3 Best Square Alternatives (2022 Guide)

Are you on the hunt for an all-in-one restaurant management and marketing software? 


One of the first options you’ll encounter is Square.


Square is one of the most popular point of sale (POS) systems used in restaurants, but it’s definitely not the only (or even the best) option available to you. There are many alternatives to Square POS that you can use in your restaurant to streamline your processes and increase your restaurant revenue. In this guide, we’ll look at Square and its top alternatives to help you decide which option makes the most sense for your restaurant.


Let’s get started.


What is Square?

Square is an all-in-one point of sale system that can service a variety of restaurants, including quick service, full service, fast casual, bars and breweries. It’s also capable of supporting your needs if you run a ghost kitchen. 


Perhaps Square’s biggest selling point is its freemium pricing model. For your basic needs, Square offers free service. Free basics include the ability to accept online orders and to accept in-person payments through an unlimited amount of POS devices. If you have more than one restaurant, or if you need more than one POS at your restaurant, you won’t be charged extra. 


This free service will appeal to many restaurants, especially those that are new on the scene. Since you don’t need to invest a lot of money upfront and you won’t need to pay for access to basic services, you can reduce your operational costs dramatically.


Basic users can open checks, manage orders, apply discounts, manage menus and tables, and auto 86 items.


Free users can also receive limited customer service, between the hours of Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 6 PM PT. 


If your restaurant requires more features, you can upgrade to the Plus plan for $60 per month. This plan includes everything you’ll find in the free plan but adds additional features, such as the choice to reopen closed costs, the option to customize your floor plan, seat management, and the ability to pace courses so that you can tailor your customer experience.


Plus users enjoy 24/7 support so that you always have help if needed.


The Plus plan also includes Square KDS which is a kitchen display system that can be run on your iPad and allow you to see, fulfill, and track orders digitally in the back of the house.


You can also get access to the Square KDS when using the Free plan, but you will be charged $20 per month for each KDS device. With the Premium plan, you get unlimited KDS included.


A major benefit of upgrading to the Square Plus plan is that you have increased reporting access. All Square plans include basic reports, but the Plus and Premium plans allow you to create reports for shifts, close of day, live sales, sales trends, and discounts. You can use these reports to make informed management decisions in the moment, which can increase revenue and eliminate redundancy. 


For power users, Square offers the customizable Premium plan. This plan gives you access to everything included in Basic and Plus but with the additional (optional) add-ons of Square Payroll, Square Loyalty, and Square Marketing.


Square is pretty transparent when it comes to fees. The company promises no hidden fees. You can expect to pay a processing rate of 2.6% + 10¢ for every in-person payment, regardless of the plan you choose (Basic or Plus or Premium).


What are the Pros of Using Square?

In addition to its affordable pricing, Square offers attractive features that can help new restaurants get up and running. 


Here are a few ways that Square excels:

  1. Price – For the basic plan, Square’s monthly price of $0 cannot be beaten. This is the number one reason to choose Square over other alternatives. Square also offers transparent pricing. There are no monthly fees and you don’t enter into a contract. Instead, you pay a flat fee of 2.6% + 10¢ per in-person transaction. For online payments, that fee jumps to 2.9% + 30¢ for cards. If you manually enter a customer’s card information, the fee is 3.5% + 15¢.
  2. User Friendly – Square is perfect for smaller and newer restaurants. Owners and managers will find it easy to sign up and start collecting payments through the Square interface. It’s also easy to add menus and customize your floor plan (if using the Premium plan).
  3. No Back Office Hardware Required – Some POS, specifically legacy systems, require restaurants to purchase proprietary hardware systems. However, Square can run on your Internet-connected smartphone or tablet. Not only is a cloud-based POS more affordable to start up and run, but this type of system is easier to use. No one needs to come in and train you and your staff on how to use the Square software. And you don’t need to reserve an entire closet in your back office for storing all of your hardware components. Everything you need to manage your restaurant can be accessed from an app.

What are the Cons of Using Square?

