Can You Use Food Stamp at Costco? Everything You Need to Know

Are you looking to stretch your food budget? Wondering if you can use food stamps at Costco? The answer is yes! Costco is one of the few big-box stores that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps. So, if you’re a SNAP recipient, you can shop at Costco and make the most of your benefits.

But what does shopping at Costco with food stamps actually look like? Well, first of all, you need a Costco membership to enter the store. The good news is that you can use your SNAP benefits to purchase a Costco membership if you don’t already have one. Once you’re in the store, you can use your EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card to pay for eligible food items such as fresh produce, meat, dairy products, and bread. Just keep in mind that you can’t use your EBT card to pay for non-food items such as electronics, clothing, and other household items.

Using food stamps at Costco can be a game-changer for families looking to save money on groceries. Costco offers high-quality products in bulk at lower prices than many other retailers, making it an excellent choice for SNAP recipients. So, if you’re a food stamp recipient, don’t hesitate to visit Costco and take advantage of the savings. It’s a win-win situation for your wallet and your stomach.

Eligibility Requirements for Food Stamps

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, is a federal program that aims to assist low-income households by providing them with financial assistance to purchase healthy food. Eligibility is determined based on a combination of factors including income, family size, citizenship status, and expenses.

  • Income: To be eligible for food stamps, households must have a gross income that is at or below 130% of the federal poverty level. For example, in 2021, the gross monthly income limit for a household of four is $3,244, while for a household of one, it is $1,383.
  • Family Size: The larger the size of the household, the higher the income limit for eligibility. For instance, a family of four may have a higher income limit as compared to a household of one.
  • Citizenship status: Members of eligible households must be either U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for the benefits.

Once an applicant meets the eligibility requirements, they will be required to provide documentation to support their application. This documentation may include proof of income, expenses, utility costs, rent or mortgage, as well as citizenship or immigration status. After submitting an application, the eligibility and benefit amount are determined by the state agency within 30 days of the application date.

It is important to note that even after qualifying for food stamps, recipients must follow certain guidelines related to the use of benefits. They can only purchase approved food items such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, while non-food items such as tobacco, alcohol, and pet food cannot be purchased using SNAP benefits. Additionally, individuals receiving food stamps must recertify their eligibility every six months and report any changes in income or household size within ten days of the change.

In conclusion, the eligibility requirements for food stamps are designed to ensure that they reach the most vulnerable households in the community. These requirements are aimed at providing assistance to those who need it the most, while ensuring that the program is sustainable in the long-term.

How to Apply for Food Stamps

Food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federal program that helps low-income individuals and families purchase food. Applying for food stamps is relatively straightforward, and the program has the potential to make a big difference in the lives of those who need it. Here’s what you need to know about how to apply for food stamps:

  • Check Your Eligibility: Before applying, make sure you meet the eligibility criteria for food stamps. Generally, your income must be at or below 130% of the federal poverty line. You can check your eligibility on the USDA’s website or by visiting your state’s SNAP website.
  • Collect Necessary Documents: To apply, you’ll need to provide proof of income, expenses, and residency. This may include pay stubs, rent/mortgage statements, utility bills, and identification documents.
  • Submit Your Application: You can apply for food stamps online through your state’s SNAP website or in-person at your local SNAP office. If you need assistance filling out the application, you can request help from a SNAP representative.

If your application is approved, you’ll receive an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card, which is similar to a debit card. This card can be used to purchase eligible food items at participating retailers, including grocery stores and some farmers’ markets. It’s important to note that not all retailers accept SNAP benefits, so it’s a good idea to check with the store beforehand.

Overall, applying for food stamps can be a helpful step towards ensuring you and your family have access to nutritious food. If you’re unsure about your eligibility or need assistance with the application process, don’t hesitate to reach out to a SNAP representative in your area.


USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
Feeding America

Types of food stamp programs available

Food stamp programs are an essential part of the United States government’s efforts to combat hunger and food insecurity. These programs seek to provide assistance to individuals and families who are struggling to afford to put food on the table. Here are three types of food stamp programs available in the United States:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – SNAP is the largest food assistance program in the United States, serving over 40 million people. It provides beneficiaries with an electronic benefits card that can be used to buy food at authorized retailers. SNAP benefits are calculated based on a household’s income, expenses, and number of members.
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program – WIC is a federal assistance program that serves low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and young children. It provides participants with vouchers that can be used to buy nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains. WIC also offers nutrition education and healthcare referrals.
  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP) – NSLP is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritious lunches to schoolchildren. It serves over 30 million children every school day and aims to improve their health and academic performance. Eligibility for NSLP is based on household income and family size.

Can You Use Food Stamps at Costco?

Costco is one of the largest retailers in the United States, known for its bulk goods and low prices. Many people wonder if they can use their food stamps at Costco. The answer is yes – Costco is one of the retailers authorized to accept SNAP benefits.

If you are a SNAP beneficiary, you can use your EBT card to purchase eligible food items at any Costco location. However, you cannot use your EBT card to pay for membership fees or non-food items such as cigarettes, alcohol, or electronics. It’s important to note that not all Costco locations may accept EBT payments, so it’s best to confirm with your local store.

ItemEligible for SNAP
Fruits and vegetablesYes
Meat, poultry, and fishYes
Dairy productsYes
Bakery itemsYes
Prepared foodsYes, if intended for home consumption
Energy drinksNo
Vitamins and supplementsNo

Overall, food stamp programs provide crucial assistance to millions of Americans who face food insecurity. If you are a beneficiary, you can use your SNAP benefits at authorized retailers like Costco to purchase eligible food items. As always, it’s essential to follow guidelines and restrictions to avoid any issues or misuse of funds.

Approved food items for food stamp purchases

Food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can be used to purchase certain food items at authorized retailers. Costco is one of those authorized retailers that accept SNAP benefits as payment. However, not all food items sold at Costco are eligible for purchase with food stamps. It is important to be informed about what types of food you can buy with SNAP benefits at Costco. Here is a breakdown of approved food items for food stamp purchases at Costco:

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Any produce that is not hot, pre-prepared, or pre-packaged can be purchased with SNAP benefits at Costco. Examples include whole fruits and vegetables, bulk lettuce and spinach, and raw carrots and onions.
  • Meat and Poultry – Fresh and frozen meat and poultry products are SNAP-approved at Costco. Examples include chicken, beef, pork, and turkey in bulk packages or individual cuts.
  • Grains and Bread – Any type of uncooked or freshly cooked grains and bread can be purchased with SNAP benefits. Examples include whole-grain rice, beans, bread, and tortillas.

Costco also recently added an “EBT eligible” label on certain items in their store that can be purchased with SNAP benefits, making it easier for shoppers to identify eligible items. However, it is important to note that SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase non-food items like paper products, cleaning supplies, and personal care items, even if they are sold at Costco.

Take a look at the table below for a more detailed breakdown of approved food items for food stamp purchases at Costco:

Approved Food ItemsNot Approved Food Items
Fruits and vegetables (uncooked or unprepared)Hot food items
Meat and poultry (fresh or frozen)Pre-cooked or pre-packaged meals
Bread and grains (uncooked or freshly baked)Non-food items (e.g. paper products, cleaning supplies, personal care items)

By understanding what types of food items are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits at Costco, you can make the most of your assistance program to provide nutritious meals for you and your family.

Restrictions on food stamp purchases

While it is possible to use food stamps at Costco, there are some restrictions on what can be purchased. Here are the five major restrictions that customers need to be aware of:

  • Non-food items excluded: Food stamps cannot be used to purchase non-food items such as electronics, clothing, household supplies, and other non-food products.
  • Online purchases not allowed: Food stamps can only be used for in-store purchases and not for online purchases. However, customers can use their regular debit or credit cards to make online purchases.
  • No hot food items: Although Costco has a pretty extensive menu of hot food items such as pizza, hot dogs, and chicken bakes, food stamps cannot be used to purchase any of these items.
  • Certain brands excluded: Food stamps cannot be used to purchase certain brands that are considered luxury or gourmet items. These brands are usually more expensive and not considered necessities.
  • Limits on specific items: While food stamps can be used to purchase most food items, there are limits on some products such as seafood, bakery items, and snacks. These limits are in place to prevent people from using food stamps to purchase luxury items or products that are not deemed essential for a healthy diet.

