If you’re not sure you have enough left money on your EBT card or you want to see how much spending money you’ve been provided, you can check your balance using several different methods. Keeping track of your balance will help you plan ahead, bring enough cash to the store or re-plan your shopping list ahead of time, instead of being stuck at the checkout register without enough funds.
What Are Food Stamps?
The phrase “food stamps” referred to a book of stamps people received years ago, which they could redeem for food and beverage purchases if they qualified for public assistance. This program is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP is intended only to be a supplement to your food budget, and many people aren’t able to live on only their SNAP allowance.
The more income you earn, the less you get in SNAP money. Some people only qualify for a handful of dollars each month. Some earn enough money to pay for all of their monthly food needs if they know how to shop and cook wisely.
You can also add to your food pantry by visiting food banks or getting free meals from local shelters and soup kitchens. You can stretch your EBT funds and increase your spending purchasing power by visiting sites like FoodStampChallenge.com.
Read More: List of Allowable Food Stamp (SNAP) Items
How Do EBT Cards Work?
Instead of using paper vouchers to pay for food with SNAP funds, you receive a plastic card that looks like a credit card or debit card. Even though SNAP is a federal program managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, EBT cards are issued by the state in which you live. Along with your card, you’ll be issued a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to use during transactions so you can protect your funds if your card is lost or stolen.
Your funds are deposited into your account and added to your card balance each month automatically, once you’ve qualified and been approved for SNAP benefits. You don’t need to request your monthly funds – they’ll appear in your account automatically.
Checking Your Balance
You can check your balance by visiting the website of the state agency that provides your benefits, by visiting ebtEDGE.com or by calling your state agency. You’ll be taken to a screen that asks for your account number and possibly other personal information (depending on which website you use) to log in and check your balance.
If you haven’t set up your online account, you’ll need to do so, which should just take a few minutes. You’ll then have immediate access to your account information. In addition to the ebtEdge website, you can use the ebtEDGE app, which you can download from the Apple Store or Google Play.
Your account number is usually on the front of your card. Keep your PIN safe and separate in case you lose your wallet or purse. A phone number you can call to check your balance should be on the back of your card. You can also look at the bottom of your latest receipt, which will show you your current balance.
Read More: How Many Times Can I Apply for Food Stamps?
Steve Milano has written more than 1,000 pieces of personal finance and frugal living articles for dozens of websites, including Motley Fool, Zacks, Bankrate, Quickbooks, SmartyCents, Knew Money, Don't Waste Your Money and Credit Card Ideas, as well as his own websites.