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Compare The Top Mobile & Portable PDQ Machines for Your Small UK Business

PDQ iconBy now you’ve probably figured out that your business needs a PDQ (process data quickly) machine, as it opens up alternative payment options for an increasingly cashless society.

So how do you go about getting a PDQ machine?

In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about PDQ machines in the UK, how they benefit your business, and which one is right for you.

If you have not already, you’ll need to get a merchant account so your business so you can seamlessly accept payments from credit and debit cards.

Your PDQ machine will process the card payments into your merchant account, which then transfers the funds to your business bank account. If you’d like to read on about merchant accounts, check out our guide by clicking on this link.

Ready to compare PDQ machine costs? Click here!

Now, let’s begin setting up your business for success.


Whether you are new to PDQ machines or if you already own one that’s just not working out, this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to choose your ideal solution.

Every day more UK businesses are getting PDQ machines, as they offer an extra layer of security, as well as faster and easier transactions.

News Flash: an additional method of payment for your business translates into more sales and happy shoppers.

Here’s a quick summary of this article’s contents:

  • Different PDQ machines handle a variety of payment methods: Swipe and Sign, Chip and Pin, and Contactless Payment. Understand what your business needs before purchasing a PDQ machine.
  • PDQ machines are becoming commonplace in UK businesses, as they facilitate secure and fast transactions ideal for businesses and shoppers.
  • No PCI, Monthly Minimum, or other fees
  • There are plenty of PDQ machine providers and payment plans to choose from. This guide will direct you to the one best suited for your business.
  • Compare PDQ machine quotes here


In this guide you will find


What Exactly is a PDQ Machine?


OK, I know what you’re thinking – are ‘PDQ Machines’ just credit card machines dressed up in a fancy name? Yes.

What is a PDQ machine? PDQ machines are payment terminals that allow for electronic fund transfers, or in simpler terms, machines that allow you to accept credit and debit card payments for your business.

People are spending more money, and are doing so with their cards. Why? Because it’s easier! PDQ machines solve the problem of having to check how much cash you have in your wallet, and stops you from making annoying trips to the ATM.

What’s more, people typically spend more when they use their card because it changes the physical and metaphorical form of cash, making it easier to part from. In short: PDQ machines mean good business for you!


PDQ terminal GIF


PDQ machines allow people to feel safer when making a purchase, as only they can authorise the transaction through a unique PIN (personal identification number).

Your business also receives an additional layer of security and convenience, because PDQ machines reduce the risks associated with having large amounts of cash at your business establishment. You won’t have to keep going to the bank to deposit cash. Every detail about your business funds can be easily accessed online.

And another thing, PDQ machines often come with other useful functions such as gratuity (tips), purchase with cashback, printing duplicate receipts, canceling transactions, and more.

Sounds impressive? Keep on reading and you will understand more about PDQ machines for your business.


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Payment Trends in the UK



Cash up in smoke

Cash? Is that like cassette tapes Mum?


No matter what type of business you are running, whether it is sales or service, if you have paying customers you are going to need a convenient method of payment.

Although some people may feel comfortable using cash, the truth is that if you want to run a good business, you need to offer alternative methods of payment. PDQ machines are the answer.

Here’s the deal:

  • More people prefer to use debit and credit cards instead of cash, because they value convenience and security.
  • In 2016, British Retail Consortium revealed that 14.9 billion transactions were through cards and PDQ machines, which translates to £647 billion in sales.
  • Over 32 million card transactions are made in a day, which adds up to £1.5 billion in daily sales made all throughout the UK.

Shocking, isn’t it?


UK payment trends


It may also surprise you that there are over a million PDQ machines being used in the UK by businesses, and this number is only going to increase, as there are no other foreseeable forms of technology that could replace PDQ machines in the near future.

Another popular trend is contactless payment, which uses the same technology as Apply Pay and Android Pay devices. Contactless credit and debit cards use short-range wireless technology to send information to the PDQ machine, which authorizes a secure payment.

However, not all businesses use PDQ machines that accept contactless payment, as the transaction limit is currently £30. Therefore, this feature would only be useful for places that primarily sell lower cost products.

Note: if your business accommodates overseas tourists with foreign cards, you will likely require a PDQ machine that prints receipts for tourists to sign. Therefore, make sure your PDQ machine has the relevant functions for your business.


