Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

How to Accept SNAP Benefits at Your Store

Last Modified: 04/15/2014

EBT Card

SNAP recipients electronically receive SNAP benefits on an EBT Card, which operates like a debit card, to buy eligible food at stores authorized by the Food and Nutrition Service. In order to complete a transaction, the customer swipes the card in a point-of-sale device (POS) and enters a four digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). The store clerk enters the exact amount of the  purchase on the POS device. This amount is deducted from the household’s EBT SNAP account and credited within two banking days to the retailer’s bank account.

EBT cards are interoperable, which means that an EBT card can be used in any authorized store in the United States regardless of the state it was issued, including the District of Columbia, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Puerto Rico, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, was replaced in 1982 by a block grant program, called the Nutrition Assistance Program. Puerto Rico is not interoperable with other States.

Accepting EBT Cards at My Store

You must apply and receive approval for your store from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service before you can accept SNAP EBT cards. Once your store is authorized under your ownership, you may elect one of three ways to accept EBT cards:

(1) Use your existing point-of-sale equipment or purchase new devices. If you have existing equipment, check with your vendor to see if it can be programmed to accept both SNAP EBT and commercial debit/credit transactions. Please note that you should review all costs with your vendor prior to signing an agreement as the government does not reimburse you if you elect to purchase third party equipment.  

(2) Use government supplied point-of-sale devices provided by your State. This equipment only works with SNAP EBT cards and there is no cost for the device if your store averages $100 a month in SNAP transactions. You must sign an agreement to cover the use of the equipment and provide banking information to the company that handles processing before you can receive a device.  

(3) Fill out a paper voucher for each transaction. If you do not have electricity, a phone line, or average at least $100 a month in SNAP transactions, manually completing paper vouchers offers an alternative.  

EBT Fact Sheet