Using the Electronic Benefit Transfer Card (EBT) in Pennsylvania


SNAP beneficiaries commonly wonder, “How can I use EBT in Pennsylvania once I qualify for the food stamp program?” The Pennsylvania EBT card, or the Electronic Benefit Transfer card, is a digital system that allows SNAP beneficiaries to use financial assistance funds without hassle. A cardholder who has the EBT card in Pennsylvania can use his or her benefits to pay for qualified products. Benefits from a Pennsylvania EBT card can be used to purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages. Learn more about how a food stamp program participant can use the EBT card in Pennsylvania and take advantage of the benefits it offers by reviewing the following sections:

  • How to Access Benefits Using the EBT Card in Pennsylvania
  • Setting Up the Pennsylvania EBT Card
  • Using the Pennsylvania EBT Card in Stores
  • How to Access Benefits Using the EBT Card in Pennsylvania

    Those who qualify for food stamps have been using the EBT card in Pennsylvania since 1984. A SNAP recipient who has the Pennsylvania EBT card can use it to purchase qualified food and grocery items from a list of acceptable grocers, which is determined at the state level. Pennsylvania EBT cards are similar to typical debit cards and credit cards. However, the EBT card in Pennsylvania has some differences, as the users of EBT need to consider ways to better manage the benefits they receive, and to decrease the risk of fraud or theft.

    Setting Up the Pennsylvania EBT Card

    The question, “How can I use EBT in Pennsylvania once I receive my SNAP benefits card?” is a common question of SNAP participants who have qualified for the program, and who have received their Pennsylvania EBT cards, but have not utilized them yet. The steps to setting up an EBT card in Pennsylvania are listed below:

    1. Check that the participant’s name is spelled properly on the front of the card.

    2. Remove any stickers and protective material from the Pennsylvania EBT card and sign on the back within the “Signature” box.

    3. In order to set the personal PIN code on the Pennsylvania EBT card, participants must go in person to a local County Assistance Office (CAO), immediately after receiving it, or call into a local office. Download our free guide to learn how to contact a CAO office. Make sure to keep the PIN code in a location separate from the card, such as a safe or a filing cabinet. Never keep it in a wallet.

    4. First-time Pennsylvania EBT card users are required to register their accounts. For registration, a participant needs to enter the Pennsylvania EBT card number and the PIN code, as well as come up with a user ID and a password. In the account, participants can check balances and card activity.

    Using the Pennsylvania EBT Card in Stores

    Food Stamp benefit cardholders can use the EBT card in Pennsylvania to make purchases at qualified grocers and with certain acceptable vendors (like farmers market merchants) throughout the state. In order to use a Pennsylvania EBT card at a qualified merchant, the first step is to ensure that vendor accepts EBT as a form of payment. Typically, grocers and stores will display EBT signage in their front windows if they accept this method of pay. If not, beneficiaries are always encouraged to ask staff if the Pennsylvania EBT card is a valid payment method prior to collecting groceries.

    Once the EBT card in Pennsylvania has been confirmed as a payment device, shop and collect the food items allowed by the SNAP program in PA. Then, head to the checkout line to use the Pennsylvania EBT card to pay for the goods. If there are goods that do not qualify for food stamps in a basket or a cart, the shopper will be expected to pay for those items separately – with another form of payment, aside from EBT. At the checkout, select the EBT option in the traditional credit card machine, and then enter the PIN code of the Pennsylvania EBT card while making the payment.

    Afterward, be sure to check if the amount displayed on the credit card machine is correct in comparison the one on the receipt. In case anything is wrong, tell the clerk immediately. Following a transaction, the receipt will display the EBT balance. If Pennsylvania EBT card balances are unavailable, beneficiaries can log into their accounts or call for assistance, as needed.