Types of PDQ Machines


Now that you are comfortable with how PDQ machines work and their related trends in the UK, it is time to understand the different types of PDQ machines.

Each type supports Chip & Pin payments, and modern machines will also be able to accept contactless payment, and Apply/Android Pay. Check with your PDQ machine provider for information on other specific functions.


Countertop PDQ Machines


These machines are ideal if your business has a fixed point of sale, which means that the PDQ machine is always at a stationary location within the establishment. Countertop models are the most common PDQ machines out there, as they cheap and have been around for longer than the other types of PDQ machines.

Countertop PDQ machines can only be used when they are connected to a phone or broadband line.

Therefore, the types of business that would benefit from a Countertop PDQ machines are:

  • Retailers
  • Cafés
  • Beauty Parlors
  • Supermarkets

A typical countertop PDQ machine will come with:

  • Countertop card machine
  • Power cable for the PDQ machine
  • Complimentary till roll supply
  • Phone line and Ethernet Cable
  • Supervisor card for access to functions such as refunds

Some countertop PDQ machines may offer extra equipment, depending on your provider.


Top countertop PDQ machines:


Ingenico iCT220


Ingenico ICT220


The Ingenico iCT220 is a solid choice for countertop use. These models are widely used in the UK and globally, due to their reliability and useful features.

They boast multiple connection options, a built-in printer for easy receipt printing, and a high contrast display screen.

Moreover, the Ingenico iCT220 allows your business to seamlessly process almost all cards including:

  • Magnetic stripes
  • EMV chip and PIN
  • Apple/Android Pay and Google Wallet
  • Contactless payments via the iCT220 CL model

Find out more about Ingenico iCT220 here.
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Verifone VX 520


Verifone VX520


Verifone is one of the major PDQ machine providers in the UK, and their products speak for themselves.

The VX 520 is a durable and dependable countertop terminal that accepts practically every card provider including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and more.

It also supports contactless payments and comes with a magnetic stripe reader along the side, as well as an EMV slot on the bottom.

Find out more about Verifone VX 520 here.
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Portable PDQ Machines


Portable models give you some flexibility to bring the payment to the customer.
They work via Bluetooth that is within range of a phone line or router, or via a Wi-Fi connection that is within range of a Wi-Fi router or hotspot. Multiple machines can be connected to the central Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connection.

However, portable PDQ machines run on batteries that normally need to be recharged once per day.

These portable PDQ machines are best suited if you need to move around your establishment to take payments.

For example:

  • Restaurants
  • Pubs and Bars
  • Cafés

These establishments typically have a large number of patrons, which would cause long queues if they had to pay via a countertop machine.

Moreover, portable models are compact and easy to carry around. This makes transactions easier and quicker as opposed to paying by cash, which would result in a much slower turnaround.

Your portable PDQ machine will arrive with:

  • Portable PDQ machine
  • Terminal charger for recharging battery
  • Complimentary till roll supply
  • Supervisor card for access to functions such as refunds

Some portable PDQ machines may offer extra equipment, depending on your provider.


Top portable PDQ machines:


Ingenico iWL252


Ingenico IWL252


Undeniably, this is by far the most compact PDQ machine in the market. The iWL252 is incredibly easy to use, with reliable Bluetooth connectivity and powerful batteries that deliver up to 650 transactions in a single charge.

The iWL252 complements your business’ needs for mobility and ease of transactions. You will be able to bring payments right up to customers, and still be guaranteed a quick and secure transaction.

Find out more about Ingenico IWL252 here.
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Verifone VX 680


Verifone VX680



The Verifone VX 680 is both portable and mobile, making it extremely versatile. This means you can accept payments at tableside, as well as on deliveries.

It is compatible with almost all types of cards and technologies, including EMV, magnetic stripes, and traditional debit PIN cards.

In addition, the Verifone VX 680 has a power-saving mode to lengthen battery life when you are unable to recharge. When there isn’t a connection, the VX 680 still accepts payments offline, which are held for authorization when a connection is established.

Find out more about Verifone VX 680 here.
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Mobile PDQ Machines


These mobile models work through SIM cards and GPRS technology, the same wireless connection that gives our mobile phones constant data and Internet connectivity. What this means is mobile PDQ machines simply require a mobile phone signal in order to function.

Yes, it’s true: mobile PDQ machines often incur additional costs from the usage of GPRS to send and receive data.