While it’s hard to argue with free, remember that a low price doesn’t always mean top quality. If you are looking for a more robust solution to fully manage your restaurant, Square may be too basic for your needs. 


Here are a few reasons why you may want to keep shopping:

  1. No Online Ordering – These days, every restaurant should have the ability to take online orders from their customers. Not only do your customers expect immediate access to your menu online, but they also want the option to order online for delivery or pickup. If you use Square, one workaround is to offer online ordering through a third-party provider, like Uber Eats, but that’s not ideal for many reasons. First, you can’t control your customer’s experience when they’re using a third-party website. Second, your competitors may have higher visibility on the third-party site and may also lure away customers who had originally attended to order from you. This is why it’s necessary to offer online ordering through your own platform.
  2. No Built-In Kitchen Display in Basic Plan – While Square does offer a kitchen display system in its Premium plan, Basic users must pay extra for this feature. Not having a KDS built into your POS system can severely limit your back-of-house order efficiency. For most restaurants, KDS is not optional because it allows you to automatically send orders to your kitchen staff as well as track orders in real-time. This feature alone will require most restaurants to upgrade to the Premium plan, but by doing so, you’ll lose the affordability that makes Square such a hot contender.

Top Square Restaurant POS Alternatives

As noted above, there are a lot of things to like about Square, but there are also many major reasons why Square may not be the best choice for your restaurant. Here are X alternative point of sale systems to consider:


1. Truffle POS (Recommended)

Feature for feature, Truffle POS is the best Square alternative you’ll find on this list. Like Square, Truffle POS is affordable, user-friendly, and cloud-based. But Truffle POS also includes features that blow Square and other competitors out of the water. These features include online ordering, delivery management, and contactless food locker pickup.


Because Truffle POS is a cloud-based point of sale system, it can run on any Internet-connected hardware device, including Android, iOS, and Windows. You can use this system on a tablet or smartphone device, which increases its flexibility and eliminates the need to purchase experience hardware just to get started with your point of sale system.


Truffle POS doesn’t just allow you to take and process payments from your customers. You can also use this system to manage all aspects of your restaurant — from inventory to staffing to marketing. Truffle POS is the only restaurant management tool you’ll need. That makes this option convenient because you won’t need to switch from one app to another to manage your restaurant. You can do everything from one tool.


Truffle POS offers affordable and transparent pricing. We have three plans to meet your needs: 


Our Basic plan is $39.99 per month (when billed annually). The plan is perfect for smaller food businesses that don’t require a ton of features, only the core functionality of a POS system. This plan includes some of the most in-demand POS features, like sales dashboards, till management, and the ability to split checks and issue gift cards. 


Our Pro plan is $69.99 per month (billed annually) and includes every feature found in the basic plan plus employee and delivery management and tableside ordering.


If you’re looking for even more features, you can upgrade to our Enterprise plan. This is the perfect feature package for larger restaurants and chains that need multi-store management and consolidated reporting. 


Click here for a short video of how our cloud-based restaurant management system works.


2. TouchBistro

TouchBistro is a Toronto-based, all-in-one restaurant management system developed for use with Apple products. TouchBistro enables restaurants to manage menus, tables, and floor plans. It also gives owners and managers access to reports and analytics.


Price: Starts at $69 per month with features such as online ordering, reservations, and kitchen displays available at an additional cost.


3. Aloha POS

Aloha POS is a legacy point of sale provider. Because it was established over 100 years ago, it’s one of the most popular and trusted brands. However, Aloha POS requires its customers to purchase specialized hardware to run its point of sale system. It’s also not as modern as other options on this list but it tends to be much more expensive, in part because you must purchase hardware and pay a per-terminal license fee. 


Price: Aloha POS doesn’t publish its prices.


Final Thoughts

Square is a great option for restaurant owners and managers that are looking for an entry-level point of sale system. However, if you’re looking for a solution that can enable you to manage your entire restaurant, including your delivery service, you need a more robust POS.


Schedule a demo with Truffle POS to see how we’ve helped restaurants just like yours grow their customer bases and increase their online revenue by as much as 20% month-over-month (MoM).


Book your free demo now.