Does Costco Take EBT? (Yes, Here’s What You Need to Know)

This page contains compensated links. Read the disclosure for more info

Costco is a membership-only warehouse club that offers a variety of items, including clothing, electronics, and household goods. It’s known as one of the best retailers for saving money on groceries and other household items.

But does Costco take EBT? The answer is yes! Luckily, you can get even deeper discounts as a member at Costco if you have an EBT card and it is accepted at all Costco locations nationwide.

A hand holding EBT card in front of Costco wholesale.

Here’s everything you need to know about using your EBT card at Costco, what items you can and can’t purchase with it, and other ways you can save at this popular retailer.

Can I Use EBT Food Stamps at Costco?

If you have an EBT card and a Costco membership, you can use it to purchase food items at Costco.

This includes items such as meat, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, beverages, and even some prepared foods.

Here is a complete list of SNAP-eligible foods you can purchase with your EBT card:

  • Canned, frozen, or fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Snacks such as crackers, chips, and dips
  • Candy, ice cream, and other dessert items
  • Poultry products, frozen or fresh
  • Red meat such as steak, pork, and ribs
  • Eggs
  • Cooking oils and vinegar
  • Grains, seeds, bread, cereals, and granola
  • Cold prepared foods and deli meats and cheeses
  • Yogurt, milk, sour cream, creamer, and other dairy products
  • Bacon, sausage, and other breakfast meats
  • Canned or jarred sauces, gravies, and salad dressings
  • Coffee, tea, and other hot beverages
  • Juice, soft drinks, and sparkling water
  • Fresh and frozen seafood such as shrimp, fish, and crab
  • Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise
  • Protein powders and fiber supplements
  • Bagged ice and water

Most cold or frozen food in Costco stores is eligible for purchase with an EBT card. This includes frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, ice cream, and more.

What Items Cannot Be Purchased With EBT At Costco?

There are a few restrictions on what you can buy with your EBT card at Costco. The following items cannot be purchased with food stamps:

Items at Costco Online

Unfortunately, Costco isn’t authorized to accept EBT payments when you order online. This means that if you’re using popular delivery services such as Instacart or Shipt, you’ll need to use a different form of payment.

Perhaps someday COSTCO will join the USDA EBT program that allows for online SNAP purchases, but for now, you’ll need to shop in person if you want to use your EBT card.

Alcohol or Tobacco Products

As with all other retailers, you cannot purchase alcohol or tobacco products with your EBT card.

This includes cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, and all other tobacco products.

Prescription Medications

You also can’t use your EBT card to purchase prescription medications at Costco.

You’ll have better luck with other programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, which often have partial or complete financial assistance for those who can’t afford their prescriptions.

Costco Membership Fees or Renewals

Costco membership

Unfortunately, you will have to pay with cash if you want to join Costco. However, after paying the annual fee for a Costco membership, you will have access to thousands of items that are covered by your EBT card.

Cleaning Supplies and Laundry Detergent

Cleaning supplies and laundry detergent are not eligible for purchase with EBT food stamps. However, you may be able to find some discounts on these items if you’re a Costco member.

Gift Cards

Costco sells a variety of gift cards, but you cannot purchase them with your EBT card. So if you’re looking to give the gift of Costco, you’ll need to use a different form of payment.

Pet Foods

Since pet food isn’t considered an essential item, you won’t be able to purchase it with your EBT card. This includes both dog and cat food as well as treats or accessories.

Hot Food

In general, EBT can’t be used to purchase hot food that is ready to eat. This includes items such as rotisserie chicken, hot sandwiches, pizza, prepared chicken, and more.

Costco Gas Stations

Costco gas station with cars having refills

If you have a Costco membership, you can save money on gas at their gas stations.

In fact, you’ll save an average of $0.20 per gallon when compared to other major retailers such as Shell and Chevron. However, you can’t get gas for free by using your EBT card.

Clothing, Jewelry, or Home Goods

Since the EBT card only covers food items, you won’t be able to purchase any clothing, jewelry, or home goods with your food stamps. You can’t use your EBT card for feminine products or toiletries either, only approved food items.

Costco Vacations

Since EBT cards are meant for essential food items, you won’t be able to use them to book a vacation through Costco. However, their vacation platform could provide affordable packages for families seeking budget travel who are willing to pay with cash.

Can I Use my SNAP Benefits at the Costco Food Court?

No, Costco food court purchases aren’t eligible for payment with an EBT card, because SNAP doesn’t allow for hot food or prepared food purchases as a general rule.

If you happen to have the Restaurant Meals Program, you may be able to purchase hot food on top of the normal items available through the SNAP program.

The elderly, housing displaced individuals, and those with disabilities who can’t prepare meals on their own may qualify for this additional welfare benefit.

Those who receive the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefit, also known as TANF, may also be able to use their benefits at the food court in some states.

