee of 2.49% + $0.15.
Clover – Best for Taking Payments Offline
If you regularly conduct business in an area with bad internet service—or no service at all—Clover has one big advantage over other POS brands: it’s got a high-quality offline mode.
Other POS systems, like Square, also offer an offline mode. However, Square only provides offline credit card processing for chip, tap, and swipe payments if you use a Square Stand, Register, or Terminal. The only mobile, offline payment processing you can do is swipe payments with a Square magstripe reader.
But Clover offers offline payment processing and inventory tracking with its handheld, portable payment processor, the Clover Flex. The Flex accepts chip, tap, and swipe payments offline for up to seven days at a time.
This means you can take the Flex anywhere you go and take payments in areas without an internet connection. When you return to a place with connectivity, the Flex will automatically submit the payments for authorization. After each payment is authorized, you’ll get your money, and your customer will receive a receipt.
What Makes Clover Great
The Clover Flex is Clover’s standout product. The Flex is an all-in-one mobile POS system—offline payment processing is the cherry on top.
The Flex can process chip, swipe, and contactless payments. With a built-in camera and receipt printer, you can scan barcodes and print receipts from the handheld POS device, too. Retail businesses will appreciate that the Flex can manage inventory even in offline mode.
Once you’re connected to the internet, your Flex syncs with your Clover dashboard on a web browser or the Clover Go G2 Dashboard and POS app.
Payment plans for the Clover Flex and Clover POS software begin at $35 a month. Credit card processing fees start at 2.6% + $0.10 for card-present transactions.
Quick Sprout Mobile POS Systems Related Content
If you want to learn more about mobile POS systems, you’re in the right place. Here’s a selection of articles that’ll help you learn more about portable POS services.
Mobile POS Systems Guides and How-Tos
Mobile POS Systems Comparisons
Mobile POS Systems Related Top Lists
- Compare the Best POS Systems for Small Businesses
- Compare the Best POS Systems for Coffee Shops
- Compare the Best Point of Sales (POS) Systems
- Compare the Best iPad POS Systems
- Compare the Best Retail POS Systems
- Compare the Best Payment Gateways
The Top Mobile POS System in Summary
After spending hours combing through reviews and analyzing mobile POS tools, Square emerged as our top recommendation for a mobile POS system. You can use Square for just about any industry, and it’s reliable and secure to boot. But the other top mobile POS systems on our list are excellent choices, too.