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Compare PDQ Machine Costs

There are various considerations that you should take into account when purchasing or renting PDQ machines. You must remain aware of hidden fees or restrictive contracts, while making sure the package or device is right for your business.

What are PDQ Machines?

PDQ machines (Process Data Quickly) go by a variety of names, including chip and pin and credit card machines. They are used to process card payments instantaneously and are mainstays for the retail and hospitality industries in particular.

PDQ Machine Fees

There are numerous costs that need to be considered when purchasing and using a PDQ machine. While such costs vary across the board, they are essentially the same types whatever the industry, size of business or frequency of use. These include:

  • Upfront Costs
  • Usage Costs
  • Monthly Fees
  • Contract Fees
comparing pdqs

Upfront Costs

The first cost you will need to consider is the initial outlay for either purchasing a terminal or renting one. Should you decide to purchase, you will first need to consider how many and which types of devices you require. If you intend to use a variety of PDQ machines, your supplier should be able bring down the costs of each device and offer a cost-saving overall package.

Devices start at around £30 but it does make sense to ensure it is reliable and sturdy if using it regularly. You can acquire such a device for around £200 new, with a one year warranty as standard.


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Usage Fees

To process payments you will need to set up a merchant account. Usage fees are set at the start of the account and are generally worked out by the amount of payments you will need to process and the liability the provider faces while offering you the service.

Fees are calculated by a percentage of the transaction price, typically between 2% and 5%, or a set usage fee, anything between 5p and 40p, depending on the card being used for the transaction.

Monthly Fees

Monthly fees are common when using PDQ machines. Renting a machine/machines will depend largely on the amount of devices you need and how complex the equipment is. Merchant account monthly fees are usually small and some contracts forego the monthly fee altogether. While these may seem tempting, it does pay to read the small print as hidden fees are common among some of the more disreputable providers.

The most typical monthly cost consideration is not so much a fee as a minimum usage limit. This is to ensure the provider can profit from usage fees to make it worth their while. The minimum usage limit is generally set at around £20, however, so only businesses with the smallest amount of transactions need to take this into consideration.

Contract Fees

Set up fees are another thing to consider, with some providers charging as much as £200. Unless the provider is offering a service to install and provide a high level of support to get you started, such fees should be low.

The more pressing concern when signing a contract relates to its length and flexibility. If your business is likely to grow in the coming years it makes little sense committing to a long-term contract that restricts you. Thankfully, many providers recognise that it pays for them to present services that grow with your needs.

Renting vs Purchasing

Although there is no set answer as to which is better, different businesses require explicit things from their PDQ machines and contracts, meaning each specific situation lends itself towards one or the other.

Pros and Cons of Buying

The main advantage to buying a PDQ machine is that it only requires a one off cost, meaning you are avoiding yet another monthly outgoing for your business. Unfortunately this is not always possible, particularly for businesses with a small budget and the need for multiple machines, such as medium to large-sized restaurants.

Other problems with buying the device outright is once the warranty is up, repair costs and maintenance become an expense. You may also be stuck with devices that are out of date as the technology improves at pace.

Pros and Cons of Renting

As previously alluded to, renting is the best option if you do not have the capital to spend on the devices your business requires. With renting comes repair and ongoing support, as well as the ability to upgrade, depending on the provider. This should be weighed up with the possibility of contracts tying you down for longer, which can be problematic with less flexible suppliers.

Another thing to consider is the longer you keep the equipment, the more expensive it will be when compared with the one-off payment of purchasing a device or devices.

Top 3 PDQ Machines

PDQ machines come in various shapes and sizes with a range of abilities. Entry level devices may suit infrequent use, while complex high end devices might be needed for other setups. Each business first needs to work out their requirements before committing to a contract or purchase. Some of the best devices include:

iZettle Contactless 2 Card Payment Device

iZettle Contactless 2 Card Payment Device

Available from around £60, this wireless device can be bought from various electronic stores. Although it is essentially an entry-level device, it can process contactless payments and accepts all major credit cards. It is best suited to outdoor events and infrequent use.

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Hypercom T4200

Hypercom T4200

Extremely sturdy, these devices are well suited for those with a small budget but requiring a device that is simple to use and reliable. As it is an old model, many would say tried and tested. Prices do vary per provider, but this gem is generally available for well under £100.

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Ingenico’s iWL series

Ingenico’s iWL series

The iWL series of PDQ machines are filled with features and are lightweight and affordable. Small enough to fit in your pocket, yet still capable of receipt printing, they also offer great connectivity options, with GPRS, Bluetooth and WiFi.

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