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PDQ Machines


This article will compare PDQ machine brands and what criteria to keep in mind when purchasing PDQ equipment.

What is a PDQ Machine?

A PDQ machine is an electronic device that allows businesses to process card payments. Standing for 'Process Data Quickly', PDQ machines are also known by a number of other names including credit card machines, Chip and PIN machines and card terminals. In the UK PDQ machines have become the preferred payment method.

How Does a PDQ Machine Work?

Before the invention of the Chip & PIN system, a PDQ machine would read the information from the magnetic strip on the reverse of the credit or debit card when the card was swiped. The machine then checked the card holder had enough credit to purchase the items and displayed an "Approved" or "Not Authorised" message. The customer would be asked to sign a slip and the retailer would ensure the signature matched the one on the back of the card before authorising the transaction.

The introduction of the Chip & PIN system means that credit and debit card transactions can be carried out securely in a matter of seconds.

The Chip & PIN system aims to reduce the risk of credit card fraud. Each credit or debit card is issued a 4 digit PIN that is entered into the PDQ machine to verify the cardholder, as well as a computer chip on the card, which is inserted into the machine and acts in the same way as the magnetic strip did previously. Customers no longer have to sign for their purchases and the authorisation of the sale is completed by the PDQ machines, independent of the retailer.

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Setting Up a PDQ Machine

You will need to set up a merchant account with a bank before you install any hardware like a PDQ machine. This will allow you to accept payments using your unique merchant number, which is linked to your PDQ. Most banks will offer a small business merchant account and payment gateway option in a package; that way you only need to find a supplier that can install all the software and hardware.

Types of PDQ Machines

There are a number of types of PDQ machines available, including mobile, static and Bluetooth.

Mobile terminals allow payments to be processed anywhere that a mobile phone signal can be reached.

contactless payments

Static systems are usually placed at till points and are connected to a phone line or an internet connection. They are commonly used by shops, whereas Bluetooth systems will be portable up to a certain distance and are great for businesses such as restaurants and bars.

Most modern PDQ machines have Chip & PIN facilities which allow customers to simply enter a pin for their card rather than signing their name. The latest models will also feature contactless payment technology and can allow users to simply tap their card to make instant payments of up to £30.

Getting a PDQ machine

PDQ machines can be bought outright, but they are more usually rented through companies who offer merchant accounts. Knowing which cards you want to be able to accept with your PDQ machine will help you select the best PDQ machine for your business needs. There are differences between machines which process credit and debit cards, or debit cards only. Also, not all PDQ terminal providers will allow you to accept international cards like Diner's Club or Maestro.

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You should also keep in mind that in order to own and operate a PDQ machine, you must have a merchant account. This will allow you to process transactions through your business bank account and offers you a wider range of payment options for their business.


Advantages and Disadvantages of PDQ Machines

Investing in a PDQ machine can have real benefits for your company.

Firstly, most customers today expect to be able to pay by card and not having a card terminal can result in lost sales for your business. Having a PDQ machine also allows you to increase opportunity sales when customers do not have any cash on their person.

For retailers in the UK today, being able to take card payments with a PDQ machine is best - any costs you have by acquiring a PDQ machine are usually quickly made up for through new sales opportunities and the fact that customers typically spend more when paying by card. You should ensure that you get the best PDQ machine for your business to make the most of the potential benefits.

Having a PDQ machine will reduce the amount of cash handled by your business. In turn, this reduces the security risks associated with keeping large amounts of cash on the premises and the time it takes staff to process any cash taken.

There are certain fees associated with PDQ machines which may deter some retailers from using them. Credit cards in particular tend to attract a process fee. It's important to know what kind of cards you want to be able to process when you compare PDQ machines, as this affects both the price of the terminal and the fees charged by the provider.

However, more and more people are choosing to pay with their credit or debit cards and the ease of use of the PDQ makes it necessary for any serious business. The advantages of a PDQ machine far outweigh any negatives associated with fees or charges.

A PDQ machine also has the backup of manual card entry if the cardholder is making the purchase remotely, and its popularity shows no sign of waning in the near future.

When the Cardholder is not Present

PDQ machines can still be used even when the cardholder is not present, for example, in telephone sales. A PDQ machine allows a retailer to enter the card number of the cardholder into the machine manually.

It then asks for certain authorisation details such as security codes and an address. The process takes a few minutes longer but the result is the same.

