Before food stamps switched to electronic cards, it used to be difficult to travel and use paper food stamps at retail locations. With EBT cards, or a food stamp debit card, it’s easy to travel and still purchase necessary food items. However, it’s also important that you pay attention to state guidelines, as some states do have different guidelines for what you can and can’t buy with food stamps, specifically relating to hot food items. However, EBT cards should be accepted like debit cards at any grocery store location that supports credit card or debit card transactions.
If you are receiving food stamps, you should already have a card with assistance benefits already being deposited into the account. If you don’t already have a food stamp card, you’ll need to apply and get one. You can check out FoodStamps.org’s state map for direct access to your state’s online food stamp application and EBT information.
When you’re travelling, shop at stores that are well known department stores and accept EBT cards with food stamps. Most grocery stores should be able to accept food stamps, but others may not accept debit card transactions. You’ll need your pin number in order to use your card this way.
You can only purchase certain items with your EBT card, so you won’t be able to purchase a dinner out while on vacation. However, you can purchase things like fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, cereals and breads that can be cooked at your hotel or wherever you’re staying. You won’t be able to purchase items such as beer, wine, liquor, pet food, paper products, vitamins, some supplement drinks and cigarettes.
If you don’t use your EBT card within a year of being issued benefits, all of your benefits will be canceled and returned to the government. If you haven’t used your card in a while, you should check to see if you still have benefits, especially if you are counting on them while traveling. If you don’t use all of your benefits within a month, these will carry over to the next month. You only need to worry about losing benefits if it’s been near a year or over a year.
You can read about SNAP, the federal name for food stamps, at SSA.gov. Here you can find out how to apply for food stamps, how much you can receive and contacting the appropriate office in your state to get emergency food aid.