Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, traditionally used to purchase food from grocery stores, can now be used at select fast food locations. So does McDonald’s accept EBT?

Currently, you cannot use EBT to purchase food at McDonald’s. Though if you’re willing to grab food from a similar restaurant using an EBT card, keep reading.

In This Article

  • What Exactly Is an EBT Card?

  • What Menu Items Can You Purchase with an EBT Card?

  • How to Use Your EBT Card to Get a Hot Meal at a Fast Food Restaurant

  • Fast Food Restaurants That Accept EBT

  • Fast Food Restaurants That Don’t Accept EBT

What Exactly Is an EBT Card?

The program formerly known as food stamps is now referred to as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). The millions of Americans who access this assistance do so via Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.

EBT cards look and work like a debit card. The difference is that there is no link to your bank account. Instead, EBT cards are connected to your SNAP benefits account. When you swipe your EBT card at the grocery store or restaurant, the funds from your SNAP benefits are transferred to the store’s bank.

What Menu Items Can You Purchase with an EBT Card?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates what can be purchased with SNAP benefits. Go here for the complete list. Most notably, EBT cards cannot be used to purchase hot foods or food that will be eaten in-store. This clause excludes many fast food restaurants.

Certain foods from restaurants walk the line between being approved by the USDA and not. Because the rules are hazy and the regulations are difficult to enforce, fast food can sometimes be purchased with EBT cards. This is highly dependent on the retailer and your location.

For example, Papa Murphy’s is well known for accepting EBT. Because their pizzas are not yet cooked and are only for take-out, purchasing one with an EBT card does not violate USDA regulations. See our list below for retailers that have been known to accept EBT and for foods that fall into this category. 

How to Use Your EBT Card to Get a Hot Meal at a Fast Food Restaurant

USDA guidelines on what food items can be purchased excludes many fast food restaurants; however, the USDA also states, “In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.” This initiative has become known as the Restaurant Meals Program and was created so that people who may be unable to grocery shop, store foods, or cook a meal at home can have a hot meal.

Whether or not to implement the Restaurant Meals Program is decided at the state level and only a handful have chosen to participate. The program is widely available in California and Arizona. Florida and Rhode Island have limited programs. Michigan and Ohio no longer participate in the program.

If you qualify for this program, and your area offers the service, you can access this option automatically from your EBT card. (You do not have to sign up separately.)

Fast Food Restaurants That Accept EBT

As mentioned above, McDonald’s does not accept EBT cards. However, we’ve provided you with a list of restaurants that do accept EBT at some locations. Because policies vary from location to location, we do advise calling your local store ahead of time to verify availability.

If you qualify for the Restaurant Meals Program and your area participates in the program, you should be able to order any food from the restaurants below. If you do not qualify for the Restaurant Meals Program, or if your area does not participate in the program, you will likely be limited to cold foods.

1. Arby’s

  • Available Foods: Salads, milkshakes, applesauce, milk, desserts, and soft drinks.
  • Additional Information: Many people have reported purchasing roast beef sandwiches and other hot sides using EBT cards. Get Arby’s coupons here.
  • Find an Arby’s near you.

2. Church’s Chicken

  • Available Foods: Coleslaw, desserts, and soft drinks.
  • Additional Information: Many people have reported purchasing chicken using EBT cards. Get Church’s Chicken coupons here.
  • Find a Church’s Chicken near you.

3. Dairy Queen

4. Domino’s

  • Available Foods: Salads, subs, desserts, and soft drinks.
  • Additional Information: Their pizza will likely be considered a hot food. Take advantage of their daily deals to get better prices.
  • Find a Domino’s near you. 

5. El Pollo Loco

6. Jack in the Box

7. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)

8. Papa Murphy’s

  • Available Foods: Pizzas, salads, sides, and drinks.
  • Additional Information: Nearly every Papa Murphy’s location accepts EBT as payment, but this does not include online orders. Read more about their policies here.
  • Find a Papa Murphy’s near you. 

9. Pizza Hut

10. Rally’s Hamburgers

  • Available Foods: Desserts, milkshakes, and soft drinks.
  • Additional Information: Many people have reported purchasing hamburgers and fries to-go using EBT cards. Take advantage of their deals to get better prices.
  • Find a Rally’s near you.

11. Starbucks

  • Available Foods: Cold coffee drinks, cold (packaged) sandwiches, and energy drinks.
  • Additional information: EBT cards are only accepted in Starbucks located in supermarkets or grocery stores.
  • Find a Starbucks near you.

12. Subway

  • Available Foods: Cold subs, chips, and soft drinks.
  • Additional Information: EBT cards cannot be used on Subway’s app for ordering ahead. Read more about purchasing food with EBT at Subway here.
  • Find a Subway near you. 

13. Taco Bell

  • Available Foods: Chips, desserts, specialty cold drinks, and soft drinks.
  • Additional Information: Many people have reported purchasing tacos and other main menu items using EBT cards.
  • Find a Taco Bell near you.

14. Vito’s Pizza

15. Wendy’s

  • Available Foods: Salads, desserts, specialty drinks, and soft drinks.
  • Additional Information: Many people have reported purchasing hamburgers and french fries using EBT cards.
  • Find a Wendy’s near you.

16. White Castle

  • Available Foods: Oatmeal, desserts, specialty drinks, and soft drinks.
  • Additional Information: Many people have reported purchasing hamburgers and other main menu items using EBT cards. White Castle products are also available in retail stores to purchase using EBT cards. For further savings, check out current promotions.
  • Find a White Castle near you.

Still searching for a place to get food? Locate all retailers that accept EBT in your area on the USDA website. Please note, this web page does not work with all browsers.

Fast Food Restaurants That Don’t Accept EBT

The following restaurants have not been reported to accept EBT as payment. If you have used your EBT card to purchase food from a restaurant below, let us know in the comments below so we can update our list!

  • Biscuitville
  • Burger King
  • Carl’s Junior/Hardee’s
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Chipotle
  • Cinnabon
  • Culver’s
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Five Guys
  • In-N-Out
  • Little Caesars
  • McDonald’s
  • Panera
  • Popeyes
  • Shake Shack
  • Sonic
  • Taco Bueno
  • Whataburger
  • Zaxby’s

Still looking for a place to purchase food with your EBT card? You can see which grocery stores accept EBT by checking out this article.

In Summary

Though you can’t purchase food from McDonald’s using EBT, there are alternatives. We hope this article helped you find a restaurant that accepts EBT or, at the very least, gave you more insight into the rules and regulations of purchasing food with EBT cards. If you’re aware of any other restaurants that have accepted EBT as payment, let us know in the comments below so we can include it in our list.