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Compare PDQ Machine Types & Costs (2022 Update)

What is a PDQ Machine?

PDQ (process data quickly) machines are just another name for card machines, POS terminals or Chip and PIN machines. It was the original name for card machines when they were first introduced in the UK and it’s still used today.

How Do PDQ Machines Work?

PDQ machines capture the cardholder’s payment information when they present their card to the merchant’s terminal. The captured information is sent to the acquiring bank.

The acquirer sends the request for approval to the customer’s card issuer to ensure the funds are available in their bank account.

The card issuer approves or declines the transaction and sends the information back to the merchant. If approved, the funds are transferred from the customer’s account to the merchant’s account.

The entire process takes only a few seconds to complete.

Types of PDQ Terminal

The type of card payment machine you need will naturally depend on the type of your business (i.e. retail, hospitality, mobile etc.).

PDQ machines fall into three general categories:

Countertop PDQs

These are normally part of a larger point of sale (POS) system located at tills and they work by connecting to a phone line or the internet. They are ideal for shops where customers take their purchases to the till to process payments.

Portable PDQs

Ideal for hospitality businesses, such as restaurants and bars, as they can be carried from table to table. They work via a Bluetooth connection. Portable credit card machines work in the same way as countertop ones do, but they come with the convenience of being wireless.

Instead of using a dial-up connection, they use Bluetooth technology to deliver payment facilities. Portable card readers are ideal for use in the hospitality industry, as they allow customers to pay without having to leave their tables.

Mobile PDQs

Portable devices that communicate via GPRS technology through the use of a SIM card. They are ideal for businesses that provide mobile services such as plumbers, taxi drivers and builders.

Fixed Fee Card Readers As Alternative

For small businesses and pop up shops that have an annual card turnover of less than £15,000, the best options are likely to be the pay-as-you-go credit card readers below from Zettle, SumUp or Square Reader.

  • Square Reader: Containing powerful in-app features, no monthly fees and competitively priced, the Square card reader was the first keypad-less reader in the UK.
  • SumUp Air: With no fees for refunds or taking foreign payments, SumUp Air allows you to create custom shelves and staff accounts, and send receipts via email or SMS while accepting payments from a wide array of cards.
  • Zettle Reader 2: Highly compact and mobile, PayPal’s Zettle card reader comes with numerous eCommerce solutions and comes with no monthly or setup fees and no charge for refunds.

If you have a card turnover exceeding about £2,000 per month you are likely to make significant savings using a merchant services provider where your card machine has a monthly fee but lower transaction fees.

The set-up costs and transaction fees offered to you will depend on your business and the merchant service provider. We can get you quotes if you fill in our short form on this page.

What Types of Payments Can PDQ Machines Accept?

PDQ machines can accept the following types of payments:

Chip & PIN

Chip & PIN payment was introduced in 2004 with Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) and made mandatory in 2006 as a way of preventing growing card frauds. Before their introduction, the use of magnetic stripe technology made it easy for criminals to use a stolen credit card by forging the true cardholder’s signature.

Chip & PIN payment stores the card’s authorisation data on a chip located inside the card. Entering the customer’s PIN into the terminal compares and matches the four-digit code to the one in the chip.


Contactless cards also have an embedded chip, as well as an antenna that transmits card data to the terminal using radio-frequency identification. A cardholder needs to merely hold their card near the terminal in order to pay.

As it currently stands contactless payments don’t require cardholder identification via PIN for transactions below £45 but that is likely to be increased shortly given the rate of previous increases.


Near field communication (NFC) payments work similarly to contactless payments: the cardholder holds their phone near the terminal enabling the technology to exchange data between readers and the payment device (e.g. mobile phone, watch etc).

Android Pay, Apple Pay and Amazon Pay are the most well-known examples of mobile NFC payments.

Magnetic Stripe

The most outdated type of payment that is slowly going out includes swiping the card through the PDQ machine that reads the payment details. The cardholder then needs to sign the receipt to verify that they are the actual owners of the card and the merchant compares the receipt signature to the one on the back of the card.

What Are The Best PDQ Terminals?

Below are some of the popular PDQ terminals you can expect to see on offer on a monthly contract. The main manufacturers are Ingenico and Verifone although your merchant service provider will normally be who supplies the machine to you.

Best Countertop PDQ Terminals

  • Ingenico ICT220: This machine is designed to fit into smaller spaces. Can accept all electronic payment methods including EMV Chip & PIN. PCI PTS 2.x and 3.x certified with SRED and Open protocol modules.
  • Ingenico iPP350: A fast POS solution, this model accepts contactless payments and comes with seamless plug-and-play installation. iPP 350 supports NFC technologies, like loyalty and wallets.
  • Ingenico iCT250: A light and compact device with an optional PIN privacy shield. Offers NFC couponing and wallet applications and can connect via your landline or broadband.
  • Ingenico Desk/3500: PCI-PTS 5.x Certified and has cryptographic schemes with future-proof key length to offer the highest degree of security. Provides EMV chip & PIN swipe and contactless payments as well as NFC couponing and wallet use.
Brand Model Used By
Ingenico Desk/3500 Natwest (Tyl)
Ingenico iCT350 TakePayments
Ingenico iCT250 Worldpay
Ingenico ICT220 Various

