Does Costco Take EBT? [Costco’s Policy, List of Items & More]

Does Costco take EBT cards? What about Costco online? How do you even use an EBT? Here's a simple guide that answers all your questions.

Costco is known for its relatively low prices for a lot of its products, which attracts many shoppers every year. Worldwide, Costco has over 100 million members, and a big reason for this popularity is the store’s competitively priced products.

With that said, there are still a lot of families that shop with an EBT card that can help them out with their regular living expenses.

An EBT is a card that allows people to receive help from the government if they aren’t making enough income. Many grocery stores accept EBT to give customers an easier time paying for their necessities.

But does Costco accept EBT cards?

Yes, you can present an EBT card to any Costco store in the United States to pay for groceries and other supplies. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t use your EBT for every Costco product out there.

And in this guide, we’ll be going through everything you need to know about using your EBT card at Costco, how to do it, and more.

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What Is An EBT?

food stamps EBT cards

EBT stands for “Electronic Benefits Transfer”. In the US, these are also referred to as “food stamps” or “coupons”. An EBT is a form of payment that certain people can use if they qualify for the EBT program.

This program is designed to provide assistance to people in low-income households, allowing them to buy basic necessities to make their lives a little easier.

EBTs and food stamps are part of the US government’s SNAPs program designed to assist families. The SNAP program was founded in 1933, but EBTs weren’t introduced until 1990. EBTs were designed to streamline the process of administering the food stamp program.

The EBT is basically a card that qualifying people can use to make payments at different stores. They are used in the same way as credit and debit cards and are accepted by most stores in the United States.

How Do You Use An EBT?

Since EBT was designed to streamline the administration of food stamps, using an EBT card is very easy. You can use your EBT card for grocery shopping and buying other essentials that are permitted by the program.

When at a grocery store such as Costco or Walmart, shoppers can load up their carts with essentials and head to the checkout lanes just like if they were paying with Apple Pay, cash, or card.

The only difference is that when it comes time to pay, you present your EBT card instead of using the other payment methods.

EBT cards require a 4-digit pin just like other payment cards, which you will have to input when at checkout.

After the payment goes through, you will receive a receipt, which is very important for keeping track of your EBTs balance. From there, you can simply head back home and use whatever supplies you bought.

Can You Use EBT At Costco?

Costco Executive Membership Hours

Yes, you can use your EBT to make payments at any Costco in the United States. Any customer eligible for the EBT or SNAP program in the US may use their cards at Costco. However, the card is only valid for in-store grocery purchases.

Customers may only use their EBT to purchase meats, produce, foods, and other essential groceries. While Costco accepts EBT payments at any of their stores, you cannot use the card for Costco Gas, pet food, medication, household supplies, appliances among a variety of other products.

Costco’s EBT Policy

Costco’s EBT policy clearly states that all of its warehouse locations accept EBT cards. It’s also stated that Costco adheres to all state policies regarding what can be purchased with EBT cards. These products can vary depending on your own state laws.

So, you will have to contact your state agency to learn more about using your EBT card at Costco.

Things To Remember When Using EBT At Costco

Costco exterior

Using your EBT card to pay at Costco varies depending on your location. And to avoid complications at checkout, it’s best to stay up to date on your own state’s guidelines on using EBT cards at different stores.

Here are some key things to remember when using an EBT card to pay at Costco.

Know The Products You Can Buy

Firstly, you need to understand that your EBT card can only be used for specific items. EBTs or food stamps are designed to help people in low-income households to buy food 

and provide for the nutritional needs of the members of their household.

For this reason, you can only use an EBT card to pay for food purchases at Costco.

However, this doesn’t cover all the types of food at the store. In fact, depending on where you live, the things you can buy with your EBT can vary greatly. There are some things that are completely fine to purchase with an EBT in some states that are banned in others.

For a full list of what you can buy at Costco with an EBT, it’s important to contact your state’s agency.

With that said, while the products may vary from state to state, most products you can buy with an EBT fall under essential foods. This includes meat, produce, and any other common food items you may find at your home.

Know The Products You Can’t Buy

If you end up purchasing something with an EBT that’s disallowed, that may lead to some consequences and complications down the line. So, before heading to Costco to fill your cart, make sure to learn about the different foods and products that you cannot pay for with your EBT.

While the products vary from state to state, there are some general things that you cannot buy at Costco with an EBT. These products include:

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Household supplies (cleaning products, hygiene products, etc.)
  • Paper products
  • Pet food
  • Medication
  • Tobacco products
  • Gas

Again, this list may vary from state to state and may include more specific products. If you want to read a full and comprehensive list of the things you cannot buy using your EBT card, you may contact your local state agency for more information.

Stay Away From Self-Checkout

There are people who may be hesitant about making Costco purchases with their EBT because of the fear of judgment for receiving government assistance. However, there is no shame in needing help and most cashiers will not pass any judgment if you’re paying with your EBT card.

Additionally, you cannot use your EBT card for purchases through the self-checkout lane. If you need to purchase something with your EBT, you need to go through the regular cashier-assisted checkout process.

Be Wary Of Bulk Purchases

Bulk purchases at Costco may seem like great bargains, but at times, they can actually cost you more in the long run. The reason for this is that there’s a high chance that you won’t be able to finish the bulk purchase before the food item goes bad.

For example, if you buy large quantities of milk with your EBT card at Costco because of the lower prices, your family will likely not finish all the milk before it goes sour. This results in you actually losing money due to food waste.

For this reason, we recommend staying away from bulk purchases with your EBT card at Costco.

Can I Use My EBT Card At Costco Online?

Costco store 1

Costco will only accept EBT card payments when you make purchases in their store. There is no EBT card payment option when shopping on Costco online, and you will have to go to their physical stores and go through their regular checkout lanes if you want to pay with your EBT card.

What Happens If You Are Caught Buying Forbidden Items?

The United States government has designed EBT in such a way to prevent people from taking advantage of buying forbidden items at Costco and other EBT-approved stores.

If you have filled up your cart with food and a single bottle of vodka, once you go to the checkout and it’s time to pay, when you present your EBT card, it will only pay for the approved items. As for the alcohol, you’ll need to pay using a different payment method.

In other words, EBT and the checkout stores at Costco have been designed to automatically detect any forbidden items and take them out of the total payment.

Conclusion – Does Costco Take EBT Cards?

Costco Store

All Costco warehouses in the United States accept EBT payments. However, you can only use your card for food, meat, and other approved produce.

Each state has a list of different items that you can’t pay for with your EBT card, and it’s very important to stay knowledgeable on things you can and cannot buy with the EBT card.

Once you’ve got all the necessities you want to buy, simply head over to the checkout and pay using your EBT card. Once you pay, all approved items in your trolley will be deducted from your total cost.

If there are any forbidden items in your trolley that EBT does not accept, then you’ll need to pay for those separately using your own money.

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Arthur Beringer

Arthur graduated in 2002 with a Master's in Business Administration from LSU Alexandria. After working in the retail industry for almost 20 years, he decided to quit and write full-time to help readers who are searching online for consumer-related answers.