EBT: All you need to know

Electronic benefit transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows state welfare departments to issue benefits via a magnetically encoded payment card used in the United States. It reached nationwide operations in 2004. The average monthly EBT payout is $125 per participant.

Benefits provided via EBT are of two types: food, and cash. Food benefits are federally authorized benefits that can be used only to purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages. Food benefits are distributed through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program. Cash benefits include state general assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, and refugee benefits.

What is an EBT card?

Once you qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or cash benefits (Temporary Assistance) you receive an EBT card, also known as a Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC). The EBT card looks like a debit card. The EBT card allows you to buy groceries and other items with your cash benefits at participating stores and other locations.

Check your EBT Balance

Get the ConnectEBT Mobile App

The ConnectEBT app is the fast and easy way to monitor your EBT Card’s available balance, deposits, and transaction activity. ConnectEBT.com is always available 24-hours a day. The ConnectEBT App is available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

It’s the easy and free way to manage your EBT Card

  • Check your available balance anytime, anywhere
  • Review up to 12 months of transaction history
  • Confirm your last deposit
  • Change your PIN

First Time Mobile App and Website Users

You must register your EBT Card account and select your User ID and password by using either the ConnectEBT mobile app or at ConnectEBT.com for access. Registering on either one also registers you on the other. Have your EBT Card handy when registering.

If you already have your ConnectEBT.com User ID and password, you’re ready to use the same ID and password for the ConnectEBT Mobile App.

How do I use and access my cash and SNAP benefits?

New York recipients may access their cash and SNAP benefits at participating EBT locations anywhere within New York State. Cash benefits may also be accessed at participating ATM and authorized retail store locations.

Your EBT card and Personal Identification Number (PIN) are used at authorized retail stores with your cash or SNAP benefits. Many retail stores also provide cash back with your purchase. Check with the store for their cash back policy.

  • Swipe the card.
  • Enter your PIN in the machine at the checkout line.
  • Only you should enter your PIN.
  • Always check and keep your receipts for your EBT purchases.

You can use your EBT card at:

Cash Purchases

  • Any item may be purchased using your cash benefit account where EBT cards are accepted.
  • Please be advised that certain types of businesses are not allowed to let you use your EBT cash benefit to purchase items or to withdraw cash on their premises. This restriction applies whether the business is located in New York, in another state, or on Tribal lands.
    • Businesses are not allowed to let you use your EBT card, nor should you use your card, at:
      • Liquor stores
      • Wine stores
      • Beer/beverage centers
      • Race tracks
      • Casinos
      • Video lottery facilities
      • Off-track betting facilities
      • Commercial bingo facilities; and
      • Places that provide adult oriented entertainment in which performers take off their clothes or perform without clothes

Toll-Free Customer Service Helpline

The toll-free number 1-888-328-6399 – is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Korean, Russian, and Spanish to recipients 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

You may use the helpline to:

  • Check your SNAP or cash account balance information.
  • Hear your last ten transactions.
  • Request a printed 2-month statement of your account history.
  • File a claim if you suspect that a transaction error occurred.
  • Change your PIN.
  • Report damaged, lost, or stolen cards, and request a replacement card be mailed to you.

EBT Account Website

EBT cardholders can obtain information in English and Spanish about their accounts by going to https://www.connectebt.com.

  • Login using your most recent active card number and PIN.
  • Create an account ID and password.

Once you sign in with a valid card number and PIN, the following are some of the available functions:

  • Check your SNAP or cash account balance information.
  • Review up to 15 months of transaction history.
  • Request a printed 2-month statement of your account history.
  • Change your PIN.
  • Report damaged, lost, or stolen cards, and request a replacement card be mailed to you.

What Can you Buy with Ebt

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously called food stamps, is the comprehensive and biggest anti-hunger initiative in America. In 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that SNAP met the dietary and nutritional needs of 41.5 million people, with an estimated value of $218.14 per individual.

Beneficiaries use electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to receive payments and buy food items.

Here are the items you can purchase with EBT:

Plants and seeds

You might be delighted to find that you can use your Ebt payments to plant a modest garden if you already have the time, location, and skill to do so. You can buy seedlings and plantlets under the program’s rules. This can save you money over the long term compared to buying food at the store.


