Using the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card in Texas
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The EBT card in Texas is called the LoneStar Card and it works similar to a debit or credit card. The EBT card contains a magnetic strip and account information that allows instant verification of transactions. Recipients will be able to check available balances automatically at grocery stores, by phone or online. Any unused Texas EBT card benefits will carry over to the next month’s amount. All SNAP benefits are automatically transferred to the Texas EBT card at the beginning or middle of the month. The following sections provide important information about using the EBT card in Texas:
- How can I use EBT in Texas?
- What Can I Buy with the Texas LoneStar Card?
- What Are Some Good Ways to Keep My Texas EBT Card Safe?
- When are Texas EBT Card Funds Available?
How can I use EBT in Texas?
The Texas EBT Card is accepted at the credit card machine of most grocery stores. Many farmer’s markets also accept TX EBT card purchases and offer to double the amount of EBT dollars for use at the market. Texas LoneStar EBT Card recipients will choose a personal Identification Number (PIN) after receiving the card in the mail and have to activate it by phone.
What Can I Buy with the Texas LoneStar Card?
When using the SNAP EBT card in Texas make sure you know which items are eligible for purchase. Some eligible Texas EBT card purchases include cereal, bread, fruits, meat, diary, and gardening plants and seeds that can be used to grow produce. Some restaurants and other food service venues are allowed to accept the LoneStar TX EBT card from recipients that are disabled or homeless. Candy, soft drinks, cookies and other snack foods are considered food items since they help meet daily caloric intake for a low expense, and are not too unhealthy in small amounts. Certain energy drinks are also eligible if they have a nutrition label. Generally, items that have nutrition labels, and are intended for human consumption, are eligible for purchase with an EBT card.
The following items are not eligible for purchasable with an EBT card in Texas:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Household items (toilet paper, soap, etc.).
- Pet food
- Vitamins or prescription drugs
- Food meant to be eaten in a store, or prepared hot food
Gift baskets for holidays like Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc. are only purchasable with the TX EBT Card if they contain more than 50 percent eligible food items. Pumpkins and other gourds are only purchasable with a LoneStar card in Texas if intended to be used for food, but not if intended to be used for decoration. Live animals meant for human consumption, like fish and lobsters, are also purchasable with TX SNAP benefits.
What Are Some Good Ways to Keep My Texas EBT Card Benefits Safe?
Since stolen benefits cannot always be replaced, make sure to keep the Texas EBT card in a safe location. Never let anyone use the card, and make sure to copy the PIN and customer service number from the back of the card and keep it in a safe place. If the Texas LoneStar card is lost, contact customer service to cancel and reissue it. Also, beware of identity theft scams. One method of identity theft is to place small devices within the slots where credit cards are swiped. If you notice one of these devices, do not use your Texas LoneStar card and alert the store manager.
Also, look out for mobile phone apps that steal Texas EBT card benefits by mimicking the appearance of an official SNAP benefits log-in website. You will never be asked by the HHSC to input your PIN on a mobile site, as the PIN is only for making purchases. When creating a PIN for the Texas LoneStar EBT card, never write the number on the card. Change the PIN regularly and try not to use numbers that can be easily guessed, like 1234. If contacted by a security company that claims to be part of the state and asks for your PIN, report this information to local authorities and the HHSC office. Be wary of anyone asking you to call the customer service line when they provide the number. This could be a false number with an automated system that asks for information needed to steal benefits.
When are Texas EBT Card Funds Available?
For inquiries regarding Texas EBT card balance, refer to the Eligibility Determination Group number. If the last digit of your EDG number ends in 0, then benefits are available on the first day of the month. The higher the number, the later in the month the benefits will be applied to your account. If cash benefits are supposed to be deposited, they are made available within the first 3 days of the month.
What are Food Stamps?
The Food Assistance Program helps people with low-income buy healthy food. A food assistance household is normally a group of people who live together and buy food and cook meals together. If your household passes the Food Assistance Program’s eligibility rules, the amount of food assistance benefits you get depends on the number of people in your household and how much money is left after certain expenses are subtracted.