Sam’s Club and Costco are two of the most popular warehouse club chains in the United States.
Both stores offer a wide variety of products at discounted prices, but many people wonder whether they can use their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to shop at these stores.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The good news is that both Sam’s Club and Costco accept EBT at all of their locations in the United States.
This means that you can use your EBT card to purchase eligible food items at either store, including fresh produce, meat, dairy, and bread.
What is EBT?
EBT, which stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer, is a system that allows recipients of government benefits like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) to access their benefits through a debit-like card.
The EBT card is linked to an account that can only be used to purchase eligible food items at participating retailers.
It works similarly to a debit card – when purchasing food, the recipient swipes their EBT card at the checkout, and the amount is deducted from their account balance.
EBT aims to provide a more efficient, secure, and stigma-free way for benefit recipients to access nutrition assistance.
What types of food items are eligible for purchase with EBT?
EBT cards can be used to purchase most food items from grocery stores, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, CSAs, meal delivery services, and more.
Eligible items include:
- Fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs
- Breads, cereals, pasta, rice
- Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages
- Seeds and plants for growing food at home
However, EBT cards cannot be used to purchase alcohol, tobacco, vitamins, medicines, hot foods, or any non-food items. There are also restrictions on purchasing certain luxury food items.
Where can I use my EBT card?
EBT cards can be used at any retailer that accepts SNAP payments.
This includes most major supermarkets like Walmart, Aldi, Safeway, Kroger, etc. Many convenience stores, gas stations, and farmers’ markets also accept EBT. You can check if a store accepts EBT by looking for a sign near the entrance.
In addition, an increasing number of grocery and meal delivery services accept EBT payments online.
This includes Amazon, FreshDirect, Instacart, and more. However, restaurants generally do not allow customers to pay for hot or prepared foods with an EBT card.
How do I use my EBT card?
Using an EBT card to purchase food is simple.
Just swipe your card at the point-of-sale terminal just like you would a debit card. Choose “EBT” if prompted and enter your PIN.
Your receipt will show your remaining balance. Most states also offer EBT mobile apps so you can check your balance and view purchase history from your smartphone.
To get the most value, look for promotional discounts for EBT users at stores or farmers’ markets in your area.
Carefully plan your shopping list so you don’t overspend your monthly benefits. With some smart shopping habits, you can effectively use your EBT to maximize your food budget.
How to use EBT at Sam’s Club and Costco
Do Sam’s Club and Costco accept EBT online?
Unfortunately, Sam’s Club and Costco do not accept EBT payments for online orders.
EBT cards can only be used for in-store purchases at participating locations. This is because EBT is restricted to the purchase of eligible food items, and stores need to verify the items at checkout.
However, both Sam’s Club and Costco allow EBT cardholders to purchase food online for in-store pickup.
You can place your grocery order online, then go to the store to pay with your EBT card and pick up the items.
Can I use EBT to pay for my membership fee at Sam’s Club or Costco?
No, EBT benefits cannot be used to pay for membership fees at warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club or Costco.
EBT can only be used to purchase eligible food items. The membership fee is not considered a food purchase.
However, you can visit Costco without a membership to purchase items. At Sam’s Club, you can pay a 10% service fee to shop without a membership.
This allows you to use your EBT card on food purchases without having to pay for the membership.
Can I use EBT to purchase non-food items at Sam’s Club or Costco?
If you have SNAP EBT benefits, you can only purchase eligible food items, nothing else.
SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy non-food items like household goods, clothes, electronics, etc.
If you have cash benefits on your EBT card, you may be able to use those to purchase non-food items at Sam’s Club and Costco.
However, cash benefits are intended for other necessities like hygiene products, so use discretion.
What are some tips for using EBT at Sam’s Club and Costco?
- Look up which locations accept EBT before visiting. Not all warehouses participate.
- Separate EBT-eligible items from non-food items at checkout. You’ll have to use another form of payment for anything that can’t be paid for with EBT.