Why are there restrictions on food stamp purchases?

Food stamps are designed to help low-income families and individuals purchase basic food items that are necessary for a healthy diet. The restrictions are in place to ensure that food stamp benefits are being used for their intended purpose and to prevent abuse of the program.


While there are some restrictions on food stamp purchases at Costco, the store still offers a variety of food items that are eligible for purchase with food stamps. Customers can use their food stamps to buy basic food items such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meat. By knowing the restrictions on food stamp purchases, customers can make informed purchasing decisions and get the most out of their benefits.

Food stamp eligible items at CostcoNon-food items not eligible for purchase with food stamps at Costco
Fruits and vegetablesElectronics
Dairy productsClothing
Meat and poultryHousehold supplies
Grains and breadsGourmet or luxury items

Note: This table is not exhaustive and customers should consult with their local Costco store or the USDA to determine which items are eligible for purchase with food stamps.

Benefits of using food stamps at Costco

Using food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can provide many benefits when shopping at Costco. While not all Costco stores accept food stamps, those that do can provide a wide variety of nutritious and cost-effective options. Here are some of the advantages of using food stamps at Costco:

  • Cheap and high-quality products: Costco is known for providing high-quality products at a fraction of the cost of other retailers. When shopping with food stamps, you can take advantage of the store’s bulk offerings and stock up on items that may be too expensive to buy elsewhere. This can help stretch your benefits and make your dollar go further.
  • Healthy options: With a range of fresh produce, meats, and dairy products, Costco offers many nutritious options for families on a budget. With SNAP benefits, you can purchase healthy foods that can help improve your overall well-being.
  • Convenience: Costco’s vast selection of products can save you time and money. With one-stop shopping, you can buy everything you need in one trip, instead of having to make multiple stops at different retailers. This makes it a great option for those who may not have access to a car or have limited transportation options.

Access to Costco’s Kirkland Signature Products

One of the biggest benefits of using food stamps at Costco is the access to Kirkland Signature products. These products are high-quality items that are often cheaper than other brand-name products. Kirkland Signature products are renowned for their quality and can help stretch your SNAP benefits even further.

Save on Costco Memberships

Another way food stamp recipients can benefit from shopping at Costco is by taking advantage of discounted memberships. While Costco does require a membership to shop, they offer a discounted membership for low-income households. This discounted membership applies to those who have SNAP benefits, allowing them to save even more money on their purchases.

Costco’s Hassle-Free Returns Policy

Costco’s hassle-free returns policy is another way those with food stamps can benefit from shopping at the wholesale retailer. Costco’s returns policy is known for being one of the most generous in the retail industry. This means if you purchase something with your food stamps that turns out to be faulty or not to your liking, you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked.

Cheap and high-quality productsCostco’s offerings of bulk items at a lower price than other retailers
Healthy optionsRange of fresh, nutritious foods available
ConvenienceOne-stop-shop makes shopping quick and easy
Access to Kirkland Signature productsHigh-quality products at a lower price than other brands
Discounted membershipsCostco offers a discounted membership for low-income households with SNAP benefits
Hassle-free returns policyCostco’s returns policy is known for being one of the most generous in the retail industry

Overall, shopping at Costco with food stamps can provide many benefits for those on a budget. With high-quality and cost-effective options, it can help improve the overall health and well-being of those who rely on SNAP benefits.

