The Electronic Benefit Transfer program allows recipients to easily manage and spend their benefits in stores and online. A wide range of benefits can be provided via EBT, but most fall into one of two categories; food stamp benefits and cash benefits.

Food benefits can only be used to buy foods and beverages (excluding alcohol), while cash can be used to purchase other items as needed. Both food and cash benefits can be spent and accessed via a magnetically encoded card, just like a credit or debit card. According to statistics from the USDA, the average monthly EBT benefit is $125 per person covered.

For food benefits, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the source of EBT funds, while the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program covers cash assistance, state assistance, and even some refugee benefits. For retailers, the ability to accept and process benefits thorugh a smart POS like Clover Mini can help form bonds with the community and increase revenues, too.

How EBT Works

When an individual participates in the EBT program, they receive a plastic card, just like a credit or debit card. The agency issuing the benefits can track expenditures and add funds electronically and the card is protected with a pin code, just like a bank issued card. EBT card can be used for purchases at authorized retailers; becoming an EBT retailer can expand your customer base and increase profits, too.

When an EBT participant shops, he or she can use the issued card at any participating retailer to buy food (via SNAP) or any other item (VIA TANF) or even get cash from an authorized ATM. Benefits are administered by the state and as of 2017, all food benefits via the SNAP program are issued using the EBT system.

To receive EBT benefits, an individual needs to apply online or at a local office. Applications are processed and eligibility is determined at the state level. Once approved, the applicant receives an account and an EBT card with instructions and educational materials about its use.

Benefits are deposited into the EBT account once a month and the issued cards can be used at the regular POS stations and cash registers at any authorized retailer. The actual date the benefits are delivered varies by state; some states credit accounts on the first of the month while others use birth dates or social security numbers to select a deposit date.

No cash changes hands, unless the participant chooses to withdraw cash benefits to pay for purchases. The EBT system automatically deducts funds from the individual’s EBT account and credits the retailer via the ACH process.

Benefits of Accepting EBT for Retailers

  • Expand your base: Millions of people in the United States use EBT benefits to buy groceries and other essentials. By accepting EBT payments, you can expand your customer base and connect with your local community. Accepting EBT can help enhance your brand image and allows you to serve the public where your store or business is located, too.
  • Retain customers: EBT also allows you to keep the customers you have. People can fall on hard times and accepting EBT ensures that changes in your customers personal circumstances don’t impact where they do business.
  • Increase transaction amounts: When customers can use EBT they have more money to spend, leading to higher transaction amounts and a larger per customer expenditure.

While the grocery and food industry is a natural match for EBT benefits, users can pay for virtually any needed items with the program’s debit cards, from clothing to household items and supplies.

How to Accept EBT Benefits

EBT_quote.pngTo accept EBT, your business has to be approved to do so by the USDA. It is a simple and straightforward process that won’t take much time. TO apply to accept EBT payments, you’ll need to:

Complete an online application to accept SNAP benefits. You can do this via the USDA portal – -it takes only a few minutes to apply. If you own multiple units (10 or more) the process is slightly different, your local USDA office can help walk you through the steps. You’ll need to register for a USDA account to get started and will need a valid email address to proceed.

Once you have registered, you have 30 days to complete the online application and apply to become an authorized business. You’ll need to include your owner information, social security number and some information about your business to be approved.

You may have to send in some supporting documents to process your application; the system will prompt you to do so at the end of the online application process. Once you’ve completed your application, approval can take a few weeks.

Once you are approved, you will receive some posters and materials for your location and be ale to accept payment via EBT card in your store.

Accept and Process EBT Payments with Clover Station

While the EBT program is designed to help those in need, it can help business owners connect with the community and reach new customer bases. Because EBT allows participants to purchase a wider range of items than ever before, accepting this form of payment can increase revenues and allow you to make the most of your business. Contact us to learn how easy processing and tracking EBT payments can be and to find out how easy it is to take control of your business finances.


Have questions?  Talk to one of our Small Business Specialists.

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