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Merchant services: Compare card machine rental options for your business

Reading time: 6 mins

Card machine rental is by far the most popular option when small businesses want to upgrade their equipment and start accepting debit or credit card payments.

Proposed by all high-street banks providing merchant services, PDQ machine card hire plans are now also offered by pure players, which have triggered some notable changes in the market.

Are there now more reasons than ever to prefer card machine rental plans over the outright purchase of the same machines? What types of machines are available and at what cost?

Why card machine rentals are still the most popular plans to get a card terminal

With the arrival of pure players and new types of plans, including short credit card machine hires, there has never been so many reasons to choose to rent a PDQ machine.

Pros of credit card terminal rental

Renting a PDQ machine or credit card terminal is the easiest way to get one business or shop equipped, as rentals are usually proposed by the same banks which already manage the shop’s business account.

In this traditional scheme, a full hardware + services plan is offered to the business and the bank takes care of everything.

This all-inclusive approach is often much appreciated by small business owners or managers because it’s really hassle-free and the point of contact is an already trusted business partner – the banker.

Benefits don’t stop there as card machine rentals offer:

Low setup and upfront costs,

Low monthly costs,

-  All-inclusive approach as the machine comes with the required merchant account and services,

-  The bank and its partners take care of much of the setup, programming and integration with the shop’s point of sale system,

-  The bank also is the first point of contact for any customer service, repair or maintenance needs,

-  Features such as accepted types of credit cards can be added or removed nearly anytime,

-  Hardware itself can be upgraded to newer or more modern models regularly when needs evolve or when the machine no longer works.

As pure players have entered the credit card machine rental market, new benefits are available:

-  Shorter, less committing plans,

-  Greater opportunities to choose different providers for the various hardware/software/services part of the package,

Cheaper service rates and merchant account rates,

-  Cheaper machines as these pure players now also offer refurbished credit card terminals.

Short term card machine hires VS long term contracts

One of the other great benefits of renting a card machine from a pure player is that these providers now also offer short-term renting plans, which traditional banks rarely do.

It’s therefore possible to rent a card machine for one month, one week, or even one day when needs are restricted to a certain period of time when business is not the same as usual.

Examples of such situations perfectly justifying short PDQ card machine hires include:

Peak business seasons, when more customers are showing up, more staff is employed, and more credit card terminals are needed,

Pop-up shop experiments,

Business trips, when business has to be done away from the shop,

-  Participation to trade shows, exhibitions or fairs.

Apart from the benefit of flexibility, short credit card machine hires also bring other benefits:

-  The business customer is obviously less tied with his or her bank,

-  It’s easy to try multiple providers or even work with multiple providers at the same time,

-  Even more so than long term hires, short term ones are really all-inclusive, hassle-free solutions.

However, long-term hires also have their advantages:

Rental fees on a daily basis are inversely proportional to contract duration, so a 1-day rental may cost up to ten times as much as one day of rental within a 2-year contract rental,

Card processing fees may also be more expensive,

-  High deposits are usually required in short term rentals, covering about the price of the machine itself,

-  And of course, a long-term partner just knows you and knows your business better, which definitely has an impact on transaction fees.

Available card machine types and corresponding rental plan prices

As the number of credit card machine rental providers grows and as their profile changes, the list of available types of terminals also keeps growing. Which machine is ultimately selected naturally has an impact on rental costs.

Types of terminals available for card machine hire plans

Static PDQ machine rentals, 3G PDQ machine rentals, portable credit card machine rentals... most debit or credit card machines are now available for hire.

As prices may vary greatly between machine types, it’s important to review the actual business needs to try and keep costs as low as possible.

Standard credit card machine types include:

Countertop, wired PDQ machines – the most common PDQ machines, which are physically connected to the till or Point of Sale system, and may come in separate devices (keypad, display, card reader, receipt printer),

Portable PDQ machines – perfect for shops where it’s best to bring the payment solution to the customer, like restaurants or pubs, portable or wireless PDQ machines are standalone machines which use Bluetooth or WIFI connectivity to send data to the base, allowing a 30 metre to 100 metre usage range,

Mobile PDQ machines – these standalone machines with receipt printers and display also have a built-in modem enabling their users to accept debit or credit card transactions literally anywhere, even abroad, as long as a simple mobile phone signal can be accessed.

It’s interesting to note that the “new” mobile PDQ machines, which are simply card readers connected to a smartphone or tablet used as a modem, and which require the use of dedicated applications, are almost always only available for purchase.

While there are almost never any setup fees, it’s therefore required to buy the card readers of iZettle, SumUp or PayPal Here to use these devices. Fortunately, prices of these devices are normally much lower than those of traditional mobile credit card terminals.

Credit card machine rental prices

Credit card machine hire prices obviously depend on:

-  the type of machine chosen, with countertop machines being the cheapest and mobile machines the most expensive, and refurbished machines of course being cheaper than new machines,

-  the duration of the contract, with daily rental fees getting always more expensive as the contract covers a shorter time span,

-  the business profile of the customer,

-  the number of attached services – in case the rental is a comprehensive package including a merchant account, it’s sometimes difficult to know the exact part of the credit card machine rental in the breakdown of monthly fees.

All these variables make it difficult to  compare card machine prices without requesting proper quotes – and that’s where online services like Companeo come in handy.

However, card rental prices will usually vary between €5 and €40 per month, depending on PDQ model, for long-term contracts (2 years and over).

For short-term contracts, prices can be as high as €30 to €100 per day. The fact that the shortest contacts are usually chosen for special events away from the shop or office, therefore requiring pricey, mobile PDQ machines, makes it even more likely that their cost will be on the expensive end of the spectrum.