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Let’s not leave you in suspense long. Yes, you can use coupons with food stamps (AKA SNAP, AKA the EBT card).
And not only is it doable — it’s smart.
There are a few things you should know first, so read on to maximize your savings and minimize your stress.
1. Remember — coupons are just another form of payment.
Coupons are not a discount. When you use them in addition to your EBT card, you’re just using more than one form of payment.
2. Make sure you have a third form of payment, just in case.
While the manufacturer is paying a portion of your total with the coupon, you will likely be charged applicable tax.
This is important because that tax may or may not go on the EBT card, depending on the store policy and the state you’re in.
So let’s say your transaction looks like this:
Food total: $10.00
Manufacturer coupons: $7.00
Total on your EBT card: $3.00
Total out of pocket cost: 0.42
Keep in mind this is only for manufacturer coupons. You won’t be charged tax on store coupons.
3. Consider separating your transaction if you have coupons for non-food items, too.
Combining food stamps and coupons can get tricky if you’re using coupons for non-food items in the same transaction.
Imagine this transaction:
Food total: $50.00
Non-food total: $20.00
Coupons for food items: $20.00
Coupons for nonfood items: $15.00
EBT total: $15.00
But now you’re still responsible for $20 cash, even though you had $15 in coupons for non-food items. So what gives?
Sometimes registers aren’t smart enough to distinguish that you had coupons for non-items, and they’re automatically applying those coupons to “food” in their system.
This doesn’t always happen, but it can. To avoid this, simply run two transactions — one with food and one with non-food items.
4. Food stamp rules vary by state.
Most of these tips are pretty general, but that doesn’t mean that everything is the same where you live.
Check out this interactive map to get SNAP details by state.
If you’ve experienced something different, please leave a comment and let us know!