The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is a scheme introduced by the government to ensure eligible individuals and families have access to the essential food and resources they need. Instead of distributing coupons, it uses an electronic credit method called Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) which funds a physical card that can be used at participating retailers, including Costco.
One of the benefits of EBT is that it allows regulators to clamp down on abuse of SNAP, by whitelisting specific items that the credit can be used for like food, and hygiene and cleaning products, and blacklisting those the credit isn’t to be used for, including tobacco. So if you’re thinking about using it to snap up something an iPad at Costco, the transaction won’t be processed, no matter how hard you try.
While a huge improvement on paper coupons, EBT has its downsides. Because the system is electronic, fraudsters can actually steal your money, similar to how they’d clone (and use) a credit card. In fact, according to some reports, EBT fraud has risen by about 4,000% in 2022. The best way to avoid them? Cover your PIN, stay aware of your surroundings, and never reveal personal information.
Just keep in mind that the higher up-front cost that comes with shopping at Costco, could come as a shock. It’s true that buying in bulk is usually cheaper, so you’re money will go further, but this could also leave you without money for day-to-day purchases, so ensure you’re budgeting accordingly.