A PDQ machine is a device used to process credit card and debit card transactions. Most consumers have seen them many times at both major retailers and smaller stores. It is likely the most common way to process credit card and debit card transactions at a retail business.
The popularity of these machines have skyrocketed in the past decade. They started to appear in national retail chains and have since grown to nearly every other type of retail business. In most cases, consumers themselves can swipe their cards through and handle the transaction without ever giving their cards to a store employee. Generally not much larger than an individual’s hand, some are handheld while others are mounted to a piece of furniture or other equipment.
The steps for processing a credit card or a debit card with a PDQ machine vary slightly. If processing a credit card, the machine may just print a receipt with an approved or declined message on it. This may or may not require the signature of the customer. If processing a debit card, the cardholder may have to enter a personal identification number (PIN), usually consisting of four digits.
Before PDQ machines, credit cards were processed in a number of different ways. When processing technology was relatively new, most cards were processed by having their impressions placed on a paper slip that was sent to a processing center, or entered by the store’s accounting department. Then, cash registers were manufactured having the ability to swipe, read, and transmit credit card information. While integrated cash registers/credit card machines are still in use, most now make use of a separate reading device.
A PDQ machine works by reading information from the credit card off the magnetic strip before a purchase is made. Often, the price is then entered into a machine to verify there is enough credit in the user’s account to complete the purchase. In other cases, the machine is linked to the cash register and automatically receives the price information, so there is no need for manual entry.
If the credit card has a magnetic strip that is no longer functioning, a the device can help in that situation as well. The numbers on the credit card can be manually entered to transmit the necessary information. Though this may take a little longer, the end result is still the same. Often, the receipt provided by the machine will make note of whether a card was swiped or entered manually.
Though there are fees associated with a PDQ machine, retailers often consider that payment to be a bargain. Non-cash transactions are becoming more common. Without the use of this machine or some other sort of processing mechanism for credit and debit cards, merchants could find themselves losing a significant number of sales.