New - Harbortouch Reduces Agreement to (1) Year

Effective July 1, 2020, Harbortouch has reduced their initial terms for Merchant Agreements and POS Services agreements from three (3) years to one (1) year.  The renewal term has also been reduced to only one (1) year.  This applies to all new and existing merchants.  They are also eliminating Early Termination Fees (ETFs) for all agreements, which is a welcomed benefit to merchants.

In this review, I’ll take a look at the popular POS systems from Harbortouch. If you’re currently using an outdated POS system in your business, upgrading to a more advanced platform can save you time and money. It can also help your staff better manage orders, purchases, and a range of other customer interactions. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent options to choose from — several new players have entered the industry in recent years. Even though there are many options to choose from, it hard to decide which POS system is best for your business.

In this Harbortouch POS review, we’ll provide an overview of their product offerings, discuss pros and cons, and provide information on pricing and costs — so let’s dive in to see if its features justify its reputation!


  • Free state-of-the-art hardware comes with all packages
  • No down payments or upfront costs except for shipping
  • Free menu programming and installation on Elite
  • Affordable price points for all business sizes
  • Two different options: tablet and desktop hardware
  • Excellent for a broad range of small businesses
  • Lifetime equipment warranty
  • A reduced contract from 3 years, to 1 year
  • No early termination fees
  • 30-day risk-free trial


  • Can only use Shift4 Payments for merchant services
  • Some customer service complaints
  • Reports of potential hidden fees
  • Can take up to 4 weeks for the installation of Elite systems

Overview of Harbortouch

Harbortouch is a brand of POS systems that are owned and operated by Shift4 Payments.  Shift4 Payments is a payment processing company that also owns and operates other brands of industry-leading point-of-sale systems including Restaurant Manager, POSitouch, and Future POS.

With the Harbortouch POS brand, its focus is on providing merchants with affordable point-of-sale hardware and software with credit card processing solutions.  The most significant advantage and why we like Harbortouch so much is instead of spending a considerable amount of money upfront on a computer system, Harbortouch provides you with a free POS platform that includes hardware and software.  You pay a monthly service and support fee to utilize the services.  Reducing the upfront costs helps business owners reduce the initial capital they need to invest in a new POS system.  Yes there is a 1-year agreement and Shift4 requires you to use their merchant services, but I’ll explain in more detail below why it’s not a deal-breaker.

Harbortouch offers two different POS hardware choices; an Android tablet (Harbortouch Echo) and a larger and more robust Android desktop (Harbortouch Elite). Each option is built for a different business owner in mind — you can choose the POS system that best suits your business environment. Harbortouch has carved a large spot for itself in the bar and restaurant niche (Harbortouch is the featured point of sale on Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer), though it does also serve a range of other industries including nightclubs, retail stores, liquor stores, pizza shops, small businesses, salons, and spas as a few examples.

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Let’s explore the Harbortouch POS features in more detail with our review below.


So, what should you expect to pay if you want Harbortouch point of sale for your business?

Let’s take a look at the pricing breakdown that Harbortouch advertises:

Harbortouch Echo

  • Price – $29/month
  • Hardware fee – $0
  • Contract commitment – 1 year
  • Trial period – 30 days
  • Yearly support fee – $0

Harbortouch Elite

  • Price – $39/month
  • Hardware fee – $0
  • Contract commitment – 1 year
  • Trial period – 30 days
  • Monthly support fee – $0

As you can see, the pricing structure at Harbortouch is very reasonable – this is especially true when you consider that you’re receiving a high-end hardware system, software, equipment warranty, and software updates for the life of your contract.

If you take a look at Harbortouch’s terms and conditions, in 2020 Harbortouch Echo users are no longer required to pay the annual $79 support fee. Harbortouch Elite users are no longer required to pay the $20 monthly software support fee.  For everything you receive at this price point, it’s a very competitive offer in the sea of POS companies, and there are hundreds of options as you can see in our point of sale directory.

To take advantage of the free hardware offer, you need to commit to an agreement of one (1) year. In 2014, Harbortouch reduced its commitment from five (5) years to three (3) years, and in 2020, they further reduced it to only one (1) year. During this time, you’ll also be tied up in a merchant transaction agreement with Shift4, but there is no longer a termination fee associated with the contract if you decide opt-out of using Harbortouch during this period.

What happens after the 1 year is over with your hardware contract?  You technically own the hardware, however, to continue receiving service and support, you do still have to continue paying the monthly service and support fee.  The contract will auto-renew unless you decide to cancel before the renewal date.

For this reason, you need to be confident that you are happy with Harbortouch’s services before you make any commitments. Fortunately, they offer a 30 day trial on their POS systems, but the trial period DOES NOT include the merchant services agreement.  So if you decide for some reason you don’t like the POS, you’ll still be locked into a merchant agreement.  The good news is the company does also offers free online demos to ask questions for those interested in signing up.

