Offline Credit Card Processing: Accept Credit Cards Offline

Offline Credit Card Processing: Accept Credit Cards Offline
Square makes it easy for your business to take offline payments at our low processing rates. Accept credit cards anytime — no Wi-Fi needed.
by Square Mar 26, 2024 — 4 min read
Offline Credit Card Processing: Accept Credit Cards Offline

Offline payment processing offers more than the option to take card payments anywhere, anytime, even if there’s no internet access; it also provides peace of mind. With offline payments on Square, you can take secure, offline credit card transactions for up to 24 hours that are processed when you reconnect to the internet and Square servers.1

It’s easy to set up offline credit card processing with Square, and once it’s switched on, you can automatically take offline payments any time you lose connection to the internet or Square servers, no matter the reason. There’s no additional cost to use the feature; you’ll pay your usual credit card transaction fees, even for those taken while offline.

When would you need offline credit card processing?

Some business owners might only use offline payments if they can’t connect to the internet due to an outage or temporarily being out of range. But for others, it might be the only option for taking credit card payments. Think outdoor festivals and events; food trucks; mobile sales like tow trucks, plumbers, and other home and repair services; and other spots where connecting to the internet might not be possible. No matter the use case, it’s a great tool for sellers to have at their fingertips.

How to accept offline credit card transactions

You must enable offline payments on your device before you go offline. To do so, follow these steps:

Download Square Point of Sale, our point-of-sale app, and set up your account. Square Point of Sale 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 MoreSettings > Checkout > 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 connectivityNote 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 will not be 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 payment 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 expires, there will be an in-app notification. When you reconnect to the servers, your transactions that were taken offline will automatically sync.

Who can benefit from offline payment processing?

Any business owner who isn’t able to connect to the internet for any reason can benefit from offline payment processing. The use cases for offline payment processing vary greatly and can include everything from businesses operating in remote locations to pop-up events, markets, and even inside customers’ homes. Offline payments can act as a safety net for businesses that are affected by unstable or unreliable internet or electricity services. 

Even businesses with reliable utilities can enable offline payments just in case. Offline payments offer businesses a reliable payment solution and dependable payment processing. And it can help limit business disruptions on the rare occasion that a router fails, an internet provider suffers an outage in their area, or there are connectivity issues for any other reason.

Important things to remember with offline credit card processing

Take steps to limit risk.

You should consider taking some extra steps when taking offline payments. If an offline credit card transaction is declined, disputed, or expired, for instance, you may be responsible for the charges.

To reduce the risk of an offline payment being declined once you’re reconnected, we recommend a few additional steps:

While this doesn’t happen often, if you are offline when you take a credit card transactionSquare Point of Sale is unable to communicate or transmit information with the banks during offline payment processing. So when you take offline payments, you’re responsible if any cards are declined. Once you do reconnect online, if a payment fails to go through, Square doesn’t charge a transaction fee. But you would unfortunately be out of pocket for the cost of goods or services you sold but didn’t receive funds for.

Note: Square is not responsible for any loss due to declined cards or expired payments taken while offline. Additionally, Square cannot contact customers on a seller’s behalf should a payment be declined or expired when taken as an offline payment.

Offline payments time limits

Offline payments are automatically processed when your device has connectivity again. Once your device goes offline, you have 24 hours after accepting your first offline payment to reconnect and sync the payments you took while offline.

Transactions expire, and funds will not be received from your customer if they’re not processed within 24 hours of the start of an offline payment session. Learn more about the specifics around offline payment limits here

Refunds for offline payments 

Credit card transactions taken as offline payments can be cancelled after you reconnect and allow the pending payment to complete. At that point, you can issue a refund.

First, complete the pending payment by reconnecting within the 24-hour window. When you do that, the transactions will automatically sync. Then you can issue a refund from the Transactions tab of your POS.

Just remember that offline payment transactions can’t be cancelled when they’re pending. 

Offline credit card processing PCI compliance

We’ve established important industry safeguards to ensure credit card data is safe during offline payment processing. Rest assured, whether you’re taking payments normally or processing an offline credit card transaction, Square always encrypts and protects the card information.

The data can’t be decrypted until it reaches the Square PCI DSS–compliant environment. During offline credit card processing, Square Point of Sale further encrypts cardholder and transaction information so it can’t be decrypted until it reaches our environment.

These offline credit card transactions are transmitted for authorization and securely deleted from the mobile device as soon as the device is back online. Also, Square never displays full card numbers or security codes to sellers in any form, whether you’re online or offline.

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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