However, if you want to raise chickens in your backyard, you won’t be able to use your EBTs to buy them or the eggs they’ll hatch from because the program doesn’t allow you to purchase living animals with the exception of crabs, other seafood, and animals butchered before you buy them from the shop.

Accessory foods

When it comes to food preparation and eating at home, Ebt payments can be used to purchase seasonings, sauces, and sweeteners.


You can also buy appetizers, pastries, and various beverages to go along with your meals. They include:

Seasonings and spices (powdered, dried, or extracted)

Sweeteners such as honey, corn syrup, table sugar, and other natural and artificial sweeteners

condiments such as ketchup and mustard

Snacks such as potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, and other foods

Bakery products

Cake and brownie mixes

Ice cream

Fruit and vegetable juices, as well as some energy drinks, can be found in the beverage aisles of most grocery stores (drinks that are labelled as nutritional supplements do not qualify; )

Staple foods

Most edible products you would generally buy at the grocery store qualify. Among them are:


Vegetables and fruits (fresh, frozen, or canned)

Fish, poultry, and meat (fresh, frozen, or canned)

Dairy (fresh or shelf-stable)

Cereal and bread

It’s worth noting that Ebt provides a lot of flexibility in these 4 “staple food” areas. Nut, soy, and oat milk, for example, are acceptable dairy substitutes, and gluten-free pasta falls within the bread and cereal category. You can even get 100 per cent apple sauce (fruit), eggs (poultry), or tomato-sauced canned ravioli (vegetable).

What Can’t you Buy with Ebt?

Liquor, beer, and wine

This guideline is clear: EBT payments cannot be used to purchase alcohol. This is unfortunate even though it can be bought in a supermarket.


Pet food


According to EBT policies, this is also a “restriction.” If you have an exotic pet that consumes bottled or packaged tuna, chicken, or other meat, there’s no reason you can’t use your benefits to purchase it and feed it to them.



All tobacco products are prohibited, including cigarettes, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco. You also can’t use your Ebt benefits card to purchase e-cigarettes or refills, even though they don’t contain tobacco.

Pharmacy items


Ebt will not pay the cost of any prescribed or over-the-counter medicine, supplement, or vitamin (Medicare or Medicaid would certainly pay for these, though; ensure you confirm). Also, keep in mind that many sports and caffeine drinks won’t qualify for Ebt benefits unless they have a Nutrition Information label. Drinks with solely Supplement Facts labelling are not eligible.

Personal care items


How about detergent, perfume, cleaning supplies, nappies, baby wipes, mouthwash, cologne, and cosmetics? Ebt will not cover any of these because they are not considered food.

Hot foods and meals


Unfortunately, you can’t use your SNAP benefits in buying hot dinners at the hour of procurement, in any event, when you are in a general store. Since the plan just applies to “things implied for home arrangement and cooking,” this is the situation. Things like broiled chicken, pre-cooked pizza cuts, soups or hamburger stew from a pre-arranged food stand, and hot tea from a container are not qualified. Assuming you are eating them at your place of home, cold frankfurter rolls, mixed greens, and other store items are qualified for Ebt buy.

Can I use my Ebt benefits card anywhere?

Now that you know the food things you can buy with your EBT benefits, you will be interested about where you can get them. To be qualified for Ebt, organizations should fulfill one of two essential qualification rules: it is possible that they should stock or sell a specific measure of staple food, or they should meet both of these models.

This implies that stores should stock somewhere around three unmistakable assortments of food varieties in every one of the four staple classifications, or at least one of the staple classes should represent half or a greater amount of their gross deals. For the first, consider “stores,” and for the second, “butcher shop” or “fish market.”

Numerous EBT-approved organizations have signage expressing that they take food stamps, so check before you load your truck. In the mean time, here’s a speedy summary of where EBT can and can’t be utilized:

Supermarkets and grocery stores


Ebt is rarely refused at a local supermarket.

Convenience stores


If your local store contains a sufficient variety of staple foods, it should be eligible for Ebt purchases.

Farmers markets


Some farmers markets will possibly quadruple your savings. Before you start buying, ask the market manager if yours is among them.

specialized food stores


You should be allowed to utilize your Ebt benefits in purchasing “staple foods” if they account for 50% or more of the products sold to customers.

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