Costco allows you to buy a variety of items in bulk at really low prices. I love getting those products that I use a lot, like olive oil, rice, coffee grounds, and hot sauce, from there because they save me so much money.
And, if you have a read of my list of ways to get a free Costco membership, you can save even more money!
Groceries are definitely one of those areas where I spend the most money, so anytime I get the chance to save, I do!
That’s why shopping at Costco is a no-brainer.
Now, if you are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), then you may be wondering if you “Does Costco take EBT?”
If you could use your EBT card to buy stuff at your local warehouse, it could save you even more on everyday grocery items.
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What will I learn?
What is an EBT Card?
The Electronic Benefits Transfer card is a debit card that the government uses to deliver benefits to eligible recipients.
Mostly, the EBT card is used to allow those enrolled in SNAP to pay for food using their SNAP benefits. Basically, you take your EBT card to the register and use it to buy your groceries.
The EBT card is also used to deliver cash benefits for those enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Families enrolled in TANF can withdraw cash from ATMs that accept EBT cards.
Mostly though, EBT cards are used in place of food stamps so that those enrolled in SNAP are able to get financial assistance with purchasing food.
When you use your EBT card at a store, your SNAP EBT account is debited to reimburse the store for the food you purchased. EBT is used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam, and it has been the sole method for delivering SNAP benefits in all states since June 2004.
Not all retailers accept EBT cards, and you can only use your benefits to purchase specific items.
Does Costco Take EBT?
Yes, just like Sam’s Club, Costco takes EBT cards at all of its warehouse locations. So, you can use your food stamps for in-store purchases. That being said, you can only buy items that are eligible. So, SNAP rules apply at Costco.
I’ll go into detail about what you can purchase with your EBT card at Costco below. I’ll also cover how you can use your EBT card at Costco.
What can you buy with EBT at Costco?
Okay, so as I mentioned above, you can’t use your EBT card on every purchase at Costco. Costco sells a lot of stuff. You can purchase everything from TVs to cakes there. Sadly, your EBT card can only be used to purchase specific items.
Here’s what you can buy with your EBT card at Costco…
- Fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, or canned)
- Cooking oils, like olive oil and vegetable oil
- Poultry products like chicken and eggs
- Red meat, like steak, ribs, and ground beef
- Dairy products, like cheese, milk, and almond milk.
- Seafood, such as fish, shrimp, shellfish, and lobster.
- Pork products, like chops, sausages, bacon, and tenderloin.
- Breads and cereals (like pita bread, rye bread, tortillas, pasta, bagels, and rice).
- Desserts like ice cream, cookies, or brownies
- Cold sandwiches
- Snack crackers
- Other foods such as snack foods
- Non-alcoholic beverages, such as soft drinks, like Sprite and Pepsi, and energy drinks like Red Bull.
- Seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat
What can’t you buy with EBT at Costco?
As I said earlier, Costco sells a lot of different products – I mean you really can purchase pretty much anything there. However, you can’t use your SNAP benefits to purchase everything. It’s mostly designed for those staple foods items that you prepare yourself at home and that are cold at the point of sale.
Here’s what you can’t use your EBT to purchase:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
- Vitamins, medicines, and supplements.
- Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water, and animals slaughtered prior to pick-up from the store).
- Foods that are hot when sold.
- Non-food items, such as:
- Cleaning supplies
- Paper products
- Pet foods
- Hygiene items
Using Your EBT at Costco
You can use food stamps at Costco to purchase SNAP-eligible items. In this section, I want to cover a few more questions you may have about using your EBT card at Costco.
Does Costco take EBT online?
No, unfortunately, you can’t use your SNAP benefits to buy stuff at Costco online. So, you will have to head to your local warehouse to use your food stamps.
Can you use EBT at the Costco Food Court?
The majority of SNAP participants aren’t able to purchase items at the food court, because the foods sold there, hot foods, are not SNAP-eligible.
However, the Restaurant Meals Program allows certain SNAP-recipients who qualify to purchase hot foods.
Because SNAP benefits are designed for purchasing cold foods and foods you can prepare yourself, this leaves people who are disabled or unable to cook for themselves with few options. And, that’s why the Restaurant Meals Program was launched.
It’s a state-run program that allows elderly, homeless, and disabled SNAP recipients to purchase food at SNAP authorized restaurants using their SNAP EBT cards.
Only six states have RMPs:
- Rhode Island
Not every EBT cardholder will qualify, so you will need to meet your state’s requirements to be eligible.
Basically, you can only use your EBT card to buy hot or prepared food items at Costco if you live in a state that participates in the Restaurant Meals Program and qualify for it.
Now, another way you can use your EBT card to eat at the Costco food court is if you receive other government benefits, like cash benefits through the TANF program that I mentioned earlier.
In this case, you can withdraw your benefits from an ATM that accepts EBT cards and use the money to purchase items at the food court. If you don’t qualify for TANF though or you don’t live in a state with an RMP or aren’t eligible for it, then you won’t be able to use your EBT card at the Costco food court.
Can you use EBT at self-checkout in Costco?
You can use your EBT card at the self-checkout in Costco if your warehouse has a self-checkout counter.
However, not all stores allow the use of EBT cards at the self-checkout. It depends on your state. So, you will have to check with your local store.
Can I pay my Costco membership with EBT?
No, your EBT card can only be used to purchase SNAP-eligible food and drink items. This does not include the cost of a Costco membership.
Can you buy Costco rotisserie chicken with EBT?
No, because a rotisserie chicken falls under the “hot and prepared” foods category. And, as I mentioned before, SNAP benefits only apply to cold foods and foods you prepare yourself. The only time that SNAP benefits can be used to purchase hot foods is if you live in a state that participates in the RMP and you qualify for it, as I mentioned earlier.
Can I use EBT on Instacart Costco?
No, you cannot use your EBT card to pay for Costco groceries through Instacart. However, if you are looking to purchase groceries through Instacart, you do have some options.
SNAP-eligible Instacart customers in the U.S. can pay for their online grocery orders with a valid EBT card, in full or in part, from the following stores in select states:
- Food Lion
- Save Mart
- Lucky Supermarkets
- Price Chopper
- Market 32
- Market Bistro
This is because Instacart is participating in a pilot run by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accept EBT benefits online. Currently, customers with a valid EBT card in all states, except Alaska, Louisiana, and Montana, are able to use their SNAP finds on Instacart at participating retailers.
So, while you can’t use your SNAP benefits at Costco through Instacart, you could try a store like Aldi or Food Lion instead.
Costco takes EBT at all of its stores, which is great. Sadly, you can’t use your food stamps to make purchases online or in the food court, unless you live in a state that participates in the RMP and you qualify for it. However there are many other grocery stores that take EBT card online.