Can I Enter My EBT Card Manually?
This information is current as of June 26, 2022.
If you’re new to your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, you’ve probably swiped it a few times at your local grocery store. If the card reader stops working one day, however, you might ask yourself, “Can I enter my EBT card manually?”
You can enter your EBT card manually under certain conditions. Online EBT purchases allow for manual entry. As for physical stores, you’ll need your EBT card on hand for the cashier to enter it manually. You may also have to provide the expiration date and three-digit CVV code. Some stores may require a manager to approve the manual entry.
Let’s learn more about when and how you can manually enter an EBT card for a purchase.
How to Manually Enter an EBT Card
EBT cards will be manually entered on two occasions. First, you’ll enter it if you’re completing an EBT online purchase. Second, a store employee will enter your card’s information if the card reader machine isn’t working during your purchase.
Manually Entering an EBT Card Online
You can use your EBT card for limited purchases online. You are still limited to SNAP-acceptable items when buying with EBT online. The only difference is that instead of swiping your card in a card reader, you’ll have to enter the information as if you’re paying with a regular debit or credit card.
When it comes down to it, an EBT card is just a debit card. You have three sets of numbers you will need to enter.
First, you have the 16-digit card number. This is the most significant number on your card, and you’ll have to enter it exactly as you see it.
Second, you’ll be asked for the expiration date listed on your card. This four-digit number represents a month and year separated by a slash, like this example: 01/23.
Finally, you’ll be asked for the CVV code. A CVV code stands for the Card Verification Value. This number protects you from fraud or theft and is unique to your card. You can usually find this code on the white bar line on the back of your card.
Once you enter all this information, you may also have to input your name, shipping address, billing address, if different than your shipping address, and email address.
When your purchase is confirmed, voila, you’re finished! Do note that if your online purchase requires a shipping fee, you’ll have to pay it with a second form of payment, like a personal debit or credit card. An EBT card will not cover these charges.
Manually Entering an EBT Card in Store
Manually entering an EBT card in-store is often done directly through the cash register. This means the cashier, or another employee, will need to “OK” the transaction before it occurs. If they call a supervisor to do this, don’t worry – it’s part of the procedure.
The employee will likely ask to see your card. If necessary, they will type in the required information, including the 16-digit card number, expiration date, and CVV code.
You will need to have your physical card on hand for this entry. Grocery stores and supermarkets will not accept a memorized or written card number, which could lead to fraud. You may also be asked an ID to verify that the EBT card is under your name.
Once the employee enters the card information, you may have to tell them or input your PIN. This depends on the store and the point-of-sale system (cash register system) that they use.
When to Manually Enter an EBT Card
You should only manually enter your EBT card information on safe websites or during a purchase at an official store.
Do not enter your EBT card information on websites that are not official stores or government pages.
Do not give your card to streetside merchants or independent vendors that aren’t registered under a known company name.
Where Can I Use My EBT Card?
EBT cards can be used at thousands of stores and vendors across the U.S. Even if your EBT card is from one state, you can use it in others so long as you’re traveling and not moving. If you move, you must inform your SNAP office and reapply for benefits in the new state.
You can use the online SNAP store locator to find EBT-accepting stores near you.
Some popular EBT-accepting stores include:
- Fast Track
- Food City
- Food Lion
- Giant Eagle
- Piggly Wiggly
- And more!
Certain larger chain retail stores even offer online EBT services, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target.
How Can I Get an EBT Card?
You can get an EBT card if accepted into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. You can also get a replacement card if yours is damaged, lost, or stolen once in the program.
Get a New EBT Card
We have written a detailed SNAP post describing how you can apply. Many low-income families qualify for SNAP so long as they meet the income requirements. The application can be completed online or in-person and includes a short interview to confirm your application details.
Replace a Lost/Stolen EBT Card
If your EBT card is lost or stolen, contact customer service immediately. This is the best way to freeze or cancel your EBT card so that your benefits aren’t used by someone else.
You’ll receive a new EBT card in the mail, usually in 3-7 business days.
If your EBT card is frozen yet in your possession, learn how to unfreeze it here.
EBT cards can be manually entered for online or in-store purchases if the card reader machine isn’t working.
You’ll always need your card handy – especially in-store – to enter your card number, expiration date, and CVV code. Be sure to only share this information with a trusted store employee or website, and keep your card somewhere safe when not in use.
Happy EBT shopping!
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
If you qualify for SNAP, you may also be eligible for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Lifeline and ACP are government-run programs to help low-income consumers receive free or heavily discounted communication services.
Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.