Thousands of low-income American families benefit from EBT benefits each month. Designed to supplement a household’s nutritional needs, EBT provides extra cash benefits for eligible households.
If you’re reading this article, then chances are that you or a loved one have begun using EBT – or are about to start using it. No doubt you have a lot of questions.
For example, what is EBT? How does it work, and what can you buy with EBT? More importantly, what can’t you buy?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents:
- What Is EBT?
- How to Check Your EBT Balance in South Dakota
- 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.
SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is essentially food stamps benefits. These benefits are handed out monthly and are designed to supplement a household’s nutritional needs.
Your benefits will be paid into your electronic EBT account. You can make purchases with a plastic EBT card. This card works like a debit or credit card – you swipe the card at a store checkout, and enter a PIN. You can also use your EBT card to make online purchases.
Since most mainstream stores accept EBT cards, shopping with EBT should be very straightforward. You can’t overdraw on your EBT account. Once your benefits have run out, you can’t make any more purchases until your benefits renew next month.
However, any unused benefits will roll onto the next month, so they aren’t wasted. However, as you can imagine, there are rules as to what you can and can’t buy with EBT.
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, EBT users have plenty of choices when it comes to their grocery shopping. So long as an item is classed as food, it’s covered by your EBT card. This even includes “luxury” items, like seafood, steaks, and snack foods.
How you spend your benefits is up to you!
What Can’t You Buy With EBT?
As you can imagine, not everything is suitable to buy with EBT. While some items may be obviously unsuitable, others are a little more surprising.
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)
Some unapproved items, like hygiene products and household supplies, are quite clearly household essentials. Unfortunately, EBT only covered food groceries. This means that you’ll need to use another method of payment for other essential goods.
However, most stores allow shoppers to make multiple payments on one load of shopping. This means that you can use your EBT card to pay for food groceries and another method of payment for the rest.
How to Check Your EBT Balance In South Dakota
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 South Dakota.
- What is P-EBT?
- Can I shop online with my EBT card in South Dakota?
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 account doesn’t need to be difficult. The premise is fairly straightforward, and you have a customer service number on the back of your card to call if you have any questions.
EBT cards are accepted all over America, in most mainstream stores. However, if you’re not sure whether a store accepts EBT, ask a member of staff before you start shopping. You can also use your EBT card to shop online, however, you may need to have another method of payment attached, for delivery fees, tips, and other charges.