EBT Card

picture of a card being given to pay for food

An Electronic Benefits Transfer Card (EBT) delivers money from government programs and cash assistance electronically to you. 

Temporary Cash Assistance and Food Stamps benefits are not provided to you in actual cash, stamps or coupons. Instead, a few days after you are approved for these benefits, you will receive the EBT Card in the mail. EBT Cards are also sometimes for refugee and disaster benefits

How does the EBT Card work?

The EBT card works like a bank card. Each month, the government will add your benefits into an account they set up for you. You then access your benefits by using your EBT card at POS (Point of Sale) machines to buy things or get cash back. You can also go to ATMs to withdraw money. Find out how to use your EBT card at participating stores.

If you receive Temporary Cash Assistance benefits, you can both withdraw money from ATMs or buy things at participating stores. If you receive only food stamp benefits, you can only use your EBT card to buy food from grocery stores.

How much does it cost to use the card?

You can use your EBT to buy things (or to buy things and get cash back), as many times as you want without any transaction fees.

Beware of stores and ATMs that may charge you a fee (called a "surcharge") for using the EBT card. Before using your card, look for a warning about this on the ATM screen or on a sign near the sales counter. Many stores and ATMs don't have this surcharge, so you can avoid it simply by using your card at a different store or ATM.

What is a PIN number?

To use your EBT card, you need to have a Personal Identification Number, or PIN. This is a secret 4-digit number that will come to you in the mail a day or two after you get your card. It's very important to memorize your PIN number. Don't tell anyone else your number (including your case worker), and don't write it on your card. If you lose your card or have it stolen and someone has your PIN, they can use the card to steal your benefits.

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