Using EBT at Trader Joe’s…Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Updated April 30, 2024 by Kyle James
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Trader Joe’s is a grocery store chain that has a reputation for being affordable and high-quality. But does it accept EBT cards? In this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about using your EBT card at Trader Joe’s. I’ll also talk about which food items are not eligible for purchase (and which are) so that you can make smart choices when you’re shopping. Let’s break it all down.

Does Trader Joe's Take EBT? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

First, What Exactly is an EBT Card?

An EBT card is a government-issued card that is distributed to low-income individuals and families in order to help them purchase specific food items.

The SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) are loaded onto these cards and replenished each month.

Once you have an EBT card, you can use it to shop for qualifying items at approved retail outlets, just like you would with any other debit card.

Does Trader Joe’s Take EBT Cards?


The short answer is yes, all Trader Joe’s locations accept EBT cards.

Just like other grocery stores, Trader Joe’s is obligated to accept your EBT card for qualified purchases.

Better yet, this popular grocery chain makes it incredibly convenient to use your card in the checkout aisle.

See Also: Is Apple Pay Accepted at Trader Joe’s? Here’s the Deal

How Does EBT Work at Trader Joe’s?

Essentially, using your EBT card at Trader Joe’s is just like using it at any other approved retailer.

All you have to do is swipe your card during checkout just like you would any other form of payment, and you’re good to go.

Keep in mind that your card can only be used to purchase certain food items, which we will get into in the next section.

It’s also worth noting that the same generous Return Policy at Trader Joe’s is available to EBT customers with your refund being put back on your card.

Will Everyone In Line Know I’m Using My EBT Card?


You will use your EBT card just like you would your debit or credit card and no one will be the wiser.

The TJ cashier probably won’t even notice unless you accidentally have items in your purchase that don’t qualify.


I had a Trader Joe’s employee give me a great tip for figuring out of a product will qualify. She said that if the back of the packaging shows the “Nutritional Facts” it’s covered. If instead, it shows “Supplemental Facts” it probably isn’t 99.9% of the time.

What Can Be Bought with My EBT Card?

The key to shopping for groceries with your EBT card is selecting items that are intended for human consumption, aka food items.

Remember, SNAP benefits can only be applied to certain food items, so it is important that you know which items qualify before you fill up your cart at Trader Joe’s.

Here are some of the things that you CAN purchase with SNAP benefits on your EBT card:

1. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are always covered when it comes to paying with EBT.

Whether these are fresh or canned fruits and veggies, your card will cover them.

2. Meat, Poultry, and Fish

Another item that is covered with your card is meat, poultry, and fish items.

These are packed with nutritious value, which makes them a no-brainer when selecting items to add to your shopping cart.

3. Dairy Products

Dairy items such as milk, cheese, and sour cream are also covered by SNAP benefits loaded onto your EBT card.

According to the USDA, these items are considered essential to a balanced diet.

4. Bread and Cereals

Breads and cereals are also acceptable purchases.

These are essential staples for many diets and can be especially useful for households with children.

5. Snack Foods and Drinks

Some people are surprised to find out that EBT will also cover snacks and soft drinks for your household.

In fact, you can purchase all sorts of non-alcoholic beverages with your SNAP benefits.

6. Seeds and Plants

Another surprising item that is covered is seeds and live plants.

Since these items can be used to grow foods for your household, they are covered by SNAP.

I love the VERY healthy basil plants sold at Trader Joe’s; great for cooking and they live right up until winter starts.

See Also: 8 Trader Joe’s Insider Shopping Tips That’ll Save You BIG

What About Pre-Made Frozen Meals?

Trader Joe’s is known for their very tasty premade frozen meals and have an entire aisle dedicated to them.

My family is a HUGE fan of their frozen Chinese food in particular, especially the orange chicken and broccoli and beef.

So it begs the question do these items qualify as acceptable EBT purchases since they’re considered “pre-made”?

Yes, ALL frozen meals and side dishes at Trader Joe’s are acceptable purchases, it’s only the hot meals where you run into trouble.

What is Not Covered by EBT at Trader Joe’s?

Knowing what is not covered by your EBT card is just as important as knowing what is.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of items that can not be purchased using your SNAP benefits.

• HABA Items – This is a Trader Joe’s specific term and means “Health and Beauty Aid” products.

• Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products

• Vitamins and medicines

• Live animals

• Hot foods

• Pet food

• Cleaning supplies

• Paper products

• Hygiene items

• Cosmetics

Does Trader Joe’s Sort Items Depending On Eligibility?


The system at Trader Joe’s does a nice job automatically sorting out eligible and ineligible items when you checkout.

So while you may end up with a remaining balance, you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed by items getting “rejected” and a loud siren going off.

Ask the Reader: Have you ever used your EBT card at Trader Joe’s? Let us know how your experience went down.

By Kyle James


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