If you qualify for EBT/SNAP or WIC, you may be entitled to these low-income perks and not even know it. You can even get free stuff with food stamps! Read on to see what extra benefits you may qualify for.
Having used food stamp benefits and WIC I personally understand the struggle of trying to make a grocery budget stretch. It makes life a little easier when you would otherwise have no money for food.
Being able to count on this small amount of financial help every month really does make a difference in managing your money and monthly budgets. Getting discounts with EBT cards, or freebies with WIC can help to stretch your thin budgets and give you more social life.
Unfortunately, not everyone receiving these benefits are informed of the extra benefits that it entitles them to. So besides helping you to cut costs on your groceries, by not needing to pay out of pocket- I’m going to share other awesome ways your low-income status can be used to help cut costs on other purchases.
Sometimes you just need a little help making the pile of bills smaller, so your shovel can actually have an impact. I totally get it! I know what it’s like to try and pay off debt when behind on bills. It’s stressful and leads to a lot of sleepless nights wondering where the money is going to come from.
Circumstances are different for everyone, but when the debt to income ratio is off and you are working yourself to the bone trying to make ends meet, it’s nice to trim your expenses everywhere possible.
Bringing in extra money through side hustles or phone apps can help strengthen your shovel, but the combination of cutting costs and adding more money in your pocket is what helps to make an actual dent in the situation.
[Tip:] Sign up for Trim, it’s a program that helps to cut costs and negotiate lower payments on your monthly bills.
What are EBT and WIC?
An EBT is an electronic benefits transfer card (much like a prepaid debit card) where the government supplies it with a pre-determined set amount of money to be used towards food and other products within the set guidelines of the benefits.
For example, SNAP (formerly food stamps) is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The money placed onto an EBT card for the purpose of SNAP is to be used for foods and consumables by the cardholder and the family registered to the card.
It’s a program designed for low-income families or people that have a monthly gross income of 130% of the federal poverty level, or lower.
[Related] See how statistics show this program helps the overall economy of America.
WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. It’s a federal assistance program for low-income women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or children from birth to age 5 years.
To qualify for either of these programs, you need to be considered low income and meet the specific qualifications in place.
While each state may vary and some benefits may not be in your location, there are several “perks” of being an EBT or WIC user that you may not know about.
It’s worth looking into these programs and opportunities, as they can help to stretch your budget and alleviate some of the financial strain.
Perks and Benefits for WIC and EBT users
Free or discounted museum entry
A lot of museums have free admission with an EBT card.
In almost every state, there is some form of museum attraction that is discounted or free for EBT and WIC users with proof. Showing your card or pamphlet with your name on it should suffice as proper validation.
Getting free admission with EBT card is a great way to experience an educational and fun day out of the house without cost. This is also really handy in the summer because it is so hot outside, and museums normally have decent air conditioning! Check out Museums For All for more information on discounted museums.
[Example] Oregon Zoo offers $5 entry, up to 6 tickets in one visit or transaction.
[Related] Find a museum offering these deals, near you. There’s over 300 on the list!
Discount Internet Services
Please note: These are not available in EVERY state, locations DO vary! Check with your provider of choice to see if your area is participating.
AT&T offers several programs ranging between $5 and $10 per month. When you sign up, they choose the program with the highest/fastest internet service in your area. You don’t get to choose which program you are placed into. Still better than $80 per month though, am I right?
You also get a free WI-FI router and free access to AT&T hotspots. There are DATA limits though, either 150 GB or 1 TB of DATA, plus overcharges if you go over. So just be aware of that and you should be fine.
[Related] Sign up for discount internet with AT&T, as low as $5 per month!
Comcast is a tricky one to join because you must be a new member and not have any outstanding debts with them in the past 12 months. You also have to fight for this program since a lot of sales representatives will try and talk you out of it.
That being said, the internet service should be good enough to stream Netflix and Hulu. It’s also worth noting that there is also low-cost computers and laptops for about $149 that you can buy as well.
[Related] Sign up for discount internet with Comcast for $9.95 a month.
If you qualify for reduced child meals at school, you can qualify here at Charter for discounted internet services. For $15 a month you have no data caps and a download speed of 30mbps. $5 more per month gets you in-home WIFI.
[Related] Sign up for discount internet with Spectrum for $15 a month.
Low-income families with children in K-12 are eligible for a discounted internet service with Cox through the connect2compete program. It is not available everywhere, only in select states.
[Related] Sign up for Cox connect2compete for $9.95 a month.
Don’t have a current account with them or have had one in the past 90 days, and be a low-income family- you qualify! No deposit, contract, set up fees, etc. and it’s only $9.95 a month. You must have a kid in K-12 at home and they have to qualify for the free/reduced school lunch program. That shouldn’t be an issue since that is also a low-income program!
