EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) is available in just about every state in America, including North Carolina.
EBT, most commonly used to refer to SNAP benefits, is a household staple for many low-income families.
However, SNAP benefits only cover some grocery items. Even some essential grocery items aren’t covered by your benefits money, and once your benefits money is gone, you’ll have to wait until the beginning of the next month.
So, how can you check your EBT balance? What does EBT cover?
Let’s find out.
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Table of Contents:
- What Is EBT?
- Frequently Asked EBT Questions in North Carolina
- How to Check Your EBT Balance (North Carolina)
- The Bottom Line
- Need Burial Insurance?
What Is EBT?
EBT is a way of receiving electronic benefits, like WIP, FA, and most commonly of all, SNAP benefits.
You spend your benefits with a plastic card, like a debit or credit card. You can use this card to pay at checkout, self-checkout till, or even online in some cases. Users each have their own online account, where they can view their balance and review other information.
EBT is designed to supplement a household’s nutritional needs, and should only be used to buy food. You can’t use your EBT card to get cash in any way, either as cash back from a transaction or from an ATM.
Here’s what you can buy with EBT:
- Fruit and vegetables, canned, frozen, or fresh
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Dairy and non-dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, almond milk, soy milk, etc)
- Cereals, grains, and baking ingredients (like flour and sugar)
- Snack food (ice cream, chips, candy, etc)
- Non-alcoholic beverages
Food items designed to be taken home and eaten (not pre-prepared) are covered by your EBT benefits. If you’re not sure whether or not an item is covered by your benefits, call the customer service number on the back of your EBT card.
It’s important to avoid unapproved items, as this will lead to your card being declined, or you’ll have to pay for the item yourself later.
Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco products
- Gambling/lottery tickets
- Pet food
- Vitamins, supplements, or medicines
- Household supplies (paper goods, cleaning supplies, etc)
- Hygiene or grooming products
- Clothes, cosmetics, or other personal items
In short, SNAP benefits are only suitable to be spent on food groceries. Even essential, non-food groceries are not covered by EBT.
If you don’t spend all of your benefits in one month, the remaining benefits roll on to the next month, adding on. This means that you’ll have a little extra to spend next month.
Frequently Asked EBT Questions In North Carolina
While EBT is used in virtually every state in America, each state may have slightly different rules. If you plan to travel or move to another state, it’s a good idea to review that state’s rules regarding EBT.
For example, more states require you to use their specific login sites, or may not even have online login sites at all.
Rules regarding what you can and can’t buy with EBT may also vary between states. So, let’s discuss a few commonly asked questions about EBT in North Carolina.
- Can you buy hot food with EBT in North Carolina?
In most areas of North Carolina, EBT users are permitted to buy pre-prepared hot food, like rotisserie chickens and hot dogs.
- When will my food stamps benefits be available?
Depending on what type of food stamps you get (for example, food benefits or cash benefits), your benefits will be deposited into your EBT account on either the first day of each month or somewhere along the first twenty days of the month.
On the day that your benefits are scheduled to arrive, you should get them from 6 am in the morning.
How To Check Your EBT Balance (North Carolina)
The easiest way to check your EBT balance is to review the receipt from your latest EBT purchase. The receipt should have the closing balance from your account on it.
Alternatively, you can call the customer service number on the back of your EBT card. However, if you prefer to review your EBT account online, you’ll need to have your user ID and account password ready.
- Step One: Start by visiting this website. It will take you to the EBT login portal, with all the information about your EBT that you’ll need. Clicking on “Cardholder Login” in the far left information box will take you to a login page.
- Step Two: Once you’ve clicked on the “Cardholder Login” option, you’ll be taken to a login box where you’ll need to enter your user ID and password. Once you’ve done this, you can access your EBT account and view your balance.
- Step Three: If you have a problem logging in, click the “Trouble Signing In” option below the login button. This will take you to an info box where you can select your problem – forgot password, forgot user ID, or Unlock user ID. Once you’ve clicked your option, follow the instructions given to reset your password or your user ID.
- Step Four: If you continue to have issues logging in, or you’re not comfortable with using the internet, click on the “trouble signing in FAQs” options. This will open up a downloadable PDF that reviews how to log in and deal with issues on your EBT account.
The Bottom Line
Regularly checking your EBT balance helps a household balance its budget, and avoid embarrassing card declines at the checkout.
It’s up to you how you spend your EBT benefits. While so-called “luxury” items, like sodas, snack food, and expensive meats are included in your benefits, these foods can quickly use up all of your SNAP money.
However, EBT benefits allow a family to buy their food necessities while also saving a little money for treat items, too.
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