Credit card & PDQ machine rental – How to hire, guide to getting it right, and detailed FAQ

Last updated on 16 June 2023

Are you looking for credit card machine rental? In the modern commercial landscape, businesses of all sizes are acclimating to the shift from cash to card transactions. Now, more than ever, having a robust and efficient payment processing system is critical to any business’s success.

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This guide will comprehensively cover the essentials of credit card and PDQ (Process Data Quickly) machine rental, the different types of machines available in the market, and how to ensure you’re making the right choice for your business.

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Video: Card readers and payment machines explained

What is a PDQ machine?

A PDQ machine, also known as a card reader or card machine, is a device that processes card payments. It interacts with a customer’s credit or debit card to deduct the correct amount and transfer it to the retailer’s account.

The “Process Data Quickly” acronym quite fittingly describes its primary function. PDQ machines have evolved significantly over the years, with contactless payments and mobile integration becoming common features.

Why rent?

Many businesses opt to rent credit card machines for a host of reasons.

  • First, renting can be a more cost-effective approach, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or start-ups that cannot afford the high upfront costs of buying.
  • Renting also offers flexibility; it enables businesses to switch machines as technology advances, ensuring they always offer the latest payment methods to their customers.
  • Additionally, many rental contracts include maintenance and support, which can be valuable for businesses without the technical knowledge to manage the machines themselves.

Types of PDQ machines

There are four main types of credit card machine available for rental, each suited to different business models:

  1. Countertop PDQ Machines: These are the most common type and are usually found in retail outlets where all transactions occur in a single location. They’re connected to the business’s network via a phone line or internet connection.
  2. Portable PDQ Machines: Portable machines are ideal for businesses like restaurants or cafes, where payments may need to be taken at different locations within a limited range. These machines operate via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
  3. Mobile PDQ Machines: Mobile machines are designed for businesses on the go, such as delivery services, pop-up stalls, or tradespeople. They use mobile data or a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone to process payments.
  4. Virtual PDQ Machines: A virtual PDQ is essentially software that allows businesses to process card payments online. This option is suitable for e-commerce businesses.

Selecting the right credit card machine rental provider

When considering a rental provider for a PDQ machine, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Rental Cost: The cost of renting a PDQ machine can vary greatly. Factors influencing the price include the type of machine, the length of the rental agreement, and any additional services such as support and maintenance.
  2. Contract Length: Rental contracts can range from monthly to multi-year agreements. While longer contracts can reduce monthly costs, they can also limit your flexibility.
  3. Transaction Fees: Most providers will charge a fee per transaction, typically a small percentage of the transaction value. It’s crucial to understand these fees, as they can significantly impact your bottom line.
  4. Reliability: Look for providers with a track record of reliable machines and excellent customer service. Downtime can be costly, so swift resolution of issues is crucial.
  5. Integration with Existing Systems: Ensure the PDQ machine can integrate with your existing systems, like your point of sale system and accounting software. This will make managing transactions and financial records easier.

Steps to renting a credit card machine

Here’s a step-by-step guide to credit card machine rental:

How to rent a credit card machine

  1. Determine Your Needs

    Consider your business type, average transaction volume, peak transaction periods, and where transactions will occur.

  2. Research Providers

    Look into various rental providers, considering their costs, contract lengths, transaction fees, and customer service reputation.

  3. Request Quotes

    Contact several providers to get quotes based on your specific needs. Be sure to ask about any hidden fees, such as installation or cancellation charges.

  4. Compare and Negotiate

    Compare the quotes and services offered. Don’t hesitate to negotiate terms; many providers are open to it, especially for longer contract periods.

  5. Review the Contract

    Make sure to read and understand the contract thoroughly. Consider having a legal advisor review it to avoid any potential pitfalls.

  6. Installation

    Once you’ve signed the contract, arrange for installation. Some providers offer training as part of the installation process, which can be beneficial.

Getting it right – Making a success of your first credit card machine rental

Renting a PDQ machine is an important decision with potential implications for your business’s customer experience, efficiency, and profitability.

It’s essential to do your research, understand your needs, and make a choice that provides value for money, while also meeting your operational requirements.

By doing so, you can ensure your business is well-equipped to handle the evolving payment preferences of modern customers, all while maintaining streamlined operations and robust financial tracking.

Costs and fees of credit card machine rental

Understanding the costs and fees associated with renting a PDQ machine is vital to ensure that it fits within your business’s budget and doesn’t lead to unexpected expenses down the line. These costs can be broadly divided into fixed and variable costs.

Fixed costs

Rental Fee: This is the primary fixed cost associated with renting a PDQ machine. It’s usually a monthly fee, although the actual amount can vary widely depending on the type of machine, the length of the rental agreement, and the specific provider. As of the time of writing, rental fees typically range from £15 to £30 per month.

Setup and Installation Fee: Some providers may charge a one-off fee for setting up and installing the machine. This fee is generally less common with longer-term contracts, as the provider can spread the setup costs over a longer period.

PCI DSS Compliance Fee: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards designed to ensure that all companies that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. Some providers charge a fee for assisting your business in meeting these standards.

Variable costs

Transaction Fees: On top of the fixed costs, most providers also charge a fee for each transaction processed. This fee can either be a flat rate per transaction or a percentage of the transaction value, and sometimes, it can be a combination of both. The specific rates can vary widely depending on the provider and the type of card being processed. Debit card transactions generally have lower fees than credit card transactions, and premium or corporate cards often come with higher fees.

Chargeback Fees: If a customer disputes a transaction (leading to a ‘chargeback’), the provider may charge a fee. This fee covers the administrative costs of handling the dispute.

Paper Statement Fees: Some providers may charge a fee if you opt to receive paper statements instead of digital ones.

