What is an EBT Card?
Quite simply defined an Electronic Benefit Transfer card or EBT for short, is a technology that enables state food stamp departments to issue benefits using a payment card with magnetically coded information on it. These are most typically used for Food Stamp Programs.
The Two Main Types of EBT Cards
In the United States there are two main types of EBT Cards that are issued to recipients: food stamps and cash benefits. Food stamp EBT cards are usually issued by the federal government and can only be used to buy groceries and non-alocholic beverages. These cards are issued via the Food Stamp Program which used to use physical
food stamps instead of ebt cards. For more information about how to use these cards go to the Food Stamp Program page at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ebt/
Cash benefits are usually issued from the state and include general assistance, refugee and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). You can find out more by going to the Adminstration for Children and Families website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs,
How Do EBT Cards Work for Food Stamps?
EBT cards only work with purchasers who have made an agreement with the food stamp program. The owner of the card can use it to purchase food or make a cash withdrawal.
To apply for food stamps and obtain an EBT card you can do so online or at your local food stamp office. Once you are determined eligible, an account is established in your name and the benefits are deposited onto your EBT card every month. You are issued a plastic card plus a PIN (personal identification number) that gives you access to the system.
All states have systems that utilize magnetic strip cards and authorize online transactions. The card’s electro-magnetic strip with encoded information is read and then an authorization or denial of withdrawal is sent back to the retailer. No money or cash EVER changes hands. This type of exchange works well with recovering gamblers or addicts who may squander actual cash. This way the receiver can only buy food.
Not all EBT cards for food stamps are issued on the same day. Many states issue benefits on monthly dates that are the same as the recipients’ dates of birth. For instance, if you were born on the 7th, then your benefits will be issued on the 7th.
For more specific information about Food Stamps and EBT Cards visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/