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Does Trader Joe’s Accept EBT?

So, you go to a supermarket all excited to buy the necessary groceries. You take out your EBT card and get ready to pay. But sadly, the store doesn't accept EBT. Or, the items you're buying don't fall under SNAP. This can be frustrating. But the supermarket I'm talking about today is Trader Joe's. So, does Trader Joe’s accept EBT?

Yes, Trader Joe’s does accept EBT. It is not directly linked with the SNAP program in the USA. But, it accepts all EBT cards from public sector employees. There are restrictions to the food products you buy. But don’t worry as you can buy most of the daily nutritional foods. You can easily apply for EBT through their official website.

But do you think that's all? Because I have much more to say! I will go into detail about which products are prohibited and accepted in Trader Joe's. Moreover, you should know to use your EBT card properly. Finally, I’d like to show you some plans of action before making that final purchase. So, grab a coffee and prepare yourself. Let’s begin!

Products That Are Eligible for EBT

EBT is great for buying groceries at Trader Joe’s.  But as awesome as it is don't go grabbing the first thing you like! Trader Joe's has some specific products that support EBT. Some of these products are listed below.

  • Crackers and chips (Like potato or veggie chips, and others)
  • Poultry items (Like, Chicken, turkey, and others)
  • Red meat (Like, pork meat, ground beef, sausage, and others)
  • Frozen or fresh fish (like sea bass, trout, shellfish, and others)
  • Dairy items (Like cheese, milk, yogurt, and others)
  • Breakfast products (Like cereal, bread, nutritious bar, and others)
  • Frozen ready-to-eat items (Like frozen flatbread, nuggets, patties, and others)
  • Soft beverages (coke, juice, and others)
  • Dessert foods (Like ice cream, cookies, and others)
  • Cooking oil (Like sunflower oil, avocado oil, and others)
  • Plant seeds (like Chia seeds, and others)
  • Candies and snacks (Like the supermarket’s wide array of chocolates)
  • Canned fruits and vegetables (Like canned tomatoes, mushrooms, and others)

So, you see? The choices are endless! Another great thing about Trader’s Joe is their products. Their policy slightly differs from other supermarkets. They tend to buy products fresh. Moreover, they invest in products that they think will be a contender. If supply ends, it might not come back for a long time. So, get yourself an EBT card and start shopping today!

Types of Products You Can’t Buy with EBT

As I’ve said before, you cannot buy everything using EBT. There are some restrictions imposed under the SNAP program. So, you can take those products and try to pay them through EBT. But it will be rejected immediately. And, that can be very embarrassing! So, to save you from that embarrassment, here are the things you cannot buy using an EBT card.

  • Medicine (Like Oscillo, Coldcalm, and others)
  • Household products (Like detergent, sponge, sanitizer, and others)
  • Alcohol ( Like Saldo Zinfandel, Block Rose, and others)
  • Product made for females (Like beauty items, pads, and others)
  • Tobacco (Like Marlboro, Newport, and others)
  • Pet food (Like dog food, cat food, and others)
  • Bathroom peripherals (Like toilet tissue, diapers, and others)
  • Cooked food (Like pizza, soup, and meat dishes)

So, these are the items. Make sure to avoid these products when you go shopping. Another blunder that you can make is with protein supplements and protein bars. To differentiate them you have to check the labels. If the label reads ‘’Supplement facts’’ you cannot buy it using EBT. Because it doesn’t fall under the category of nutritious foods.

But if it is labeled as ''Nutritional facts'' you can buy it since it's a food product. So, make sure to check these labels properly. Your whole purchase can be rejected if one item doesn't follow the guidelines of SNAP. Hence, be extra careful!

How to Use EBT when Buying Products?

EBT cards are great for elderly, poor, and middle-income families. The government of the USA issues EBT at the state level under SNAP. And, buying products using an EBT card is easy! Just apply for EBT and check if you are eligible. If you are accepted, the government will create an account under your EBT.

Once you are eligible under the SNAP program you will be issued an EBT card. It will act like a standard debit card for your purchases. Every month a certain amount of funds will be added to this card through your bank account. So, once you are done with your shopping go to the cashier at Trader Joe’s.

Then swipe the card and choose the payment method. Select the EBT payment method. You will have a 4-digit pin code with your card for security purposes. So, I would advise you to put this code discreetly. After inputting, your transaction is complete!

Note that you can also withdraw cash from your EBT card via ATM Quest. And, you can get some great deals like a 10$ cashback on every bulk purchase. Hence, using EBT has many benefits. As I said before your purchase will get rejected if a single item is not under SNAP. So, you can ask the cashier to create a separate bill for that. And, that’s how it’s all done!

Also, if your EBT card gets lost then you could be in trouble. Hence, I strongly advise you to call the local DTA customer service. Tell them you lost your EBT. They will deactivate your card at once. After that, you can apply for another one. 

