For many low-income American families, EBT benefits are a crucial part of their budget. There are countless reasons why a household may find themselves struggling to make ends meet, but they often have one thing in common – the food budget gets slashed.
EBT ensures that a household doesn’t need to miss out on crucial groceries on a weekly and monthly basis. But what is EBT? What can you buy with your EBT balance? How can you check your balance and use your EBT card in Rhode Island?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents:
- What Is EBT?
- How to Check Your EBT Balance in Rhode Island
- Frequently Asked EBT Questions
- The Bottom Line
What Is EBT?
EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is an umbrella term for all electronically issued benefits. It’s most commonly used to receive SNAP benefits. SNAP, or Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, aims to provide low-income families with food stamps.
Since all governmentally issued benefits are distributed electronically, SNAP and other benefits are paid via electronic transfer into your EBT account. To use your benefits, you’ll be given a plastic payment card.
You can use your EBT card just the same way you would a normal payment card. You swipe your card at a store checkout and enter a PIN. You can also use your EBT card to shop online.
However, you can’t overdraw on your EBT account. Once your benefits run out, you’ll have to wait until your benefits renew next month. Any leftover benefits will add on to next month’s benefits, so nothing is wasted.
Of course, just like with any other kind of benefit, there are rules and regulations to follow when using your EBT balance.
What Can You Buy With EBT?
EBT and SNAP benefits are designed to supplement a household’s nutritional needs. This means that your EBT card should only be used to buy food items. This still leaves you with plenty of choices when it comes to your weekly shop.
Here’s what you can buy with EBT:
- Fruit and vegetables (frozen, canned, and fresh)
- Meat, poultry, fish, and seafood
- Bread, cereals, and grains
- Baking products
- Baby food
- Dairy and dairy substitutes (milk, cheese, almond, soy, or coconut milk)
- Non-alcoholic beverages (soda, juice, bottled water, etc)
- Snack foods (chips, ice cream, candy, etc)
As you can see, most foods are covered by EBT. This includes “luxury” foods, like steak, seafood, snacks, and more. The only criteria for EBT appropriate foods are that they should be classed as actual food – there are no regulations as regards brand or price.
What Can’t You Buy With EBT?
It stands to reason that not everything will be suitable for purchase with an EBT card. While some unapproved items are fairly obvious, some items are a little trickier.
Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco products
- Gambling/lottery tickets
- Pet food
- Medicine, vitamins, and supplements (some energy drinks are classed as supplements, so be careful)
- Personal items (like cosmetics, electronics, furniture, clothing, etc)
- Hot, preprepared food and drinks (fast food, rotisserie chickens, hot coffee, etc)
- Household supplies (paper goods, cleaning products, etc)
- Hygiene and grooming products (sanitary pads, tampons, soap, shampoo, etc)
While products like lottery tickets, tobacco, and alcohol are certainly not necessities, some items on this left are essential goods. Household supplies and hygiene products will have to be bought with your own money.
Many stores allow shoppers to make multiple payments on one load of shopping, so you can use your EBT card to pay for food goods, and you can use another method of payment for the rest.
How to Check Your EBT Balance In Rhode Island
The simplest way to check your EBT balance in Texas (or anywhere else, for that matter) is to review your last EBT purchase receipt. Your closing balance should be listed there on the receipt.
However, logging into your online account can be just as quick and easy as fishing out an old receipt, and it also allows you to review other information. Here’s how to do that.
- Step One: Start by visiting this site. You’ll be taken to the EBT login site. Clicking on the “Cardholder Login” option on the far left of the page will take you to the official login page.
- Step Two: Next, you’ll be prompted 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’re having difficulty logging in, click the “trouble logging in?” option below the login button. Then you can click on your particular issue (for example, if you’ve forgotten your password, click the “forgot password” option. Then, follow the instructions given onscreen.
- Step Four: If you’re still having difficulty logging in, click the “trouble signing in FAQs” option in red at the bottom of the page. This opens a separate downloadable booklet that outlines a few frequently asked questions about logging onto your EBT account.
Frequently Asked EBT Questions
Let’s discuss a few frequently asked EBT questions for EBT users in Rhode Island.
- What is P-EBT?
- Can I shop online with my EBT card in Rhode Island?
Yes, you can, although you will need to pay for delivery fees, tips, and other charges yourself, as well as any extra personal items you might want to buy.
The Bottom Line
Using your EBT benefits can be a little intimidating at first. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with logging onto your EBT account, try doing a few practice runs. While there are other ways of checking your EBT balance, logging into an online account allows you to review other information aside from your balance.
Remember, EBT is designed to be user-intuitive. For many households, EBT is a necessity. With a little practice, using your card can become second nature.