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If you’re on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you may wonder if Starbucks accepts EBT.
You can use your Electronic Balance Transfer (EBT) card at Starbucks, treating it like a regular debit card to buy eligible food items from authorized retailers.
Most Starbucks stores do not accept EBT, though some exceptions exist. This article will provide detailed information on using food stamps at Starbucks.
A few things about Starbucks
Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee shop based in Seattle, Washington, boasts over 16,000 stores in the U.S. Approximately 9,000 are company-operated, while over 6,000 are licensed shops.
Starbucks offers a diverse menu featuring coffee but also hot and cold beverages, breakfast foods, bakery items, and a variety of Frappuccino-type drinks.
Does Starbucks take EBT?
Starbucks does not accept EBT cards at its company-owned stores. This is because Starbucks is considered a non-essential, luxury brand, it is not an authorized SNAP retailer.
Starbucks accepts EBT at certain licensed stores within grocery and retail locations, with over 6,300 licensed stores across the United States.
You can use your food stamps at Starbucks locations inside grocery stores such as:
Use your EBT card to buy SNAP-eligible items there.
What is the difference between a stand-alone and a licensed facility?
Starbucks accepts SNAP/EBT benefits only at certain licensed stores. To understand this, let’s explore the distinctions between licensed and stand-alone stores.
Stand-alone or company-operated Starbucks
Starbucks stores can be categorized as stand-alone or company-operated, being independent units in locations like shopping malls. These stand-alone stores are typically larger, with a higher gross margin and a lower operating margin than licensed stores.
Regardless of the type, Starbucks ensures uniform training and adherence to company policies for all employees. However, it’s important to note that Starbucks is not an approved SNAP EBT retailer, as it is not classified as a provider of essential foods.
According to Starbucks’ official policy, food stamp cards are not accepted as payment at their company-operated stores. Nevertheless, some licensees, particularly those in grocery stores, may accept these cards as payment.
Licensed Starbucks, or noncorporate operations, are smaller establishments found within grocery stores or other facilities. Retailers such as Publix, Safeway, Target, Barnes & Noble, and local grocery stores host a Starbucks as part of a business contract.
These licensed Starbucks maintain the same logos and appearance as stand-alone stores. If the host store accepts SNAP EBT benefits, the licensed Starbucks within can also process these benefits.
It’s important to note that Starbucks doesn’t participate in the Restaurant Meals Program. Consequently, EBT cards cannot be used to purchase hot, prepared food and drinks at any location, including licensed stores.
However, despite the restriction on hot items, all cold drinks are eligible for purchase with SNAP EBT cards. Other items such as sweets, sandwiches, snacks, soft drinks, and energy drinks can be bought using SNAP benefits.
What can you buy with food stamps at Starbucks?
SNAP is a federal program providing nutrition assistance for low-income individuals through an Electronic Balance Transfer (EBT) card.
You can use your EBT card at Starbucks, but only for SNAP-eligible items. Eligible items are generally cold foods meant for home preparation. However, it’s important to note that at Starbucks locations accepting EBT cards, you can’t use your EBT card for hot beverages or foods at the point of sale.
Instead, you can use your EBT card to purchase cold drinks like Frappuccinos and cold foods like pumpkin bread.
Here’s a list of items you may be able to purchase at Starbucks-licensed stores with your EBT card:
- Instant coffee
- Coffee beans
- Ground coffee
- Pumpkin bread
- Cold beverages
- Soft drinks
- Energy drinks
Anything with a nutritional label is EBT-eligible, excluding hot foods and drinks. Avoid hot and prepared food meant for on-premises consumption.
SNAP primarily focuses on cold, self-prepared foods, leaving those unable to cook with limited options. To address this, the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) was introduced.
RMP enables eligible EBT cardholders to use their SNAP EBT cards at authorized restaurants for food purchases.
The program specifically benefits homeless, elderly, and disabled individuals, providing them access to hot meals.
The Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) operates in six states:
- Rhode Island
Unfortunately, Starbucks is not part of the Restaurant Meals Program, so you cannot purchase hot foods or drinks from the coffee chain.
What items can you buy with EBT cards?
EBT cards are intended for purchasing cold foods you prepare yourself through the SNAP program.
Items eligible for purchase with EBT cards are:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Dairy products
- Breads and cereals
- Snack foods
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Seeds and plants for household food production
Items not eligible for purchase with EBT cards are:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
- Vitamins, medicines, and supplements
- Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from the water, and animals slaughtered before store pick-up)
- Hot foods
- Non-food items like cleaning supplies, paper products, pet foods, hygiene items, and cosmetics.
How to use your EBT card at Starbucks
Follow these steps to use your SNAP benefits at Starbucks:
- Visit a licensed Starbucks within an EBT-accepting grocery store like Target or Safeway.
- Inquire at the customer service desk or over the phone if the Starbucks kiosk accepts EBT.
- Make your purchase and, at the payment register, swipe your card. Choose SNAP as the payment option and enter your PIN.
How can I get a SNAP or EBT card?
Getting an EBT card is a straightforward process. To qualify, you must be a U.S. resident and meet the income criteria based on your household size. Apply for SNAP/EBT benefits through your state’s assistance office.
If eligible, you’ll receive a monthly allotment loaded onto your EBT card and sent by mail. Use the card at participating stores to buy food and approved items.
The bottom line
Starbucks-owned stores don’t take EBT, but licensed Starbucks locations, such as Target and Fred Meyer, accept EBT cards for SNAP-eligible items.
If you wonder whether Starbucks accepts EBT, this post should provide the necessary information.