But listen, you won’t be complaining when you realize that the benefits of owning a mobile PDQ machine seriously outweigh the costs.

Mobile PDQ machines are the perfect solution to any of the following businesses:

  • Food trucks
  • Market stalls at festivals
  • Taxi drivers
  • Delivery services

The above-mentioned businesses, or any company that frequently changes location, needs mobile PDQ machines that processes card and contactless payments through a mobile connection.

Just imagine, you would be able to take your payments to anywhere in the UK, and still be guaranteed safety and convenience in your transactions.

Similarly to portable PDQ machines, mobile models need to be recharged at least once per day. Be sure to get a model with a durable battery life so you don’t need to keep recharging it during prime business hours.

Within a standard mobile PDQ machine package, you will find these items:

  • Mobile PDQ machine
  • Terminal charger for recharging battery
  • Complimentary till roll supply
  • Supervisor card for access to functions such as refunds

Some countertop PDQ machines may offer extra equipment, depending on your provider.


Top mobile PDQ machines:


iZettle Card Reader


IZettle Reader


The iZettle Reader reigns as the leading mobile payments provider in the UK. Simply put, it is the perfect solution for small businesses that are constantly on the move, since it can accept a wide range of cards and contactless payment through the iZettle app.

The iZettle Reader’s effective design makes it accept payments 25% faster than its competitors, and possess battery life this is 30% longer.

Furthermore, its sleek POS system offers tools for marketing, sales analytics, and bookkeeping. Everything you need would be at the tip of your fingers.

There are no monthly fees or contracts when using iZettle. You would purchase the iZettle Reader for £59, and face a transaction fee of 1.75%.

Find out more about iZettle here.
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IZattle Sumup

Similar to iZettle, SumUp has an exceptionally easy-to-use mobile payments machine, and a sophisticated POS system.

The SumUp Air Card machine accepts all debit and credit cards, as well as contactless payments, and retails at £59 + VAT. They have no other fees besides a very reasonable 1.95% transaction fee.

If that doesn’t convince you, then let me add on that you also get free delivery of your card reader, telephone/email support, and inclusive iOS/Android app.

Find out more about SumUp here.
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Fees Associated with PDQ Machines



You have two choices when it comes to getting a PDQ machine for your business: Rent or Buy. Check out our other article covering costs, for a detailed comparison between renting and buying PDQ machines.

Let me take a wild guess and say that you would rather rent a PDQ machine.

Smart move. The majority of businesses in the UK opt to rent PDQ machines, because this allows them to update to newer models with more secure and efficient technology.

What’s more, rental contracts will generally provide your business with assistance and repairs if you experience problems with your PDQ machine.

You will come across 3 types of fees from renting PDQ machines:

  • Upfront Admin Fee
  • Monthly Rental Fees
  • Transaction Fees


Upfront Admin Fee

This is a one-off terminal admin fee, typically set at £150. It is a non-refundable fee covering rental application, set-up, and machine activation.

Indeed, some PDQ machine providers may not charge an upfront fee, but beware that there aren’t any other ‘hidden’ fees in your rental contract.


Monthly Rental Fees

These fees will primarily depend on your provider, your rental contract length, and the number of rented PDQ machines. Typically, you can get discounted monthly rates if your contract lasts for a long period of time, or if you rent a large amount of PDQ machines.

Monthly rates depend on the type of PDQ machine you are renting. The fees for countertop models are generally £20-£50/month, while for portable models they are £5-£30/month.


Transaction Fees

Your merchant account provider determines these fees based on the contract you have with them and the type of cards being processed. They vary depending on the risk posed by your business and the number of transactions you will process, both of which are estimated by your merchant account provider.

For example, credit cards will be further charged 2-5% of the transaction. Debit cards will be charged an extra 5p-30p. Be sure to check with your merchant account provider, as these fees may have an affect on your overall cost of renting a PDQ machine.

Tip: Consider your business type and the amount of transactions you mainly process. If your business has consistently high levels of transaction, then opt for a fixed monthly plan. But if your business is seasonal with varying levels of transactions, choose a plan with less commitment such as a ‘Pay As You Go’ plan.


Final Verdict


PDQ machines are a smart investment for your business. They can add immense value to your company, improve your credibility, and ensure you don’t miss out on any sales. Finding the right PDQ machine sets your business up for success, and more importantly, places you firmly on par with your competitors.


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