Electronic benefit transfer (EBT) overview

United States


Electronic benefit transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows state welfare departments to issue benefits using a magnetically encoded payment card used in the United States. EBT cards are issued by each US state. All EBT cards are magstripe only, function like a debit card, and always require a personal identification number (PIN). The entire EBT system must be online to process an EBT transaction.

Types of EBT programs

EBT Food or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) accountsClover must manually enable the EBT Food benefit for a merchant in the sandbox environment.

Cardholders can:
- Use EBT Food to pay for qualifying food purchases and check their account balance.
- Swipe and also enter card manually.

Merchants can process a refund only to a cardholder's EBT Food account.
- Refunds in cash are not permitted.
- Cash back is not permitted.

If the EBT system is down at the time of purchase, Clover does not provide a way for the merchant to complete and record the transaction using a manual voucher.
EBT Cash accountsCardholders can:
- Use EBT Cash to pay for merchandise.
- Check their account balance.
- Swipe card for payment; manual card entry is not supported.

Merchants can process refunds in cash or store credit (including merchant gift cards).
- Refunds cannot be made directly to the EBT Cash account.
- Cash back with a purchase and cash withdrawals are not currently supported by Clover.