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Compare PDQ machine costs

Crunching the costs of countertop card machines

The shelves are stocked, the counter's been wiped, and you're ready to start serving customers. What's next? Well, you'll need to get a PDQ machine set up to start taking card payments. But what PDQ machine is best for your business? That can be a Pretty Difficult Question, especially when it comes to comparing costs, and deciding whether to buy or rent.

Comparing PDQ machine costs can be like navigating a minefield. You have to be aware of hidden fees and restrictive contracts, while making sure the package or device is right for your business. How do you do this? Read on.

What's on this page?

comparing pdqs

What are PDQ machines?

PDQ machines (Process Data Quickly) go by a variety of names, including credit card machines and the tasty-sounding 'chip and pin.' They work with a merchant account to process card payments instantly at the point of sale. PDQ machines bring speed and convenience to your business. And they're becoming more and more crucial; 46% of millennials are put off from buying from a cash only business.

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

Read on for our breakdown of the costs, or do it yourself with our quick, short form for comparing quotes.

Upfront costs

The first cost you'll need to consider is the initial outlay for either buying or renting your terminal. Consider how many and which types of devices you require. If you intend to use a variety of PDQ machines, your supplier should offer a cost-saving overall package. The cheapest PDQ machines come in at around £30, but you can expect to pay up to £800 for the most advanced devices.

Usage fees

To process payments you'll need to set up a merchant account. Usage fees for this are set at the start of the account and will depend on the amount of payments you'll be taking. It'll also relate to the level of risk attached to your industry - getting a merchant account for a travel business is more difficult than acquiring one for a corner shop.

Merchant account fees are calculated either by a percentage of the transaction price (around 1% - 2). or a set usage fee of 10 - 20p.

Monthly fees

Monthly fees are common when using PDQ machines. Renting a machine 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 it altogether. But don't get suckered in; it pays to read the small print as hidden fees are common among some, less reputable 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 - essentially, to make it worth their while. The minimum usage limit is generally set at around £20, however, so if your business takes only a very small amount of transactions you'll need to think about this.

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

Disclaimer: There's no set answer as to which is better. A bar will require different things from their PDQ machine than a newsagents will. The option you choose will depend on the specific needs of your business. Let's look at the pros and cons of each.


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.

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


Need a PDQ but don't have the cash right now? Renting is your best bet. With renting comes repair, ongoing support, and potentially the ability to upgrade your machine with time.

X Signing a contract ties you down for longer. And with less flexible suppliers, this can quickly become a problem. Also, the longer you keep the equipment, the more expensive it will be when compared to buying it outright.

Top 3 PDQ machines

PDQ machines come in various shapes and sizes with a range of abilities. Entry level devices are better for lower prices and infrequent use. Complex, high-end devices might be needed if your business has a larger volume of customers. Most PDQ machines fall into one of the following three categories. Scroll over the information icon to find out more about each terminal and find the PDQ machine perfect for your business.

Some of the best devices include:

iZettle 2 card reader

iZettle 2 card reader

This entry-level device is perfect if you're looking for a simple and portable solution for taking payments. It's normally £59, but ongoing discounts bring it down to £29 (excl. VAT). The iZettle is a wireless card reader that syncs with your iPad to let you take contactless payments. It accepts all major credit cards, and is best suited to outdoor events and infrequent use.

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Hypercom T4200

Hypercom T4200

Extremely sturdy, these devices are perfect if you have a small budget, but still need reliable and easy-to-use device. Prices vary per provider, but this gem is generally available for under £100.There's also plenty of used and refurbished models available for £30 +.

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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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Next steps

You've got to grips with the different costs involved with owning a PDQ machine for your business. But there's one more cost you need to consider. And that's the cost of not accepting card payments. With more and more commerce heading online and cash's influence fading, don't let your business get left behind. Click here to compare quotes from Expert Market approved suppliers. And find the PDQ machine best suited to the unique needs of your business.