For many families, making ends meet is always in the back of their minds. This is why EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is a staple in the lives of many low-income Americans.
Designed to pay for a family’s food, EBT is a governmentally issued cash benefit for households who earn less than a certain amount each year.
So, what is EBT, and what is EBT edge? When will you receive your benefits, and how can you check your balance?
Let’s find out.
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Table of Contents:
- What Is EBT?
- Frequently Asked EBT Questions
- How to Check Your EBT Balance
- The Bottom Line
- Need Burial Insurance?
What Is EBT?
EBT refers to any benefits you receive electronically, most commonly SNAP benefits. SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is designed to replace the old-fashioned food stamp coupons.
These benefits are deposited monthly into your electronic account, and you’ll receive a plastic card to make payments from your account. You can use this card to pay for food at store checkouts, self-checkout, and even for online shopping. However, you’ll need to have another card or method of payment attached, since your EBT won’t cover additional charges like delivery fees and tips.
Here’s what you can buy with EBT:
- Fruit and vegetables (canned, frozen, or fresh)
- Meat, poultry, fish, and seafood
- Dairy and non-dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, almond milk, etc)
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Bread, cereals, and grains
- Nuts, beans, and legumes
- Baking ingredients (flour, sugar, etc)
- Snack foods (ice cream, candy, chips, etc)
- Baby food and formula
Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco products
- Lottery tickets/gambling
- Pet food
- Medicines, vitamins, or supplements (some energy drinks fall under the “supplements” category)
- Hot, preprepared food and drink (hot coffee, rotisserie chickens)
- Restaurant food/fast food
- Electronics, clothes, cosmetics, or other personal items
- Household supplies
- Cleaning products and paper goods
- Hygiene and grooming products (soap, shampoo, pads, tampons, etc)
You’ll notice that some essential groceries, like household supplies and hygiene products, aren’t covered by your EBT balance. Fortunately, most stores allow customers to make multiple payments on one load of shopping, so you can use your EBT card to pay for food groceries, and your own money to pay for non-food groceries.
You can’t overspend on your EBT balance. Once the money in your account has run out, you can’t use any more. However, any leftover benefits will roll onto next month.
Frequently Asked EBT Questions
While EBT is used all over America, each state has slightly different rules for how it can be used. So, if you’re planning to move or travel between states, it’s a good idea to do a little research about how EBT can be used, and what it can be spent on.
However, you can use an EBT card in any state you like, at any store which accepts EBT cards. So, let’s discuss a few commonly asked questions about EBT.
- What is P EBT?
P EBT, or Pandemic EBT, is a special pandemic benefit designed to replace the free or reduced-price school meals that some children would have been receiving at school. Due to closures, children aren’t able to get their school meals.
So, P EBT is added to a household’s existing benefits or given out to eligible children.
- When will I receive my EBT benefits?
When you receive your benefits will depend on which state you live in. Many states hand out benefits between the 1st and 9th of the month.
The end digit of your EBT ID number often indicates which day you can expect your benefits. For example, if your ID number ends in 0 or 1, your benefits will arrive on the 1st of the month. If your number ends in 2, it will be the 2nd, and so on.
Benefits are usually deposited early in the day, and your new benefits may be available from as early as 6 am.
How to Check Your EBT Edge Balance
The simplest way to check your balance is to review the receipt from your last EBT purchase. Your closing account balance should be listed on your receipt.
Alternatively, you can log into EBT Edge, and view your balance there. Here’s how to do that:
- Step One: Start by visiting this website. There, you’ll see boxes covering all the information about EBT that you might need. Click on “Cardholder Login” on the far left of the screen to access your account. You’ll be prompted with a login page, where you’ll need to enter your password and user ID.
- Step Two: If you’re having difficulty, click on the “trouble signing/logging in” option below the login button. You’ll be taken to another page where you can select what your problem is. For example, if you’ve forgotten your password, click the “forgot password” option below. Then you’ll be taken through all the necessary steps to reset your password and create a new one.
The Bottom Line
Navigating online accounts doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you continue to have difficulties signing in to your account, or you have other EBT issues, feel free to call the customer service number on the back of your EBT card.
EBT is a crucial part of the budget for many families. It allows plenty of freedom, within reason. Certain luxury or “treat” items are also included, like steak, seafood, and even snack food and soda.
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