How to use food stamps for online purchases at Costco

Shopping for groceries has never been this easy with Costco’s online shopping platform. The retailer is known for selling items in bulk at an affordable price, making it an ideal destination for those who are subscribed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or commonly known as food stamps. Here’s what you need to know about using food stamps for online purchases at Costco.

1. Verify your eligibility

Before using food stamps for online purchases, it’s important to verify your eligibility first. You can do this by contacting your state’s SNAP enrollment office or by visiting the USDA’s website. Once verified, sign up for a Costco membership online to access the online shopping platform.

2. Add items to your cart

Browse through Costco’s website and add the items that you want to purchase to your cart. Keep in mind that not all items are eligible for purchase using food stamps, so make sure to check for the “SNAP Eligible” label on the product page.

3. Checkout using food stamps

  • During checkout, select “Pay with EBT” as your payment method.
  • Enter your EBT card information on the payment page.
  • For orders that require shipping, make sure to add your shipping address and select a shipping method before submitting your order.

4. Wait for your order to arrive

After you’ve successfully placed your order, wait for it to arrive at your doorstep within the delivery window provided by Costco. It’s important to note that food stamps cannot be used to pay for delivery fees, membership fees, or taxes.

5. Keep track of your remaining balance


Make sure to keep track of your remaining balance on your EBT card, as you can only use food stamps for eligible items. You can check your balance by contacting your state’s EBT customer service or by visiting their website.

Using food stamps for online purchases at Costco is a convenient and practical way to shop for groceries. Make sure to follow these steps to maximize the benefits of the SNAP program and enjoy shopping for your household essentials.

Other retailers that accept food stamps

While Costco is a popular choice for many food stamp recipients, it’s not the only retailer that accepts SNAP benefits. There are plenty of other options available for those looking to stretch their food budget further. Here are some of the other retailers that accept food stamps:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Kroger
  • Aldi
  • Whole Foods
  • Safeway
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Publix

Each of these retailers has its own selection of affordable options that can help SNAP beneficiaries save money while still getting the groceries they need. Some also offer additional discounts or rewards programs that can make shopping even more cost-effective.

If you’re not sure which retailers in your area accept SNAP benefits, you can visit the USDA’s website to search for authorized retailers by zip code. This can help you narrow down your options and find the stores that are most convenient for you to shop at.

Additional Resources for Food Stamp Recipients

In addition to shopping at retailers that accept SNAP benefits, there are several other resources available for food stamp recipients. These include:

  • The National Hunger Hotline
  • Food banks and pantries
  • Community gardens and farmers markets

These resources can help you access healthy, affordable food and supplement your SNAP benefits when needed. They can also provide invaluable support and guidance as you navigate the difficult task of feeding yourself and your family on a limited budget.

The National Hunger HotlineA confidential hotline that can connect you with food assistance programs and other resources in your area.
Food banks and pantriesOrganizations that provide free groceries and meals to low-income individuals and families.
Community gardens and farmers marketsPlaces to access fresh, healthy produce at lower prices than traditional grocery stores.

By using these resources in conjunction with SNAP benefits, you can improve your overall food security and ensure that you and your family always have access to the healthy, nutritious food you need.

Impact of Food Stamp Programs on Poverty Reduction

Food stamp programs, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), have been a hot topic for debate for many years. However, there is no denying that these programs have a significant impact on poverty reduction in the United States. Here, we take a closer look at the numbers and the ways in which SNAP helps reduce poverty.

  • In 2019, SNAP lifted an estimated 3.1 million people out of poverty.
  • SNAP is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program, serving more than 36 million Americans in 2020.
  • 63% of SNAP participants are families with children.

The statistics show that SNAP has a critical role in reducing poverty levels in the country. The program provides crucial assistance to vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, and those with disabilities, who are more likely to experience poverty and food insecurity.

Furthermore, SNAP provides assistance that is useful in stimulating local economies. According to the USDA, every $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.50 in economic activity. This is because the program puts money into the hands of people who use it to purchase food, which helps to boost the demand for products sold by local grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Not only does this help individuals and families who use SNAP benefits, but it also helps businesses in the surrounding communities.

