If you receive EBT cash assistance, you qualify for tens of thousands of items on Amazon, discounted Prime and access to thousands of free TV shows and movies.
Benefits include qualifying food purchases through Amazon, Amazon Fresh, or Amazon’s partnership with Whole Foods Market.
SNAP recipients also pay just $6.99 per month for a Prime membership (compared to the regular price of $14.99), which gives you access to free 1- or 2-day shipping on millions of eligible items (not just SNAP-eligible items).
We’ll talk later about a few ways you can still use your cash assistance on Amazon.
Keep reading to learn:
- What you can buy with Amazon EBT
- How to use EBT benefits on Amazon
- How EBT works with Amazon Prime — including free movies and shows
- How EBT works with Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh
- Tips to make the most of your EBT benefits on Amazon
What can you buy from Amazon with EBT (food and non-food eligible items)?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly one third of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients use someone else's car, walk, bike, or take public transit to get to the grocery store.1
But Amazon is more than just convenient. If you receive SNAP benefits on an EBT card, you can choose from thousands of food items from Amazon not found at your local store — including luxury goods and pantry staples, for which there are more than 188 pages of results for SNAP-eligible foods.
On Amazon, you can use your EBT card to pay for:
- Meat and fish
- Dairy products
- Canned items
- Pantry staples (like flour and sugar)
- Non-alcoholic drinks
- Seeds and plants to grow food
- Baby food and formula
Prices on these items are comparable to what you’d find in a grocery store, and in some cases come at a lower price.
For example, I compared the prices of three SNAP-eligible items on Amazon vs. how much they cost at my local Giant Eagle grocery store (located throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana):
A family pack of Mott’s Assorted Fruit flavored snacks cost $9.99 at Giant Eagle and $7.58 on Amazon:
A pack of organic boneless chicken thighs cost $6.99 per pound at Giant Eagle and are the same price per pound through Whole Foods on Amazon:
An 18-ounce box of Post Honey Bunches of Oats cereal costs $5.99 at Giant Eagle and $3.79 on Amazon:
Of course, there are cases where items purchased on Amazon are more expensive, especially those offered through Whole Foods Market, which has a reputation for its high prices. However, a 2019 note published by investment bank Morgan Stanley2 found that prices at Whole Foods had fallen nearly 7% since Amazon’s acquisition.
Organic bananas were $0.49 more per pound through Amazon:
If you receive TANF benefits, you currently cannot use your EBT card to directly pay for items on Amazon. That means the only items you can purchase with an EBT card on Amazon are food items.
However, there are three ways you can pay for other items with EBT cash on Amazon:
- Take out cash to buy an Amazon gift card in store
- Load cash funds directly to your Amazon gift card balance at participating stores
- Use Amazon’s PayCode feature to reserve an order and pay cash later
How to use EBT benefits with Amazon
To use your EBT benefits with Amazon, you must have a valid Amazon account. Note that Amazon business accounts aren’t eligible3 — only personal accounts.
If you receive EBT cash assistance, also known as Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF), you also qualify for a discounted Prime membership and a free 30-day trail but cannot directly use your EBT card to buy non-food items on Amazon.
- Start by going to Amazon’s EBT page and click the button that says “Add your SNAP EBT card.”
- From there, you can add your EBT card number to your account and start adding approved items to your cart. You can either shop directly from Amazon’s EBT page, or you can search for specific items to see if they are categorized as “SNAP-eligible purchases.”
- When you’re ready to purchase the items in your cart, you’ll be prompted to enter your EBT pin number to place your order.
Amazon delivers nationwide and has free shipping for orders over $35, or you can get free two-day shipping with an Amazon Prime membership.
SNAP and TANF recipients can get a discounted Prime membership for $6.99 per month (regular price $14.99 per month) — a 53% discount.4
You can also qualify if you show proof of enrollment in any of these government assistance programs:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Direct Express Prepaid Debit Card
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
- National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC)
- Puerto Rico's Nutrition Assistance Program card (Tarjeta de la Familia)
For each of these programs, you must upload either a photo of your eligibility letter and/or your EBT card to receive discounted pricing.
Paying with cash on Amazon
To load cash funds onto your Amazon account, you can either purchase a gift card in any store that sells them or visit a participating retailer to load EBT cash funds directly to your account.
Here’s how it works:
2. Search for a participating Amazon Cash retailer. Each location will indicate whether you need to scan a barcode to load cash or whether you can provide your phone number to access your account (some locations offer both).
2. Click on the location to access your unique barcode and either print it out or send it to your phone.
3. At the store, ask the cashier to scan your barcode, or provide your phone number and ask to add Amazon Cash to your account. You can add any amount between $5 and $500.5 Some locations may have a kiosk or ATM to add Amazon funds.
4. When you shop on Amazon.com, use your gift card balance to pay for the items you need.
Using PayCode on Amazon
PayCode allows you to place an order on Amazon, then pay for it in cash at a participating Western Union banking location.
At checkout, you’ll be given a barcode, which you’ll have to show along with a valid ID at the PayCode location. Once you’ve paid for your items, Amazon will ship them to you.
How does EBT work with Amazon Prime?
An Amazon Prime membership gives members access to free one or two-day shipping on millions of eligible items, unlimited free streaming of online movies, TV shows, and music, and some exclusive deals and discounts.
There are thousands of free titles available on Amazon Prime video, including new releases like “Renfield” and classic favorites like “The Breakfast Club.”
Plus, you can watch Emmy-winning Amazon originals like “Fleabag” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
If you receive SNAP or TANF benefits on an EBT card, you can get a discounted Amazon Prime membership for $6.99 per month (normally $14.99 per month).
