There was a time when you could only use your SNAP benefits to buy groceries in brick-and-mortar grocery stores and the like. However, since more people shop online than ever before, big online retailers like Amazon adapted and take the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card for a number of things. Some of those things might surprise you.
For those who may not know, you can get a HUGE discount on Amazon Prime if you have EBT or Medicaid
. If you participate in an eligible program, you can get Amazon Prime for just $6.99 per month instead of the usual $14.99 per month!
They’ve even expanded the number of qualifying programs, so that you can get this discount if you get WIC, TANF or TTANF, SSI, NSLP, Medicaid, LIHEAP, EIP Cards and more. It’s a great deal that saves a lot of people a lot of money so I highly recommend it.
I know at first not much was available while using EBT on Amazon. However, recently, I dug through HUNDREDS of pages of Amazon listings and discovered that there is actually a lot of really surprising things you can buy with EBT on Amazon… but not all of it makes sense.
What is EBT?
Before diving into unexpected items available for purchase with SNAP EBT, those new to SNAP or considering applying for SNAP, you may be wondering about the program.
Millions of Americans need assistance with purchasing food at some point in their lives. While many individuals are fortunate enough to have robust support systems to help provide meals, others don’t have that luxury. The pandemic has made it even worse. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, is beneficial and comes in handy for those who need it. This federal program (once known as Food Stamps) helps feed low-income Americans who otherwise may not have the means to put food on the table.
A SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card helps people buy nutritious food at EBT-participating stores. The program ensures that no one goes hungry – children can grow into adults and that seniors can afford to eat as healthily as working adults.
Can you use SNAP benefits to shop online?
Many online retailers now accept SNAP benefits as payment, which is great news for those with limited mobility, who live in rural areas, or who don’t have a car. Many retailers also offer free shipping too, making it just as economically sound as going to the local grocery store. Some participating stores include Aldi, Walmart
, Amazon, Safeway, and Albertsons, just to name a few. You can find which stores serve your area by looking online.
Why can you buy this stuff?
Strictly speaking, the USDA says you can use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to buy “any food for the household,” but you cannot buy non-food items. You’re supposed to purchase food for human consumption only. The law
states, “The term “food” means any food or food product for human consumption except alcoholic beverages, tobacco, those foods which are identified on the package as being imported, and meat and meat products which are imported.”
Now, there are some situations where you can buy items that aren’t strictly food. you’re allowed to purchase seeds, produce-bearing plants, and even gift baskets when at least half the basket’s value comes from eligible food items. That’s the rule: at least half the value of the non-food item must be from the food. That creates a bit of a gray area. Many of the EBT-eligible items I found on Amazon fall into that gray area.
However, some of the items I found were clearly mistakes. With a retailer as big and complicated as Amazon, there’s bound to be glitches in the system. According to Amazon’s EBT question and answer section, “The Grocery and Gourmet Food category on Amazon features pantry staples, shelf-stable food, and household items available nationwide.”
Before we begin…
Before we get into our list, I want to be perfectly and completely clear about something: I will NEVER encourage you to use your benefits illegally. I do NOT recommend buying items that are clearly ineligible with your food stamps. This content is for informational and entertainment purposes only.
Although I did not purchase any of these items with EBT, I did make sure they were all marked EBT-eligible at the time of purchase. However, these things frequently change (especially for items that fall into that gray area we discussed). These items may not be EBT-eligible at the time you are reading this, so you should always check each Amazon listing for that SNAP EBT Eligible label.
What are some surprising things you can buy with EBT on Amazon?
These are listed in no particular order. I hope these help someone on EBT who could use them:
EBT-Eligible Toys & Games
EBT-Eligible Weight Loss Supplements
The average price was around $20, although some were as low as $10 and some were $40 or more. These products are usually considered meal replacements, which is why they are EBT-eligible at Amazon and most other retailers as well.
EBT-Eligible Pet Stuff
EBT-Eligible Plants & Seeds
Here are a few of the items that fall into those categories:
EBT-Eligible Kitchen Goodies
EBT-Eligible Gift Crates
According to the USDA, you can buy certain gift baskets as long as at least half of the value of the item comes from the food inside. That’s obviously been a recurring theme in this post as well. As a result, Amazon has a TON of special gift crates that are marked EBT-eligible
. Since there are quite a bit, once again, I am not listing them individually. Some include non-food items like baskets, floral arrangements, socks, and even a beautiful keepsake mahogany photo box. That definitely puts these among the most shocking things you can buy with EBT on Amazon!
Here are just a few gift sets you may find:
EBT-Eligible Emergency Kit Food Supply
Additionally, some freeze-dried foods are eligible as well, such as these:
EBT-Eligible Pedialyte & Other Health Products
Did you know that items like PediaSure
and Pedialyte are SNAP eligible? Ideal for children and adults, it should be comforting to know you can buy Pedialyte in bulk using your EBT account
on Amazon. There are quite a few on these so I simply linked to the search page rather than listing all available options.
Also, here are some other health products you can get with your EBT card:
EBT Eligible Household, Beauty, & Skincare Items
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
When you qualify for government benefit programs like SNAP, you may also be eligible for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Both Lifeline and ACP are government-run programs that help low-income consumers receive free or heavily discounted communication services. Click here
to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.
Stay tuned! If I come across anything else I'll post it up!