What Can You Buy with EBT? A Comprehensive Guide

EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) is a government-provided program that helps eligible individuals and families with low incomes to purchase food and other basic necessities. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal nutrition assistance program, which provides financial assistance to millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet. However, many people may not be aware of what they can actually buy with their EBT cards. This comprehensive guide aims to provide clarity on the eligible items for purchase with EBT and the places where you can use your card. We will also discuss how to use your EBT card and check your benefit balance. Let’s dive into the details!

What is EBT?

What is EBT?

EBT stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer, a system used by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to distribute benefits to eligible individuals. SNAP is a federal program that provides assistance to low-income families and individuals to help them purchase food.

EBT card works like a debit card that can be used at authorized retailers to buy eligible items, including food items such as fruits, vegetables, cereal, bread, meat, and dairy products. However, it cannot be used to buy prohibited items such as tobacco, alcohol, hot food items or pet food.

The EBT system replaced the old paper-based food stamp system, making it easier and more convenient for individuals to access their benefits. EBT has helped reduce fraud and abuse associated with traditional paper-based programs and has enabled quicker and more efficient delivery of benefits.

In addition to SNAP benefits, the EBT system is also used to distribute other forms of government assistance, such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, and Child Support payments.

Overall, EBT plays a vital role in improving the lives of millions of Americans who struggle to put food on the table. It is a crucial lifeline for vulnerable families and individuals who need assistance to meet their basic needs and maintain their health.

Eligible Items for purchase with EBT

Food items that can be purchased with EBT

Food items that can be purchased with EBT

If you are wondering what food items you can buy with your EBT card, the good news is that there are plenty of options to choose from. In fact, you can use your EBT benefits to purchase most foods and beverages that are intended for human consumption.

Fruits and vegetables are some of the most nutritious and healthful foods you can buy with your EBT card. You can choose from fresh, canned, frozen, or dried varieties of fruits and vegetables. This includes items like apples, bananas, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, onions, and more. In general, any fruit or vegetable that is not prepared in a way that makes it ineligible can be purchased with EBT.

Bread and cereals are also EBT-eligible items. This includes bread, bagels, muffins, tortillas, pasta, rice, and other grain-based products. You can also purchase breakfast cereals that are fortified with vitamins and minerals.

Meat is an important source of protein and nutrients, and you can use your EBT benefits to purchase a variety of meat products. This includes beef, chicken, pork, fish, and shellfish. Processed meats like hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats may also be eligible as long as they are not prepared in a way that makes them ineligible.

Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter, are also allowed under the SNAP program. You can choose from low-fat, fat-free, or regular varieties depending on your preference.

It is worth noting that there are some exceptions to what can be purchased with EBT. For example, you cannot use your benefits to purchase alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, vitamins, supplements, or non-food items like soap or paper products.

Overall, if you are looking to make healthy and nutritious food choices with your EBT benefits, there are plenty of options available to you. With careful planning and smart decisions, you can ensure that your EBT benefits go a long way towards meeting your family’s nutritional needs.

Non-food items that can be purchased with EBT

Non-food items that can be purchased with EBT

While EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) is primarily used for purchasing food items, there are some non-food items that can also be bought with this government assistance program. These items include seeds, plants, baby formula, and hygiene products.

Seeds and Plants

EBT cardholders are allowed to purchase seeds and plants that can produce food for the household. This means that you can use your EBT to buy vegetable or fruit seeds and plants from local retailers or online stores. By planting these seeds or plants, you can grow your own fruits and vegetables at home, which can be a cost-effective way to provide healthy and fresh food for your family.

Baby Formula

Baby formula is another non-food item that can be purchased with EBT. If you have a child under one year old, you may be eligible to receive assistance in buying baby formula. This program ensures that all babies have access to the necessary nutrition they need to grow and thrive.

Hygiene Products

Hygiene is an important aspect of health, and EBT understands this fact. That’s why eligible individuals can use their EBT to purchase personal care and hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and feminine hygiene products. Keeping good hygiene is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being.

In conclusion, while EBT is primarily designed to aid low-income families in purchasing food items, the program does allow for the purchase of some non-food items that help people maintain a healthy lifestyle. By including seeds, plants, baby formula, and hygiene products in the list of eligible items, EBT ensures that its beneficiaries have a better quality of life.

Prohibited items that cannot be purchased with EBT

When it comes to using your EBT card, there are certain items that are prohibited from being purchased with your benefits. These restrictions are in place to ensure that the funds are used for their intended purpose: to provide assistance with purchasing food and other essential items.

One of the most obvious categories of prohibited items is tobacco products. This includes cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and any other products that contain tobacco. The use of tobacco products is widely recognized as detrimental to one’s health, so it makes sense that they would not be eligible for purchase with government benefits.

Similarly, alcoholic beverages cannot be purchased using EBT benefits. Alcohol is a luxury item that is not essential for survival, so it is not considered an appropriate use of government assistance funds. If you are receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you may also be subject to additional rules regarding alcohol purchases.

