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PDQ Machines – The perfect solution for businesses to take card payments – Updated January 2020




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Does your business need to take credit card payments from customers?


With a merchant account you can accept payments in person, on the go or online.  Our comprehensive 2019 PDQ machine guide on provides everything you need to know about card payments in order to find best provider for you business.



What is a PDQ Machine?


A PDQ Machine is a payment point of sale terminal that allows businesses to take card payments from customers.



What does a PDQ credit card machine stand for? 


PDQ stands for and is an abbreviation of Process Data Quickly.



Our cashless society means businesses need a card payment solution more now than ever.


PDQ Machines have been around for a long time now, the current chip and pin credit card machine is a relatively new introduction in the UK market. Before the introduction of chip & pin technology in 2003, customers had to sign for every payment made by card. Retailers then had to verify the signatures with those signed at the back of the card. We have come a long way now since then with the popularity of contactless card payments and mobile card readers such as iZettle and Sumup leading the way.

Most customers no longer carry cash. We now live in a cashless society.


A recent survey by YouGov reveals that almost two-thirds of the customers carry less than £20 in cash. In comparison 93% of customers carry a debit or credit card with them always. Not being equipped with a credit card machine to allow customers to make payments means you are likely to lose a huge number of customers.


Why you should get a card machine for your business?

Getting a business card machine will enable you to take card payments from all the major debit and credit card providers such AMEX, Mastercard and Visa. It will also allow you to accept contactless payments quick and efficiently for your business.


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What are the different types of PDQ Card Machines?


There are three types of card terminals/ PDQ machines: portable, countertop and mobile. 


Mobile Card Machines / Wireless Card Machine


mobile pdq machineThe mobile chip and pin card machine is ideal for tradesman, delivery businesses, pop up store owners and anyone business that needs to take payments on the road. Mobile card machines are fast, secure and provide businesses with a flexible ways to accept card payments. They allow businesses to accept payments anywhere with 3G coverage or WiFi.


Benefits of a mobile card machine

  • Accept payments on the go
  • Accepts all payment options
  • Take Secure payments
  • 3G, GPRS, Bluetooth and WIFI Connectivity
  • Designed for mobility
  • Accepts NFC Payments




Portable Card Machine

contactless card machineThe portable card machine is the perfect solution for pubs, cafes and restaurants. Portable card terminals can work within up to 100 metres from its base. The device connects via Bluetooth and allows business owners to take the card terminal to a customers to take payments.


Benefits of a portable card machine for small businesses

  • Accept payment from a fixed point
  • Easily connected by phoneline or internet
  • Accept contactless, Chip & Pin, Apple Pay & Android Pay
  • Cashback and gratuities options available
  • Full PCI Compliance highly secure card machines




Countertop Card Machine

ingenico credit card terminal ict250

Countertop card machines operates from a fixed location so are therefore less flexible than the mobile and portable card machine. It is widely used by retailers, restaurants, supermarkets and shopping outlets to take credit card payments. The card machine must be connected to an internet connection or a telephone line to work. It is a cost-effective solution for businesses that take payments from a fixed premise such as a shop counter.


Benefits of Countertop/ Desktop Card Machine

  • High Security
  • All Payment Options – Chip & Pin, Contactless, NFC
  • Small & Compact for easy handling and use
  • All connectivity & communication – modem, Ethernet, GPRS or 3G
  • Brand promotion options on the terminal.


The countertop card machine usually sits next to the till or cashpoint and has a fixed point. It’s connected by broadband and widely used by most traditional retailers.


For businesses such as restaurants, cafes, bars, etc. a portable card machine is the best option. This machine relies on wireless or Bluetooth technology and will only work within the range of a central wi-fi spot. A portable PDQ machine is ideal for the hospitality industry. It enables payments to be made with a little bit more flexibility when compared to the countertop machine which are fixed to a counter.


A mobile card machine is best suited to sellers who are mobile and are travelling on the road between customers.


Modern card machines have a contactless card payment facility. This allows buyers to make a payment of up to £30 by simply tapping their contactless credit card on the machine.


How does a PDQ Machine work?


Before the launch of chip and pin technology older card machines would read information on a magnetic strip. This occurred when it was swiped. Swiping credit cards though a card machine was very common. The card terminal would then check the customer had enough balance in their account and if the signatures matched with what was on record.


