Your Free Guide to Checking EBT Balances
Your Free Guide to Checking EBT Balances
The content in this guide is provided for general information only, and is not intended to address specific circumstances of any particular individuals. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.
Introduction to EBT Cards
An EBT card is an electronic benefit transfer card that can be used to access public assistance programs, such as food and cash assistance. EBT cards are issued by the state or local government and allow individuals to access benefits from certain federal and state programs without having to carry around a paper check or vouchers.
An EBT balance refers to the total amount of money that is deposited onto the card. The balance can typically be checked in a variety of ways, including online, via telephone, through an app, at an EBT terminal, or through text message, depending on the state in which the EBT card was issued.
Checking your EBT balance is important to ensure you have enough funds left on your card for expenditures. It also allows you to keep track of how much money has been spent since the last time you checked your EBT total.
How to Check The Balance of Your EBT Card
Checking the balance of an EBT card is a straightforward process. Depending on which EBT card you have, there may be multiple ways to check the total. However, in most cases, EBT cards can be checked in the following ways:
- By phone or text
- By app
- At an ATM or EBT terminal
- On a recent receipt
Checking Your EBT Balance Online
To check an EBT balance online, you must generally create an account (if you do not already have one) on the website used by your state. Typically, you’ll create an account upon getting approved for the assistance program issuing the card.
All 50 states and territories have EBT websites. You can find the website used by your state by reviewing the list provided by the USDA here: https://fns-prod.azureedge.us/sites/default/files/media/file/EBTCustomerServiceInfo.pdf
Once you are signed into your account, you can view your EBT balance online and keep track of your spending. You might also be able to opt for a text message alert when your EBT balance changes. To set up this notification, you can sign up for alerts through the EBT card website or contact their customer service directly.
Checking Your EBT Balance by Phone or Text
To check your EBT balance by phone, you can typically call your state’s EBT customer service line. Usually, you can find the phone number on the back of the EBT card. You can also locate the customer service number in your state on the chart provided by the USDA here: https://fns-prod.azureedge.us/sites/default/files/media/file/EBTCustomerServiceInfo.pdf
Be sure to have your 16-digit EBT card number on hand, as well as your personal identification number (PIN). These are used to verify your identity over the phone before you receive your balance.
Some states allow cardholders to check their balance via text message. If you live in a state that offers this option, you can usually text a keyword to the phone number associated with the text service. Then, the service will text you back with your balance.
Checking Your EBT Balance Through an App
In some states, EBT cardholders can download an app and view information about their EBT usage. The ConnectEBT App, which is available on the Google Play and App Store, is currently available for EBT cardholders in the following states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Carolina
If your state does not appear on this list, there is a chance that it may use a different app. Check with your state frequently about app availability.
Checking Your EBT Balance at an ATM or EBT Terminal
Depending on your state, you may be able to withdraw money and/or check your EBT balance at an ATM. However, keep in mind that you may be charged a fee to do this. Consult your state’s EBT customer service line to see if this is an option for you.
You may also be able to check your balance using an EBT terminal located at participating retailers who accept EBT cards as payment. This method allows you to enter your EBT card number and see your current balance displayed on the terminal’s screen.
Checking Your EBT Balance on a Recent Receipt
After you use your EBT card to purchase approved items at a participating retailer, you will likely get a receipt. Most receipts will display the current balance of your EBT card (after your purchase) at the bottom of the receipt.
How Funds Are Loaded Onto an EBT Card
Money is loaded onto EBT cards through a process called Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). EBT enables federal and state government agencies to deposit benefits directly into an EBT cardholder’s account. An EBT card is connected to the cardholder’s personal bank account and all transactions, including deposits, are processed electronically.
The EBT system is used by various public assistance programs, such as:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
EBT deposits are funded by the federal government and can be used in any participating retailer that accepts EBT cards.
When benefits are ready to be loaded on a cardholder’s EBT card, they will typically receive an automated notification from their state or local agency notifying them when their funds were deposited into their EBT account. This notification should also include information regarding how much money was deposited.
The amount of money that may be deposited on an EBT varies depending on the program, the cardholder’s income level and other factors. Cardholders should check with their specific state agency for more information about loading times and amounts allowed.
In addition to being able to access government assistance programs with an EBT card, individuals can use it to make purchases at most retailers that accept EBT cards. When making a purchase with an EBT card, customers simply swipe or insert their cards into the terminal and enter the four-digit PIN code associated with the card before completing their transaction.
Frequency of EBT Deposits
How frequently money is loaded onto EBT cards varies according to the particular program and individual income level of the cardholder. Generally, EBT funds are loaded monthly or bi-monthly as part of each program’s distribution cycle. Usually, EBT deposits occur within two weeks of the corresponding payment period in which benefits are distributed.
For some EBT programs, EBT deposits may be made on a rolling basis throughout the month. For example, if a person receives benefits for the first 10 days of a month, their EBT deposit will likely be made on the same day or shortly thereafter. In some states, half of the total benefit amount is deposited at the beginning of each month, and then the other half is deposited mid-month.
You can typically find your program’s distribution calendar on the assistance program’s website for your state. Alternatively, you can check the Monthly Issuance Schedule provided by the USDA to determine when you may get your money deposited onto your EBT card.