paying by card

Guide to PDQ Machine Rental: How To Find The Best Deal

We understand how important it is to find the most streamlined way to accept any form of payment from your customers, whether it’s card, cash or bank transfer.

We understand how important it is to find the most streamlined way to accept any form of payment from your customers, whether it’s card, cash or bank transfer.

But with the growing ways in which to pay by card (contactless, Apple Pay, Google Pay, chip and pin), having a reliable, cost-effective PDQ machine or card reader is crucial for a great customer experience and for managing your business budget best!

If you are setting up shop for the first time, or you’re keen to switch to a new PDQ machine, , then you have likely been doing your research trying to find out what the best one for you is. So we’ve created this Guide to PDQ Machine Rental which talks you through how to find the best deal!.

card reader

What is a PDQ Machine?

“What is a PDQ Machine?” we hear you ask? Well, PDQ stands for “Process Data Quickly” and is essentially a device that a merchant uses to take card payments from customers, either through chip and pin or contactless.

Step 1: Choose The Type of PDQ Machine You Need

There are three different types of PDQ machine available to UK vendors, and your choice depends on your needs:

  • Countertop: These are the type of PDQ you will likely see in supermarkets or your local post office, as they are in a fixed position on top of a countertop.
  • Portable: This style of PDQ is portable and can be carried around the shopfloor, they are often found in bars and restaurants.
  • Mobile: Mobile PDQs are on-the-go card machines and frequently used by taxi drivers, food vendors or table-top sales, such as farmers markets and so on.


On top of the types of PDQ, all 3 would be able to handle 3 different payment types:

  • Chip and Pin: Most common card payment method, quick and easy where the customer inserts their payment card and inputs their pin code.
  • Contactless: Rising in popularity over the years, contactless payments are the quickest way to pay with card, with the limit currently sitting at £100 on most machines.
  • Magnetic Stripe: This is the original way to pay with a card, and is slightly outdated and not used as often, but customers swipe their card down the reader and sign the receipt which will be checked against their signed card.

At CardSwitcher, we’ve created this handy guide to comparing different brands of PDQ terminal. You can filter between counter top, portable, and mobile terminals with ease, and see which offers the specs best suited to your business needs.


Step 2: Do You Actually Want To Rent or Should You Buy?

Depending on your cash flow and long-term goals, you may be better off buying a PDQ machine rather than renting. See what suits you best by reading on.


Renting your PDQ machine means that you pay your chosen supplier on a monthly basis over a certain period of time, and when that contract ends you choose whether you continue on with your supplier or return the PDQ.

Renting is best for:

  • Start-up companies or small businesses who can’t afford the upfront to purchase a machine.
  • Companies who require multiple PDQ machines.
  • Companies who would prefer not to deal with maintenance and repairs themselves.

Things to be mindful of:

  • Go over your rental contract with a fine comb – find out what is and isn’t included, particularly warranty and repairs.
  • The overall cost of the contract compared to buying outright.



When you purchase a PDQ machine, it becomes your full responsibility and you don’t need to worry about navigating difficult and costly contracts.

Buying is best for:

  • Companies who have a comfortable cash flow and can afford the upfront payment (ranges from £200-800).
  • Companies who only need one machine and can afford to buy it.

Things to be mindful of:

  • Technology advances quickly, so consider whether you’d be happy purchasing a technology that will potentially be outdated in a few years. Is the investment worth it?
  • You are responsible for organising maintenance and covering these costs yourself.


chip and pin

Step 3: Consider Your Monthly Rental Budget

Before you make the decision to purchase or rent your PDQ machine, you must be aware of the on-going fees that you will be required to pay:

  • Monthly Fees: This can include your monthly rental fee, which is typically flat or fixed, but can vary depending on the number of transactions you make if your initial forecast was wrong.
  • Service Charge: Another monthly fee, where you pay around £10 – £50 to maintain your PDQ.
  • Transaction Fee: This can vary depending on your choice of provider, but it is common for a per-transaction fee to be in place. This is typically only a few pence, or a minor percentage.
  • Set-up Fee: There may be an additional fee incurred to have the terminal set-up initially, more common with countertop PDQs.
  • Exit/Termination Fee: If you decide to exit your current contract and opt for another provider, you will be faced with a termination fee – this will be stated in your contract.


Step 4: Compare Providers

There are a number of PDQ providers available, so finding the best deal for your rental or purchase is important to ensure you don’t pay sky high prices.

At CardSwitcher, we help you compare costs for card processing, PDQ terminal rental, and payment gateway services (if you also trade online), all in one place.

So, whilst you may only originally have been interested in renting a PDQ machine, we highly recommend going the whole hog and making sure you’re not spending more than you need to each month on other card payment processing expenses.

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