Another category of prohibited items is hot foods. This can include prepared meals sold by grocery stores or restaurants, as well as any other food items that are intended to be consumed on site. While this may seem like an arbitrary rule, it serves an important purpose: it ensures that EBT benefits are not being used to fund restaurant dining or other non-essential expenses.

Finally, pet food is another item that cannot be purchased with EBT benefits. While pets are certainly important members of many households, their needs are not considered to be a part of the essential household expenses that EBT benefits are designed to cover.

It is important to note that there may be some exceptions to these rules in certain circumstances. For example, certain retailers may be authorized to sell hot foods using EBT benefits if they meet specific criteria. However, in general, it is best to assume that these categories of items are not eligible for purchase with EBT benefits.

By understanding what items are prohibited from being purchased with EBT benefits, you can make more informed decisions about how to use your benefits effectively. While these restrictions may seem limiting, they ultimately serve an important purpose in ensuring that government assistance is used responsibly and effectively.

Places where you can use EBT

Grocery stores that accept EBT

Grocery Stores That Accept EBT

If you’re looking to use your EBT card to purchase groceries, there are plenty of options available. Many large chain grocery stores accept EBT as a form of payment, including Walmart, Target, Aldi, Safeway, and Kroger.


Walmart is one of the largest retailers in the United States, with over 4,700 locations across the country. They also happen to be one of the most popular places to use EBT cards. At Walmart, customers can use their EBT card to purchase eligible food items, as well as non-food items like toiletries and household supplies.


Target is another popular retail chain that accepts EBT payments. They offer a wide range of food and household items, making it a convenient option for those looking to use their EBT benefits. Target also has a special program called “SNAP/EBT at Target” which allows customers to order groceries online and have them delivered or picked up at the store using their EBT card.


Aldi is a discount supermarket chain that has gained popularity in recent years due to its low prices and quality products. They also accept EBT payments, making it a great option for those looking to save money on groceries. Aldi offers a variety of fresh produce, meat, dairy, and pantry staples at affordable prices.


Safeway is a grocery store chain that operates mainly in the western United States. They accept EBT payments for eligible food items and have a wide selection of fresh produce, meat, and dairy products. Safeway also offers a delivery service, allowing customers to order groceries online and have them delivered to their doorstep using their EBT card.


Kroger is one of the largest supermarket chains in the United States, operating under several brand names including Ralphs, Fred Meyer, and Food 4 Less. They accept EBT payments for eligible food items and also offer a variety of household and personal care products. Kroger has recently launched a program called “Kroger Ship” which allows customers to order groceries online and have them delivered to their doorstep using their EBT card.

In conclusion, there are plenty of grocery stores that accept EBT payments, making it easy for those in need to purchase essential food and household items. Whether you prefer shopping at Walmart, Target, Aldi, Safeway, or Kroger, you can rest assured that your EBT benefits will be accepted.

Farmer’s markets that accept EBT

Farmer’s markets have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. They offer a unique shopping experience where you can buy fresh produce directly from local farmers while also supporting your community. And for those who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or EBT as it is commonly known, there are many farmer’s markets that accept EBT as a form of payment.

One great resource for finding farmer’s markets that accept EBT is the Farmers Market Coalition. This national organization advocates for and supports local farmer’s markets across the country, with a specific focus on ensuring access to fresh and healthy food for everyone.

Through the Farmers Market Coalition website, you can search for farmer’s markets in your area that accept EBT. You can also find information about which markets participate in other programs such as the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).

In addition to using the Farmers Market Coalition website, you can also check with your local farmer’s market directly to see if they accept EBT. Many markets will display signage indicating that they accept EBT, or have information available at their information booth.

Shopping at a farmer’s market with EBT benefits not only you, but also the farmers and vendors selling their goods. By using your benefits to purchase fresh produce and other items at a local farmer’s market, you are supporting the local economy and helping to create a more sustainable food system.

So next time you’re looking to use your EBT benefits, consider checking out a local farmer’s market. Not only will you be able to buy fresh and healthy food, but you’ll also be contributing to the well-being of your community.

Online retailers that accept EBT

Online Retailers That Accept EBT

If you’re an EBT cardholder, you may be wondering if you can use your benefits to purchase items online. The answer is yes! In recent years, several major online retailers have started accepting EBT as a form of payment. Here are three of the most popular ones:


Amazon is one of the largest and most well-known online retailers in the world, and it now accepts EBT for qualifying food purchases in select states through its Amazon Fresh program. To use your EBT card on Amazon, you need to first sign up for Amazon Fresh and add your EBT card information to your account. Once you’ve been approved, you’ll be able to shop for eligible food items using your EBT card at checkout.


Walmart is another retailer that accepts EBT for online grocery orders in select states. To use your EBT card on Walmart’s website, you need to first select the “EBT card” option during checkout and enter your EBT card number. Then, you’ll be prompted to enter your delivery address and choose a pickup or delivery time.


