Shopping for groceries online has become a growing preference during the coronavirus pandemic.
Whether you’re ordering ahead to pick up your food from the store or getting your order delivered to your doorstep, online grocery shopping eliminates the need to go up and down aisles, potentially rubbing elbows with dozens of shoppers.
A June consumer behavior study of 3,000 adults found that 37% plan to shop more online and 23% will rely more on same-day curbside pickup as a result of the pandemic.
While online grocery shopping has its benefits, one drawback is that it typically requires you to pay with a debit or credit card. If you’re enrolled in the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, you can’t always use your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card online.
We investigated whether it’s possible to pay for groceries online with EBT and found several grocery chains that provide the accommodation.
Can You Pay For Groceries Online With EBT?
Although many grocery stores don’t have the capability to accept EBT cards as payment online, there are a handful of merchants that do.
In 2019, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service rolled out a pilot program for retailers to process online purchases using SNAP benefits. Grocers must meet a specific set of requirements.
Coinciding with stay-at-home orders and increased demand for online shopping, the program has expanded significantly this year as additional states and retailers are being approved to process EBT payments online.
The following stores are authorized to accept EBT payments for online grocery shopping. It’s important to note that SNAP recipients can only purchase eligible food items with their EBT card and cannot use their cards for service charges, delivery fees and other associated costs.
SNAP recipients can add their EBT cards to their Amazon accounts to buy food from the online retailer, including groceries from Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry.
Free shipping is available on orders over $25 from Amazon and orders over $35 from Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry. New York City residents must spend over $50 for free shipping from Amazon Fresh.
Cardholders must live in the following 39 states or the District of Columbia to use EBT online: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Amazon Fresh is only available in select markets, and is usually only accessible to Amazon Prime members. SNAP recipients, however, don’t need to have Prime to purchase Amazon Fresh groceries.
EBT card holders qualify for discounted Amazon Prime memberships.
Walmart allows EBT card holders to order groceries online and pick them up at stores in the following 40 states plus the District of Columbia: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Customers can enter their EBT account information during the online checkout process. Previously, SNAP recipients had to select “EBT card” as their payment method online and present their card when they got to the store.
Customers are also able to use their EBT card for delivery orders where grocery delivery is available.
While Sam’s Club falls under the Walmart brand, SNAP recipients are not able to shop online from Sam’s Club using EBT as payment.
The Kroger Co., which operates stores under a variety of banner names including Kroger, QFC and Fry’s Food Stores, accepts EBT cards for online curbside orders.
Customers can select pick-up dates up to seven days in advance. Store associates bring online orders straight to customers’ vehicles when they arrive for pick up.
Kroger operates stores in the following 35 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
4. ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer
ShopRite, a northeastern grocery chain with roughly 300 stores, accepts EBT payment for online grocery orders from stores in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
The Fresh Grocer, which operates about a dozen stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, also lets customers shop online using EBT as payment.
ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer are both subsidiaries of the grocery cooperative Wakefern Food Corp.
Online orders can be picked up via curbside service or delivered, where available. When ordering online, SNAP recipients must select “EBT Snap Card” as their payment method and enter their card information.
Customers don’t have to meet a minimum purchase amount to complete their online orders.
Albertsons, which also operates Safeway, has strict restrictions on which customers can use SNAP benefits for online orders.
Under the company’s frequently asked questions regarding online shopping, it states that only Arizona residents with disabilities can use EBT cards for online payment. These customers are asked to call the customer support line at (877) 505-4040 for assistance on completing their orders.
This New York-based online grocer serves SNAP customers in select Bronx zip codes — 10454 and 10455.
Customers paying with EBT cards will not encounter delivery fees, but they must meet a minimum purchase amount of $30.
FreshDirect’s EBT program excludes delivery to apartments above the fifth floor if the building doesn’t have a working elevator. It also restricts the amount of beverage cases that workers are able to deliver in one order.
Hy-Vee, a Midwestern grocery chain, allows online customers to pay with EBT cards at select locations. The chain is looking to expand the amount of stores that accept EBT payments online.
Online orders must be at least $30 for free pickup. Customers using EBT must select the “SNAP/EBT card” option when checking out online, but they’ll also be asked for a debit or credit card to reserve the order and pay for any non EBT-eligible items.
SNAP recipients will have their EBT cards swiped at the store when they pick up their order. Customers without a debit or credit card are asked to call the customer service number at (800) 772-4098 to complete their orders.
H-E-B, a Texas grocery chain, has a few dozen locations that accept EBT cards for curbside pickup orders.
Customers must select the EBT option when placing their order online, but they don’t have to enter their card information at that point. Those using EBT as payment must bring their card to the store with them when picking up their order. They are also asked to also bring a debit, credit or H-E-B gift card to cover non EBT-eligible merchandise.
9. Wright’s Market
Wright’s Market in Opelika, Alabama, accepts EBT cards as online payment for grocery delivery.
Customers must enter their EBT card information online to process orders. A separate form of payment is needed to cover delivery fees and other associated charges.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at Codetic.