Does EBT work at gas stations? In many cases, yes! However, there are some important things you need to know before you swipe your card or you could cause yourself some major headaches.
In this article, we’ll answer the question “does EBT work at gas stations?” We will also discuss what you can buy with EBT, which locations accept EBT, and why so many people have their EBT benefits stolen when they swipe the card at these places.
Does EBT work at gas stations?
Yes, most gas stations are set up to process EBT payments. That means that you can use your EBT card at many locations around the United States. This is especially true at large chain stores like Shell, Marathon, and Loves.
However, this is not necessarily true at all locations. Some local providers may not be set up to process Electronic Benefit Transfer payments. That is because the store has to go through a complex approval process with the USDA before they can accept those payments. So, the answer to “do all gas stations take EBT?” is unfortunately no.
What can I buy with EBT at a gas station?
Just like grocery stores, gas stations sell many different products. Some are eligible for purchase with EBT and others are not. It’s important to understand what is and is not eligible before you make your purchase – and the first step to understanding that is knowing where your benefits come from.
EBT benefits come from two sources: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. SNAP benefits are also called food stamps, and can only be used to purchase eligible food products. TANF is often called EBT cash and can be used to buy different things.
If you are shopping with SNAP EBT at a gas station, the rules are pretty much the same as they are at a grocery store. The list of SNAP-eligible items doesn’t change.
You can use your SNAP EBT benefits to buy:
- Snack foods
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Breads and cereals
- Dairy products
- Fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, dried, canned, etc.)
- Meat, poultry or fish
However, you cannot use your SNAP EBT benefits to buy any non-food items, hot food, pet food, vitamins, medicines, supplements, alcohol or tobacco.
If you are shopping with EBT cash at a gas station, the rules are pretty much the same as anywhere else. These benefits are intended to help you purchase the things you need for basic living expenses.
You can use your TANF EBT benefits to buy:
- Gas and fuel
- Hygiene items (like tampons, toilet paper, etc.)
- Household items (like cleaning supplies)
However, even if you’re using EBT cash, it is illegal to use your EBT benefits for alcohol, tobacco or gambling. You also cannot use your EBT card in facilities that offer adult entertainment or gambling establishments.
Can I buy gas station food with EBT?
It’s complicated because SNAP cannot be used to buy hot prepared food but EBT cash benefits can. Your ability to buy gas station food with EBT will depend on which type of benefits you are using to make the purchase.
Although SNAP does not allow the purchase of hot prepared food, sometimes gas stations and grocery stores will put some of the hot food in a cooler. Once it’s cold, it may be EBT eligible and you can take it home and reheat it. However, this practice varies by location.
In some stores that sell cold food and have the facilities to heat it up, you may be able to purchase something (like a pizza) with SNAP and then heat it up on-site. This is something that was reported by many readers when we first started publishing our EBT discount series.
Can you buy donuts with EBT at the gas station?
Donuts are generally eligible for purchase with both SNAP EBT and EBT cash, so you should be able to buy donuts with EBT at a gas station. This should include both pre-packaged and bakery fresh donuts.
If you have any doubts, be sure to check with the cashier before selecting your donuts.
Can you buy gas station coffee with EBT?
If you are using EBT cash, you should be able to purchase gas station coffee with your benefits. This is true regardless of the temperature of the coffee.
Unfortunately, EBT food benefits can only be used to purchase cold coffee. The SNAP rules do not allow you to purchase hot food items and that includes hot gas station coffee. That being said, the USDA has stated that you can use SNAP EBT benefits to purchase iced coffee, ICEEs, slushies, smoothies, fountain drinks and other cold beverages. You can buy these from the machines or you can pick up cold coffees (like Starbucks drinks) from the refrigerated section.
What gas stations accept EBT near me?
Of course, none of the information in this article can help you if you don’t know where to go. Let’s talk about which stations accept EBT near you.
Big Chain Stores
Almost all big-name gas stations will accept EBT. This includes the most recognizable and iconic brands like Shell, Loves and Maverick.
Here are a list of big-name brands that usually accept benefits:
- Chevron (Note: Listed twice in the provided list)
- Circle K
- Holiday Stationstores
- Kum & Go
- Kwik Trip
- Phillips 66
- Pilot Flying J
- TravelCenters of America
There has been a massive increase in EBT thefts over the last several years. Often, thieves are able to confiscate your EBT benefits through the use of skimming devices placed on the payment terminal.
Before you swipe your card at a gas station, make sure to inspect the payment terminal for any signs of tampering. If there are loose parts, suspicious overlays, or misaligned parts, this could be a sign that a skimmer has been attached.
It is important to only swipe your card at terminals that are intact, well-lit, and continuously monitored. Be careful out there!
Yes, EBT works at gas stations that have been approved by the USDA to process benefit payments. If you are using EBT cash, you can buy gasoline and other essentials. If you are using EBT food benefits, you will be limited to SNAP-eligible purchases. This article contains details on which gas stations accept EBT, what you can buy, and how you can protect your benefits from fraud.