YearAverage Monthly ParticipationCost (in billions)
202036.0 million$68.2 billion
201936.0 million$56.5 billion
201840.3 million$63.7 billion

Overall, SNAP has proven to be a vital program in reducing poverty and food insecurity for millions of Americans. It not only provides necessary assistance to those in need but also helps stimulate local economies. At a time when so many people are struggling, these programs play an essential role in providing much-needed support.

Criticisms and Controversies Surrounding Food Stamp Programs

Food stamp programs have been a point of controversy in the United States since their inception in the 1960s. Despite the programs’ widespread availability and proven success in alleviating hunger and poverty, there are ongoing criticisms and debates surrounding their implementation and funding. This article will explore some of the most commonly cited criticisms of food stamp programs.

  • Misuse and fraud: One of the most significant criticisms of food stamp programs is the potential for misuse and fraud. Some believe that food stamps are commonly traded for cash, used to purchase non-food items, or obtained fraudulently. While instances of fraud do occur, studies have shown that they are relatively rare. According to the USDA’s most recent estimates, the rate of trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the largest food stamp program, was just 1.5% in 2019.
  • Dependency: Critics argue that food stamp programs create a culture of dependency and discourage individuals from seeking employment or pursuing self-sufficiency. However, research has shown that the vast majority of food stamp participants are employed or actively seeking employment, and many are unable to find work that pays a living wage. Food stamp benefits are intended to supplement a household’s income and help bridge the gap between low wages and basic needs, not act as a long-term solution.
  • Economic cost: Some argue that food stamp programs are too expensive and strain the country’s budget. However, food stamp programs make up only a small fraction of the federal budget, and research has shown that they actually stimulate economic growth by putting money directly into the hands of low-income households who are likely to spend it immediately and locally.
  • Stigma: Food stamp programs have long been stigmatized, with those who use them often labeled as lazy or undeserving. This stigma can deter eligible individuals from applying for benefits, leading to underutilization of the program. Additionally, the low benefit amount provided by food stamp programs can make it difficult for recipients to afford healthy, nutritious food, leading to further health disparities and inequalities.


While food stamp programs have faced ongoing criticism and controversy, it is important to recognize their role in alleviating hunger and poverty and promoting overall health and well-being. While improvements can and should be made to the implementation and funding of these programs, they remain a vital lifeline for millions of low-income individuals and families across the United States.

Number of participants (2020)42 million6 million
Average benefit per person per month$133.08$40.24
Total cost (2019)$64.8 billion$5.9 billion

Sources: USDA, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Can You Use Food Stamps at Costco? FAQs

1. Can I use my EBT card at Costco?

Yes, you can use your EBT or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) card to buy food and groceries at Costco.

2. What items can I buy with my EBT card at Costco?

You can buy any food item that meets the program’s eligibility criteria, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, bread, and cereals. You can also buy plants and seeds to grow food, but you cannot buy non-food items like clothing, electronics, or household supplies with your EBT card.

3. Do all Costcos accept EBT cards?

Yes, all Costco warehouses in the United States accept EBT cards as payment for eligible food items.

4. Can I use my EBT card to buy food online at Costco?

No, currently, Costco only accepts EBT cards as payment for food items purchased in-store.

5. Can I use my EBT card to buy food at Costco’s food court?

Yes, you can use your EBT card to buy food at Costco’s food court, but only for eligible food items.

6. Can I use my EBT card to pay for Costco membership fees?

No, EBT cards cannot be used to pay for membership fees at Costco or any other retailer.

7. How do I know if an item is eligible for EBT payment at Costco?

All eligible items will be labeled with the “SNAP” logo or an “EBT” label at Costco’s store shelves.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading this article on using your EBT card at Costco. With EBT acceptance, Costco provides a great way for those in need to shop for groceries and food in bulk. Remember to look for the “SNAP” logo or “EBT” label to ensure your items are eligible for EBT payment. We hope you visit us again soon for more helpful information!