[Related] Sign up for Mediacom Discount internet here.
Discount Phone Plans
There are several companies offering discount phone plans for low-income households. This can be a great way to save money and not give up that smartphone you just paid off.
*You can take that unlocked, paid off, no contract phone in your hands and hook it up to another company for a cheaper monthly plan. Just because you originally got it from Verizon or T-Mobile, doesn’t mean it has to stay with them.
Mint Mobile has a cheap program, currently offering a buy 1 month for $20, get 2 months free deal. Check out Mint here.
Assurance offers free phones with plans to low income family. Check it out here.
Q Link has free phones with monthly plans. Unlimited texting, 1,000 minutes of talk and 1GB of monthly DATA. Check it out here.
Safelink Wireless has a free plan that includes 350 free minutes, a free smartphone, 1GB of free data and unlimited texting. Check it out.
Easy Wireless is only available in Missouri, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. Check it out here.
Thanks to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) you could qualify for lower energy bills. Find your local representative and apply here.
If that doesn’t work, reach out to your power provider. Most companies offer a low-budget based plan. This is where they find the average monthly cost and divide it up into 12 even monthly payments so that your energy bill is exactly the same every month, making it so much easier to budget for.
Free home weatherization
Thanks to the Weatherization Program, you could qualify for free home weatherization. Usually up to $6,500 in value worth of work including insulation and other things to help make your home more energy-efficient.
This does not include structural things like a new roof or siding, but can help cut down your energy bills! Check out if you qualify and all the other need-to-know info by clicking here.
Discount Medical and Vet Care
By qualifying for EBT or WIC, you are considered low income, which can help you with those doctor visits! With or without Medicaid your local hospital or doctor office may offer special discounted price adjustments based on your income and what you can afford to spend. Just contact the person in billing and they can use the sliding-scale system they have to lower your costs. This helps tremendously with reducing medical debt!
There are also tons of low-cost vet clinics that you can take your pets to for proper health care.
Mobile clinics to spay/neuter/vaccinate your pets at reduced costs. (This is how I got my cat spayed and vaccinates+ rabies shot for $20) There are even websites to order prescription pet meds from for significantly cheaper than in the vet office! Plus scholarships available for bigger medical bills and procedures.
Low Income Auto Insurance
As of now, only 3 states offer a lowered auto insurance rate for low income households. Hawaii, New Jersey and California.
New Jersey has a low-income auto insurance program To qualify for SAIP, you must meet two basic requirements, Be currently enrolled in federal Medicaid Have a current valid driver’s license Check out more here.
California. If you are 19 years or older, have a car valued at $25,000 or less, have a good driving record and are low income then check out the rest of the information here. Your auto insurance premiums will be capped at just $388 per year
Hawaii offers free liability insurance to some residents that receive financial assistance from select DHS programs, but most information that I find states you need to be on assistance as well as disabled. This coverage is very limited and can only be accessed through your DHS caseworker. For more information contact the Hawaiian Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Insurance Division.
Discount Amazon Prime Membership
Did you know that you could sign up for an Amazon Prime membership for only $5.99 a month if you are an EBT cardholder? You still get all the same benefits as a full-priced member too! Which when you consider the free ebooks, free movies and tv and other great things you get from Amazon, it can really help to cut costs on your budget in so many different areas!
Free Fishing License
Live in North Carolina? You could qualify for a free fishing license if you have an EBT card or Medicaid. See more here.
Discounted or Free YMCA or gym memberships
Community Recreation Centers often have low-income programs. Check with your local Rec Center to see if they offer anything like this.
YMCA locations offer financial assistance to low-income families. Depending on your income, you may qualify for a free or reduced-rate membership to the YMCA. You can view more on their website here.
Free Breast pump
WIC is for women who breastfeed or are pregnant, so this makes sense that they’d want to help you continue your breastfeeding journey. If you ask, your WIC provider, you can get a free manual breast pump at no charge to keep. Or you can borrow/ rent/be loaned a hospital or electric grade pump for a few months.
Each state sets up the process differently, so be sure to speak with your WIC provider and get the process started as soon as you can.
Free/Discounted Meals for kids
Schools offer free and reduced school lunches for kids of low-income families. And during summer months there are summer food services that provide free lunches for school-aged children.
Usually, no income proof is required. But the times and locations are set so that all you have to do is show up.
According to recent studies, only 1 in 7 children that are eligible actually use this service.
Purchase Hunting/Fishing Gear with Benefits
Rural Alaska allows you to buy non-food items with your SNAP benefits. This is due to having limited access to stores. Among the “can buy” list are nets, hooks, fishing poles, harpoons, knives, fishing and hunting gear. You can not buy gasoline, motor oil, firearms, ammunition or explosives of any kind. Check out more information here.