Compare PDQ Machines

Finding the best PDQ terminal to suit your specific requirements can be a complicated process. There are a number of companies out there supplying PDQ machines with their merchant account services, each with different options to choose.

There are 3 types of PDQ machines to choose from, including a countertop PDQ, which stays near the register in POS transactions and uses a telephone or broadband connection, a portable PDQ, which uses Bluetooth technology and can be carried to a customer at their table, and a mobile terminal, which uses a SIM card and GPRS to allow payments to be made outside a business premises.


Most service businesses like restaurants, cafes and bars have portable Bluetooth PDQs so they can process transactions from non-static locations around their premises. However retail businesses with static counters only need countertop PDQs. You should understand your own business requirements so that you can find the best PDQ machine when you do a PDQ machine comparison.

PDQ Machine Comparison - Finding The Best PDQ Machine

EFT Vega3000 Countertop Terminal

Vega3000 Countertop Terminal

The Vega3000 Countertop PDQ terminal is the most widely used electronic payment system. It delivers a fast, reliable and cost-effective solution with an intuitive operation and a secure payment option for customers. The adaptable application offers a wide choice of connectivity options to best suit the requirements of each business.

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The system also supports a platform of new high-tech security measures that will safeguard all transactions while having no negative impact on the speed or reliability of the sale.

This high security processor is available in a touchscreen model. Contact, contactless and magnetic stripe payments are all accepted.

It is flexible to integrate with business applications and is highly secure.

Ingenico iCT250 Countertop Terminal

Ingenico ICT250

The Ingenico iCT250 is a highly secure Chip and PIN PDQ machine with an ergonomic design and a full colour screen. It can connect to the Cardnet network using dialup or ethernet. It includes a quality thermal printer with a print speed of 18 lines per second. It will accept Chip and PIN and contactless payments.

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Ingenico iWL252 Portable Terminal

Ingenico iWL252

The Ingenico iWL252 Portable Terminal connects via Bluetooth to a central station and can also connect directly to the network through dialup and ethernet. It is highly secure and offers all payment options including EMV Chip & PIN, MagStripe and Contactless. The integrated high quality thermal printer has a print speed of 30 lines per second.

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Ingenico iWL251 Mobile Terminal

Ingenico iWL251

The Ingenico iWL251 Mobile Terminal is the ideal choice for merchants that wish to take payments on the go such as taxi firms and market traders. It connects to the payment network via GPRS and includes a roaming SIM. It can process all kinds of card payments including Chip and PIN and Contactless. It can also be used to process MOTO payments. The integrated high quality thermal printer can print at 30 lines per second.

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Verifone Vx520 Countertop Terminal

Verifone Vx520 Countertop Terminal

This countertop terminal accepts both chip and pin payments alongside contactless. They are great for use in restaurants. with a function to add gratuity. Pre-authorisation can be used in hotels even if the customer in not present (CNP payment processing). If they wish customers may also pay in the currency of their choosing.

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Verifone Vx680 Mobile Terminal

Verifone Vx680 Mobile Terminal

Verifone’s most compact terminal, this boasts a touch screen and colour interface. Both contactless and chip and pin payments are accepted alongside CNP, GPRS or Bluetooth connectivity. Similarly to the Vx520, this wireless model also allows for currency conversion, gratuity addition and pre-authorisation.

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The Best PDQ Machine for Small Business

Countertop PDQ Machine

Hypercom T4220

Hypercom’s T4220 PDQ Machine is a large countertop unit that performs well overall, although it is a little clumsy in size; overall great value.

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Portable PDQ Machine

Ingenico iWL 250

Ingenico’s iWL 250 is a great handheld model that offers a full range of features and capabilities. It has a large colour screen, backlit keys for darker restaurants or bars, and is portable via Bluetooth technology.

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Mobile PDQ Machine

Intuit GoPayment

Intuit GoPayment is a card reader and app that you can bring anywhere in the world. It includes a free trial, customised branding and you can add up to 50 users onto the account. The user friendly design means you can swipe, key or take of picture of a credit card and process it right away with highly secure processing.

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Read more about Comparing Merchant Accounts

If you are interested in hearing more about prices to set up a PDQ machine and/or merchant account for your business, then fill out the form at the top of this page and a select group of excellent suppliers will get in touch with you.