Thousands of low-income American families across the country struggle each month to make ends meet. While there’s no end of factors that can cause poverty, the problems resulting from a low income are all the same.
All too often, families are forced to choose between eating well that week and paying the rent and bills. This is where governmentally issued benefits like EBT and SNAP come into play.
But what is EBT? What can you buy with it – and more importantly, what can’t you buy with EBT? How can you check your balance – and what happens if you run out of money?
Let’s find out.
Table Of Contents:
What Is EBT?
EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer and is an umbrella term for all electronically issued benefits. To receive your benefits – for example, SNAP benefits – you will need an EBT account. Your benefits will be paid into your EBT account every month, and you’ll make purchases electronically through that account.
To pay for food items with EBT, you’ll use a plastic payment card. You can swipe this card at a store checkout and enter a PIN, just as you would with a regular payment card. You can also use your EBT card to shop online.
You can’t use your EBT card to get cash – all transactions must be done electronically. You also can’t overspend on your EBT card. Once the benefits in your account run out, you won’t be able to make any more purchases until your benefits renew.
However, any leftover benefits will roll onto the next month, meaning you won’t lose out on any cash benefits.
What Can You Buy With EBT?
Like any governmentally issued benefit, EBT comes with a few rules attached. This includes what you can and can’t buy. EBT is only designed to pay for food, which means that virtually all items classed as food can be bought with your EBT card.
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 purchases. There are no criteria for brand, price, or type of food that you can buy with EBT.
What Can’t You Buy With EBT?
EBT is designed to pay for a household’s food – and only their food. This means that any non-food items and not suitable to buy with your EBT card.
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 are clearly essential goods. Paper goods, cleaning products, and hygiene items are all necessary goods. Unfortunately, you will need to use your own money to buy these items.
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 items and your own money for non-food goods.
How To Check Your EBT Balance In Utah
The easiest way to check your EBT balance is to review your last receipt. Your closing account balance should be listed there. However, logging onto your online account is a good way to review your balance as well as check other information about your account.
Here’s how to check your EBT balance online:
- Step One: Start by visiting this site. This will take you to the EBT governmental cardholder page. To access your EBT card balance, click on “cardholder login” on the far left of the page.
- Step Two: Next, you’ll be presented with a login box. You’ll be prompted to enter your user ID and password. Once you’ve done that, you can access your account and view your balance, as well as other information.
- Step Three: If you’re having difficulty signing in, click on the “trouble signing in” option below the login button. You’ll be presented with several options to choose from. For example, if this is your first time using your EBT card, you’ll need to unlock your user ID. If you’ve forgotten your password, click the “forgot password” option and follow the instructions given onscreen. Then you should be able to reset your password and create a new one.
- Step Four: If you’re still struggling with logging into your EBT account, click on the “trouble signing in FAQs” option in red at the bottom of the page. This will open a downloadable booklet explaining how to log onto your account and other frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked EBT Questions
All EBT users want to get the most out of their benefits – but without breaking the rules. Here are a few commonly asked questions about using EBT in Utah.
- Will restaurants accept EBT in Utah?
- Can you use EBT for food deliveries?
You can use your EBT card to pay for online food deliveries, although not every food delivery service and online store accept EBT. You may need to pay for delivery fees, tips, and other charges yourself.
The Bottom Line
EBT is designed to benefit low-income households. The amount of money you may be eligible for will depend on your current income and the size of your family.