Do Dollar Stores Take EBT? What You Need To Know

If you are struggling to make ends meet, knowing where to shop and find financial help for everything from student tuition to nutritious food is important. The number of Americans in need of assistance is growing. There are 35.7 million people collecting benefits in 2019. 

If you are new to using an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, you may be confused about where you can use your card. Each state has its own application form and information on usage. A popular shopping place is dollar stores, but do dollar stores take EBT?

The answer is Yes! Most dollar stores accept EBT benefits for products that meet the USDA guidelines for SNAP. This includes food for your home, snack foods, plants and seeds that produce food (i.e., planting a vegetable garden), and non-alcoholic beverages. Almost anything that contains nutritional information on the label likely qualifies for SNAP.

Read on to learn the low-down on using your EBT benefits at specific dollar store chains.

What Qualifies a Store to Accept EBT benefits?

To accept an EBT card for SNAP, a store must carry a minimum of three food varieties in four different categories, and at least two categories must be perishable food. If you visit a store that says they accept SNAP, you will find bread/cereals, vegetables and fruit, dairy, meat, poultry, and fish.

They may also accept SNAP if they do not meet the above qualification, but more than half of their total gross sales are for “staple food.” This means food that is not soft drinks, prepared foods, or candy.

Do 99¢ Only Stores Take EBT?

The 99¢ Only stores accept EBT for qualifying food purchases. The secret to juggling a tight food budget is knowing how to cook inexpensive, nutritious meals for your family. Using the benefit of a store where everything is only 99¢ to purchase items like canned goods, produce, and meat is a great cost-saving.

If you have cash assistance added to your EBT card, you can also use this to purchase items that are not available through SNAP, including cleaning products and school supplies for in-home learning. They also allow you to make cash withdrawals on your Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefit portion of your EBT card.

Does Dollar General Take EBT?

The good news is that a larger number of stores are accepting SNAP benefits. Stores focusing on savings, including Dollar General, have maintained steady business during the pandemic due to their acceptance of EBT. Use your SNAP benefits to purchase dairy, meats, bread, frozen food, beverages, baby formula, snacks, packaged, and more.

If you have cash assistance on your EBT, you will find a wide variety of items, including pet supplies, health and beauty, household, automotive, toys, and apparel.

Does Five Below Take EBT?

If you live in the area of Five Below stores, you can enjoy the benefit of a store where everything is less than $5.00. They offer both online and in-store shopping. If you are looking for bargain pricing on electronics, toys, food, sports equipment, party supplies, and clothing, you may want to check them out.

Five Below only accepts cash, Apple Pay, gift cards, and credit/debit cards. These stores do not take personal checks, cashier checks, purchase orders, or money orders. They will not accept PayPal, GooglePay, or EBT cards.

Does Dollar Tree Take EBT?

Dollar Tree does accept EBT cards for both SNAP purchases and cash benefits on your EBT card. It is important to make sure you designate which portion of your benefits the purchase is being taken from. If you accidentally designate your EBT benefit to be used for food purchases, Dollar Tree is unable to change the benefit used after the transaction is complete.

Does Family Dollar Take EBT?

When you shop at Family Dollar, you may use your EBT to pay for SNAP-eligible products. This chain carries many products that meet SNAP requirements, including dairy products, ground beef, hot dogs, bacon, frozen entrees, canned pasta, and snack foods.

Family Dollar does not accept WIC. Other payment methods such as cash, checks, debit cards with a PIN, and credit cards are accepted.

What an EBT Card Does not Buy

If your EBT card contains only SNAP benefits, those are for purchasing nutritional food items only. You cannot use SNAP for purchasing energy drinks, wine, liquor, beer, tobacco, cigarettes, household supplies, or pet supplies. One confusing area is that you may have eligibility for restaurant usage but cannot purchase hot or prepared food from a store.

This means you cannot purchase a hot roasted chicken when shopping for groceries, but you can take Pizza Hut. Several restaurants in each state accept EBT as payment.

TANF on Your EBT Card

If you receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) on your EBT card, the portion of the money that is TANF may be used to purchase non-food items. This includes cleaning supplies, toiletries, party supplies, and other items ineligible on the SNAP portion of your card.

If your financial situation has you struggling and food benefits are not sufficient, you may want to apply for this additional aid. Programs include assistance with job preparation, free wireless service, work assistance, and childcare. If you are a U.S. citizen, a legal or qualified alien, you may apply to the state you live in for assistance.

To qualify for cash assistance, you must:

  • Have a child who is age 18 or younger
  • Be pregnant, or
  • Be 18 or younger and the head of a household

When you receive TANF, your benefits will load onto your EBT card. You will be able to use the TANF portion of your benefits at dollar stores that accept EBT.

Is Food From a Dollar Store Safe?

If you haven’t been in a dollar store in a while, you may still have the memory of a dumping ground of cheap, off-brand merchandise. Dollar stores today purchase their merchandise from major manufacturers such as General Mills and Coca-Cola. Stores are clean, well-organized, and have up-to-date merchandise.

Any store selling food must comply with the same safety standards as your local grocery. Just like you do anywhere, check expiration dates on perishable items before purchasing. It is more important to make sure you are receiving value for your buck.

The amount of fresh produce and variety of their selections may be more limited than a grocery store. Manufacturers also make items in smaller sizes for dollar-store sales, resulting in the ability to price them lower. You want to make some price comparisons of the size and cost of items available in your local dollar store compared to what you can purchase in a traditional grocery.

Even if the product size is smaller, it may help get you through a tight month but watch value. A can of vegetables that may sell for 79¢ at your local grocery will run you $1.00 at a dollar store.

Online Dollar Stores

Some online retailers will allow you to use cash assistance on an EBT card for making purchases. The majority of online dollar stores will not accept this form of payment. Because of their low pricing, online dollar stores may be worth looking at when bargain hunting.

Dollar Tree

Successful with their in-store shopping business, Dollar Tree also offers free shipping to your local store if you prefer to order online. They offer a value seekers club that provides you with exclusive perks when shopping. They will ship to your home, but you will need to pay shipping charges.

H&J Closeouts

This online dollar store of over 25 years provides the same wholesale pricing to you they give dollar stores. The dollar store then marks items up to $1.00. When you shop online, most items are less than $1.00.

You need to order items by the case, but if planning a child’s birthday party, wedding shower, or any other event where you need to make large quantity purchases, they are worth checking out.

Dollar Store

The first true online dollar store began in 1996. They sell items from 50¢ to $2.00. They require a minimum $50 order, but you may want to use them to stock up on items like socks or stock up on seasonal items.

Dollar General

You are likely familiar with their in-person stores. They also offer an online selection with most inventory below $6.00. To increase your savings, sign up for their digital coupons.

Dollar King

This online store also has in-person shopping in the state of California. They carry a wide range of products, including snacks and beverages but do not accept EBT payment. Products they carry include storage, health, arts and crafts, pet supplies, tools, cosmetics, cleaning, stationery, clothing, seasonal items, back-to-school, and more.

The Answer to “Do Dollar Stores Take EBT?”

Now you know the answer is yes to the question “do dollar stores take EBT?” Whether you have only SNAP or also cash assistance on your EBT card establishes what you can purchase. Dollar stores carry current stock and are safe for food purchases; make sure you check the size v. price for value.

Out of all the dollar stores we checked offering in-store shopping, Five Below is the only one that does not allow you to use your EBT card for eligible purchases.

Online dollar stores offer great bargains but do not accept EBT. This makes dollar stores a solid choice for price-conscious shopping.

If you qualify for an EBT card, you may also qualify for free Lifeline phone service. To check your eligibility, click here.