Free and EXTRA Money to Spend at Farmers Markets
Contact your local Farmers Market to see what special incentives are offered as they differ per location. These incentives privately run through local agencies, so they can be very different than listed below. They are made to entice local commerce and get SNAP and WIC users to afford more healthy produce in their diets.
Some examples of what you can see are-
- Doubling your fresh fruit and veggie WIC checks
- WIC giving you a $20 coupon towards produce
- EBT Money doubled (matching “bonus” dollars)
Not just free money at farmers markets but at some grocery retailers too!
When I called my local DSHS office to inquire about EBT cards, part of the automated voice message I had to listen to on repeat as I waited for someone to pick up the phone, told me this tidbit of info!
Safeway grocery stores will give you a $5 off coupon for your next purchase of fresh fruit and veggies if you use your SNAP benefits to buy $10 worth of produce in 1 transaction.
So buy $10 worth of fresh fruit and veggies, pay using EBT card, and then get a $5 off your next shopping trips haul. That’s really great!
This is in Washington State, but contact your DSHS office and see if they have anything like this running where you are.
This really helps in making food stockpiles and can lead to smart impulse buys when you are money
SNAP food benefits are valid at some you-pick locations at co-ops
You-pick strawberry fields can accept EBT benefits, see more here.
Not only that, but you can buy food-bearing seeds and plants with SNAP benefits. But only at retailers that accept EBT. So example- Walmart garden section may have an apple tree, you can buy it from them with your EBT card.
Some food co-op’s offer discounts to those using SNAP and WIC as well, since these are localized programs, it’s best to check in with your own co-op.
Free Food with WIC
Well, yes, you already get about $40 in retail priced food free per month with the use of WIC (per person.)
But did you know you could actually get MORE than that?
When a store offers a buy one get one free promotion on a WIC approved item, you can use your WIC card/checks to get the promotion. The free item you get doesn’t need to be WIC approved! You can read more about it here.
This information can also be found in your WIC handbooks. This is the biggest reason why I say to carry your WIC books with you when you shop. So few people take advantage f this amazing deal that the stores aren’t properly trained to it and cashiers may question you. But having your book, with the section highlighted will save you time. Otherwise, they have to look it up themselves or call over a manager and seriously, that’s just a time-waster.
Hot Food with SNAP
Some gas stations like 7/11 are authorized EBT/SNAP merchants.
At select 7/11 locations, you can buy a frozen pizza using SNAP and then have it cooked on-site for you.
While some take and bake pizza chains will let you pay with EBT cards, there are a few that will cook the pizza for you for an additional cash fee, paid separately. Figaro’s and Zappos are two places that will cook it for $1-$2 more.
Fast Food with EBT
Some fast-food restaurants will accept EBT payment. These usually have special rules in place only for homeless, elderly or disabled. This is run through the Restaurant Meals Program.
Different participating restaurants vary from location to location but could include KFC, Golden Corral, Taco Bell and Denny’s. Check with your state to see if it’s participating in this program.
Food deliveries using an EBT card
Schwan’s home food delivery service is pricey, but very convenient nonetheless. Having proportioned and frozen food delivered straight to your door can be a huge blessing for some. Even better, they usually have a 50% off your first order code (usually promo code FIFTY.)
They accept EBT as a form of payment. See for yourself.
Legally get money back from EBT & WIC purchases
Besides the fact that you can use coupons on WIC and EBT purchases, you can also get money back from these programs, legally!
After your transactions, simply use one of these rebate apps and get some money back for those items.
See my Review and How Ibotta Works by clicking here. Or sign up with Checkout 51for a $10 welcome bonus.
Both of these rebate apps work quickly and let you cash out when you reach $20 in your accounts (super easy to do!) I’ve been using both of them for years and talk about them often on this blog.
Grocery Pick up with Snap Benefits
~Updated on July 21st, 2019 to include this.~
As of recent, Walmart has now started to accept EBT as a form of payment for grocery pickups. This is great for families that like to limit time in stores and cut grocery costs by avoiding impulse buys.
This move by Walmart is unique because not a lot of grocery stores offer grocery order/pickup options. While they are becoming increasingly popular, none of them allowed for EBT benefits to be used as a payment option. Until NOW!
So if you’re a busy family (as most low-income families are) consider cutting your grocery costs by meal planning and shopping for your groceries online at Walmart for a pickup. This will allow you to stay in budget and see your cart total as you shop. It could even encourage you to stretch your Food Stamps further or eat healthier.
So, did you find any good benefits you didn’t know you qualified for?
Low income, in debt AND behind on the bills? Check out How To Pay Off Debt When You’re Behind On Bills