Everyone enjoys a good bargain, but business owners know there is usually a catch involved. If you are looking into upgrading your point of sale system, you have probably come across multiple offers, especially over the internet, for “free” POS systems. Before you sign the contract, take some time to fully understand what associated costs come with that “free” POS and understand your obligations with the agreement.

Business owners are constantly juggling tasks, leaving little time, energy, or money for much else. Getting roped into an agreement for a “free” POS that comes with fees and charges could hurt a business financially. It is crucial for an owner to read the fine print and get acquainted with what costs are put forth by the payment processing agreement.

Here are four costs to look out for with “free” POS agreements:

1. System Components that Are Not Free:

Make sure you look at what exactly you are getting for free. You could be asked to buy hardware and then get the cloud-based app software for free. Of you could be asked to sign an agreement where you pay for the software, payment processing, support, and service but you get the POS hardware for free. Look at what it includes and make sure you are getting everything you need for your budget. If you are not careful, you may have to purchase additional software with the functionality that your business requires after the fact. Educating yourself on the whole costs that are associated with the various offers will help you in the end to have a clear picture of what your contract will include.

2. Cancellation Fees:

Cancellation fees are another cost that is absolutely necessary to look into when you’re researching a “free” POS option. Say for instance your business needs to grow, you want to add a new location, or your business is closing and the “free” POS does not meet your needs any longer, you may have to cancel it. It is important to know whether there are penalties associated with canceling.

3. Processing Limits and Account Holds:

A good thing to look for in a company that is offering a “free” POS is if they verify credit histories prior to the account approval. If they do not, find out how they handle fraud. A company may have processing limits, put holds on funds after certain amounts for a period of time, or deny a transaction once you have reached your processing limit.

4. Service and System Downtime:

Good technical repair and service is hard to find, especially at any given moment when anything can go wrong. If a POS system needs servicing or goes down, know what service is included and if it will cost extra. When purchasing hardware and dealing with a company that provides an app through the internet, support and service could be two totally different things than what perhaps a local POS reseller may provide. Since service and support are so important, especially to a busy business owner, it is important to know exactly how much of that is included and what else will go out of pocket. If the support and service is limited, it is worth calculating what any period of downtime would cost and how long your business could go with all systems down.

Never let price dictate the POS system that you choose for your business. Don’t let claims of “free” POS lure you into costing your business more time, money, and energy than spending a little more upfront for an overall better deal. Although creating efficiency and processing payments are the big takeaways with POS systems, having the right support and service can ultimately save you money and headache. Finding a system that provides inventory control, scheduling, and loss prevention may be worth the extra bucks than limiting yourself to a “free” POS just to save money.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to look into working with an experienced POS reseller to find the best system for your individual business needs and within your budget. Affordable options are out there, especially ones that deliver on functionality to effectively manage your business. The real bargain is getting everything you need for your price range.