Toast POS vs. Cash Registers [Comparison]

A guide for choosing between a cash register or POS system.
Here’s why you should consider switching to Toast's POS system.

cash register vs pos

Compare POS Systems   Toast vs. Legacy POS   Toast vs. iPad POS

If you’re here, you’re probably wondering whether it’s worth it to invest in a restaurant POS system.

Especially when a cash register is basically free.

Below, you’ll find information to help you compare Toast POS and cash registers, including features, pricing, customer support and endorsements from current Toast customers who have made the switch.

BONUS: Download our Interactive POS Comparison Tool to research and compare point of sale systems for your restaurant.

1) POS systems improve productivity.

We'll admit that there's a simplicty to traditional cash registers.

That’s why we kept the Toast workflow as simple as possible, but with added functionality that makes you and your team more productive.

pos screen

Toast lets you take orders, send them directly to the kitchen display system, and get notifications when food is ready. It gives you metrics on labor productivity, menu item popularity, restaurant sales, and more.

And as a restaurant manager, you can add menu items, change the layout of the menu buttons, start an 86 countdown, or mark an item as out of stock in seconds, without interrupting your ability to serve guests.

As you can imagine, this means that point of sale systems are faster than old-fashioned cash registers. Every part of the process, from authorizing a credit card transaction to printing (or texting, or emailing) a receipt, is quicker.

It also helps eliminate errors.

With an intuitive POS system, it’s less likely your staff will commit addition or pricing errors. Rather than using a calculator to add up a check, the POS system will automatically determine the amount owed.

There are checks in place with a POS system —  whether through a blind closeout or shift review —  to ensure that your restaurant staff is as productive as they can be.

One of my favorite things about Toast is using the expo screen. Many of our cooks don’t have experience working on the line, but they have plenty of experience working with a mobile app or a device like a tablet. That is a very easy way to get people up to speed on the kinds of systems we have."
- Irene Li, Mei Mei

Read the full review >

2) POS systems, like Toast, are built for restaurant success.

Cash registers and pen and paper systems are still used in a variety of scenarios: restaurants, retail, convenience stores, and more.

POS systems like Toast, on the other hand, are built specifically for restaurants.

What does that mean? Well, these POS systems perform all of the necessary functions from the moment a guest is seated to the moment they leave: table management, seat positions, taking and firing orders, adding modifiers, printing checks, and accepting payments.

And with features like quick menu modifications, tableside ordering and payments, real-time sales and labor reporting, and a powerful restaurant customer database  all in the core POS system  POS systems often lead to increased revenue at restaurants that use them.

We built Toast to look and feel like an extension of your restaurant. When a server logs in, they see a simple menu and can pick and choose items quickly and easily:

Toast POS hardware


And if you ever want to enhance Toast beyond the core restaurant POS, you can do that with any of our revenue-driving modules. Here’s a quick peak into each of them:

Online Ordering System & Delivery

Easily implement a new revenue stream built directly into your restaurant POS. Your in-store and online menus sync instantly, and your customer data updates automatically.

Loyalty Programs

With a simple tap at the end of the payments process, guests can enter your loyalty program. They collect rewards every time they pay, and they can check their points online.

Gift Cards

With digital or physical gift cards, guests can enjoy a simple and transparent gift cards program. They can track their gift card amount online, while restaurant managers can track gift card sales in the POS.  

Restaurant CRM

View a detailed profile of every guest over time, including digital receipts, loyalty signups, and feedback ratings, in the restaurant CRM (customer relationship management system).

"Toast is simple to use and has everything we need - actually, it has even more than what we need, so we know our restaurant can grow with Toast."

- Charles Gonzalez, Owner, Rosella Coffee

Read the full review >


3) Restaurant technology is transforming the guest experience.

The touch interface of a touch screen cash register impacts the ordering experience  we’ve seen customers improve throughput by 15% or more  it also impacts the guest experience.

Pay at the table tablets are becoming more popular. Terminals that flips to face the customer are being used more in QSRs.  Guest interacting with technology is becoming more of a part of the restaurant experience. 



