For low-income families struggling to make ends meet, the first essential part of the monthly spend to get cut down is often the grocery list.
Unfortunately, this often means that low-income families aren’t eating as well as they should, or are missing out on vital food groceries. This is where EBT cash benefits come in.
Designed to supplement a household’s income, EBT is a vital benefit for many low-income American families.
So, what is EBT? What can you buy with EBT? Can you check your balance online?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents:
- What Is EBT?
- How to Check Your EBT Balance in Kentucky
- Frequently Asked EBT Questions
- The Bottom Line
What Is EBT?
EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is an umbrella term for all electronically issued benefits. This most commonly includes SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which has replaced the old-fashioned food stamp coupons.
You’ll use your EBT by swiping a plastic payment card at the store checkout and entering a PIN number, just like you would with a regular payment card. You can also use this card for online purchases.
However, for online purchases, you’ll also need to have another method of payment attached to your account. This is because your EBT won’t cover any non-food purchases or any extra charges, like delivery fees and tips.
You can’t overdraw on your EBT card. Once your benefits have run out, you won’t be able to make any more purchases.
It’s also worth noting that you likely won’t be able to buy your whole week’s shop with your EBT card. This is because household essentials often cover other items besides food (cleaning products, paper goods, and so on), but your EBT will only cover the food items.
What Can You Buy With EBT?
EBT users have a lot of freedom when it comes to buying their food. The only criteria for a suitable EBT item are that it should be classed as food, and designed to be prepared and eaten at home.
This means that price doesn’t have an impact on the products you buy.
Here’s what you can buy with EBT:
- Fruit and vegetables (frozen, canned, or fresh)
- Meat, poultry, fish, and seafood
- Dairy and dairy substitutes (milk, cheese, coconut, soy, and almond milk, etc)
- Non-alcoholic beverages (soda, juice, bottled water, etc)
- Bread, grains, and cereals
- Baking ingredients (sugar, flour, etc)
- Baby food
- Snack foods (chips, candy, ice cream, etc)
As you can see, EBT allows you to buy “luxury” foods, like snacks, steak, seafood, and more. Other items like baby food, ice, and coffee beans are also included.
What Can’t You Buy With EBT?
Not every household essential is covered by your EBT card. While some unapproved items are fairly straightforward, it’s still important to know exactly what you can and cannot buy with EBT.
Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco products
- Lottery tickets/gambling
- Medicines, vitamins, and supplements (some energy drinks are classed as supplements)
- Pet food
- Personal items (electronics, cosmetics, furniture, clothes, etc)
- Household supplies (paper goods, cleaning products)
- Hot, preprepared food (hot coffee, rotisserie chickens, restaurant food – although this may vary depending on your circumstances)
- Hygiene and grooming items (sanitary pads, tampons, soap, shampoo, etc)
For non-food essentials, like cleaning products, paper goods, and hygiene products, you’ll need to use your own money.
How to Check Your EBT Balance In Kentucky
There are several ways to check your EBT balance in Kentucky. The simplest way is to review your last receipt, which should contain your closing account balance. You can also call the Kentucky EBT customer helpline at 1-888-979-9949.
However, many EBT users prefer to log onto their online accounts. This allows you to view your balance and more information. Here’s how to do that:
- Step One: Start by visiting this site. To access the login box for an EBT user, click “cardholder login” at the far left of the screen.
- Step Two: Next, you’ll be provided with a login box. You’ll be prompted to enter your user ID and password. Then, you can log in to your account and view your balance.
- Step Three: If you’re having difficulty signing in, click the “trouble signing in” option below the login box. You’ll be taken to another screen where you can select your particular issue. For example, if this is your first time logging into your EBT online account, you’ll need to unlock your user ID, so be sure to choose this option. If you’ve forgotten your password or user ID, click the given option and follow the instructions given onscreen.
If you’re still having problems logging into your online account, click the red “trouble signing in FAQs” option at the bottom of the page. This will open a downloadable pamphlet that discusses how to use your online account as well as some frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked EBT Questions
Many first-time and new EBT users have a lot of questions. While the customer service number on the back of your EBT card is always available for any questions, we’ll now discuss a few commonly asked questions about EBT in Kentucky.
- What’s the difference between SNAP and EBT?
- Can I use my EBT card in Kentucky?
Yes, you can. EBT is a nationwide program, and you can use your EBT card at participating stores in all 50 states.
The Bottom Line
For many low-income families, EBT and SNAP benefits allow them to eat well and enjoy healthy, tasty food without risking further financial difficulties.
A household shouldn’t have to make the decision between eating a good meal and paying the rent. With a program like EBT, many families don’t have to. You may feel uncomfortable using your EBT card at first, but with a little practice and plenty of patience, you’ll soon get the hang of it. Happy shopping!