- Watch portion sizes on bulk items. EBT has monthly benefit limits, so budget wisely.
- Ask about special EBT discounts. Some locations may offer deals for cardholders.
- Use EBT towards the end of the benefit month if possible. Purchasing shelf-stable bulk items can help stock up your pantry before your next issuance.
Sam’s Club and Costco can offer convenience and savings when you use your EBT benefits strategically.
Just be sure to double-check policies and take advantage of any EBT promotions available.
Benefits of shopping at Sam’s Club and Costco
Wide variety of products
Sam’s Club and Costco offer an incredibly diverse selection of products across many categories.
From fresh groceries and organic produce to furniture, electronics, clothes, toys, and more, they have everything you need for your home or business in one convenient location.
The low prices and bulk quantities at Sam’s Club and Costco help save members significant amounts of money.
They are able to leverage their massive buying power to secure discounts from manufacturers and pass on the savings.
Items are often priced far below what you would pay at a regular supermarket or retail store.
For example, a study by CheatSheet found popular products at Costco were, on average, 19% cheaper compared to other big stores.
Bulk buying options
Shopping in bulk allows you to stock up on necessities and avoid frequent shopping trips.
Sam’s Club and Costco sell products in larger sizes and multi-packs that are more economical for households and businesses.
From a giant box of crackers to a year’s supply of detergent, the bulk quantities suit large families, offices, restaurants, and more.
According to Sam’s Club, shopping in bulk saves members up to 55% compared to other retailers.
The warehouse model provides a one-stop shop for knocking out your full shopping list in one trip. You avoid having to visit multiple stores to find what you need.
Sam’s Clubs typically have superior locations close to main roads and thoroughfares for ease of access.
Costco also offers conveniences like pharmacies, fuel stations, food courts, and tire centers at many locations.
The streamlined shopping saves members substantial time and hassle.
Alternatives to using EBT at Sam’s Club and Costco
Prepaid credit cards
If you receive SNAP benefits but want to shop at Sam’s Club or Costco without using your EBT card, one option is to get a prepaid credit card.
Many government benefit programs offer prepaid cards that allow you to load your SNAP funds each month.
With these cards, you can withdraw cash from ATMs or use the card like a debit card for purchases.
This allows you to shop anywhere that accepts debit or credit cards, including warehouse clubs. Just remember that prepaid cards have certain fees, like ATM withdrawal fees, that your EBT card does not.
Other grocery stores that accept EBT
If you want bulk discounted groceries like Sam’s Club or Costco offers, another option is shopping at a regular grocery store that accepts EBT.
Stores like Walmart, Aldi, Kroger, and Safeway all offer bulk discounted items and accept SNAP benefits.
For example, you can often find better prices at Aldi on bulk essentials like grains, canned goods, snacks, dairy, meat, and produce. Walmart also price matches its competitors, so you can find similar bulk discounted prices on household essentials.
Shopping at these grocers allows you to maximize your SNAP benefits.
Restaurant Meals Program
Some states offer an EBT Restaurant Meals Program that lets SNAP recipients use their benefits to buy prepared food at certain restaurants.
For example, Arizona’s Restaurant Meals Program includes over 100 participating restaurants like Subway, Jack in the Box, and Domino’s Pizza.
If your state has an EBT restaurant program, you may be able to use your SNAP benefits to buy prepared hot foods at wholesale clubs with snack bars or food courts like Sam’s Club and Costco.
Check with your local social services department to see if there are any participating restaurants near you.
With a little creativity, you have some excellent options to get bulk discounted groceries and prepared meals using your SNAP benefits, even if you can’t use your EBT card directly at Sam’s Club or Costco.
The prepaid card route or shopping at EBT-friendly grocery stores can help you maximize your food budget.
Sam’s Club and Costco are both great options for people who are looking to save money on groceries.
Both stores accept EBT, which makes them accessible to low-income individuals and families.
If you’re looking for a wide variety of products at discounted prices, Sam’s Club and Costco are definitely worth considering.