What is EBT?
EBT is an acronym for Electronic Benefits Transfer, which is the method that the government uses to issue benefits through programs like TANF and SNAP. If you receive those benefits, you’ll be issued an EBT card that works a lot like a debit card. You just swipe it at checkout or enter the card number online to complete your purchases.
However, unlike your typical debit card, an EBT card can only be used to purchase eligible items. Most people who receive EBT cards get their benefits through SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This program is designed to help people purchase food for their household, so the rules are pretty strict.
Can you buy beer with EBT?
No, you cannot buy beer with EBT. Alcohol is clearly listed as a prohibited item for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s also not allowed to be purchased with EBT cash funds that are gained from TANF, Refugee Cash, ABD Cash Assistance, Diversion Grants or other assistance programs.
Ultimately, you cannot buy alcohol so you cannot buy beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages with EBT.
Can you buy non-alcoholic beer with EBT?
Since it is the alcohol that is specifically prohibited by these programs, it may be possible to purchase nonalcoholic beer from retailers that are authorized to accept EBT. For example, this six-pack of Suntory non-alcoholic beer is currently EBT eligible on Amazon.
Nonalcoholic beer can be consumed directly or used as a beer substitute in recipes. It is the easiest and most obvious substitute for alcoholic beer.
There are strict rules about buying beer with EBT.
There are strict rules about the use of EBT that you need to understand clearly if you receive these benefits. If you don’t follow the rules, you could get banned from the program and face other severe consequences.
You cannot buy alcohol with EBT.
The federal rules that surround EBT are very clear. You cannot buy alcohol with EBT. If you do, you are very clearly breaking the rules.
You cannot use EBT cards at liquor stores, casinos, etc.
If you have EBT benefits, then you need to know that the rules around this program also prohibit you from using those benefits in liquor stores, gambling venues like casinos, or adult entertainment establishments.
If you think you’ll use an ATM to get cash back from your EBT cash benefits, think again. You can’t even use your EBT cards at ATMS in casinos, liquor stores or adult entertainment venues either.
These rules affect both SNAP EBT and EBT cash. You cannot use EBT cards in these venues, regardless of where those benefits are coming from.
There are other things you can’t buy.
Obviously, you can’t buy beer with EBT. You are also prohibited from buying cigarettes and tobacco as well.
If you receive your funds through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, you are also prohibited from buying non-food items and even medicine with your benefits.
What happens if you try to buy beer with EBT?
If you try to buy beer with EBT, the purchase will most likely be declined. After all, you can ring up eligible and ineligible items in the same transaction when you are shopping. At checkout, the EBT card will only deduct the eligible items from your transaction and you will have to pay the remainder with another payment method. The most common consequence for trying to purchase beer with EBT is that the transaction will simply not go through.
If the transaction does go through, it could result in the store losing their license to process EBT transactions. It is a very serious matter for a FNS-authorized retailer to allow ineligible purchases to be processed.
Welfare fraud is a crime that can carry the possibility of incarceration, repayment of benefits, and/or suspension or disqualification from future benefits. It is very important to handle your benefits responsibly so you can continue receiving the assistance that you need to feed your family.