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Does Costco Accept EBT?

Does Costco Accept EBT Cards?  This is something you might worry about when you are either new to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or had got a Costco membership for the first time. Well, the answer is not straight forward and there will be an effort at clearing up the confusion in the following sections.

Costco does accept EBT cards but the use of the cards to purchase items will vary according to the state laws, the kind of item you are looking to buy, and also your membership status. You have to take all that into account before you can head out to a Costco to pay with an EBT card.

The issue of using EBT cards at Costco might seem a little overwhelming. Because Costco itself is unique and much different than other retailers in its operations. Hopefully, the discussion below can be of some assistance.

Does Costco Accept EBT Cards?

Does Costco Accept EBT? The short answer is Yes. However, there are a lot of conditions involved. Some of them come from the government, who issues your EBT card. And the others are set by Costco itself. So, before you think about walking to Costco or going to their web store, you might want to consider the whole situation.

According to Costco’s customer service website, all their warehouse locations accept EBT cards. But as you may know, what you can and cannot buy with your EBT card varies across state borders.

Moreover, there are some items that you can never buy with your EBT. Costco upholds these laws and would make sure they are respected in their store.

After you have made sure that the items you are looking to buy are eligible, there are still some things to consider. First of all, you need to know that Costco is unique in the way it conducts its business.

Costco is not like other stores where you can simply walk into and buy stuff. In an average store, you freely walk through the door and load up your cart. Then you go to the counter and complete the transaction process with a method of your choice. Such as an EBT card. But in Costco, It's a bit different.

To even get through the door of a Costco store or warehouse, you need to have a membership. And the proof of that exists in two forms- Costco Membership card and Costco Shop card. The shop card is also known as Cash Card.

If you don't have these on you, aka you are not a Costco member, you can't even get into the store. Let alone use your EBT for shopping.

So to answer the question, Costco does accept EBT. But you have to know the laws of your state. And you need to get a Costco membership. However, there are ways to get into a Costco Store even if you are a non-member. Which we will look into shortly.

How To Shop At Costco With EBT

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the concerned authority of EBT cards. They are the ones who can inform you about what is permitted and what's not in your state to buy with an EBT card.

You can find the contact number of your State SNAP agent here. Plus, there is plentiful helpful info on SNAP programs. 

Secondly, you need to have a Costco membership. This will cost you 60$ a year. Which means five dollars a month. Considering all the benefits you can get from this membership, the price seems quite legit.

When you sign up for a Costco membership, you will get their membership card. This is your entry pass to Costco. After you reach the warehouse, show this card to the attendant at the door. And you will be granted access.

Shopping at Costco with EBT for non-members

Does Costco accept EBT from non-members? Well, someone without a membership can get others to buy them a Costco Shop Card. Non-members can also buy these cards online.

Like a membership card, A Shop Card will grant you access to the store too. However, it is not the same as a membership. There are certain limitations to the balance and is not exactly EBT friendly.

So, you can consider another way to access a Costco warehouse without being a member or buying a shop card.

You can simply find a friend or relative who has a membership. Then walk into the store with them and shop with your EBT card. Costco cherishes its members and those feelings extend up to their friends and families.

Helpful Tips on using your EBT card at Costco

When you are buying both groceries and non-food items, try to separate the orders. Because you are paying only for the groceries with your EBT, not the non-food ones.

So, it is best to avoid mixing up the two. Pay for all the groceries first with your EBT SNAP account. Then pay for the non-food items using a Cash Account if you want to.

Keep in mind if you only use the Cash Account of your EBT card, the price of your groceries won’t deduct from the SNAP account.

Rather, the entire bill will be paid from your Cash Account. As a result, you might find yourself short of money to pay for your non-grocery items.

Therefore, mention which account you are going to pay with when you are at the counter. Or, if you have the option of choosing on your own, select the SNAP account for groceries first. Afterward, select whatever method you see fit for your other items.

Does Costco Accept EBT In Online Shopping?

No, you cannot use EBT cards to shop at Costco's online stores. Currently, the only option for using EBT to purchase food items at Costco is at their offline warehouses.

The methods preferred for online payment, as stated by Costco are Master cards. Costco Anywhere Visa card and Costco Shop Cards.

However, that doesn't mean you cannot use EBT cards for grocery shopping online at all. Because you can find other online retailers that accept EBT. You can use your SNAP benefits to pay for grocery items at these stores instead.

Examples of such stores are Amazon, Albertsons, Shoprite, and others. Keep in mind that, each retailer might have its terms and conditions regarding using an EBT card.

Also, know that your EBT card will not cover the delivery charges of these items. Those will apply to you the same as anyone without SNAP benefits. Moreover, if there are any additional service charges you will have to pay for them too and without using your EBT card.

