Coffee has become an everyday staple drink for city and suburb dwellers in the US. It’s no hyperbole to say coffee is part and parcel of daily life for many Americans, including SNAP recipients. Maybe you’re lucky enough to live near a 24-hour store that sells fresh coffee.
The love for coffee is so much that financial advisors see it as one of the top frugal living tips with a big impact to save money where people can drastically cut expenses and save about $1,460 per year!
But no conversation about coffee in the US is complete without the mention of Starbucks coffee, the most successful coffee chain in the US and beyond.
It leaves many SNAP recipients wondering: Can I use my EBT card at Starbucks? Well, it depends whether it’s a licensed or stand-alone Starbucks store. That’s the point of this article. We’ll tell you the difference between the two, as well as which Starbucks accepts food stamps.
Want to learn more ways to save money? See our guide on how to save $10,000 in one year.
Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Starbucks is the world’s largest American coffeehouse chain. The company has about 15,300 stores in the US alone. About 8,900 are company-operated stores, while around 6,390 are licensed stores. Starbucks locations serve hot and cold drinks like whole-bean coffee & Frappuccino beverages and snacks such as chips, bagels, and fresh bakery items.
There are a few SNAP-eligible items at Starbucks! The only question is: Does Starbucks accept EBT?
Short Answer: Starbucks accepts EBT at some of its licensed stores, but EBT is not an accepted payment method at any of the company-operated stores. For instance, when you visit a Starbucks inside a grocery store like Safeway, Fred Meyer, Target, and other grocery chains that accept food stamps, you can use your EBT card to purchase SNAP-eligible items like Frappuccino beverages or a slice of fresh pumpkin bread. It’s because grocery-store Starbucks are treated like other grocery items.
That said, all stand-alone Starbucks, also called corporate or company-operated stores, do not accept food stamps as a payment method. Starbucks is mainly seen as a luxury brand and non-essential, and thus, isn’t an authorized SNAP retailer.
You also can’t use your EBT card to purchase hot, prepared food or any other SNAP-prohibited items at licensed and corporate Starbucks locations. Starbucks doesn’t participate in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) anywhere in the US.
Read why only some licensed Starbucks take EBT.
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Do Starbucks accept EBT?
Starbucks accepts EBT at some of its licensed stores but doesn’t accept food stamps at any stand-alone Starbucks.
Licensed Starbucks, also called non-corporate, are the Starbucks kiosks you find inside grocery stores like Target, Fred Meyer, Safeway, or inside a Marriott Hotel. They’re attached to Starbucks through business agreements.
Ideally, they lease the Starbucks name, logo, look, practices, operations, and other marketing materials to become licensed Starbucks stores. In exchange, they pay part of their revenues to Starbucks.
As an added convenience to their customers, Starbucks licensees that accept SNAP food stamps allow EBT cardholders to use their SNAP cards at the kiosks inside the grocery stores. That means you can use your EBT card at a Starbucks inside a retail store that accepts EBT because they’re already approved.
On the other hand, foods sold at stand-alone or company-operated Starbucks stores aren’t considered essential food items by SNAP. Since Starbucks is seen as a luxury brand, the company isn’t an approved SNAP retailer.
Starbucks customer representatives maintain that “Starbucks, as policy, does not accept food stamp cards for payment at its company-operated stores. However, some of our licensees, particularly those within grocery stores, may accept these for payment.”
Also, Starbucks isn’t part of the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) anywhere in the US. Thus, you can’t use your EBT card to purchase hot prepared foods and drinks at any Starbucks location in the US.
But if you live in any states that participate in the RMP program and qualify for the program in your states, you can use your EBT card to purchase hot, prepared food at any of these fast food places that accept EBT.
Your takeaway: Starbucks kiosks inside grocery stores like Fred Meyer, Publix, Safeway, Target, or Marriott hotel accept EBT as an added convenience to their customers. But all not all corporated Starbucks locations accept EBT cards as a payment method.
Does Target Starbucks accept EBT?
Yes, Target Starbucks accepts EBT. You may be able to use your EBT card to purchase any essential food items with a nutritional label at Target Starbucks.
SNAP-approved grocery stores with Starbucks restaurants inside accept EBT as a payment method. Target is one such retail grocery chain.
SNAP continues to expand its program to accommodate the everyday needs of SNAP recipients. The truism is solidified by the story of an Oregon woman who visited a Safeway Starbucks with a friend a few years back. Surprisingly, the friend, who was a SNAP recipient, was able to use her EBT card to pay for a piece of fresh pumpkin bread and Tall Frappuccino beverage.
Thus, it’s safe to say that Target Starbucks, Safeway, Fred Meyer, Publix, and other licensed Starbucks inside grocery stores accept EBT as an added convenience to their customers.
That said, don’t expect to walk inside a Target Starbucks and splurge your SNAP benefits on non-essential beverages. SNAP rules apply at Target Starbucks foods just like any other products the grocery chain carries. Though Target Starbucks accepts EBT, you can only use your EBT card to purchase SNAP-eligible items such as energy drinks, soft drinks, and any other items with a nutritional label like snacks.
It’s mainly because Starbucks isn’t an approved SNAP retailer and doesn’t take part in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) anywhere in the US. Thus, you won’t be able to redeem your SNAP benefits on hot, prepared food or other non-essential luxuries at Target Starbucks kiosks.
With over 1,700 stores in 48 states and about 240 Super Target stores, you are likely to find Target Starbucks near you. It’s a good practice to call before you go and confirm that the Target Starbucks kiosk takes EBT. If they don’t, you can try another location or opt to carry an alternative payment method. Starbucks accepts credit cards or debit cards or pay directly with the Starbucks app.
How to Use an EBT Card at Starbucks?
First, you need to make sure you visit a licensed Starbucks location inside a grocery store like Target, Safeway, Marriott hotel, or any other grocery stores that accept EBT. Save time and gas by visiting stand-alone Starbucks because they don’t process food stamps.
Once you’re there, inquire the customer service desk whether or not they accept EBT at the Starbucks kiosk and which items are SNAP-eligible. Coffee, including instant coffee, creamer, coffee beans, and ground coffee, are eligible for SNAP purchases. You can also purchase SNAP-eligible snacks, such as pumpkin bread and single-serve coffee container pods. Avoid hot and prepared food intended for on-premise consumption.
Once you’ve made your purchase, swipe your card at the payment register and choose SNAP as the payment option. You’ll be prompted to enter your PIN. A debit card without a PIN won’t authorize the purchase.
Does Starbucks Take EBT Summary
Only some Starbucks inside SNAP-approved grocery stores like Target and Safeway accept EBT. You may only be able to use your EBT card at some licensed Starbucks locations to purchase a few SNAP-eligible items such as fresh bakery goods and Tall Frappuccino beverages. Alternatively, you can find cheaper coffee by searching for nearby gas stations that accept EBT.
All company-operated Starbucks restaurants aren’t SNAP-approved retailers, and they don’t accept SNAP food Stamps as a payment method.
It’s advised to carry an alternative payment card or cash any time you want to buy a Starbucks. It can save you a lot of embarrassment at the payment register.