Even if you’ve uploaded your EBT card as proof that you receive government benefits, you will still need to add your EBT card to your Amazon account and enter your PIN to submit an order online.
How does EBT work with Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh?
Amazon offers a variety of grocery items through Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods, which it acquired in 2017.6 Amazon Fresh is available to Prime and non-Prime members,7 while Whole Foods is only available to Prime members, though Amazon has announced this will soon change.
These are some differences between the grocery services7:
|Amazon Fresh||Whole Foods|
|Availability||Available in 42 cities across eight states and Washington D.C.: California, Illinois, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, New Jersey; Available for Prime and non-Prime members||Available in select cities nationwide for Prime members only; non-perishable items can be shipped anywhere in the U.S.|
|What they sell||Offers many recognizable name-brand products from local grocery stores and local Amazon warehouses||Offers foods available at local Whole Foods Markets, which are mostly natural and organic (and typically come at a higher price point); Prime members get 10% off sale items|
|Delivery fees||Prime member/EBT orders: $9.95 for orders under $50$6.95 for orders between $50 and $100Free for orders over $100 and pickups|
Non-Prime orders:$13.95 for orders under $50$10.95 for orders between $50 and $100$7.95 for orders over $100Free pickup orders
|$9.95 minimum delivery feeFree pickup on orders of any size|
|Delivery window||Delivery within 1-2 hours for Prime members, or within 5 hours for those without Prime||2-hour delivery window, with rush options available for an additional fee|
With both delivery options, it’s customary to leave a tip for the delivery driver at checkout, which unfortunately cannot be paid out from your EBT card funds. You’ll either have to tip with another credit card or pay cash upon delivery.
In addition to its partnership with Whole Foods, Amazon also offers delivery through the following retailers in select areas. Shopping is done directly through the Amazon website or app:
- Bristol Farms
- Cardenas Markets
- Weis Markets
- Save Mart
Tips for making the most of your EBT card on Amazon
If you want to use your EBT card on Amazon, these are some tips to save money and increase your spending power:
1. Consider paying for Amazon Prime
If you’re going to be purchasing SNAP-eligible items on Amazon often, consider getting a Prime membership, which costs $6.99 per month for EBT cardholders — more than half off the regular price. A Prime membership gets you:
- Free 2-day shipping on most items (some items qualify for 1-day shipping)
- Access to Amazon Prime streaming for TV shows and movies, many of which are free
- Exclusive discounts (including 10% off Whole Foods products on sale)
Without a Prime membership, you have to spend a minimum of $35 to get free shipping, and orders can take five to eight days to be delivered once all of your items are available to ship.8 Shipping costs are not covered until EBT benefits.
2. Filter your search for SNAP-eligible foods
If you’re looking for a specific food item on Amazon, you can search for it and see which options are labeled as SNAP eligible. However, if you need to stock up on a lot of groceries, Amazon offers a search page of only SNAP-eligible groceries.
3. Buy items in bulk
Buying in bulk can save you money on non-perishable items. If you search for “bulk EBT food” on Amazon, these are some options you’ll find:
4. Read product descriptions
Sometimes Amazon product images can be misleading. Make sure you carefully read the item’s description to make sure you know what quantity/size food items you’re purchasing.
5. Compare brand pricing
Just like you would at the grocery store, shop around for different product listings to find the best price.
6. Use cash-back apps to earn Amazon gift card money
This Reddit user says she uses the rewards she earns on apps like Ibotta and Shopkick to buy Amazon gift cards:
You can also take surveys or complete short tasks online to earn free Amazon gift cards that you can load onto your account.
What are cool things you can buy on Amazon with EBT?
In addition to staple groceries, there are a few cool and lesser-known things you can buy on Amazon with EBT, including items you can use as gifts, or luxury treats for yourself. Here are a few examples:
Planter kits like this organic tomato windowsill planter kit, which includes everything you need to start your own indoor tomato plant:
This Reddit user claims that while most seeds and produce plants are eligible, you typically have to pay for the rest of the supplies out of pocket (soil, planter, fertilizer, etc.):
- Energy drinks
- Cake decorating items like edible airbrush paint color and food coloring
- Emergency food kit supply
Some gift baskets on Amazon are also available to purchase with EBT, so long as the basket is mainly food-based.
These Reddit users shared some more items they like to buy with their EBT cards on Amazon, including holiday gifts, spice rack and a coffee maker:
Check out these other free resources for low-income families:
|Help for single moms: 16+ resources||$500 monthly single mom grant|
|Free Christmas gifts||Free clothes|
|Free laptop||Free gift cards|
|Free bus passes||Free formula|
|Free baby stuff||Free car|
|Free daycare||Free preschool|
- “National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey,” May 24, 2023. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/foodaps-national-household-food-acquisition-and-purchase-survey/
- “Whole Foods Cut Prices. It Saved Us 5 Cents,” April 3, 2019. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/03/technology/whole-foods-prices.html
- “Shop with SNAP EBT on Amazon,” Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/snap/register?ref=omps_new_promo_lp_ing_en
- “Prime Access,” Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/58f8026f-0658-47d0-9752-f6fa2c69b2e2/qualify
- “What is Amazon Cash?” Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=14583169011
- “Amazon bought Whole Foods five years ago for $13.7 billion. Here’s what’s changed at the high-end grocer,” Aug. 25, 2022. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/25/how-whole-foods-has-changed-in-the-five-years-since-amazon-took-over.html
- “Amazon begins offering grocery delivery for customers who are not Prime members,” Aug. 2, 2023. Associated Press. https://apnews.com/article/amazon-fresh-prime-delivery-nonprime-b66d4475b321988f99dfce34519187ed
- “How are Shipping and Delivery Dates Calculated?” Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GV8H5D3MMAR7JBLF