Before signing a contract, it’s crucial to understand all the costs involved. Make sure to ask the provider about all possible fees and read the contract carefully to avoid any surprises. When comparing providers, consider both the fixed and variable costs and how they align with your business model and expected transaction volume.

List of top rental providers

When renting a PDQ machine, it’s important to consider a range of providers to ensure that you’re getting the best deal. Here’s a list of some of the top PDQ machine rental providers available in the UK:

  1. Worldpay: Worldpay is one of the largest providers of PDQ machines and payment processing services in the UK. They offer a range of devices suitable for different business types and sizes, with flexible pricing plans.
  2. TakePayments: TakePayments (formerly Payzone) offers a variety of PDQ machines, including countertop, portable, and mobile options. They’re known for offering short-term contracts, which can be appealing to businesses needing flexibility.
  3. Paymentsense: Paymentsense provides a range of card machine options, as well as additional services such as online payment gateways and virtual terminals. They cater to both small and large businesses.
  4. Square: Square is known for its mobile card reader, which is a popular choice for small businesses and sole traders. They offer simple pricing with no monthly fees, charging only for transactions.
  5. SumUp: SumUp is another provider offering a simple and easy-to-use mobile card reader, with competitive transaction fees and no monthly rental costs.
  6. Zettle (now part of PayPal): Zettle provides a mobile card reader with a one-off purchase cost and competitive transaction fees. Now under PayPal, they also offer seamless integration with PayPal’s suite of payment services.
  7. Barclaycard: As part of one of the UK’s largest banks, Barclaycard offers a variety of card machines and has the added benefit of seamless integration with Barclaycard merchant accounts.
  8. Handepay: Handepay offers competitive pricing and prides itself on transparent pricing with no hidden fees. They offer a range of machines to suit different businesses.

Remember, it’s crucial to obtain quotes from several providers and carefully review the costs, terms, and conditions before making a decision.


What is a PDQ machine?

A PDQ machine is a device that processes card payments by interacting with a customer’s credit or debit card to deduct the correct amount and transfer it to the retailer’s account.

Why should I rent a PDQ machine instead of buying one?

Renting a PDQ machine can be a more cost-effective option, especially for small businesses. It offers flexibility, allows for upgrades to newer technology, and often includes maintenance and support.

What are the different types of PDQ machines available for rental?

The main types of PDQ machines are countertop, portable, mobile, and virtual. Countertop machines are fixed at a location, portable machines can be moved within a limited range, mobile machines are suitable for on-the-go businesses, and virtual machines are used for online payments.

How do I select the right PDQ machine rental provider?

Consider factors such as rental cost, contract length, transaction fees, reliability, and integration with your existing systems. Research multiple providers, request quotes, and compare their offerings before making a decision.

What are the typical costs associated with renting a card machine?

The costs include a monthly rental fee, setup and installation fee (if applicable), PCI DSS compliance fee (if applicable), transaction fees, chargeback fees, and paper statement fees (if applicable).

How do transaction fees work?

Transaction fees are charges applied by the PDQ machine provider for each transaction processed. They can be a flat rate per transaction or a percentage of the transaction value, or a combination of both.

Can I negotiate the terms of a PDQ machine rental contract?

Yes, many providers are open to negotiating terms, especially for longer contract periods. Don’t hesitate to discuss your needs and explore possible adjustments to the contract.

What is PCI DSS compliance, and why is it important?

PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance is a set of security standards that ensure businesses maintain a secure environment for handling cardholder data. Compliance is essential to protect customer data and maintain trust.

How long does it take to install a PDQ machine?

Installation times can vary depending on the provider and the complexity of the setup. Typically, it takes a few days to a week to complete the installation process.

Can I integrate a PDQ machine with my existing systems?

Yes, many PDQ machines can integrate with existing systems such as point of sale (POS) systems and accounting software. Ensure compatibility before selecting a machine.

Can I use a rented PDQ machine for online transactions?

Some providers offer virtual PDQ machines specifically designed for online transactions. Discuss your requirements with the rental provider to ensure they can meet your needs.

What happens if the rented PDQ machine malfunctions or breaks down?

Rental agreements often include maintenance and support services. Contact the provider’s customer support to report the issue and request assistance.

Can I upgrade my rented PDQ machine to a newer model?

Depending on the rental provider, you may have the option to upgrade your PDQ machine to a newer model. Discuss upgrade possibilities with the provider.

Can I rent multiple PDQ machines for my business?

Yes, many rental providers offer options to rent multiple PDQ machines to meet the needs of your business. Discuss your requirements with the provider.

Can I use a rented PDQ machine if I have a seasonal business?

Rental providers often offer flexible contract terms that can accommodate seasonal businesses. Discuss your specific situation and requirements with the provider.

How do chargebacks work, and why are there fees associated with them?

Chargebacks occur when a customer disputes a transaction. Providers may charge a fee to cover the administrative costs associated with handling the dispute.

What should I do if I want to cancel a PDQ machine rental agreement?

Review the terms of the rental agreement regarding cancellation. Contact the provider and follow their instructions for canceling the rental.

Can I rent a PDQ machine if I have a low volume of transactions?

Yes, many rental providers cater to businesses with various transaction volumes. Discuss your specific needs with the provider to find a suitable solution.

How long are PDQ machine rental contracts typically?

Rental contracts can range from monthly agreements to multi-year contracts. The duration depends on your business’s needs and the terms offered by the provider.

Can I switch PDQ machine rental providers during my contract term?

Switching providers during a contract term may come with certain conditions or fees. Review the terms of your contract or consult with the rental provider for more information on switching options.

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Reviewed by , Managing Director


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