Present day chip and pin technology allow customers to buy securely in a matter of few seconds. A merchant would usually have to me go through the following below steps to take a card payment.


customer presented with a PDQ machine to make a card payment by merchant


1. Merchant keys in payment amount into the PDQ Machine


2. Merchant presents PDQ Machine to the customer


3. Customer confirms the amount and has the option of inserting their card into the card machine or paying by contactless (please be aware the tranaction cap for £30). 


4. If the customer inserted their card they will now be prompted to provide their 4 digit pin and press the Enter key to confirm by the PDQ machine.


5. The card machine will then contact the merchant bank for authorisation for the sale. If it is approved the transaction will go through otherwise an error will be displayed.


6. After a successful transaction the card machine will print two receipt copies. One for the merchant and one to hand to the customer.



Additional Value Added Features of a Card Machine


Mail and Telephone / Customer Not Present Orders is a function that allows business to complete orders when a customer is not present. It can be completed through a payment terminal by manually entering a customers card number when asked to present the card during the purchase process. So instead of inputting the card and entering the pin details a business can enter the card number and security code when prompted into the terminal to complete the purchase.


Gratuity is a feature that allows your customers to leave a tip whilst making a payment on the card machine. As part of the payment process the customer has the option to decide if they want to leave a tip or not.


Pre Authorisation allows businesses to gain access and secure funds from customers without completing the transaction. This is often used by hotels during the booking process or when you are checking in. It is used to ensure funds are available is any charges are incurred during the stay such as room service costs. The transaction is then fully completed at the end of the stay at checkout.

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If you have done a little bit of research, you will find that majority of the high street banks in the UK provide merchant account. Yet they charge a higher fee as compared to other payment providers or ISO’s.





Top 5 Credit Card Terminal Manufacturers 

There are literally dozens and dozens of different card machines available on the market today. In the post we look at the leading card machine manufacturers who provide the hardware and technology to make taking payments possible.


1. Ingenico Card Machine


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One of the biggest pdq terminal providers in the world. Ingenico provides credit card terminals in over 170 countries. They have over 32 million terminals distributed to businesses worldwide currently. They are the number one choice with many banks, retailers and small business outlets all over the globe. Over 70% of global retail brands currently use Ingenico card payment machines.
With a wide range of services and solutions for merchants Ingenico allows taking card payments to be a seamless experience. Their product range consists of solutions for both face to face, online or mobile on the go payments.



2. Verifone Chip and Pin Machine


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Verifone is the UK’s leader in secure Point of Sale Payments. They are dedicated in enabling merchants to accept card payments without hassle. This in turn enables the merchant to do what they do best – selling their service. Verifone can provide all services required by businesses needing a card payment solution. Verifone cover hardware, software and other services you need to take a payments and receive settlements to your merchant account.
As well as providing card payment terminals they also take advantage of the latest technological changes. Their range includes mobile card payment solutions. Verifone take security very seriously. Security is tightly integrated into every part of their business to ensure both merchants and card holders are protected.


3. Spire Card Machine 


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An independent provider of point of sale hardware and software solutions. Spire has 30 years of experience in the payments industry and uses this to bring innovative solutions to the market. They serve many sectors ranging from finance, to retail and hospitality. Their product range include countertop, portable and mobile terminals as well as pin pads.


What features do Spire credit card machines have?

Spire credit card machines, which are just one type of equipment that Spire manufactures, include countertop machines, handheld, mobile machines, multi-lane machines which are great with quick and foolproof card swiping and transaction processing, pin pads for merchants to be able to accept debit cards, and networking and related software. All Spire credit card machines include the same basic functionality of being able to process a credit card transaction and produce a simplistic receipt. More expensive models of Spire credit card machines are able to process debit cards, checks and even gift cards, and many can do so wirelessly, and with the use of a few batteries. Spire credit card machines can also do read-outs and print-outs of last transaction, specific transactions, and overall history for X amount of days or even months.


4. Hypercom Card Machine

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Hypercom provided card payment machines solution. In 2011 they were acquired by Spire Payments.



5. PAX

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PAX is a worldwide provider of electronical payment terminal solution. They provide both android and lunix powered payment terminals to merchants. They serve over 100 countries and have 25 million terminals in use worldwide.





How do I get set up with a PDQ Machine?


As a business, you cannot use a PDQ card machine until you have set up a merchant account. You will need a unique merchant account number to accept payments from customers. Your merchant account number is linked to your PDQ machine. This ensures that all the payments are going to your merchant account. Most banks offer merchant account services. However as a business you will get a better deal shopping around different merchant services providers to find the best one for you.  You are only required to buy or rent the PDQ machine.