You’ll need to use a Quest ATM, which is a specialized debit card, to take out cash and use your TANF benefits at the food court.

How to Use EBT Cards at Costco Warehouses

To use your EBT card at Costco, bring your items to the checkout lane as usual. You can use your card just as you would at your local grocery store if you were shopping with a debit card.

All items that are eligible for government benefits will be deducted from your account. If you have any additional non-food items or ineligible grocery items, there will be a remaining balance.

You can go ahead and use cash, a check, a debit card, or a credit card to pay for these remaining items.

You’ll be able to see your remaining government assistance stipend at the bottom of your Cosco receipt so you know how much you have left to spend for the month.

Can I Use Self-Checkout at Costco with my EBT Card?

Inside Costco where people are paying in self check out area

Yes, you can use EBT cards at any self-checkout counters available at your local Costco store.

This is ideal for those who want to be discreet about their EBT benefits or for those who want a quicker, straightforward checkout process.

The card will work exactly the same as it would at a regular checkout lane, and you’ll be able to purchase any eligible items without issue.

And if you need assistance, an associate is usually nearby to lend a helping hand.

Can I Use WIC at Costco?

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federally funded program that provides low-income mothers and their children with access to healthy food.

WIC benefits include vouchers that can be used at participating stores, including Costco, to purchase specific food items.

Unfortunately, Costco warehouse locations aren’t approved to accept WIC benefits. So you will have to do your WIC shopping at a local grocery store that is eligible for the program.

Can I Use Calfresh at Costco?

The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is a welfare program that provides cash assistance and support services to low-income families with children.

Calfresh is a supplemental nutrition program that is run through the CalWORKs program. It provides eligible CalWORKs families with benefits that can be used to purchase food items at participating stores, including Costco.

Luckily, all Costco warehouses in California are authorized to accept Calfresh benefits. This program is connected to the SNAP program and registers at Costco stores through the same EBT card system.

Can I Use My EBT Card at Costco Business Center?

The Costco Business Center is a store that is specifically tailored to businesses and commercial customers. It offers many items, including office supplies, technology, food, and beverages.

The Costco Business Center does accept EBT cards as payment. However, the items that are available for purchase with an EBT card may be limited.

You’ll be able to purchase food, beverages, and some food-related office supplies with your EBT card, but you won’t be able to purchase any technological products or other large-scale office supplies.

What About Making Returns With My Snap Benefits?

Costco is happy to accept returns for any items that were purchased using SNAP benefits. However, the store will not give you cash back for these returned items.

Instead, they will provide you with a store credit that can be used to purchase other eligible items in the future or a refund to your EBT account.

Other Ways to Save At Costco

While Costco accepts EBT cards and you can reap significant SNAP benefits, it’s not the only way to save money at Costco warehouse stores. Here are some other great ways to get the most out of your Costco membership:

1. Take Advantage of the Free Samples

This is a great way to try new products without committing to purchasing an entire bottle or package.

Especially on the weekends, there are plenty of options available and it’s a great way to save some money on your grocery bill and practically get a free light lunch during your visit.

2. Take Advantage of Free Health Screenings

There’s often a nurse or doctor on-site providing free health screenings, which can be helpful if you don’t have insurance.

These screenings can help catch any potential health concerns early on.

In addition, Costco also offers other free services like blood pressure and glucose testing. Take advantage of these services to keep your health in check and save some money on your healthcare.

3. Use Costco’s 90 Day Return Policy

Since Costco sells in bulk, if you buy something that you don’t need, it can be a lot of wasted money. Luckily, Costco has a very generous return policy of up to 90 days.

This means that if you accidentally buy too much of something or do not like a product, you can return it and get your money back with no questions asked.

This policy is one of the many ways that Costco protects its members and helps them save money.

4. Sign up for the Costco Anywhere Visa Credit Card

An online website for Costco visa

This credit card offers several great benefits that can help you save money both at Costco and outside of the store.

For starters, you’ll get 4% cash back on all of your Costco purchases, as well as gas, travel, and restaurants.

In addition, the card doesn’t have an annual fee. So if you pay it off in full each month, there’s no cost for these added discounts.

5. Check out the Costco Ads Before Shopping

The Costco ads come out a few times per month and detail all of the current sales and discounts.

This can be a great way to plan your shopping trip in advance and make sure you’re getting the best deals on the items you need.

Additionally, many of these sales are also available online, so if you can’t make it into the store, you can still take advantage of the discounted prices.

The Bottom Line: Does Costco Take EBT?

If you want to use your SNAP benefits at Costco, you’re in luck because Costco accepts EBT at all locations.

Make sure you know which items qualify for purchase with your EBT card, and take advantage of other great ways to save money at Costco warehouse stores.

Do you have any tips for using SNAP benefits at Costco? Let us know in the comments below! 

Related: Does Target Take EBT? What You Need to Know

Image showing Costco wholesale with text overlay that reads Does Costco Take EBT

About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.