Watch How Harbortouch Works

Key Features

While Harbortouch’s pricing and fee structure are pretty straight-forward, it also offers plenty of features for its users. Here, I’ll dissect the various benefits you’ll have access to if you choose to use this POS system. This section will take a separate look at the features included in Harbortouch Echo and Harbortouch Elite.

Harbortouch Echo

Harbortouch Echo POS

Harbortouch Echo POS

  • Includes a 13.3″ portable tablet display with touchscreen interaction. Other included hardware consists of a keyboard, integrated display, cash drawer, printer, and five employee cards.
  • Customizable, easy-to-use software with features for both restaurant and retail businesses. Module-based software allows you to hide or show only the features you want to use.
  • Basic POS features best for small to medium-sized businesses.
  • It is attached to Lighthouse, a cloud-based reporting system that allows seamless reporting and POS control. You won’t have to risk losing critical data.
  • Accepts all major credit cards, as well as contactless and EMV payment solutions.
  • Harbortouch Echo software allows you to easily customize the interface to include (and eliminate) various components of the POS platform.  So it can be used as a POS system vs cash register.
  • Easy step-by-step setup wizard for DIY.
  • Comprehensive training and 24/7 support. Optional installation is available at additional cost.
  • Free hardware replacement if the equipment breaks or malfunctions.
  • 30-day risk-free trial

Harbortouch Elite

Harbortouch Elite POS

Harbortouch Elite POS

  • A robust, 15″-inch hardware display with touch-screen capabilities. Other hardware includes a barcode scanner for retail, integrated customer display, keyboard, cash drawer, mouse, receipt printer, and ten server cards for the hospitality industry.
  • Full-featured software packages specifically designed for Bars & Restaurants, Retail Stores, QSR & Delivery, and Salons & Spas.
  • Advanced functionality to support businesses of all types and sizes.
  • The system automatically connects to Lighthouse, which reports POS information and data to a cloud. This can help you analyze your business trends and avoid data loss or destruction.
  • Accepts all major credit cards, as well as contactless and EMV payment solutions.
  • Online ordering, online reservations, and tableside ordering are also available exclusively with the Harbortouch Elite.
  • Includes menu programming, onsite installation, and comprehensive training.
  • Free hardware replacement if the equipment breaks or malfunctions.
  • 30-day risk-free trial

Cloud-Based or Locally Installed?

Harbortouch is considered a hybrid POS system which offers both cloud-based solutions and full hardware installation. While the POS system is installed locally, the software reports POS data to a cloud server to prevent data loss, provides more stability, and it allows you to use the POS if the internet goes down. While this isn’t as much of a ‘cloud’ POS as some other competitors, it falls somewhere in the middle.

With Harbortouch you won’t be able to accept credit card payments if your internet goes down, so it’s recommended to have a backup dialup credit card terminal or failover internet connection to keep everything running smoothly.  Accepting credit cards offline isn’t typical for most POS systems – this is to prevent credit card data from being stored for PCI compliance and security.  For those looking for a full cloud-based POS provider, Harbortouch is not your best option.

Industries Served & Business Size

Harbortouch caters to a wide range of different industries. The two platforms available mean that this POS system can be suitable for businesses with entirely different requirements.

The Harbortouch Echo is best suited to smaller businesses that want to modernize with an inexpensive touchscreen device. While it is well suited to a small bar or restaurant, it’s also suitable for basic retail shops, food trucks, coffee shops, ice cream shops, yogurt stores, cafes, counter service restaurants, and a range of other small-scale operations that require a basic POS system. If you’re currently operating a cash-only business or cash register, Harbortouch Echo is an excellent way to modernize your payment and reporting capabilities.

The Harbortouch Elite POS is built for the business owner that needs much more capability. Whether you run a bar, nightclub, high-end restaurant, large retail store, delivery service, salon, spa, or retreat, you can trust the Harbortouch Elite to have the processing power and software features you need to process your payments and manage your customers. And while it’s not as advanced as some of the other leading POS platforms, it can still handle large order volume with ease.

Ease of Use

The primary benefit of the Harbortouch software is the ease of use. If you’re running a busy store or restaurant, you need to be able to handle a high order volume and switch between tabs and orders. Harbortouch offers a clean interface that allows managers and staff to navigate the various components of the software easily.

One of my favorite parts about Harbortouch is its software. It’s easy to learn — you won’t spend ages looking for products or searching for services. Despite Harbortouch’s shortcomings, its user interface can compete with many of the top performers in the industry.

Harbortouch POS Menu Layout

Harbortouch Elite Example

Hardware Requirements

As mentioned in previous sections of this review, Harbortouch provides free hardware to its clients – this is one of the primary features that separates Harbortouch from other industry competitors. In many cases, you may have to invest thousands of dollars in hardware to operate an effective POS system — Harbortouch takes care of the problem for you and sends you everything you need.  The free POS program is one of the best options available to people who don’t have the upfront capital available to invest in a new POS system and why we like it as a solution even with the three-year contract.

