EBT Processing: A Guide to Accepting EBT Payments
Replacing the previous “food stamps” process, EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) along with TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) and other federal and state programs enable customers to purchase food and other goods with a swipe card. A customer uses the EBT card at a Point of Sale (POS) device and then enters a four-digit personal identification number (PIN). After the clerk enters the amount of the food purchase, the amount is deducted from the EBT SNAP account. Then, within two banking days, the retailer’s bank account is credited.
EBT Processing for Groceries and Beyond
While SNAP benefits are exclusively used to purchase food, TANF funds and other assistance can be used similar to cash, allowing retailers that don’t sell groceries to broaden their customer base by accepting EBT payments. EBT payment processing is designed for approved retailers. When a business decides to accept EBT, they are joining more than two and a half billion EBT card transactions annually. Plus, EBT transactions cost less than traditional debit and credit cards. EBT processing offers a number of benefits for business owners looking to increase their customer base.
Does Your Business Qualify for EBT Processing?
Whether your business is a convenience store, a mini-mart, a market, a gas station, a bodega, a farmers’ market, a farm stand, or a grocery store, you may qualify to accept SNAP. If your small business meets one of the two following requirements, your business can register with the government for EBT payment processing:
- 50 percent of your store’s retail sales consist of SNAP-eligible foods (staple foods)
- OR your store offers at least three types of eligible foods in addition to at least two perishable eligible foods. The eligible or qualifying groups are bread and cereals, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and meats, including poultry and fish.
If you own 10 or more qualified retail food stores, a US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) representative will work with your business directly for EBT processing rather than require the standard EBT application process.
Applying for EBT Payment Processing
To start the application for EBT payment processing, the USDA’s FNS requires you to verify your identity via the USDA eAuthentication account. Once this EBT processing account is approved, your business has 30 days to complete and submit the application, including the following supporting documents:
- Photo identification, e.g. driver’s license, passport
- Social Security cards, copies for all owners, partners, officers, shareholders, and spouses
- Business license
- Your bank’s name and address
- EBT processing merchant account provider’s name, phone number, address, and website
EBT Processing Payment Terminal for SNAP Benefits
Once your business obtains EBT payment processing approval, you’ll need a terminal that accepts PIN debit cards, with or without a PIN pad. Either your merchant account provider can provide the required equipment or can program your existing equipment to accept EBT payments. You will need to provide your EBT processing merchant account provider your seven-digit FNS Account Number to set up EBT payment processing.
Host Merchant Services: EBT Processing Specialists
Host Merchant Services will provide your business preferential treatment if you need support in signing up for EBT payment processing. Our service team is four times larger than our sales team! We know it’s better to keep our customers happy than it is to find new customers. Host Merchant Services provides US-based support 24 hours a day, 365 days per year to help your business stay on current with the latest digital payment trends for 2024.