Using Your EBT Card to Get Food Stamps and TANF
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions about using your card, see if we've posted the answer here.
Where can I use my card?
Stores will be posting signs with the "Quest" card logo. In the lower left hand corner, these signs will display a simple "food stamps" logo, a dollar sign ($), or both. This indicates whether that store will let you use your card as payment for food (from your food stamp account), other items (from your TANF account), or both. On the sample sign here, there are two small logos. A store displaying this sign would accept your card to buy both food and other items.
What can I buy with my EBT card?
You can buy food for the household to eat. This includes everything from breads to seeds and plants which will produce food. You cannot use your EBT card to buy hot foods, alcohol, cigarettes, pet food, paper products, medicine, or household supplies. Here is more information about what you can and cannot buy with your EBT card.
Why is it so important not to let anyone have my card or my PIN number?
If someone else uses your card, you lose. So, it is important to protect your card, and your PIN, as if they were cash. Also, never write your PIN number on your card. If you lose your card, someone then has both your card and your PIN.
If you lose your card or need to change your PIN, call 1-800-477-7428.
How can I get cash?
Assuming that you get cash benefits (e.g. TANF), some stores will let you get cash back above the cost of your purchase. Some stores will allow a cash withdrawal without a purchase. The store policy controls. Hannaford and Shaws, for example, will allow up to $200 cash withdrawal per day, when you make a purchase.
You can also make ATM withdrawals. You will have two free ATM withdrawals per month at ATM's that do not surcharge. Each extra ATM use will cost you 65 cents.
How can I avoid surcharges?
Many locations do not have surcharges. For example in York and Cumberland County, 385 out of 560 locations were surcharge free (at the beginning of the program). So to avoid surcharges, shop around. Also, remember that after two ATM withdrawals in one month, you will be charged 65 cents for each additional withdrawal.
Can I make a food stamps purchase and a cash purchase at the same time?
Yes, assuming that store accepts use of the card for both. However, you have to swipe the card and enter your PIN twice. This will be two separate transactions.
What if I run into problems trying to use my card?
Call the toll-free Customer Service Number 1-800-477-7428 at any time, day or night. Have your card ready. You are asked to enter your card number, to get past the computerized answering service.
Can I use my card if I am out of state?
Can I still use my food stamp benefits at the local farmer's market?
Yes. Farmers markets can still accept food stamps by using paper vouchers.
More details about using your EBT card:
- Maine Equal Justice Partners
- Maine Pine Tree card website
- Federal Food and Nutirtional Services (USDA)
Updated March 2009
PTLA # 733