Setting up a PDQ machine is easy. For example with a mobile machine once you get your terminal through the post you are giving a merchant ID number. The credit card terminal will also come with a power cable and power supply. Before installing the card terminal you must use the power supply to charge the device. Once fully charged you are prompted to input your unique merchant ID number into the terminal. When entered the card terminal will automatically begin to download the latest software the card machine requires to work. Once updated you will need to setup a unique 4 digit pin pass-code that you will use to authorise certain functions such as refunds. Once this is complete your card machine will display a ready status and is ready to use.


For portable, desktop and WiFi card terminals the process is similar. However, further steps such as connecting to your WiFi, local network (enthernet cable) or telephone line may be required.


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How much does it cost to have a PDQ Machine?


When you have a PDQ machine there will be several costs in your merchant account contract agreement which you should be aware of. These costs may vary depending on whether you decide to buy or lease your payment terminal.  Monthly rental costs are usually between £20 to £50. The other main cost is the transaction fees a merchant will incur every time they take a credit card payment. Generally you can expect this fee to be between 2%-4% . For debit card payments it can range from 5p to 25p per transaction.

These costs will differ depending on several factors such as how many terminals you will need and the length of your contract. As a business depending on the number of card machines you need you may be able to negotiate a discount with the merchant accounts provider.



What are the cost of purchasing a PDQ card machine?


If you decide on buying a PDQ card machine outright the cost will be anything between £150 – £600 depending on features required. When purchasing instead of renting you should note that you will be required to pay maintenance fees. Should anything go wrong with the card machine it is the suppliers responsibility to fix. Usually the card terminal will come with a 12 – 24-month warranty from the manufacturer.


If you decide on a mobile card reader solution such as iZettle, Paypal Here or Sumup prices for the card readers range from £25-£100.



What are the cost of a merchant account for high risk businesses?


Merchants such as gambling, software and travel companies have higher transaction fees. This is due to them being compared considered “high risk” compared to other businesses. Factors such as number of charge-backs and order cancellations determine whether a business is classified high risk . Prices vary and can be negotiated with the merchant account provider.



Should I buy or rent a card machine?


As a business you have the option of buying a PDQ card machine outright. You also have an alternative to rent through companies who offer merchant accounts. There is a slight difference between card machines. Some machines will accept debit/credit card and some may only accept certain debit cards. Knowing which cards you want to accept can help you make the right choice of terminal.


Buying the PDQ machine allows you to own it, but it may not be the best option for you. Renting allows you more flexibility since you do not have to pay for its maintenance or repair. If anything goes wrong, your provider is liable to supply you with a new PDQ machine.


One reason why renting a PDQ machine is a better option than buying is due to advancements in technology. If you bought your machine you face added costs if new changes are introduced to chip and pin technology. Such a cost may be having to purchase a newer model in order to make use of new features. A similar situation happened with businesses when they were forced to switch from swipe to chip and pin. They had to incur the costs of getting a new machine as their swipe machines became more obsolete. If you are renting, you can just switch to an updated version for a small charge.


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Next Step: Get yourself a PDQ machine for your business.


The first thing to consider is that customers today expect to pay by card. Not having a card terminal can lead to huge loss in sales. Any cost that you incur due to acquiring a card terminal/PDQ machine are made up for quickly through new sales opportunities. Customers tend to spend more money when buying on card than they would with physical cash. When paying in cash, customers can physically feel the amount being spent – psychologically this makes us cautious to spend. Whereas with card payments, the customers are not handing out cash and often tend to spend more. For these obvious reasons, as a business, it is advantageous to have a PDQ machine.


Security provided by PDQ machines are also a big benefit for businesses with a credit card processing terminal. No longer do you have the worry about keeping huge sums of cash payments secure. You can be assured that the majority of money your business takes goes straight to your bank. PDQ machines process secure transactions in seconds, with accuracy and safety.


MoneyCharity states £1.2 billion worth of card transactions take place every day. Can you imagine losing out on sales by not offering customers access to a most convenient form of payments? Any business that is starting out would make a wise choice to get hold of a PDQ machine by signing up with an independent payment processor. It is a relatively straightforward process, and you can get started today.


It is well worth knowing the difference between different independent sales organisations (ISO). Each of them has a different focus and hence a different fee structure. You will need to assess which merchant account provider suits your business requirements and budget.


So now you know a lot about PDQ machines and why as a business you need one to take card payments. Now is time to take the next step. Let us help you get started with a free comparison quote. Simple fill in our quote form and we will let you know the best providers, features and fees for your business. 


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