Some optional add-on hardware like remote printers, barcode scanners, KDS systems, and digital scales come at an additional monthly cost, so keep that in mind if you decide to go this route.

Read more: What are the key components of a POS system?

Integrations & Add-ons

Harbortouch has certified third-party solutions to complement the POS systems.  Harbortouch integrates with Fivestars, cloud-based rewards, and marketing platforms.  They also work with Sarbari and Orca to help with inventory management and control.

The Harbortouch system also integrates with a cloud platform named Lighthouse. Lighthouse is a powerhouse and provides a complete management system for customers, including extensive reporting capabilities, employee scheduling, remote POS management, and customer engagement tools, 24/7.  Staying on top of your business’s data is critical, and Lighthouse provides an easy way to ensure you always have your finger on your company’s pulse.  It’s one of the best features included in Harbortouch.

Lighthouse Cloud Reporting

According to a press release from Shift4, the new version of Lighthouse was developed in part with Jon Taffer, from the hit TV show Bar Rescue.  The press release states that these “SmartPOS” tools incorporate Jon Taffer’s proven revenue-generating tactics for business owners.

Lighthouse’s SmartPOS features include management tools for social media, customer engagement, loyalty, and online reputation.  Merchants can link their social media profiles to schedule posts, track the performance of their content, and manage all their social media accounts in one place.

Customer engagement tools enable businesses to set up welcome emails, promotional offers, and more using built-in tools to improve customer loyalty. Stores can also view ratings and reviews from multiple online review platforms and quickly respond to customers to improve their online reputation.  There will also be a 3rd party marketplace where you can pick and choose apps you want to use for your business.

Compatible Credit Card Companies

Harbortouch utilizes Shift4 Payments only but accepts all major credit and debit cards (including PIN debit), NFC, EMV, Apple PayTM, and Android PayTM.

The credit card processing rates will generally vary depending on your business type, creditworthiness, and the ISO (Independent Sales Office) that you choose.  Harbortouch utilizes a large force of POS resellers and independent sales agents across the country, and they are free to set their own prices, so prices on merchant services will vary depending on the individual quote you receive.

Like with any other agreement, we advise you to review the contracts in full before signing and make sure you fully understand all pricing and terms.  Don’t just rely on what a salesperson tells you!

Customer Service and Support

Customer support is critical if you’re choosing a new POS platform. Payments are a business’s lifeblood — if you can’t process transactions, you can’t function.

From the onset, Harbortouch provides a pretty unique customer service experience. A member of the Harbortouch team will come to your business to install your hardware and get your POS up and running. When the installation specialist comes to your business, they’ll train you on how the POS system works and answer your questions about the software.

And the support doesn’t stop there. Harbortouch also provides 24/7 customer support for its clients. You can speak with a customer care representative via phone, email, or live chat – this is an excellent feature if you run a business with late opening hours. You won’t ever be left without technical support if something goes wrong with your POS system.

And while Harbortouch does have a large customer support team, there are still a lot of complaints online about its services. Much of this seems to be the result of individual agents attempting to push Harbortouch products without clarifying the full terms and conditions. But as long as you understand the fees outlined in the contract, most of these complaints aren’t particularly relevant.  That’s why it’s so important to review your agreement before signing and to make sure you choose a reliable POS provider for your small business.

Our Verdict

Overall, Harbortouch is a great POS system if you’re worried about price and simplicity, but you won’t get it quickly.  It can take Harbortouch up to four weeks to program and schedule your system for installation.  For the record, that’s about par for the course with other quality systems we’ve worked with and reviewed.  Harbortouch is not a buy it off the self and install it yourself platform.  It has to go through a process to be deployed, and you’ll have to be available to answer questions along the way, or it will take longer.  That being said, if you need a small business POS fast, Echo, you can get in under two weeks if you don’t mind a little DIY (do it yourself).

While Harbortouch software might not be as advanced as some of the competitors on the market, Shift4 is making considerable strides in features with the Lighthouse system and the smart POS partnership with Jon Taffer.  Harbortouch’s cloud reporting system (Lighthouse) is an excellent resource for those who want to take advantage of real-time reporting and who want to utilize advanced business management solutions.

Harbortouch is also an excellent platform if you’re opening a new restaurant or retail business and don’t have the money to invest in a high-end POS system. You’ll gain your choice of reliable hardware and POS software at an affordable price point (without any upfront cash). You’ll also have access to a 24/7 customer service team that can help with any issues you have operating the platform.  Even if you’re an existing business looking to upgrade or replace an old system, there’s no reason it can’t work perfectly for a business owner that needs an intuitive and affordable POS solution.

With only a one year commitment and no termination fees, it’s hard not to recommend Harbortouch; it’s become a no-brainer at this point.  We try to keep our reviews as accurate as possible, but terms can always change. Either way, as long as you’re looking for a long-term partner, we think Harbortouch is a solid option!

Editor’s note:  How’d we do on our review of Harbortouch POS systems?  Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns?  Your feedback is important to us.  Please let us know in the comments below or contact us.