What Are PDQ Machines?

PDQ stands for ‘process data quickly’, and PDQ machines are electronic devices designed to process card payments during face-to-face transactions. They are also known as card readers, card terminals, card machines and Chip and PIN devices.

A PDQ machine is usually linked to an electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) system which records and tallies the purchased items and tells the PDQ machine the total amount to be paid. The customer is then prompted to swipe or insert their card into the machine and to put in their PIN. The PDQ machine then encrypts the customer’s details and sends them to the customer’s card issuer for authorisation. The machine will either get an “Approved” or a “Not authorised” message which will be displayed on its screen.


Why Should You Use a PDQ Machine?

If you own a bricks-and-mortar business, a PDQ machine is a necessity if you would like to earn your customers’ loyalty. Nothing compares to the convenience of being able to pay for something even if you don’t have cash on hand.

Using a PDQ machine also speeds up transactions, thus increasing your customer turnover. Being able to take card payments also means that you’re lowering the security risks that come with keeping large amounts of cash in your premise. In the same manner, it also saves time spent by staff handling cash transactions.

Types of PDQ Machines

PDQ machines fall into three general categories:

  1. Static terminals are normally countertop machines that are placed at tills and work by connecting to a phone line or the internet. These are ideal for shops where customers take their purchases to the till to pay for them.
  2. Portable terminals are ideal for hospitality businesses, such as restaurants and bars, as they can be carried from table to table. They work through a Bluetooth connection.
  3. Mobile terminals are portable devices that work through a GPRS connection. They are ideal for businesses that render mobile services, such as plumbers, taxi drivers and builders.

There’s also a relatively new type of PDQ machine technology called contactless. This is designed especially for purchases worth £20 or less, and lets customers just swipe their cards without having to put their PIN into the machine.

PDQ Machines Compared

The type of PDQ machine you’ll need to get will naturally depend on the type of business you have and your budget. PDQ machines vary in features and price, and it’s best to determine first what your needs are and shop around based on these needs.
Here are some of the better-known PDQ machines available on the market right now:

Static Terminals

  • Verifone VX510: This is a large countertop unit that’s designed for coping with high transaction volumes. It has an optional privacy shield for extra security.
  • Ingenico ICT220: This machine is designed to fit into smaller spaces.
  • Hypercom T4220: A hefty countertop that takes up a lot of space, this machine is popular among businesses with large spaces because of its user-friendly features.

Portable Terminals

  • Hypercom M4240: This is another chunky but easy-to-use unit with a Bluetooth range that’s longer-range compared to other models. This is ideal for larger premises.
  • Ingenico 930BCC: A slim terminal for smaller premises and can be equipped with contactless card reading technology.
  • Verifone VX670: This model is different from the rest because it can connect to a WiFi network, allowing for more reliability over long ranges.

Mobile Terminals

  • Axalto MagIC X1000: This is quite a bulky unit with an external aerial but can handle up to 3 SIMs and has a built-in privacy shield for the keypad.
  • Hypercom M4230: This unit gives users the option to connect to a base station in cases where GPRS/GSM connections don’t work. It also comes with an in-car charger.

Buy or Rent PDQ Machines?

Whether you 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 or for a minimum fee if you use their services, so it’s good to look at these companies as well as direct PDQ machine suppliers.

Buying a PDQ machine:

The best thing about buying your own unit is that you only have to think about the cost just once. If you have cash on hand, this is definitely a good option. 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.

Renting a PDQ machine:

Renting your PDQ unit is a good idea if your budget is limited. You also normally get free maintenance and repairs with rented units. Most suppliers will also replace rented units for free with newer models as part of the rental contract. Rental fees range from £20 to £30 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.

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