PDQ machine
A PDQ (Process Data Quickly) machine or card reading machine – used to process payments from debit cards and credit cards

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Chip and Pin or Process Data Quickly (PDQ) machines are now widely used by businesses, large and small.

These handy counter-top or handheld terminals have ultimately made life easier for the customer and have helped increase sales and turnover for many businesses.

However, when you plan on leasing or buying a PDQ machine for your small business, there are certain fees and costs that you should be aware of.


In this 2017 guide to PDQ machine costs, we’ll look at:

  1. Types of Terminal
    1. Countertop PDQ Machine
    2. Portable PDQ Machine
    3. Mobile PDQ Machine
  2. PDQ Machine Fees
    1. Initial Costs
    2. Transaction Fees
    3. Monthly Fees
  3. Leasing vs Buying
    1. Leasing: Pros & Cons
    2. Buying: Pros & Cons
  4. Next Steps: PDQ Machines for Small Businesses

Types of PDQ Machine

There are three types of PDQ terminal, with each offering specific benefits to different UK businesses.

Countertop Card Machines

countertop pdq card machine

A countertop card terminal is the most widely used PDQ machine. Able to handle credit and debit cards, countertop terminals sit next to the till or sales desk and are connected to the internet via a broadband or phone connection. It is mainly used in businesses with a single fixed sales point.

Suggested model: The Ingenico iCT220 offers sale, refund and cashback facilities. It connects via broadband or telephone line and supports card not present transactions for online payments. The terminal includes an 18 lines per second integrated thermal printer and back-lit display and keypad.

Portable / WiFi Card Machines

portable pdq card machine
Using wireless or Bluetooth technology, this PDQ machine links to a central hub or dock with a range of approximately 100 metres. These are widely used in hospitality and larger retail environments.

Suggested Model: The Ingenico iWL222 is the smallest and lightest portable model available. The terminal has an extensive battery life and its high speed printer prints at 30 lines per second. A ‘tip’ function is available for restaurants with up to 99 individual server numbers. The device uses Bluetooth or GPRS via SIM.

GPRS / Mobile Card Machines

mobile pdq machine process cards

Ideal for businesses on the move such as events companies or pop-ups, Mobile PDQ machines can be used anywhere with a mobile network signal via a service provider or with a roaming SIM card.

Suggested model: The Verifone Vx670 is compact and user friendly. It can be used via Bluetooth or its GPRS model with fast transaction processing. Features include ‘tip’ function and table number for restaurants.

PDQ Machine Costs & Fees

To accept card payments, your business needs two things: a merchant account and a PDQ machine. The merchant account acts as a holding pen for cash during card transactions, while the PDQ machine is necessary in order to physically accept and process a debit or credit card.

PDQ machines have a number of associated costs that you should be aware of when considering whether to buy or lease one for your business.

These card processing terminal fees vary by provider, but are a standard set of costs that you will encounter in almost any business or industry.

The PDQ machine costs you’ll most likely encounter are:

  • Initial costs
  • Transaction fees
  • Monthly fees

Initial Costs

The main cost you’ll need to consider is the upfront outlay you’re willing to spend on a PDQ machine. You will also need to consider how many terminals you might need. If you require more than one PDQ machine, then talk to your provider as they will more than likely be able to offer you a discount on multiple machines.

You’ll also need to think about whether you want to lease a PDQ machine or buy one outright. If you plan on leasing one, then you can expect to pay between £20-£30 per month for the length of your contract.

Buying a PDQ machine outright will cost around £200-£800 depending on the features and, although a one year warranty will be provided, you may have to pay more for a maintenance package if required.

You may even consider a cheaper PDQ machine, as on-the-go terminals that plug into a smartphone or tablet can be bought for as little as £50 – £100.

Transaction Fees

While PDQ machines don’t charge you transaction fees themselves, you will need to pay these fees in accordance with your merchant account contract.

These fees are determined by how risky your business is deemed by the merchant account provider and the number of transactions you will be processing.

The type of merchant account you get – as well as the type of card being processed – will affect the fees you need to pay.

Generally credit cards will incur a fee between 2%-5% of the total transaction, while a debit card transaction will cost around 5p-30p.

You can read more about transaction fees in our guide to the cheapest UK merchant accounts.

Monthly Fees

Monthly fees are more applicable to businesses who opt to lease a PDQ machine. The monthly rental fee should sit around £20-£30 for the length of your contract.

If you need to lease more than one machine then you’ll be required to pay more per month, although this could be potentially be discounted if you talk to your provider.

Similarly, merchant accounts don’t incur too many set monthly fees outside of a minimum usage agreement. This is a threshold put in place by the merchant acquiring bank to ensure a set fee is paid per month.

If you fall short of this minimum fee, you’ll have to pay an excess to make it up. However, the minimum usage fee can be as low as £20 – so not a huge inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.

If you are looking to lease a PDQ terminal on a short term basis, e.g. for a one-off event, then you may have to consider daily fees rather than monthly fees. These prices can be steep with machines available for between £75-£150 per day. You’ll also have to pay a deposit.

Remember: Always consider the future of your business when signing a contract to lease a PDQ machine. Will the terms that seem favourable now, be favourable 12-18 months down the line? Will it even be the right card processing machine for your business further down the line?

To find out more, check out our in depth article comparing types of PDQ machines.


PDQ Hire: Leasing vs Buying

The decision to lease or buy a PDQ machine outright will come down to your businesses needs now and in the future. You’ll also need to bear in mind contract length and what you want to get out of a PDQ machine.

Leasing: Pros and Cons

Leasing is the best option for businesses who lack the upfront capital to purchase a PDQ machine outright. This amount can stack up if you are looking to secure multiple terminals.

The business benefits of renting a PDQ machine include ongoing support and servicing if the machine develops a fault, both of which will be included as part of your monthly fee.

You’ll also be able to upgrade your machine much easier if new technology emerges or you want to upgrade your existing PDQ machine.

The downsides of leasing stem from the fact that you’ll be tied down to a potentially long-term contract, which can over time end up you costing you more than buying a PDQ terminal outright.

Likewise, if your provider or contract isn’t particularly flexible, then then if an issue arises it may be hard to get out of the contract or negotiate new terms.

Buying: Pros and Cons

Buying a PDQ machine outright is a great choice for businesses who can afford to do so as it will eliminate the ongoing monthly fee you would otherwise incur by leasing.

However, while a one-off payment may prove cheaper than leasing in the short-term, eventually you’ll have to factor in repair, support and upgrade costs if a fault develops or you want to update your PDQ machine.

As you might expect, this can push up your outgoings significantly.

Making the investment and purchasing a PDQ machine outright can also prevent you from keeping up to date with the latest card-reading technology.

So before buying, carefully consider how often will you want to fork out for a device that costs anywhere between £200 – £800?

Next Steps: PDQ Machines for Small Businesses

We can help your small business to secure the best PDQ machine deals and Merchant Account offers from the UK’s leading suppliers.

Just enter your details into the form on top of this guide and one of our team will contact you to discuss your requirements.

Once we know exactly what you need to boost your business, we’ll find the best deals for your situation and match you to the suppliers.

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