How To Check Your EBT Balance In Louisiana [Get The Facts]
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you or a loved one is benefiting from EBT. EBT, also known as Electronic Benefits Transfer, is a governmentally issued benefit. However, many users have a lot of questions.
It’s reasonable to assume that a governmentally issued cash benefit will come with guidelines and rules. What are these guidelines? Can you buy just anything with EBT? Can you transfer it into cash?
In this article, we’ll discuss the answers to these questions and much more.
Table of Contents:
- What Is EBT?
- How to Check Your EBT Balance in Louisiana
- Frequently Asked EBT Questions
- The Bottom Line
What Is EBT?
EBT is an umbrella term for all kinds of electronically issued benefits. Since old-fashioned paper coupons are rarely used for food stamps benefits, all cash benefits are sent out, received, and paid for electronically. EBT is no exception.
For example, P-EBT (Pandemic EBT) was an extra cash benefit given out to eligible families during the school closures, at the height of the covid-19 outbreak. This cash was paid into existing EBT accounts and was designed to replace the free or reduced-price school dinners that eligible children would have received. Due to school closures, these children no longer had access to that food, so the extra benefits were sent out.
EBT is most commonly used to receive SNAP benefits, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – essentially, food stamps. Your cash benefits will be paid into your account monthly, and you’ll use a plastic payment card to pay for food groceries.
However, it’s worth noting that not everything is suitable to buy with EBT. We’ll discuss what you can and can’t buy with EBT next.
What Can You Buy With EBT?
Food stamps are designed to pay for – well, food. All groceries classed as foods (with a few notable exceptions, like restaurant food) are covered by your EBT card.
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)
EBT users have a lot of freedom with spending their benefits. The criteria for a suitable item is that it must be a food item. There are no rules about price, brand, or anything else.
This means that you can buy treats, like snack food, or even “luxury” items, like steak, seafood, and coffee beans – which are classed as food and drink.
What Can’t You Buy With EBT?
Not everything is covered by EBT. While it’s easy to make a mistake and accidentally add an unapproved item to your shopping cart, be careful.
At best, your card will be declined at the checkout, until you either remove the item or pay for it with your own money. At worst, your benefits may be suspended, and you’ll have to pay back the money you spent on unapproved items.
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)
As you can see, some of these items are still essential household goods. Unfortunately, EBT and SNAP only extended to food groceries, and you’ll need to use your own money to cover non-food items.
How to Check Your EBT Balance In Louisiana
The easiest way to check your EBT balance is to review your last receipt, where your closing balance should be listed.
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
Understandably, many new EBT users have a lot of questions. Here are a few commonly asked EBT questions in Louisiana.
- Can I overspend on my EBT account?
No. Your EBT account isn’t like a debit or credit card. Once your benefits are gone, you won’t be able to make any more purchases until your next round of benefits. Any leftover benefits will be added on to next month.
- Can I shop online with my EBT card?
Yes, you can, although the rules for what you can and can’t buy still apply. You may need to have another method of payment attached, to cover delivery fees and tips, which your EBT card won’t cover.
The Bottom Line
Using your EBT card and logging onto your online account isn’t as difficult as it initially seems. Like anything else, using your benefits takes practice and patience.
If you still can’t get onto your online account, or you have further questions, call the customer service number on the back of your EBT card.