The good news is that the United States Food and Nutrition is working towards making the online more friendly and accepting towards the benefits programs like SNAP and others. More retailers are joining in every day. So, we can hope that pretty soon you will be able to use your EBT card to buy groceries on Costco online.

Using EBT Card At Costco Food Court

So you can buy food items or groceries with an EBT card from Costco warehouses. Will this apply to food courts too? Can you pay for your snacks at the food store with the EBT card? Well, unfortunately not. Costco food courts will not accept payment with EBT cards.

However, you can use your EBT card's Cash Account to pay for your food. Given that you have cash in that account. However, this is not the same everywhere. Whether you will be able to use a Cash Account of EBT to pay at the Costco Food Court depends on the SNAP laws of your state.

One nice thing about the Costco food courts is that you don't have to show a membership card. Food courts are open to members and non-members alike. Also, you do not have to pay any extra charge because you are a non-member.

Things You Cannot Buy At Costco With An EBT Card

You can use your EBT card to buy grocery items in bulk. This is very much beneficial when you are on a tight budget. Because besides your SNAP benefits you can take advantage of the deals Costco offers on bulk buying.

Other than that, as mentioned before, you cannot buy ready-to-eat foods like pizza or burgers at Costco. You also cannot buy Vitamins and medication with your EBT card at Costco. Another confusion regarding EBT payment involves pet food.  No, you cannot pay for your pet food with an EBT card.

It’s needless to say that non-food essentials like cleaning products, diapers, toilet papers are not covered by EBT. Although you can see many queries about this on the online forums.

Also, remember that you cannot buy alcohol and tobacco with your EBT card. This includes not only Costco but everywhere. These items don't fall under SNAP benefits. So, if you plan on buying items like these, keep some cash on yourself.

Keep in mind that it is never a good idea to purchase banned items with your EBT card. If you do somehow manage to find some way around it, remember that there is a high chance of getting caught later. And that will have unpleasant consequences.

For the first unapproved purchase, you will be banned for three months from using an EBT card. On the second unapproved purchase, it will be a one-year ban. After that, if you do it again you will face two year. Eventually, you might lose the privilege of an EBT card altogether. 

Checking Out From Costco With An EBT Card

As Costco operates differently from other big retailers, sometimes checking out with an EBT card might feel somewhat unsettling. Moreover, not all Costco warehouses have the same kind of check-out option. Some have cashiers while the others are self-checkouts.

In the setting with cashiers, the person at the counter will handle your transaction process. First, swipe or insert the card at Point-of-Sale. Enter the PIN code. At this point, tell your cashier whether you are using SNAP or Cash Account. You have already known why it is better to use your SNAP for grocery payments.

Some people might want to be discreet about using a government benefits program. If that's your case too, then just quietly show the EBT card to the cashier and they would instantly know what you are saying. However, this might not be possible all the time.

Therefore, Self-checkout options are best for those who want to be discreet about using an EBT card. There is no talking to a person and the EBT cards resemble any other normal ATM Card. But you have to make sure which EBT account you are paying with. 

Advantages Of Shopping At Costco

There are many great advantages of shopping at a Costco warehouse. With their excellent deals, offers and with your SNAP benefits, you can easily save a lot of money on your monthly grocery bills. So, it might be wise to invest in a Costco Membership card whenever you get the chance.

Some of the essential food items of our daily life, such as dairy, bread, eggs, and vegetables or fruits can be found at the lowest possible price at Costco. Therefore, shopping here can greatly help you fulfill the nutritional needs of your family on a relatively small budget.

If you are in the habit of freezer cooking, then use the bulk buying deals of Costco to your advantage. Most bulk packages save a significant amount on the items compared to if they were bought individually.

Besides food items, Costco lets its customers win much at the non-food items too. You can get home appliances, dishes, garments, and other essentials at a discount rate from Costco. Although there isn't a wide variety of such items to choose from, the prices are usually excellent. You can pay for them using your Cash Account.

Another great thing about Costco is its quality. In many places, deals and low prices will also mean some compromise with the quality of the items. But that's not true for Costco. You will still get the freshest and top-of-the-market grocery items regardless of your payment method. If you are enjoying SNAP benefits, you must have wondered or even worried that does Costco accept EBT? Well, the answer is pretty clear from the above discussion. You can use EBT cards to purchase groceries at Costco warehouses to the extent of your state laws. Respect the SNAP restrictions and use your privilege honestly. 

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Author Ferdi
Written by Ferdi Vol
Ferdi Vol has been working for a grocery store for the last few years and he knows all the ins and outs of running a grocery store. He's also got great tips about what you need to know as a customer, from getting the most out of your money to knowing where everything is in the store! Ferdi loves sharing his passion with others via his blog on how to have an awesome shopping experience at your local grocery store.
About Ferdi Vol
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