How To Check Your EBT Balance In Montana [Learn The Facts]

For many families, using EBT and food stamps benefits are a part of the weekly shop. However, using any governmentally issued benefit comes with a list of rules and regulations. 

Your EBT benefits are only suitable to use for certain items, like food groceries. So, what should you know about using EBT? How can you check your balance? What can you buy? 

Let’s find out. 

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Table of Contents: 

What Is EBT?

EBT, also known as Electronic Benefits Transfer, is used to refer to all kinds of electronically issued benefits. It’s most often used to receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) benefits. 

Your benefits will be paid into an electronic account, which you can view online or by calling a customer service number. You make payments on this account by using a plastic payment card, like a debit or credit card. 

You can’t overspend on your EBT account. If you run out of money, you simply won’t be able to make any more purchases. However, any leftover benefits will roll on to the next month. 

Not all household items are covered by EBT or SNAP benefits. In fact, only food groceries can be paid for with food stamps money. If you try and buy unapproved items, your EBT card will be declined. 

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Even if your transfer somehow goes through, you’ll need to pay for the unapproved item yourself later. Repeatedly trying to buy unapproved items could lead to your benefits being suspended altogether. 

So, it’s good to make sure you know exactly what you can and can’t buy with your EBT card

Here’s what you can buy with EBT: 

  • Fruit and vegetables 
  • Meat, poultry, fish, and seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Non-dairy products (almond milk, soy milk, etc)
  • Bread, grains, and cereals 
  • Baking ingredients (sugar, flour, etc)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages 
  • Baby food and formula 
  • Nuts, legumes, beans, etc
  • Snack foods (candy, ice cream, chips, etc)

Essentially, any whole foods are covered by your SNAP benefits. However, if you’re not sure, call the customer service number on the back of your EBT card

Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT: 

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco products
  • Gambling/lottery tickets
  • Pet food/live animals
  • Medicines, vitamins, and supplements (some energy drinks fall under this category)
  • Clothes, cosmetics, and other personal items
  • Household supplies (cleaning products and paper goods)
  • Hygiene and grooming products (soap, shampoo, etc)
  • Fast food or restaurant food 
  • Hot, pre-prepared food and drinks (hot coffee, rotisserie chickens, etc)

As you can see, some unapproved items are still essential household supplies, like cleaning products and hygiene items. Unfortunately, you will need to use your own money to pay for these items, since EBT is designed to pay for a household’s food items only. 

Frequently Asked EBT Questions 

You can use your EBT in all 50 states, and many mainstream stores accept EBT cards. However, rules for using EBT may differ in certain areas. If you’re planning to travel or move to another state, it’s a good idea to do some research beforehand to check where you’ll be able to use your benefits. 

To check your EBT balance, you can always review your last receipt. Alternatively, you can call the helpline number at 1-888-328-6399, or log into your online EBT account. 

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You can use your EBT card at most mainstream stores, and you can also use it to shop online. However, while your EBT balance will cover the cost of any groceries you buy online, you will need to attach another method of payment for additional costs, like delivery fees and tips. 

Checking Your EBT Montana (GOV) Balance 

There are plenty of ways to check your EBT balance, in Montana and any other state. You can call the helpline number, 1-888-328-6399, or simply review your last receipt. 

Most users prefer to use their online EBT accounts to review their balances. You can access other information on your online account, too. Fortunately, logging in is a relatively straightforward process. 

  • Step One: Start by visiting this website. This will take you to a login page, where you can enter your user name and password. Then you can access your EBT account, viewing your balance and other information.

  • Step Two: If you’ve forgotten your password, click the “forgot password” option below the sign-in button. You’ll be prompted to enter your email address, and you’ll be sent a temporary identification code. From there, you can log onto your account with the new code, and reset your old password and create a new one.

  • Step Three: If you’ve forgotten your username, click on the “forgot username” option below the sign-in button. You’ll be walked through the step-by-step process of resetting your username, and the first step is to enter your card number.

  • Step Four: If this is your first time logging onto your online EBT account, you’ll need to register first. Click the ‘register’ option below the sign-in button, and follow the steps outlined. 

Using online accounts isn’t to everyone’s taste. However, you might find that checking your balance online is the simplest way to keep an eye on your benefits and review other information. 

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The Bottom Line

For first-time users, managing an EBT account and its associated benefits can be a little tricky. There are rules you must obey, such as not buying unapproved items. If you break the rules, you could find yourself with your benefits suspended or even canceled altogether. 

Some unapproved items are obvious, like alcohol and tobacco products. However, some other essential household groceries are unfortunately not covered by your EBT balance

It’s worth noting that different states may have slightly different rules on what you can and can’t buy. For example, some states may not allow you to use food delivery services. 

If you’re not sure whether an item is approved or not, call the customer service number on the back of your EBT card.

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