Does Costco Take EBT? If they do, can we use it online? We are about to find the answers to these questions, and much more.
Costco is one of the largest and most popular big-box warehouse-style stores in the United States. The store is famous for its big discounts on bulk purchases.
The offerings range from daily food products such as eggs to electronic items such as TVs. For a lot of products, it is cheaper if you buy them from Costco.
The catch, obviously, is that the quantity has to be bulk. Not to mention, Costco does offer food items. A large number of people buy their food items via the EBT.
But what if you wanted to buy food items at a Costco with an EBT? Does Costco Accept EBT Cards as a payment option? Let us try to find out!
What is an EBT card?
Let’s start by understanding your EBT card first. EBT stands for Electronic Fund Transfer. It is a digital way for the United States government to transfer fund services directly to the citizens.
Simply put, it is a card (think of a debit card), which gets topped up with a balance each month. At present, each eligible holder gets around $125 per month on average.
The funding is provided by the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme), formerly the scheme was popularly known as food stamps.
Read Also: Does Costco accept VSP and EyeMed?
How does an EBT card work?
EBT cards basically function like debit cards. Once you are eligible, the government opens a SNAP account for you which is attached to your EBT card.
The SNAP account gets updated with a balance each month, like we mentioned earlier, on average, $125 is deposited in each SNAP account each month.
The next important component to the working of your EBT card is the PIN (Personal Identification Number). The PIN is delivered along with your EBT card and is needed whenever you swipe your EBT at a POS (Point Of Sale).
Keeping your PIN a secret is of utmost importance. If somebody found out your PIN, they could use your SNAP benefits without your permission.
Services such as checking the balance on your SNAP account, changing the PIN, and accessing other relevant information are available on the EBT website.
Does Costco Take EBT in 2022?
Can you pay at Costco with EBT?
The huge discounts that Costco offers, especially on its bulk items attract a large number of customers. People who are relying on EBT for buying food benefits could certainly benefit from those discounts.
But does Costco even accept EBT? Luckily, the answer is yes! Costco does accept EBT.
While Costco accepts EBT as a payment option, it is important to keep how Costco works in mind.
How does Costco work?
Broadly speaking there are two ways you can shop at Costco. The first is becoming a member of the club. A Costco membership is annual and full payment has to be made in advance.
Once you are a member, you get access to all the juicy deals on a plethora of items. Non-members are not allowed access to these deals.
This could be a deal-breaker for many, especially EBT users. Sure, Costco will accept EBT at their checkout, but you need to be a member first.
The easiest solution would be to list all the items that you purchase often and see if the cost-saving is enough to offset the annual membership fee.
There is a second way to pay at Costco as well. Members are able to buy Costco gift cards. These gift cards can be used by anyone, including non-members.
If you know someone with a Costco membership, they could help you get one of those gift cards, but again, EBT payments are not accepted along with the gift cards.
Do all Costco locations accept EBT?
According to Costco’s official website, all Costco locations and warehouses accept EBT payments. It is as simple as swiping your debit card.
Be wary however, Costco is not available at all locations. There are multiple states which, unfortunately still do not have a Costco warehouse:
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
The information has been sourced from Costco’s warehouse locator. If you are located in any of the states mentioned above, unfortunately, you won’t be able to use EBT at Costco. Plenty of other places accepts EBT however.
What items can you buy at Costco with EBT?
It is important to keep in mind that EBT funds are government provided benefits. As such, the government strictly controls how the EBT funds can be spent. Costco sells a wide range of items. Their liquor section is quite popular.
However, as we will find out, EBT payments are only allowed for a select category of products. Let us take a look at what you can buy with your EBT card:
- Fresh produce from farms (including fruits and vegetables)
- Uncooked food items
- Packaged snacks
An exhaustive list cannot be provided since certain states further restrict the items that can be bought with the EBT.
What you could buy with your EBT balance in one state, might not be legal in another. It is best to check with your state’s website for the full list.
The main thing to realize here is that it is not Costco that controls what you can or cannot buy with your EBT, instead, it is the government.
Costco always allows you full access to all its offerings, provided you have a valid membership.
What items can you not buy at Costco with EBT?
Also important is to learn what items you cannot buy with your EBT. There are many items available at Costco which the law prohibits from being bought using EBT funds. Here is a basic rundown of those items:
- Gas (from Costco gas stations)
- Liquor/alcoholic drinks
- Pet foods and medicines
- Paper products
- Medicines and pills
- Cleaning supplies
- Household supplies
- Tobacco products
In general, EBT funds are limited to food items that can be easily cooked, packaged snacks such as chips and farm produce such as salads and veggies.
Items that are considered ‘adult’ don’t generally qualify. Again, it is important to realize that it is not Costco that is blocking payments to these items, it is the government ensuring that EBT funds are spent for their intended purpose.
Do Costco Food Courts accept EBT?
Costco is also popular for its food courts. It is even more so because food courts are separately accessible than the rest of the warehouse and that even non-members can buy all items from the food court.
If you’ve been to a Costco Food Court before, or if your nearest Costco warehouse has a food court, you might be wondering if you could use your EBT card to pay at the food court.
The general answer is no, in this case. Costco Food Courts do not accept EBT payments. This is because the items sold at Costco Food courts are already cooked. The government restricts spending EBT funds on such items.
For example, items like pizzas, hot dogs and sandwiches that are available at the Costco food court cannot be paid for with your EBT card.
If you really do wish to make an order at Costco Food Court, it helps to know that many other payment methods are accepted, including Cash, credit cards, and debit cards.
On the upside, many states have changed laws a bit and allowed certain cooked items on EBT benefits.
If you are in such a location, you could very well pay at the Costco Food Court with your EBT card. The best would be to check with the laws of your state.
Can you pay with EBT on Costco.com?
In the wake of the pandemic, frequent shutdowns have become common, shop aisles have become empty and item hoarding has peaked. Brick and mortar stores have not been able to function at their peak.
The official webstore of Costco, found at costco.com has been a huge help. If you hold an EBT card, you might be wondering if you could pay for your online order with the EBT.
Unfortunately, Costco does not accept EBT cards for its online store. They accept a plethora of other payment options such as debit and credit cards, but they do not accept EBT cards.
Therefore you could not pay for your online order from Costco with your EBT card. They still accept other payment methods including cash, so if you really need to order, you are not left optionless.
Here again, we need to keep in mind that the blockage on online payments has been made by the government. With the rising cases and changing times, we could see amendments in the rules, and maybe in the future EBT cards would be accepted for online purchases at Costco. Currently however, they are not.
Costco is a popular big-box style wholesale store that is famous for its big discounts on bulk payments. Cheap prices definitely attract a lot of customers, including EBT cardholders.
Like we discussed, Costco does accept EBT cards as a payment method at all of its locations.
FAQs on does Costco accept food stamps
What can you buy with EBT at Costco?
Items you can purchase with the EBT benefits are controlled by the states, and the federal law. Generally, fresh farm produce and uncooked items are allowed to be purchased.
When did Costco start accepting EBT?
Costco started accepting EBT cards in 2009. The company has always been supportive of federal laws.
Can I use my EBT card at Costco self-checkout?
Yes, EBT cards can be used at self-checkout. The process is exactly the same as that of a debit card.
Can I pay my Costco membership with EBT?
Unfortunately, Costco memberships can not be purchased with EBT, since the United States law only allows food item purchases through EBTs.
About Jackie Davies
I am Jackie D *As my friends call me :)* I am a lover of all things outdoors and appreciate the little beautiful things life brings my way.