Can you buy wine with EBT? If you’re new to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, you may be wondering if you can use those benefits to purchase wine, cooking wine or other beverages. We’ve got the answer!
What is EBT?
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is the method that the government uses to pay benefits through various programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Refugee Cash Assistance and more.
Each of those programs have their own rules and requirements, but typically people who ask about how they can spend their benefits are asking about the SNAP rules. That’s because more than 42 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits to buy food for themselves and their families. It’s the most commonly used EBT program.
Can you buy wine with EBT?
No, you cannot buy wine with EBT. There are rules in place that prohibit anyone from purchasing alcoholic beverages with their EBT cards, regardless of which program they receive their benefits from. You cannot purchase wine with EBT.
However, this gets complicated quickly. What about cooking wine, vanilla extract, and other cooking ingredients that have trace amounts of alcohol in them?
Can you buy cooking wine with EBT?
Yes, you can buy cooking wine with EBT. The USDA has specifically stated that “cooking wine, wine vinegar and extracts, such as vanilla extract, are not considered alcoholic beverages and are SNAP eligible items because they are used as cooking ingredients.”
All other products that contain any amount of alcohol are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.
You can’t use EBT in liquor stores either.
In fact, the rules that prohibit you from purchasing alcohol with EBT are so extensive that you cannot even use your card in liquor stores, gambling venues, or adult entertainment establishments. Even if you have EBT cash benefits, you cannot use an ATM to withdraw cash from your card at those establishments.
That’s because in 2012, the federal government created new mandates that prevent people from using their EBT cards in these places. The law specifically banned people from using their cards in liquor stores, gaming and gambling venues like casinos, and adult entertainment establishments.
We have received a significant amount of inquiries about this, so we’ve pieced together these FAQs for your convenience. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please answer it in the comments.
What can I buy with EBT?
EBT is meant to purchase food for human consumption. You can use it to buy produce, meats, dairy products, grains and other food that is meant to be eaten at home by you or your family.
Why can’t I buy wine with EBT?
Wine contains alcohol, which is specifically prohibited by the federal food stamps law. If you need wine as an ingredient in a recipe, please consider purchasing cooking wine instead as it is EBT-eligible.
What happens if I try it?
If you try to buy ineligible items with your food stamps card, the transaction will most likely be declined. If a retailer allows you to purchase alcohol with your EBT card, they could lose their license and their ability to process EBT transactions.