Or, you can directly go to the DTA office. This is more beneficial as you would get the card immediately. You might get charged depending on the circumstances. Worry not as the charges will be deducted from your new EBT funds. And, the amount is about 5-6 $. So, always remember to check your EBT card if it's there from time to time!  

Things You Should Check Before Using Your EBT Card

If you've read this far you have some vague ideas of what I'm about to say. But, it is important to state them clearly. EBT cards are a great service no doubt. But if you're not careful things might go out of hand.  To avoid those weird situations, here are the things you should consider before using your EBT card.

Always Check Your Balance

Checking your balance is essential before you go shopping at Trader Joe’s. Every month funds are added to your EBT. The number of funds varies from state to state. Anyway, you can check your EBT balance from a nearby ATM Quest booth or online. I would suggest the online approach. Login to your account through your latest EBT ID number and password.

  • After logging in, you can check your balance
  • See your previous transaction histories ( more than 1 year)
  • Appeal for a printed record of your transaction history
  • Report a damaged, lost, or stolen card
  • Change your PIN for better security

Navigation is also very easy. You will find all the necessary info on the screen. Just follow them to the letter and you'll be good to go! So, I hope you will check your balance from now on. Because who likes to shop all the things again and again?

Avoid Buying Items Not Under SNAP

You already know this one but let me elaborate a bit further. You must avoid buying items that don't fall under the ''nutritional'' aspect. Buying them will give you a one-way ticket to rejection. Also, you cannot use EBT for online delivery. You will have to use other payment methods for that. So, make sure you remember these rules!

Additionally, Trader Joe’s normally doesn’t give out discounts. So, don’t fall for those scams on the internet. They provide fresh produce for a reasonable price. So, you’re already getting more for the money you’re giving. Lastly, they have a good return policy. You can return products even when they’re opened and without receipts. So, utilize that to the fullest!

Never Show Your PIN Number

Let me tell you a short story. I once went to a Trader's Joe to buy some groceries. I bought all the necessary items and went to the register. The cashier was very kind and welcoming. As I was about to give my PIN code some other customer was glancing at me. Not at me per se, but my PIN code. I immediately knew what was happening.

 Now you can call me paranoid and all. But what if I had lost the card or dropped it? What if that customer took it somehow? All would be lost. So, please understand what I’m trying to say. Always make sure to input your PIN code as discreetly as possible. 

Can Everyone Use EBT?

Unfortunately, not everyone can use EBT. You have to be eligible for EBT first. And most importantly, you must be an employee from the public sector.

So, if you're from the private sector you cannot apply for SNAP. Also, you might be thinking if SNAP and EBT are different. But actually, they're both the same. Anyhow, you need to be in the public sector. It is a must. Even if you're poor but from the private or other sectors, you aren't eligible to apply. I know it's harsh but it is what it is.

There’s also another catch. You’ll have to show the government you have low or middle income. Otherwise, you won’t be eligible. So how is the process done? Well, it depends from state to state. But let me guide you a little if you’re applying from New York (as an example).

You can appeal for EBT in NY through their local SNAP center or website. You need some necessary documents that they will require. These can be your age, income, bills, status, resources, citizenship, referrals, and disability, among many others. So make sure you have those documents ready.

Give them a few days to assess everything. The general timing is 7 to 10 days or a bit more. Be patient for a while okay? If everything's in order, you will get an email for your EBT card. And, after a while, you will receive a second email for the EBT PIN. So, apply for SNAP as soon as you can. You will have ample benefits, especially in these dire times.

Can You Buy Non-food items with EBT Cards at Trader Joe’s?

No, you cannot. Normally EBT cards do not allow anything else other than food items. Also, the food items must be nutritious foods and not luxuries.

But is it still possible? Well, maybe but most probably not. Why maybe you ask? Let me tell you. Generally, the registers at Trader Joe's have an accessible database from which they know the restricted items. So, if you do put anything out of the category, it will be processed and rejected. So, it is highly unlikely that you can purchase luxury foods.

But in a rare instance, the database might glitch out. So, if you think that way then yes, it is possible. Also, the cashier or customer can do something to bypass the sensors of EBT and get the luxury goods. But this can be a criminal offense for which charges may apply. Remember, EBT is a privilege, not a right. So, I would greatly advise you to not use EBT for miserly instincts.

Well wasn't this a long one! I hope I was able to inform you of everything properly. So, does Trader Joe’s accept EBT? In short, yes! You can use EBT cards at Trader Joe’s. But there are restrictions on the foods you purchase. I’ve listed most of the foods you can or cannot buy. Moreover, I’ve shown you some techniques to properly use your EBT card.

Finally, I explained why EBT can’t be used by everyone. I also added the procedure of getting an EBT, and the consequences of buying non-foods with EBT. So, I covered all the important bases. Thank you deeply if you’ve read till the end. I’ll see you on our next topic. Take care and keep shopping!

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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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