FreshDirect is an online grocer that offers same-day delivery of fresh produce, meat, dairy products, and more in select cities along the East Coast. It also accepts EBT as payment for qualifying food items in certain states. To use your EBT card on FreshDirect, you need to first register for an account and provide your EBT card information. Then, you can start shopping for eligible items and checkout using your EBT card.

Using your EBT benefits to shop online can be a convenient way to access fresh, healthy food without leaving your home. However, it’s important to note that not all states or areas are currently eligible for online EBT transactions. Check with your local EBT office or the retailer’s website for specific information about your location.

In conclusion, shopping for groceries online with EBT has never been easier. With Amazon, Walmart, and FreshDirect all accepting EBT as payment, you can now enjoy the convenience of online shopping while using your benefits to purchase healthy food items.

How to use your EBT card

Using your EBT card at a grocery store or farmer’s market

When using your EBT card at a grocery store or farmer’s market, the process is similar to using a regular debit card. First, you will need to locate the card swiper, which is usually located near the cash register or payment terminal. Next, insert your EBT card into the swiper with the magnetic strip facing down.

Once your card is inserted, you will be prompted to enter your PIN number. This is a four-digit code that you created when you first received your EBT card. It is important to keep your PIN number confidential and not share it with anyone, as it provides access to your benefits.

After entering your PIN number, the amount of your purchase will be deducted from your EBT account balance. You will then be given a receipt that shows the remaining balance on your EBT card. This receipt is important to keep track of your remaining balance and to ensure that you are not overcharged for your purchases.

It is also worth noting that some stores may have certain restrictions on the use of EBT cards. For example, some stores may only allow EBT purchases for certain items or may limit the amount of EBT purchases per transaction. Be sure to check with the store’s policy before making a purchase with your EBT card.

In summary, using your EBT card at a grocery store or farmer’s market involves swiping the card, entering your PIN number, and receiving a receipt. By following these simple steps, you can easily use your benefits to purchase eligible food items and take advantage of the convenience of EBT.

Using your EBT card for online purchases

Using your EBT card for online purchases

The ability to use an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card for online purchases has brought a new level of convenience and accessibility to those who rely on government assistance for food. If you’re looking to use your EBT card for online purchases, here are the steps you need to follow:

Selecting eligible items

When shopping online with EBT, it’s important to note that not all items are eligible for purchase. The USDA has strict guidelines in place to ensure that only certain food items can be purchased using SNAP benefits. To make sure you’re selecting eligible items, look for an “EBT eligible” label or search for products within the “SNAP-eligible” category.

Entering EBT card information

After adding eligible items to your cart, it’s time to checkout. When prompted for payment information, select “EBT” as your payment method and enter your EBT card number. You’ll also need to provide the card’s PIN number, which was given to you when you received the card.

Delivery options

When it comes to delivery, some online retailers may offer different options for EBT customers. For example, Amazon Fresh offers free delivery on orders over $35, while Walmart allows for same-day pickup at select locations. It’s important to check each retailer’s delivery options to find one that works best for you.

It’s also worth noting that delivery fees cannot be paid for with EBT, so if a retailer charges for delivery, you’ll need to pay that separately with a credit or debit card.

In conclusion, using your EBT card for online purchases is a simple process that can provide a lot of convenience and flexibility. Just remember to select eligible items, enter your EBT card information, and choose a delivery option that works for you.

Checking your EBT benefit balance

Checking your EBT Benefit Balance

As a recipient of EBT benefits, it’s important to know how much money is left on your card so you can plan accordingly. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to check your benefit balance.

Phone Number

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to check your EBT benefit balance is by calling the customer service number on the back of your card. Simply follow the phone prompts and enter your card number and PIN when prompted. You’ll then be able to hear your current balance.

Online Account

Another option for checking your EBT benefit balance is through your online account. Many states have an online portal where you can log in with your card information and see your current balance, transaction history, and even set up alerts for when your benefits are running low. Some states also offer mobile apps for even easier access to your information.


Finally, you can always check your EBT benefit balance by checking your receipt after making a purchase. Many retailers will print your remaining balance at the bottom of the receipt, so you can easily keep track of how much money you have left on your card.

It’s important to note that your EBT benefit balance may not update in real-time, so it’s always a good idea to keep track of your purchases and estimate how much you have left. By regularly checking your benefit balance using one of these methods, you can ensure that you’re making informed decisions about your spending and making the most out of your benefits.
As you can see, EBT is an incredibly helpful program for individuals and families who need assistance in purchasing food and other necessary items. By understanding what items are eligible for purchase with EBT, where you can use your EBT card, and how to properly use it, you can make the most out of this program and ensure that you and your loved ones have access to nutritious food and essential products.

It’s important to remember that EBT is not just a government handout; it’s a critical resource that helps millions of Americans put food on the table and live healthier lives. We should all work together to support programs like EBT and look for ways to improve their effectiveness and accessibility.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about what you can buy with EBT. Whether you’re a recipient of EBT benefits or simply interested in learning more about the program, we hope this guide has been informative and helpful.

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