Whether you’re new to EBT, or a longtime Costco member, you’re probably wondering if Costco will take your EBT card. Also, does EBT at Costco work just like it does at the grocery store? I’ll breakdown all of your questions, and also talk about the EBT product exclusions at Costco so you can shop smart and not have any surprises when you get to the checkout aisle.
Does Costco Take EBT Cards and SNAP?
All Costco warehouses are obligated to accept both and they make it pretty easy to do so.
What Exactly is the Difference Between SNAP and EBT?
Think of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) as an upgraded version of food stamps.
But now, instead of carrying around the physical “stamps”, you’ll get your food benefits in the form of an EBT Card (Electronic Benefit Transfer), which you essentially use like a debit card at Costco.
This is very brief explanation of EBT, if you need more information CLICK HERE.
Will Everyone in Line Know I’m Using an EBT Card?
It makes sense that some EBT card users would rather not announce to the entire store that they’re using government assistance to buy their groceries.
Fortunately, the way Costco checkout aisles are setup, you really can’t see what payment method the customer in front of you is using, so it’s my opinion you have NOTHING to worry about.
Do I Have to be a Costco Member to Use my EBT Card?
Yes, but here’s a clever workaround…
If you have a friend who’s a Costco member, ask them to buy you a Costco cash card for a agreed upon amount, then repay them.
A seamless way to repay them is by withdrawing cash from your EBT card’s “Cash Account” at any ATM.
Can I Shop With a Member, But Use My EBT Card?
You can definitely shop with a family member or friend, use their Costco card for entry, but pay with your EBT card.
The cashier will scan the Costco membership card, then you simply pay with your EBT card, grab your receipt, and head out the door.
Costco does NOT ask cashiers to match the name on the membership to the name on the card being used to pay.
With that said, I’m told by Brittany in the comments that you MIGHT have a problem trying to use someone else’s EBT card if they are not with you.
She was trying to buy groceries for her mom, with her mom’s EBT card, and the cashier wouldn’t let her.
I’m guessing your mileage may vary depending on how close the cashier is paying attention. Let me know in the comments if you’ve had any experience with this.
What CAN I Buy at Costco with EBT?
According to the USDA, here are the main things you CAN buy with your EBT card at Costco.
– Meat, Fish, Chicken
– Fruits and Vegetables
– Dairy Products
– Breads and Cereals
– Non-Alcoholic Drinks
– Snack Foods
– Seeds and Plants for your Garden
What CAN’T I Buy at Costco with EBT?
And of course there are some regulations that don’t allow you to buy the following items with your EBT card at Costco.
– Alcohol – Beer, wine, and hard liquor.
– Tobacco Products – Cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
– Health Products – Vitamins, medicines, and supplements.
– Live animals – Except shellfish, fish removed from water, and animals slaughtered prior to pick-up from the store
– Hot Foods – This includes prepared foods from the Costco Food Court that are hot at the point of sale.
– Pet Foods – Includes fish food and hamster food.
– Household Items – Includes cleaning supplies and paper products.
– Hygiene Items – This includes diapers, feminine hygiene products, and cosmetics.
How Do I Buy Items From Both Lists?
If your Costco purchase includes approved and non-approved EBT items it’s totally doable but you need to be organized.
I suggest separating items in your cart and making 2 separate purchases.
UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter, I’m told there is NO need to separate your purchases.
Specifically, they said, “You can use your EBT card first, and then pay the balance in whatever method you want. A cashier might tell you what the balance is after EBT, but they might say nothing at all if you see it and start paying the balance first.”
The key here is to Use Your EBT Card First and the whole transaction will go really smooth. Thanks for the great tip.
Can I Use My EBT Card at Costco’s Self-Checkout?
Essentially your EBT card works like any credit card or debit card, so you can definitely use it in the self-checkout aisle at Costco.
It’s worth noting that if you try to buy something that isn’t allowed (see section above), you’ll get a message on the checkout screen informing you that it’s not an approved item.
In this case, you’ll either have to split your purchase into TWO separate transactions -OR- ask the employee in charge of the self-checkout aisle for help completing the purchase using TWO payment methods.
Can I Buy the $4.99 Rotisserie Chicken with My EBT Card?
Since their rotisserie chicken is piping hot, you cannot use your EBT on it.
BUT…did you know that Costco sells bags of their rotisserie chicken meat that’s been deboned for you?
It’s definitely more expensive, but you absolutely can buy that since it’s sold cold.
Is It Worth Joining Costco in Terms of Savings?
A Costco membership currently costs $60 and if you know the best items to buy, in terms of savings, a membership is totally worth it.
But if you walk into Costco without a plan, it becomes very easy to overspend.
Costco is the king of tricking your brain into thinking you’re getting a good deal so be sure to compare prices with your local grocery store.
Can I Use My EBT Benefits Online at Costco.com?
Unfortunately, EBT Cards are NOT an accepted payment method on the Costco website.
Is Costco an Approved WIC Retailer?
Short answer…it depends.
From doing a little bit of research, it appears to depend on your specific city and state as to whether Costco is a WIC approved retailer.
I found a great resource HERE that let’s you do a town search so you can see all the WIC approved stores in your area.
Can I Use EBT Funds at the Food Court?
As mentioned earlier, the food court at Costco serves mainly hot food and that is a no-no when using your EBT card.
But I’m not sure about the soft-serve ice cream or fruit smoothie, does anyone know if that is allowed?
Can I Buy Gas at Costco with my EBT Card?
But you can make an ATM withdrawal with your EBT card and take cash out of your “Cash Account” and use that to buy gas at Costco.
Be sure you understand the cash withdrawal limits on your EBT account before doing this as it might not be worth the savings.
Is the Return Policy Different for EBT Purchases?
The same great Costco return policy exists on all EBT purchases.
This policy even extends to food and grocery items.
So if you’re not completely satisfied with an item, you can bring it back to Costco at ANY time for a full refund or exchange.
Can I Use the Business Center with my EBT Card?
As long as you’re buying EBT eligible items from the Costco Business Center you’re good to go.
Thanks to commenter Joanne for setting me straight on this one.
EBT eligible items that the Business Center sells includes snack foods, non-alcoholic beverages, and meats.
Can I Use My EBT Card for Costco Grocery Delivery?
Costco recently unveiled their new at-home Grocery Delivery service but because you have to utilize the Costco website to place your order, you CANNOT use your EBT card to make your grocery delivery order.
Ask the Reader: Have you ever used your EBT card to make a purchase at Costco? Was it an easy process and was your privacy protected?
By Kyle James