Does Costco Accept Food Stamps?

When it comes to stretching your grocery budget, warehouse clubs like Costco have become a go-to for many families, offering bulk savings on everything from meat and dairy products to non-perishable items. But for those utilizing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps, understanding where and how these benefits can be used is crucial. A common question on many minds is, “Does Costco accept food stamps?”.

The answer is “Yes, with some limitations.”

Understanding the specifics of using an EBT card at Costco can significantly impact how you shop and save. Whether it’s for example, purchasing bulk meat, fish, dairy products, or essential grocery items, knowing how to effectively use your EBT card can open up a world of savings opportunities.

In this blog post, learn the details of Costco’s acceptance of food stamps, highlighting the SNAP-approved items you can buy, the restrictions in place, and tips for maximizing your benefits at Costco warehouses.

Using Your EBT Card at Costco

Costco’s acceptance of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards at its warehouse locations is a boon for SNAP recipients aiming to leverage their benefits toward bulk savings.

EBT cards, functioning similarly to a debit card, help SNAP beneficiaries shop for a wide array of SNAP-approved items, encompassing essential grocery needs like fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and more. However, it’s crucial to remember that while Costco’s aisles are filled with potential savings, there are certain limitations to EBT debit cards to keep in mind:

  • EBT Online Limitations: Your EBT card cannot be used for online purchases at, restricting SNAP beneficiaries to in-store shopping experiences only.

  • Exclusions at the Food Court and Gas Stations: A Costco food court and gas station do not accept EBT payments, aligning with SNAP’s focus on groceries and essential home supplies.

  • Non-SNAP Items: Although you can fill your cart with a variety of SNAP-approved items, EBT will not cover non-essential items such as alcohol, tobacco, pet food, and other non-SNAP products.

These guidelines ensure that SNAP benefits are directed towards nutritious and essential household items, supporting the program’s goal of enhancing food security and nutrition among eligible families.

strategic shopping with snap at costco

Strategic Shopping with SNAP at Costco

For SNAP recipients, paying the annual Costco membership fee requires careful consideration to ensure it translates into real savings. Here are several strategies to ensure your shopping trips to Costco warehouses are both cost-effective and beneficial:

  • Assessing the Membership Fee: Before investing in Costco’s $60 annual membership, evaluate if the savings on bulk purchases of SNAP-approved items like meat, dairy, and vegetables will outweigh this initial cost. You cannot use your EBT cash benefits to pay for the annual membership fee. However, cash benefits like TANF may be eligible.

  • Executive Membership Consideration: If contemplating the executive membership at $120 per year, which offers 2% back on purchases, ensure your monthly Costco spending aligns with your SNAP benefits and household budget. The key is to calculate whether these rewards genuinely offer additional savings.

  • Non-Member Shopping Strategies: Explore options to shop at Costco without a membership, such as tagging along with a member friend or family member. This approach allows you to utilize your EBT card for essential purchases without the upfront membership fee.

Incorporating these strategies can significantly enhance the value of your SNAP benefits, allowing you to enjoy Costco’s bulk savings on eligible items.

Leveraging Additional Savings While Using SNAP at Costco Warehouses

When shopping with SNAP benefits at Costco, there are additional strategies to amplify your savings, ensuring that every visit to the warehouse is as fruitful as possible:

  • Cash Back and Rewards: Even as a SNAP recipient, you can take advantage of cash-back apps and rewards programs that offer savings on purchases made at Costco. These programs can provide a percentage back on the total amount spent, which, when combined with the savings from buying in bulk, can accumulate significant savings over time.

  • Seasonal Sales and Costco Offers: Keep an eye on Costco’s seasonal sales and special offers. These can be especially beneficial for purchasing bulk items and SNAP-approved products such as dairy, meat, and vegetables at a lower cost.

  • Kirkland Signature Brand: Consider purchasing Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand items, which often come at a lower price than national brands without compromising on quality. From meat and fish to fruits and vegetables, Kirkland Signature products can offer great value and savings on your essential grocery needs.

Understanding State-Specific SNAP Guidelines at Costco

While Costco accepts SNAP benefits at warehouse locations nationwide, it’s crucial for shoppers to be aware of state-specific SNAP guidelines that may influence their shopping experience. These regional variations can affect the range of SNAP-approved items available for purchase and may include unique restrictions or allowances:

  • State Laws and SNAP Eligibility: Familiarize yourself with your state’s specific guidelines on SNAP benefits, as some states might have different eligibility criteria for certain food items, affecting what you can buy at Costco.

  • Costco’s Compliance: Costco adheres to all state laws regarding what can be purchased with an EBT card, ensuring that SNAP recipients can make the most of their benefits within the legal framework.

making every trip count

Making Every Trip Count

To ensure that your visit to Costco is both time-efficient and beneficial for stretching your maximum SNAP benefits, consider the following strategies:

  • Prepare a Shopping List: Before heading to Costco, compile a list of SNAP-approved items you need, focusing on bulk savings on essentials like meat, dairy products, and vegetables. This will help you stay on track and avoid impulse purchases.

  • Shop During Off-Peak Hours: If possible, visit Costco during off-peak hours to avoid long lines and crowded aisles, allowing you to shop more leisurely and thoughtfully.

  • Check Inventory Online: While EBT purchases must be made in-store, browsing Costco’s online inventory can help you plan your shopping trip, identify savings opportunities, and ensure the items you need are in stock.

items you need are in stock. Exploring Online Shopping and electronic benefits transfer (EBT) Restrictions

While the convenience of online shopping has become increasingly popular, it’s important for SNAP recipients to note that Costco’s online platform,, does not currently accept EBT cards as a form of payment. This limitation means that the benefits of shopping for SNAP-approved items such as dairy products, meat, vegetables, and more work online, are restricted to in-store purchases only. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Alternative Online Shopping Options: For those looking to use SNAP benefits for online grocery shopping, other retailers and platforms may accommodate EBT for online orders, including delivery and pickup services. It’s worth exploring these alternatives to maximize the convenience of your SNAP benefits.

Despite these restrictions, shopping in-store at stores and Costco still offers a wide range of opportunities for savings on bulk purchases, with the added benefit of immediate selection and the ability to inspect the quality of items firsthand.

Additional Savings for SNAP EBT Holders - FREE Cell Phone Service

If you have an EBT card, you may be eligible for FREE phone and data service through the Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Check your eligibility and apply to eliminate your phone bill today.

maximizing the benefits of shopping at costco with snap

Maximizing the Benefits of Shopping at Costco with SNAP

By understanding the ins and outs of using your EBT card at Costco, from adhering to SNAP-approved items to leveraging additional savings opportunities, you can make every dollar count.

As you plan your next trip to Costco, keep these insights in mind. With the right approach, your SNAP benefits can go further, allowing you to enjoy the abundance and savings that Costco offers while adhering to the program’s guidelines.

Join the Tens of Thousands that have already signed up for FREE Lifeline and ACP Benefits.

Free Government-Smartphone EASY Wireless