How to Use EBT Benefits for Online Grocery Shopping

As a small business consultant helping entrepreneurs start and grow their companies, I often get questions about accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) payments. EBT cards allow those enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase food and groceries. And now, through a partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Amazon allows EBT cardholders in almost all states to use their SNAP benefits to shop for eligible groceries online.

Overview of SNAP and EBT

First, let’s briefly go over SNAP and what EBT cards are used for.

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is a federal nutrition assistance program that helps low-income individuals and families buy healthy food. As per the USDA, over 41 million Americans depend on SNAP benefits to purchase groceries every month.

EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards work like debit cards to allow SNAP participants access to their benefits. Funds are automatically loaded onto EBT cards on a monthly basis.

Here are some key stats on SNAP:

  • Average SNAP household benefit per month: $245
  • Average SNAP recipient household size: 2.2 people
  • Maximum gross monthly income to qualify: $2,147 for a family of 3

Now let’s get into details on how to use your EBT benefits to shop for groceries online at Amazon.

A. Setting Up Your Amazon Account for EBT Payments

  1. Visit and either sign into your account or create a new Amazon account
  2. Enter your EBT card details under ‘Payment Options’ in ‘Your Account’
  3. Verify your EBT card through the confirmation email from Amazon
  4. Add an address to enable shopping on Amazon with EBT

Optionally, you can also add an alternative payment method like a credit card to cover non-food items.

Note: You cannot use your EBT benefits to pay for Amazon Prime membership fees.

B. Items Eligible for Purchase with EBT on Amazon

Here are the types of items you can purchase on Amazon using your SNAP EBT benefits:

✅ Food items like bread, dairy, meat and produce
✅ Beverages like juice, coffee, soda
✅ Seeds and plants that produce food for your household

However, you cannot purchase the following with EBT on Amazon:

❌ Alcohol and tobacco
❌ Pet food
❌ Household supplies like soap, diapers
❌ Vitamins and medicines
❌ Hot foods

Please refer to the USDA’s guidelines if you are unsure whether an item accepts EBT payments.

C. Available States for EBT on Amazon

As of 2023, Amazon has rolled out the EBT payment program to almost all states except Alaska. See the markdown table below:

State EBT on Amazon Availability
Alabama ✅ Available
Alaska ❌ Unavailable

[Table shows status for all 50 states]

Check back frequently as Amazon is quickly expanding EBT payment eligibility to new states every few months with approval from the USDA.

D. Saving Money with EBT on Amazon

As a consultant for small businesses, I always advise entrepreneurs to tap into every resource possible to stretch their limited capital when starting out. Similarly, EBT users can take advantage of discounts, free shipping, and other savings to get more value out of SNAP benefits:

💰 Qualify for a 50% discounted Prime membership at just $5.99 per month
💰 Get exclusive discounts and SNAP EBT offers only visible to EBT cardholders
💰 Enjoy FREE delivery and shipping on EBT orders over $25
💰 Purchase non-food essentials like diapers and soap at reduced EBT prices
💰 Buy bulk packs of everyday items like packaged food, beverages, and pantry staples

As you can see, EBT users can save a lot of money by shopping at Amazon if they reside in an eligible state.

E. Registering Your Business to Accept EBT

If you are a business owner interested in accepting EBT cards, both in-person and online, I recommend applying for the USDA SNAP Retailer Authorization process.

Here are the high-level steps:

  1. Submit relevant business documents for verification
  2. Complete an online application form with details on your retail business
  3. Sign an agreement form to formally register as an EBT retailer with FNS
  4. Integrate an EBT-capable point of sale (POS) system to handle payments
  5. Train staff and display signage stating you accept EBT SNAP

As an authorized EBT retailer, you can increase accessibility for low-income shoppers while serving an underserved market need. This brings long-term social impact as well as business growth benefits.

Let me know in the comments if you need any guidance on getting your small business EBT-approved!

I hope this guide gives you a better understanding of how to utilize your SNAP EBT benefits to shop for groceries online at Amazon. Please reach out if you need any assistance with the process. Stay tuned for more tips for value shopping with EBT!