Does Costco Take EBT? (Yes, But Read This First)

does costco take ebt

EBT has been around since 2004. Most grocery stores have accepted EBT as a legitimate form of payment for a long time. Like your local grocery store, Costo warehouse stores accept food stamps.

But EBT and food stamps are different things, right? Well, no, an EBT card is a more convenient form of a food stamp.

So does Costco take EBT? Absolutely yes. But while you can use your EBT card at Costo, there are a few things you should know first.

Food Stamp Benefits

EBT cards are a form of government assistance that has been around since the early 2000s. They’ve had many different names, and they were a part of the supplemental nutrition assistance program.

The federal government provides food benefits through these.

1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP Benefits

SNAP is just the upgraded version of food stamps. Instead of physically carrying them around, people can now have their food stamps accepted using an EBT card.

2. Temporary Assistance For Needy Families/TANF Benefits

TANF is another use of EBT cards. The federal government allows flexible use of an EBT card for needy families so they can purchase essential household items in addition to food.

Plus, with TANF, you could withdraw money from an ATM, like you usually would, with visa cards or debit cards. Now you can use this cash to make additional purchases similar to Costco cash cards.

Costco Wholesale Warehouses

If you haven’t shopped at Costco yet, you probably don’t own its membership card. If you’re among the non-members, you won’t be able to enter the Costco warehouses.

You’ll have to purchase a Costco membership first. Making purchases in person is only possible for Costco members.

You can shop at Costco, but only if you’re with a member or you have someone else’s membership card.

EBT Card at Costco

Does Costco accept EBT? Yes.

But what benefits can you avail of using your EBT at Costco? That’s a whole other debate. The use of your EBT cards at Costco warehouses works for food items. But there are a few things for which Costco won’t take your EBT cards.

Why Won’t Your Local Costco Take EBT?

The EBT plans and limited EBT items are all announced by the government. Whether your EBT will be able to help you make a purchase at Costco or not is something that the government decides. 

Let’s take a look at all the products where your EBT won’t help you.

Costco Gas Stations

Unfortunately, you can’t purchase gas with your EBT cards. Sure, you could withdraw some cash and then use it to buy gas. But your local Costco gas station won’t directly accept EBT.

Costco Stores/Costco Online

Costco Stores and Costco online are places you don’t need to worry too much about. Most of your groceries can easily be purchased using an EBT card here. 

But here’s a complete list of products that you won’t be able to buy with an EBT both at Costco or your local grocery store.

  1. Alcohol
  2. Pet food
  3. Tobacco
  4. Medication
  5. Cleaning products
  6. Household essentials

In retrospect, using your EBT card relieves a lot of your financial load. Most of these products won’t push your budget too much, given the relief you get from EBT for other essentials.

Can You Use Your EBT at Costco’s Food Court?

Even though food can be purchased with an EBT card, there are still some specific eligible foods. Let’s go over these:

Eligible Food

Eligible foods are anything that doesn’t come under the prepared foods category. This means vegetables, fruits, rice, bread, and other such grocery items can be purchased with your EBT card.

Ineligible Food

All prepared foods come under this category. Your EBT won’t cover any purchases of pizzas, burgers, sushi, or hotdogs.

Since the food court items at Costco are mostly pizzas and hot dogs, you can’t use your EBT card here.

But don’t worry, a few Costco locations accept EBT cards. The best way to find out is by visiting your nearest Costco location and asking them.

Using EBT Card for Unapproved Food Items

If you’ve somehow managed to make an unapproved food purchase, there are still consequences. The government won’t let you off the hook. 

Here’s all that could happen if you find yourself in this situation.

  • A 3-month ban for the first unapproved purchase
  • A 1-year ban for the second unapproved purchase
  • A 2-year ban for the third unapproved purchase

Can You Use Your EBT Card at Costco Online?

Unfortunately, your EBT card can only be used while purchasing at physical Costco locations. But if you’re shopping online, you won’t be able to use your EBT card.

Will a Cashier Know When We Use EBT Cards?

An EBT card has the logo mentioned on it in large letters. So it’s practically impossible that the Costco cashier won’t notice. Looking at the card itself, anyone can figure out when you’re receiving SNAP benefits or TANF benefits.

Do Costco Locations Accept EBT Cards? Final Thoughts

So does Costco take EBT? Yes. Although there are many limitations to the use of EBT at Costco, it’s still possible.

There are some items you’d like to purchase, but your EBT doesn’t cover them. It is essential you understand that these restrictions are placed by the government. Costco adheres to this policy the same as it adheres to all state laws. There’s not much they can do about it.

You can frequently visit a Costco website for updates on the use of EBT. But if you’re trying to purchase items on the Costco website, your EBT won’t cover your expenses.

The EBT policy is excellent support for struggling families. Those with EBT benefits can get food without denting their bank account. The money they save here can be spent on non-food items.

Thus, their basic needs are covered through these government benefits, and they can support their families too.

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