Cash Drawers: Their working & Commonly Available Types

There is a large percentage of the population that closely watches cash drawers, automatic and manual, every day but never thinks about how it functions. Those who even find worth thinking about this product, never try hard to find out the concept behind its functioning. They don’t bother because they don’t care. But who does actually care about it? One who has created it and is working hard to find out if it is serving the function of the users, i.e. cash drawer manufacturers.

Printer driven cash drawer manufacturers are always keen to know if their product is proving useful to its users and whether it is serving the purpose effectively or not. No matter what kind of business you own or planning to start, you might be motivated to roll your own POS terminal. It is essential because a cash drawer lets you store cash, coins, stamps, checks, and other valuable items, providing key security and organization for your point of sale, POS, system. In a classic point of sale system setup, the receipt printer sends a signal to the cash drawer, causing it to open only when required.


There are different types of cash drawers commonly used as a POS terminal, but some of the commonly used cash drawers are:

Manual Cash Drawer: It is the traditional box with a key and can be operated manually. It is ideal for those who have a low budget. Though they are safe, but it cannot guarantee 100% security as key locks the drawer and mechanical push-button opens the drawer when needs to be unlocked. If you misplace the key or if someone finds it, then you could be in big trouble.

Printer Driven Cash Drawer: This is an automatic cash drawer and one of the most popular types. Simply, plug it into your receipt printer and wait for the printer to command it to open. The printer waits for your Point of Sale (POS) application to tell the printer to print a receipt and then open the drawer to take cash payments. The cables for connecting printer with POS are provided by the drawer manufacturers. These wires are generally specific to the printer that they are attached to.

USB Cash Drawer: It is the most modern type of cash drawer in which you have an additional USB port on your POS terminal. Make sure that your POS application vendor supports USB driven drawer.  Additionally, USB drawers may also require supplementary electronics to communicate with POS applications, so there will be a non-negligible increase in cost.


Deciding the type of cash drawer you should buy depends completely on your requirement as well as budget. But still, there are several other deciding factors that you can take into consideration while deciding which cash drawer model will work best for your point of sale needs. Let’s discuss those factors in detail:

Construction: Depending upon the construction, you may find different types of cash drawers like heavy-duty or medium-duty, depending on the thickness of the material used to construct the drawer. Heavy-duty cash drawers can withstand dings, dents, and tampering, but they are a little costly. On the other hand, medium-duty cash drawers offer the same functionality provided by heavier cash drawers, but at a lower price.

Locking Functionality: Most of the cash drawers comprise of locking mechanisms categorized by their position competences. Normally, the more existing positions of a lock, the more expensive the cash drawer will be. Different types of available locks are Electronic Lock, Electronic Unlock, Manual Control, and Opened Lock.

Media Slots: Media slots are the small openings present on the front of the cash drawer. These allow you to deposit checks, coupons, or credit card slips into the space below the cash tray. You don’t have to open the drawer every time when your customer makes payments through cards. The number of media slots can vary from one to three.

Interface Design: You need to decide the type of interface design you want your cash drawer to operate with. This means you have to decide how you want your cash drawer opening to be triggered. Generally, there are 3 connectivity options available for cash drawers. These include:

  •         Printer driven cash drawers: These are the most popular and recommended cash drawer type. The drawer is directly plugged into the receipt printer through hard-wire cable. The printer signals the cash drawer to open when required.
  •         Serial driven cash drawers: The drawer is plugged into the serial port present on the back of the POS of the sale computer. A serial cable connects the cash drawer to the computer.
  •         Manual Cash Drawers: These are manually driven cash drawer and are not connected to the point of sale system. These need to be opened manually by the cashier.

Cash Tray: The cash tray is a plastic tray, commonly referred to as the “till”. It fits into the cash drawer. The tray is used to keep the currency sorted, including bills and coins. Cash trays in different cash drawers are quite similar, but still, there is some variation in the number of dividers, the weight of the plastic, and the tray’s condition in the drawer.