Offline Credit Card Processing: Take Payments Anywhere with Square

Offline Credit Card Processing: Take Payments Anywhere with Square
Being able to take offline credit card payments can give you flexibility and help you avoid costly business interruptions when the internet is down. Learn how to take offline payments with Square.
by Square Mar 19, 2024 — 4 min read
Offline Credit Card Processing: Take Payments Anywhere with Square

Being able to take payment from your customers on the go is a major advantage for any business. But what if the WiFi goes down or you’re selling burgers at Splendour in the Grass and there’s zero reception?

Say hello to Square offline payments. This feature enables you to carry on taking secure payments even when there’s no service, meaning you can continue doing business with no interruptions.

With offline payments you can keep selling even when you’re not connected, and any sales you make will process automatically as soon as you’re back online. Offline payments are processed automatically when you reconnect your device to the internet and may be declined if not processed within 24 hours depending on your hardware.

Any offline payment that is not processed within the proper time limit will expire and the funds will not be received from your customer. Your current processing rate will be applied to offline transactions, so you’ll see no difference in fees.

Why do I need offline credit card processing?

While connectivity issues are more common for mobile businesses, even the best setup brick-and-mortar stores, cafes, and restaurants can encounter loss of mobile reception or Wi-Fi issues and as a business owner you want to avoid any trading disruptions. Setting up offline payments enables you to continue taking orders even when your signal drops out or is non-existent. Say goodbye to missed sales!

Accept payments offline

Device Chip + PIN Tap Apple Pay Google Pay
Square Terminal  ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes
Square Register ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes
Square Stand (1st and 2nd generations and Square Stand Mount) ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes
Square Reader  ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes ✔️ Yes

Please note, the Square Reader and Square Stand have a limit of 1 hour for the offline session. The Square Terminal and Square Register have a limit of 24 hours for the offline session. You must reconnect your device to the internet and upload your offline payments within 24 hours of when you process your first offline payment. Once you reconnect to the internet, your offline session will restart if you go offline again.

How to accept offline credit card transactions

You must enable offline payments on your device before you go offline. Just follow these steps:

Download Square Point of Sale, our point-of-sale app, and set up your account. Square Point of Sale’s POS software is free and works on both Apple and Android devices.

  1. Log in to your Square account on the Point of Sale app and tap the menu icon.
  2. Tap More, then Settings, then Checkout, and then Offline payments.
  3. Toggle on offline payments.
  4. Review the information and then tap Allow. This will enable offline payments on all of the compatible devices connected to your account. 

Once you do this, you’re ready to accept offline payments if you lose connectivity. Note that in order for your team members to enable or disable offline payments, they will need to have the “Configure Checkout Settings” box checked in their Permissions setting. If they don’t, they will still be able to process offline payments, but not able to enable or disable the feature.

When you lose connection, a notification banner at the top of your device’s screen will indicate that the device has automatically started an offline payments session. There will be an accompanying countdown clock on all devices (with the exception of Square Register and Square Terminal) displaying how much time is left in the offline session. Once you go offline you have up to 24 hours to reconnect. If the session is interrupted or when it expires, there will be an in-app notification. When you reconnect to the servers your transactions that were taken offline will automatically sync.


Viewing offline payments

If you want to check in on your payments, view them in your in-app payment history while you’re offline where they show up as pending. Once you regain connectivity, they will process automatically and you can view completed transactions in your Square dashboard. Digital receipts and payment notification emails are also sent as soon as you’re back online.

Tip: It’s worth remembering that you can’t cancel a pending transaction, so if someone changes their order post-payment, let the payment go through once you have connectivity and then refund it.

Important things to remember with offline payment processing

When you take credit card payments offline, there is a small risk of expired, declined or disputed payments. Card issuers can’t talk to Square Point of Sale without the internet, so you won’t necessarily know if someone enters an incorrect PIN or if their card has expired. However, you’re responsible if any transactions later fail when you’re back online. Setting a transaction limit while offline is a good idea because it reduces your exposure if a payment doesn’t go through.

If you’re worried about being caught out by declined transactions, double-check card details to make sure they’re not expired and write down the customer’s name and number on the back of the receipt – that way you can get back in touch with them if you need to. You can learn more about offline payment processing here.

Tip: don’t log out of your Square app while you’re offline as any pending payments will be permanently lost and the funds won’t be transferred.

Learn more about offline payments here

Credit card compliance

You don’t need to worry about whether your customer transaction data is protected when you take offline payments. Online or offline, Square encrypts and protects all transactions.

You may have heard of PCI DSS compliance, which is the global standard for ensuring secure credit card payments. All businesses which accept credit and debit cards in Australia need to be compliant.

Square takes care of this compliance so you don’t have to. Our software provides end-to-end encryption provided you use Square to process all customer transactions, data and payment details.

What this means in practice is that if you submit an offline transaction, it is encrypted and can’t be decrypted until it reaches the bank’s servers. Any offline credit card transactions submitted for authorization are securely deleted from the mobile device as soon as you’re back online.

On top of that, all customer and transaction data is also encrypted. The card number or security numbers are never fully displayed to the seller either, regardless of whether you’re online or offline.

Offline payments is a valuable tool in your business arsenal, allowing you to keep trading even when the internet doesn’t work. Whether you’re a static bricks-and-mortar shop or a mobile business visiting dozens of different places in a day, it makes sense to have the feature switched on. With offline payments enabled in the background, forget about service interruptions and concentrate on doing what you do best instead.

Offline payments are not supported on older versions of Square Reader for contactless and chip (1st generation, v1 and v2). Click here for help identifying your contactless reader. Learn more about how to enable and use offline payments here.

The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.


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