Customers can swipe their credit or debit card - or even use Samsung Pay - to pay instantly for their order. However, if a party ever wants to split checks or specific menu items, Toast makes that easy, too.


Rather than tipping on the receipt, your guests can sign and tip on the tablet instead. Just flip the screen to face them, and they can sign with their finger, and then choose a tip of 10%, 15%, or 20% to tip.


Say goodbye to that giant pile of receipts you go through every day. With POS systems like Toast, guests can receive email or text receipts as well. Save paper, save money, and save your accountant a few hours of agony.


Get real-time feedback on the guest experience by asking guests to rate your restaurant out of 5 stars at the end of the payments process. Toast then stores those numbers in the restaurant management system.


Finally, Toast’s restaurant loyalty program is integrated in the POS system. Guests’ rewards are tied to their credit card, and they can start accumulating points immediately when they tap to sign up.


"Toast has really helped us with getting tips. We're able to just swipe the credit card and the first thing our customer sees when we turn around the terminal to face them is a prompt. Our tips have increased by 3X the amount of what we used to get."
- Bella Wattles, Paris Creperie

Read the full review >

4) Toast is built to scale — and save you money.

We get it: cash registers are a one-time fixed cost. A pen and paper system costs nothing at all.

But the value you’ll get from Toast are recurring and far outweighs the cost. And more than 2,000 happy restaurant customers agree. If our productivity and reporting features can save you and your team just four hours per month, Toast will more than pay for itself.

Imagine if you could...

  • Turn tables 15-20% faster at your busiest times
  • Have your staff make 30% more in tips daily
  • Create 10X more loyal regular customers
  • Save 30% of labor hours per month by tracking labor costs
  • Decrease restaurant theft, saving 4% of annual restaurant sales

Our pricing is simple: just $79 per month for our restaurant software.

Click here for your POS Comparison Chart > 

“My advice is this: Identify the functionality you need and the cost you can support, then choose a partner to handle the technology. Toast’s cloud-based solution is just what we needed - it saves us money while providing the functionality and tech support we needed so we can focus on serving our customers.”

- Mike Miller, Beach Hut Deli

Read the full review >

5) Toast is here to help.  pos-support

A large part of our mission here at Toast is transparency and doing right by our customers. Their success is our success.

Restaurant owners often regret choosing restaurant technology based on features alone, rather than on the company’s ability to offer expert support, installation, and training at a transparent rate.

We make contacting support easy  just call the support line or email  and also empower restaurant teams to train on their own time with the Customer Training Center.

That’s all free.

We are also there for installation, services, and on-site support.

We’re here for you with personal support all day every day, via email, phone, and even social media, no matter what you need.

“Before Toast, I'd never had my expectations completely met when it came to the type of support we received. The level of ownership that Toast has taken over our success is something I've never seen from any other restaurant technology company."
- Ben Kaplan, Barbara Lynch Gruppo

Read the full review >

Here are a few more reasons to switch…

We hope this comparison guide was useful to you.

Making the switch is easy; you can get your whole restaurant set up on Toast as soon as possible. 

To sign up for your free, no-risk demo, just click here. 

If you're not ready for a demo, check out what current Toast customers have to say. We work hard to get to know all of them. One of the things we always ask is: why did you sign up for Toast?

Many happy customers have switched from cash registers or pan and paper systems. Here are their thoughts:

"The Toast system is very intuitive to what we need. It was able to reduce the number of inputs that a cashier had to put in, adding up to a quicker dining experience within the restaurant. It was also very fast for training. Because it’s simpler and quicker, our employees were able to pick it up in less time than they were for our previous system."

- Jeff Jacobson, Costa Vida COO


My advice to anyone opening a restaurant and trying to choose a POS is to make sure the people who work at the company you’re using are people you trust and are communicative. That’s one of the best parts of working with Toast. The customer service is awesome, and we’ve always gotten all the help we need generating reports."

- Irene Li, Mei Mei Restaurant


"Before Toast, I'd never had my expectations completely met when it came to the type of support we received. The level of ownership that Toast has taken over our success is something I've never seen from any other restaurant technology company."  

– Ben Kaplan, Director of Operations