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Accept payments with the Square Reader

Square Reader

Accept payment cards anywhere.

The Square Reader connects to your compatible device via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), so it’s compatible with a wide range of devices – even ones that don’t have a headphone jack. You accept chip and contactless cards or devices such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Afterpay Card and other contactless smartphones and watches.

There are two generations of Square Reader: Square Reader (1st generation) and Square Reader (2nd generation). Processing fees, supported card brands, device setup and payment acceptance are the same across the generations. Learn more about the differences and how to identify your Square Reader.

Square’s standard processing fee of 1.9% per tap or insert on Square Reader and Square Stand applies to all card payment types – chip cards, contactless and magstripe. You can read more about how processing fees and rates are calculated. For manually processed payments, the processing fee is 2.2% per transaction.

Note: Bank-issued eftpos cards without a chip can’t be read by the Square Reader.

Accept Contactless (NFC) Payments

Watch this video to learn how to accept contactless payments:

When you’re ready to charge your customer:

  1. Make sure your reader is connected with your device.

  2. From the Square app, add items to your current sale and then tap Charge to prepare the reader for the payment. Note: If you’re using a mobile device or your tablet is being used in Portrait mode (vertically), tap Review sale > Charge.

  3. When you see one green light on the reader, it’s ready to take your customer’s payment. Ask your customer to hold their card or mobile wallet over the reader to complete the sale.

  4. When you see four green lights, hear a beep and see a confirmation in the Square app, the payment has successfully completed.

The current contactless payment limit is up to $200 before the customer is prompted for a PIN with Visa, American Express and JCB branded cards. Mastercard has resumed a CVM (cardholder verification method) limit of $100 per contactless card payment. Learn more about the contactless card PIN limit increase.

Accept chip + PIN payments

Follow these steps to accept chip + PIN payments with both generations of the Square Reader: 

  1. Make sure your reader is connected with your device.

  2. Open the Square app, add items to your current sale and then tap Charge. You can tap Charge before or after the chip card is inserted. Note: If you’re using a mobile device or your tablet is being used in Portrait mode (vertically), tap Review sale > Charge.

  3. Insert the chip card (chip-side first with the front of the card facing up) into the wide slot on the top of your reader and turn the device screen to the customer for PIN entry.

  4. If prompted to select an account, please ensure your customer selects credit, cheque or savings.

  5. Once PIN has been entered, make sure the customer has tapped the blue tick button.

When you see four green lights on the reader, hear a beep and see a confirmation message in the app, the payment has successfully completed and you can remove the chip card. If the customer wants a digital receipt, they can enter their phone number or email address on the confirmation screen.

Accept offline payments

The Square app requires an internet connection at all times to function properly. This can be either a Wi-Fi connection or a data service on your mobile device (such as 4G or 5G).  If your internet connection becomes interrupted or temporarily unavailable, you can accept payments during an offline session and upload them once you have an internet connection again. Square Reader 2nd generation and 1st generation v3 can accept chip & PIN and tap payments while your device is not connected to the internet. Your current processing rate will be applied to offline payments, so you’ll see no difference in fees. 

Note: Afterpay transactions, physical and eGift cards, and eftpos/swipe-only cards will not work with offline payments.

There are duration limitations associated with how long you can accept offline payments once you go offline and how long you have to upload offline payments once you regain internet connectivity. You will have one hour to accept offline payments with Square Reader 2nd generation and 1st generation v3, and 24 hours from the time you go offline to reconnect your device to the internet to upload those offline payments. Any offline payment that is not processed within 24 hours will expire and the funds will not be received from your customer.

Offline payments must be enabled while connected to the internet, prior to going offline. 

To enable offline payments:

  1. From the navigation bar at the bottom of your screen, tap ≡ More.

  2. Tap Settings > Checkout > Offline payments.

  3. Toggle Allow Offline payments to on.

  4. Review the information and then tap Allow.

  5. To set a limit for card transactions taken offline, enter an amount next to Per transaction limit.

Disable offline payments by tapping ≡ More > Settings > Checkout > Offline payments > turn off.

Once offline payments are enabled, an offline session will automatically activate whenever your internet connectivity is unavailable. A notification banner at the top of your device will indicate it has automatically entered into an offline session accompanied by a countdown clock showing how much time you have left to accept offline payments.

You’ll have one hour to accept chip & PIN and tap transactions as offline payments on Square Reader 2nd generation and 1st generation v3. You will receive an in-app notification when your offline session has expired or if it was interrupted.

After you have regained internet connectivity and uploaded your offline payments, another offline session will activate if you lose connectivity again. 

Offline payments will appear as pending from your in-app payment history while your device is offline. When you reconnect your device to the internet, payments will show as completed and will be visible from your online Square Dashboard. Customers’ digital receipts and your payment notification emails will also be sent when the device is back online.

If you have pending offline payments:

  • Do not delete the Square app.

  • Do not sign out of the Square app or your Square account.

  • Do not factory reset the device that has taken offline payments.

Pending offline payments will be permanently lost and the funds won’t be captured if you log out of your Square account, delete the Square app or factory reset the device that has taken offline payments. Make sure you process these payments by reconnecting your device to the internet within the time limit.

There is additional risk with any offline payments you accept. Square is not responsible for any loss due to declined cards or expired payments taken while offline. In addition, Square cannot contact any customers on your behalf should an offline payment be declined or expire.

Refer to the Offline Payments section of the Payment Terms for terms and conditions that apply to this feature. Learn more about offline payment specifics for offline session duration, Square hardware, connected hardware and acceptable payment types.

Enable card network sounds

To enable or disable the card network audio tone for the Square POS app at the completion of a successful transaction:

  1. Tap ≡ More

  2. Tap Settings > Checkout > Payment sounds.

  3. Toggle on or off Allow card network sounds.

If enabled, the tone will only be heard for inserted or tapped on applicable card network debit and credit cards.

For more information, review frequently asked questions about the Square Reader

Learn more about: Contactless and Chip Reader

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