With gas prices approaching $4 a gallon in some regions as we head into the weekend, individuals on a fixed income may be struggling to make ends meet. You might even wonder if you can use your EBT card, from the program formerly known as food stamps, at a gas station.
The answer to that is, “Maybe.” Depending on the government benefits you receive, you may even be able to use EBT-Cash — but not EBT from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — for fuel and other gas station purchases.
Understanding TANF vs. SNAP
First, let’s go over a quick review of the programs available to help low-income households across the U.S., including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, is administrated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and provides benefits to families on an electronic debit card that can be used to buy food, non-alcoholic beverages, ingredients for meals and seeds at grocery stores and other retailers that accept EBT as a form of payment.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program also offers an EBT card (called EBT Cash), and it can be used for a wider range of living expenses, including fuel, housing, home maintenance supplies, personal hygiene and other living expenses. You can also withdraw cash from an ATM using your ETC Cash card.
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Can You Use Your EBT Card at Gas Stations?
Many gas stations across the U.S. accept EBT/food stamps and EBT-Cash cards. According to FoodStampsnow.com, more than 50 gas stations across the country accept EBT, including large chains like 7-Eleven, Circle K, Cumberland Farms, Flying J and Exxon Mobil.
If you are using an EBT Cash card at a location that accepts EBT, you can use it to fuel up your vehicle and purchase virtually anything in the store, including personal hygiene products or food. You will not be able to purchase cigarettes, alcohol, vaping products, lottery tickets and scratch-offs, or anything that cannot be legally purchased by children under the age of 18.
However, if your EBT card is only good for SNAP benefits, you’ll be even more limited to the things you can buy. In addition to the above “adult-only” items, you cannot purchase fuel, prepared convenience foods, such as pre-cooked hot dogs from a 7-Eleven gas station, or foods to go, like an ice cream cone from Cumberland Farms. However, you can purchase milk, bread, butter or any of the other groceries commonly sold at gas stations or convenience stores.
Foodstampsnow.com advises readers to call ahead to ensure the gas station near you accepts EBT, since rules may vary based on the franchise owner. You can also look for the sign in the door or window saying that EBT is accepted at that location.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Food Stamps: Can You Use Your SNAP EBT Card at Gas Stations?