Does Costco Take EBT Cards? – [Comprehensive Guide]

Costco is a one-stop shop for all the bargain hunters. Low-income individuals and families benefiting from government assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously called “Food Stamps,” can enjoy Costco’s economical prices with their EBT cards.

But there are a few limitations on some items. That’s why it’s crucial to know beforehand what Costco items you can purchase.

This article will cover the details of Costco’s policies regarding EBT cards and how you can maximize your SNAP benefits while shopping there.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Costco Policy on EBT Cards

Let’s find out whether Costco accepts EBT cards.

Does Costco Take EBT Cards?

Yes, Costco does accept EBT cards, making it one of the few wholesale clubs where you can use your SNAP benefits.

Does Costco Accept EBT Cards At All of Its Locations?

Does Costco accept EBT cards?

Yes. All Costo locations do accept EBT cards. However, there are some restrictions by the USAD on what you can purchase and what you cannot purchase with EBT cards.

How Can I Use an EBT card at Costco?

Using your EBT card at Costco is simple:

  1. Ensure you have a valid EBT card and that it has been loaded with SNAP benefits.
  2. Visit your local Costco store.
  3. Select the eligible food items you wish to purchase.
  4. Proceed to the checkout counter.
  5. Inform the cashier that you will be using your EBT card for payment.
  6. Swipe your EBT card, and the cashier will deduct the eligible amount from your card.

What Items Can You Purchase with EBT Cards at Costco?

What Items Can You Purchase with EBT Cards at Costco?

USDA doesn’t limit these items. So, you are eligible to buy the following SNAP benefits with your EBT cards:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Meat and Poultry
  • Plants and Seeds for Gardening
  • Bread and Cereals
  • Snack Foods
  • Carbonated Drinks

What Products Are Restricted with EBT Cards at Costco?

What Products Are Restricted with EBT Cards at Costco?

According to USDA, you are not eligible to buy the following items using EBT cards:

  • Non-Food Items
  • Hot Food from the Costco Food Court
  • Pet Foods
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Household Supplies
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Live Animals except Shellfish

Is it Necessary to Have a Costco Membership Card to Use EBT?

Yes. You must be a Costco member to use your EBT card at all locations. But if you are not a Costco member, don’t worry. You can still enter Costco using your friend’s or relative’s membership card.

The cashier does not need to match the Costco membership card name with the EBT card. Hence, you can pay for your purchased items using your EBT card.

Do you need Costco membership to use EBT card?

Another way is to ask any friend or family member to buy a Costco Cash Card for a chosen amount on your behalf. You can quickly repay them by withdrawing cash from your EBT cash account at any ATM.

Understanding EBT Cards and SNAP Benefits

Now that you know about Costco’s policies with EBT cards, let’s understand what EBT cards are and how they work.

What are EBT Cards?

What are EBT cards?

Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is an electronic card-based system that benefits participants of government assistance programs (SNAP and TANF) to pay for their purchases using their EBT cards. SNAP was formerly called “Food Stamps”.

In contrast, TANF is used to give cash benefits to needy families. Through TANF, you can withdraw money from your EBT cash account. EBT cards work the same as prepaid debit cards. According to USDA, the average balance on an EBT card is $230 per recipient.

How Do EBT Cards Work for SNAP Benefits?

How Do EBT Cards Work for SNAP Benefits?

Each month, a specific amount is deposited in your EBT account. You can use that balance to purchase eligible food products at authorized supermarkets, grocery stores, and big-box retailers like Costco and Walmart.

Without EBT cards, you cannot receive SNAP benefits. Each state in the US has its specific name for a SNAP program, such as CalFresh in California. But the SNAP policies are the same everywhere. If you don’t have an EBT card, you cannot purchase eligible food items (SNAP benefits) at Costco.

How to Maximize Savings with Your EBT Card at Costco?

By applying the following strategies, you can save more money at Costco with your EBT card:

●  Shop Smart

Costco offers are economical and trick your brain into buying them. That’s why you should plan wisely. Bulk perishables can lead to waste if not consumed before they expire.

●  Plan Your Shopping List

Shop with a list to prevent impulse buying, stay on budget, and remember essentials.

●  Compare Prices with Other Retail Stores

Compare Costco prices with other stores for the best EBT benefit savings because Costco items are not necessarily cheaper.

●  Utilize Coupons and Discounts

Costco offers great deals and promotions on a variety of items all year long. So, keep checking its seasonal discounts to save extra money.

Can You Use Your EBT Card For Online Shopping at Costco.com?

Unfortunately, you cannot use your EBT card to purchase items online at Costco’s website. This policy is only applicable to in-store shopping.

Does Costco Take EBT Cards at Its Food Courts?

No. Due to USDA SNAP guidelines, Costco does not accept EBT cards to purchase prepared food at food courts. But you can still get hot food by paying through an EBT cash account. Another way to purchase ready-to-eat food is using SNAP benefits like the Restaurant Meal Program (RMP), but only if your state follows this rule.

What are the Future Prospects of EBT and SNAP?

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) By USDA - Putting healthy food within reach

EBT and SNAP are evolving to meet recipient needs and tech advances. Future developments will include contacting to more online and in-store retailers to facilitate rural areas and provide diverse cultural foods. SNAP must adapt to evolving technology and shopping habits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use EBT cards at Costco gas stations?

You cannot use your EBT card for gas at Costco; it’s only for food. You can withdraw cash from your EBT Cash Account for gas, but be aware of withdrawal limits to avoid issues.

Can you use the Costco business center with your EBT card?

You can use the Costco business center with your EBT cards to buy eligible items only.

Can you use EBT cards at Costco self-checkout?

Yes. You can use your EBT card at Costco self-checkout. It works the same as a debit or credit card. Just make sure not to buy restricted items. Otherwise, you will get a notification at self-checkout.

Does Costco accept EBT cards in California?

Yes, many Costco locations in California do accept EBT cards. In California, the SNAP program is known as CalFresh.

Does Costco have a separate EBT return policy?

No. EBT cardholders have the same return policy as others at Costco.

The Bottom Line

So, Does Costco take EBT cards? Yes. But you can only buy some eligible things using your EBT card. USDA has a few restrictions on certain items. Thus, you are not eligible to buy those items with EBT cards.

However, you can still maximize your SNAP benefits at Costco by understanding the eligibility criteria and making a shopping list beforehand to avoid impulse buying.

Moreover, the Costco website and food court do not accept EBT cards. Further future advancements are expected. So, recipients should stay informed about EBT and SNAP’s future potential.

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