How To Check Your EBT Balance In California [Get The Facts]

Balancing a budget and your benefits balance isn’t easy. If you receive governmental benefits for yourself and your household, it’s important to make sure you don’t overspend or try to buy unapproved items. 

Like most governmental benefits, EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) comes with a few rules and regulations, which may vary slightly between states. 

So, what should you expect from your EBT benefits? How do you check your balance? What are you allowed to buy? We’ll discuss these questions and more in this article. 

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Table Of Contents:

What Is EBT?

EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, refers to all electronic benefits handed out by the government. This usually refers to SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which were previously known as food stamps

EBT can also cover other types of benefits, like family allowance and other forms of assistance, but SNAP is by far the most common type of benefit. 

You’ll have a plastic card, like a credit or debit card, to use to pay for your groceries. However, EBT and SNAP benefits aren’t designed to pay for all kinds of groceries. 

Here’s what you can buy with EBT: 

  • Fruits and vegetables 
  • Meat, fish, and poultry 
  • Dairy products
  • Bread
  • Grains and cereals
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Snack foods (candy, ice cream, chips, etc)
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Essentially, EBT is designed to buy most food-based groceries, since it’s intended to provide nutrition for your family.

Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT:

  • Household supplies
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Paper goods
  • Hygiene and grooming products
  • Pet food
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Alcohol 
  • Tobacco products
  • Gambling/lottery tickets
  • Hot food or food prepared to be eaten immediately

Non-food groceries aren’t covered by EBT. This may be a little frustrating, as household supplies and hygiene products are hardly non-essential!

Some non-approved items are fairly obvious, such as alcohol, lottery tickets, and tobacco. Hot food, restaurant meals, and pre-prepared food designed to be eaten immediately (like rotisserie chicken) are also not included in your EBT benefits. 

For example, if you’re shopping at Costco, you won’t be able to buy food from the food court. Some states allow disabled EBT users or those who aren’t able to make food for themselves at home to buy food from restaurants, but for the average EBT user, restaurant food is a no-go. 

It’s important not to try and buy unapproved items since this can get your EBT card declined, or result in you having to pay for the items later. If you continue trying to buy non-regulation items, your benefits could be put on hold. 

What Is P EBT? 

P EBT (Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer) is an extra measure designed to replace free or reduced-price school meals for children from low-income families. Due to school closures, children who are eligible for these meals haven’t been able to get them. 

So, P EBT is given out to eligible children, to replace the nutrition they would have got through the school lunch program. To find out whether your child is eligible, click here

Frequently Asked EBT Questions

Since some EBT regulations can vary between states, it’s a good idea to make sure you know exactly how your benefits work in the state you’re currently living in. Let’s discuss a few commonly asked questions about EBT benefits. 

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Can you check your EBT balance online in California? 

One of the simplest ways to check your EBT balance is to check your last receipt. However, you can also log in to your EBT account, where you can see your transaction history as well as your balance. 

Each state has its own individual login site. For example, if you live in California, you shouldn’t use a New York EBT site to sign in. 

What is a CalFresh account? 

CalFresh is also known as SNAP and is designed to provide healthy food and nutrition to low-income families. 

For more information about Calfresh, visit this website. Alternatively, you can call the CalFresh benefits helpline at 1-877-847-3663.

Will P EBT be extended in California in 2021?

The P EBT program has been extended into the summer of 2021, which is a relief for low-income American families!

Can you overspend on an EBT card?

An EBT card isn’t like a debit or credit card. You can only spend what you have in your account. 

While this means you won’t overspend on your benefits, you could find yourself with a cart of shopping that costs more than the money you have in your EBT account. So, you’ll either need to put some items back or pay for them yourself. 

However, you won’t run into credit on your EBT card. Remember, if you have some money left over at the end of the month, that will run onto next month’s benefits. 

How To Check Your EBT Balance in California

There are several ways to check your EBT balance in most states. The simplest way is to review your last receipt, which should have your most recent balance. 

However, it’s easy to check your EBT balance CA. Login details, such as your user ID and password, will be needed. 

Step One: Go to the California EBT website. This will take you straight to the login page. You’ll be prompted to enter your user ID and password. Once you’ve entered those details, you should be able to view all of your EBT transactions and current balance

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Step Two (Optional): If this is your first time using your EBT card, you’ll need to register. To register, you’ll need some of your personal details, including the number on the back of your EBT card

Step Three (Optional): If you forget your password (don’t worry, we’ve all done it!), you’ll need to choose the “forgot password” option, below the initial login details. 

Logging onto the EBT website for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking. Plenty of low-income American families rely on their SNAP and EBT benefits, and they will need to keep an eye on their balance to avoid overspending.

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