Best Portable PDQ Terminals

  • Ingenico Move/5000: Suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Contains NFC couponing, chip & PIN,  swipe and sign, contactless and more.
  • Ingenico iWL250: Color display, thermal 40mm paper, wall charger and optional charging base. Accepts contactless NFC payments and requires merchant encryption and key injection to accept credit cards.
  • Clover Flex: Portable PDQ machine with a 5’’ touchscreen display, 4G LTE and WiFi connectivity that can accept contactless, swipe or chip card payments.
Brand Model Used By
Ingenico Move/5000 Barclaycard
Ingenico iWL250




Clover Flex Natwest / Tyl

Best Mobile PDQ Terminals

  • PAX A920 smart POS: Powered by Android 7.1, it has a 5″ capacitive touch screen and can connect via 4G, WiFi or GPS. Equipped with front & rear cameras, it accepts chip and PIN, contactless, magnetic stripe, NFC (contactless) and QR code payments.
  • Ingenico Move/3500: 3.2″ backlit display with terminal connectivity using 3G and/or GPRS, WiFi and/or Bluetooth. Uses cryptographic schemes with future-proof key length. As for payment options, the devices accepts NFC couponing and wallet use cases, in addition to EMV Chip & PIN, swipe and contactless
Brand Model Used By
PAX A920 smart POS terminal Paymentsense (Dojo)
Ingenico Move/3500



Natwest (Tyl)

Older Models

The following PDQ machines are older models that still may be offered by some merchant service providers. 
MPT510 Wi-fi

MPT510 Wi-fi

Equipped with wireless broadband capability, this user-friendly mobile credit card machine has a simple printer reload function and comes with an in-car charging dock. It also gives you access to an online reporting tool to help you keep track of your transactions.

1-2-1 Mobile GPRS Terminal

1-2-1 Mobile GPRS Terminal

Offered by Barclays, the 1-2-1 Mobile GPRS Terminal is both portable and mobile and is integrated with contactless technology. It has extensive coverage in the UK and uses a roaming SIM with Vodafone, O2 and Orange GPRS networks. The device is lightweight and can process up to 150 transactions between battery charges. It can be configured for gratuities, cashback, refunds and even pre-authorisation.

Verifone VX 675 payment terminal

Verifone VX 675

This is the world’s smallest portable credit card machine, with a durable casing that’s designed to be drop resistant. With its 3G technology, the VX 675 can be used as a mobile payment machine as well. It has a built-in charger and a thermal printer that can print 18 lines per second. It’s compatible with a wide range of globally accepted card payments.

Cardsave Mobile IWL251

Cardsave Mobile IWL251

This GPRS credit card machine is lightweight and both spill and drop resistant. It can process up to 650 transactions between battery charges and its thermal printer can print 30 lines per second. It has a user-friendly interface and comes with multiple connectivity options.

Typical PDQ Machine Costs & Fees

There are types of these you should be on the lookout for are fixed (related to the hardware) and variable (which are related to payments you process).

A summary of the important ones are below but you can see a more detailed list of card processing fees here.

Fixed Fees

  • PDQ purchase fees (if not rented): The cost of buying the machine outright.
  • Terminal hire: Charge for PDQ machine rental, depending on the type (up to £16 for countertop, up to £31 for a portable and up to £24 for a mobile machine)
  • Set up fees: A one-off fee for the installation of the PDQ machine (typically between £50 – £150, but it’s usually negotiable and can be free on some contracts)
  • Minimum monthly service charge: A fee that is incurred if your transactions fall below a certain level, between £10 and £20 per month.

Variable Fees Depending on Card Transactions

  • Authorization fee: This is an additional charge for each transaction’s authorization (usually between 1p-3p).
  • Merchant service charge: The fee on every accepted debit or credit card transaction (around 0.25% to 0.35% for debit cards and 0.7-0.9% for credit cards)
  • Chargeback: extra fees are chargeback fees that occur when a cardholder requests a chargeback (£10–£20 per chargeback).

Buy or Rent PDQ Machines?

Whether you should buy or rent your PDQ machine will depend on your budget and needs. There are pros and cons to each option.

Do keep in mind, however, that there are many payment service providers that will throw in a PDQ machine for free for 12 months or for a reduced monthly fee if you use their services.

Signing a contract with the merchant account provider will give you the option to rent a card machine for around £15 to £25 per month so it’s good to look at these companies as well as direct PDQ machine suppliers. EPOS suppliers will also provide mobile card terminals if required.

Buying a PDQ machine

PDQ machines vary greatly in price, ranging from £200 to £800 on average. The price is dependent on the features and wireless capability of the machine.


  • Eliminates monthly rental fees and can work out cheaper if used for 12+ months.


  • If the machine breaks after the warranty expires you have to pay for the new one
  • You need to buy the new PDQ machine model in order to upgrade it

Renting a PDQ machine

Most companies pay a monthly fee for their card machines and do not purchase them outright. Rental fees range from around £15 to £25 a month. You are likely to get a discounted rate if you rent more than one unit and tie yourself down to a longer contract.


  • Allows you to spread the cost over a few months or years
  • If the machine breaks, the company will simply replace it for you


  • You can get locked into a lengthy contract
  • It may cost more than buying the PDQ machine
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