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A nationwide credit card outage briefly hit the United States this past weekend. TSYS was the affected payment processor network that serves these systems:

  • Vital Point-of-Sale
  • Cayan
  • ProPay Systems

The network updates its operational status here for potential outages.

The credit card outage lasted approximately 30 minutes from 9:30 PM Eastern until 10:00 PM, according to news reports.

However, it was approximately three hours from the initial outage reports before various merchants, and payment platforms went to social media, stating the TSYS system was fully operational again.

credit card outage
The Mastercard symbol at point of sale. Credit: Mastercard

What Happened During the Credit Card Outage?

During this credit card outage, approximately 80,000 merchants could not accept credit or debit card payments. As a result, customers at restaurants, other retail establishments, and even vendors at San Diego’s Petco Park needed to pay cash for purchases.

A cause for the outage has yet to be released.

What to Do During a Credit Card Outage

While customers and retailers must wait for the payment card processing system to be restored during a credit card outage, there are several actions individuals can take.

Check Social Media

One of the best options is checking social media for your favorite store or restaurant for updates. The merchant may post they cannot accept credit card payments at this time.

If so, look for follow-up posts for when they can again.

Use Alternative Payments

Businesses may still accept cash payments during an outage. It’s not a bad idea to carry some extra cash for moments like these. The amount can be small enough to purchase a meal, a few gallons of gas to get home, or parking and highway tolls.

As businesses don’t keep as much cash on hand these days, you may need to pay with exact change. However, small bills can be helpful to pay your bill and prevent not getting change back if the cashier cannot break a large note.

A local ATM may still accept withdrawals during an outage. You can consider making a one-time checking account withdrawal to cover the purchase amount.

You can also see if the merchant accepts local checks if you happen to have a checkbook.

Try Another Business

If alternative payments are not an option, you can also look for a competing business. Their credit card reader may still be working if they use a different processing network.

Summary

In conclusion, nationwide credit card outages are relatively uncommon but not impossible. As our world becomes increasingly cashless, having a backup payment option is good practice.

In addition to an outage, these tips may also help you if the ongoing chip shortage affects receiving new credit cards and replacement cards. Merchants can still accept electronic payments in this situation but you may not use your favorite card temporarily.

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