Grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and other retailers that sell food products have the option to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (also known as SNAP benefits, or “food stamps”) from customers as payment for approved items. SNAP benefits allow access to sufficient nutrition for individuals and families who qualify for the program by providing them with an EBT card which can be used instead of more traditional payment methods such as cash, personal check, or credit/debit cards. These are some of the advantages of accepting SNAP benefits as well as what you need to know to start processing EBT payments.
EBT Payment Processing/SNAP Processing Basics
EBT, or Electronic Benefit Transfer, is a program in the United States that allows for the transfer of government funds to pay for pre-approved food items and other necessities. While EBT can be used for welfare payments, it's most commonly used as an extension of the food stamp program. Accepting EBT as a payment method can help you grow your business and serve all members of your community.
Benefits of Participating in EBT/SNAP Benefits Processing
There are many benefits of accepting EBT/SNAP payments. Merchants that participate in these programs can offer their customers:
- A more inclusive environment. Accepting EBT/SNAP benefits allows more people in your community to have access to a wider variety of nutritious foods.
- Added convenience. In-store transactions with EBT cards are faster than other forms of payment, including traditional food stamps.
- Greater confidentiality. EBT cards operate the same as a debit card where users swipe their card and input their own personalized PIN. They cannot be distinguished as "food stamps cards" by the average person, helping your customers avoid stigma and feel more comfortable during their shopping experience.
- Increased security. Using an EBT card is more secure than carrying cash, checks, or even some credit and debit cards because a PIN is required for use. An EBT card cannot be used like a credit card where users can sign for purchase so the card can only be used by individuals with the PIN.
Accepting EBT/SNAP benefits can grow your business by opening your doors to more people in your community. Customers who may have chosen to shop elsewhere can now shop with you instead.
Getting Set Up for EBT Processing
Getting started with EBT payment processing can be involved. You'll need to:
- Apply for an FNS permit. An FNS permit is issued by the Food and Nutrition Service to establishments when they begin accepting EBT payments. It contains a unique 7-digit number that identifies your business to the FNS. The permit also allows the FNS to monitor your sales to ensure that you are adhering to program guidelines.
- Obtain a merchant account with a merchant services provider that offers EBT processing. Not all merchant services providers offer EBT/SNAP payment processing. If you've recently started accepting EBT cards, check with your current merchant services provider to find out if you can add EBT/SNAP payments. If not, you may need to consider working with a new provider who accepts more forms of payment.
- Obtain an electronic reader or point-of-sale (POS) terminal that accepts EBT payments. After obtaining the permit and working with a merchant services provider that accepts EBT, you'll need the hardware that can read the cards. Your current credit card processing machine may accept EBT cards if it's relatively new, but many standard credit card machines do not process these types of payments.
Contact BankCard Services Today
BankCard Services specializes in EBT processing, SNAP processing, and more. We offer free payment processing equipment for you to use, simple flat-rate pricing, and 24/7 support whenever you need it. With BankCard Services, accepting EBT/SNAP doesn't have to be a hassle! We're dedicated to providing our customers with affordable, comprehensive merchant services for a variety of different payment types. Contact us today for your EBT processing needs!