Does Subway Take EBT/Food Stamps/SNAP? Answered

In most states, you can’t use an EBT card to buy food in restaurants. The idea is that SNAP benefits are meant to help people buy food and take it home to prepare or cook it, and not to help them eat out. But, some states (by means of an exception in the definition of “food” in the federal law) have expanded their programs to allow people who are either homeless, disabled, or elderly (i.e., those who might not be able to prepare food at home) to use their EBT cards in qualifying restaurants. Via this exception — called a “Restaurant Meal Program” — disabled, homeless, and elderly SNAP recipients in a couple states can use their EBT card to buy Subway.

What Food Is SNAP Eligible?

The Farm Bill defines what food is eligible for SNAP and can be bought with EBT cards. Most of the time, you can use your EBT to buy “any food or food product for home consumption except alcoholic beverages, tobacco, hot foods or hot food products ready for immediate consumption” (see sub(k)) from “retail food stores which have been approved for participation in the supplemental nutrition assistance program.” (see sub (b)).

That means that usually EBT cards can only be used for:

  • Foods for the household to eat, such as: breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables; meats, fish and poultry; and dairy products.
  • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

And CANNOT be used for:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Any nonfood items, such as: pet foods, soaps, paper products, household supplies
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Food that will be eaten in the store
  • Hot foods

But, federal law allows states to expand this list. For people who are homeless, elderly, or disabled, states can include hot foods in the list of food that CAN be bought with an EBT card. (This is pursuant to an exception in the definition of “food” as defined by the Farm Bill, which includes SNAP in chapter 51). These SNAP expansion programs are often called “Restaurant Meal Programs.” California, Arizona, and Rhode Island have the most well developed programs. Hawaii also has a Restaurant Meal Program of some sort, but it’s more limited. Unfortunately for those who truly aren’t able to prepare food at home, very few states have created restaurant meal programs.

See more details in our article: What Can You Buy with EBT? The List

Does Subway Accept EBT Cards?

Many Subways in states that have restaurant meal programs accept EBT. Some Subways in states without restaurant meal programs might accept EBT, but will only do so for cold items that are intended to be prepared and/or cooked at home. We couldn’t locate any Subways outside of restaurant meal program states that accept EBT.

Subway can only accept EBT cards for purchases made in store. While EBT cards work just like a debit card in most cases, they don’t work just like a debit card via Subway’s phone app. Subway’s phone app lets you order food and pay for it all through the app. But, as explained in the app’s terms of service, you cannot use an EBT card to purchase food via the app.

Subway Locations That Accept EBT Cards, by State

These are the locations we were able to confirm accept EBT cards, by state. All of these states have restaurant meal programs.

Arizona

In Arizona, you can use your EBT card at many Subway restaurants if you’ve registered for the state restaurant meals program, which operates throughout the entire state. You must be elderly, homeless, or disabled to register for the program. There are 61 Subways in Arizona that accept EBT cards — so many that it would be counterproductive to list them out here. Instead, refer to this list of restaurant meal program approved restaurants.

California

You can use your EBT card at Subway if you qualify and register for the restaurant meal program. To do so, you must be homeless, elderly, or disabled, and register for restaurant meal program benefits in a county that administers the restaurant meal program. Participating counties are Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties. There hundreds of Subways in California that accept EBT cards — so many that it would be counter productive to list them all for you here. Instead, use ebt.ca.gov to search for a Subway that takes EBT cards. You’ll only find them in those seven counties that administer restaurant meal programs. Select your county, and type “subway” into the “retailer/bank name” box.

Rhode Island

To qualify for restaurant meals in Rhode Island, you must be homeless, disabled, or elderly. The program operates throughout the entire state. The following 10 Subways accept EBT cards for meals in Rhode Island:

  • 255 Weybossett Street, Providence
  • 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence
  • 719 Westminster Street, Providence
  • 583 Elmwood Avenue, Providence
  • 962 Cranston Street, Cranston
  • 483 Clinton Street, Woonsocket
  • 104 Broadway Unit 1A, Newport
  • 614 Pawtucket Avenue, Pawtucket
  • 310 Broad Street, Central Falls
  • 258 Post Road, Westerly (inside Walmart)

In Summary

Does Subway take EBT? EBT cards can be used to purchase meals at many Subways that participate in state “restaurant meal programs” — extensions of SNAP that allow people who are disabled, homeless, or elderly to use their EBT cards to purchase meals at restaurants that sell food for “concessionary prices.” If you’re in California, Arizona, or Rhode Island, states with such programs, you won’t have any trouble finding a Subway to use your EBT card. Outside of these states, we couldn’t locate any Subways that accept EBT cards. To learn more about restaurant meals programs, which states have them, and which restaurants participate, see our article What Fast Food Places Take EBT/Food Stamps/SNAP? Here’s the List.

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41 comments

  • Anthony Roman says:

    Do subways in Olympia, WA accept EBT? I was told by a friend that they do but I’m not so sure and would like to know before I go and try to do the impossible. Lol

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Anthony,

      Lots of Subways take EBT in California, Rhode Island, and Arizona. A few more may take EBT in Florida and Michigan. These states all have some variant of a Restaurant Meal Program, which allows qualified EBT recipients to use their EBT cards in restaurants. There’s no such program in Washington, and no Subways appear on the list of approved retailers in Washington from the USDA, so its very unlikely you’ll find one that will take our EBT card.

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Ash,

      I wasn’t able to find any EBT-accepting restaurant locator specifically for SC, but you can try the Federal locator here. The SC Department of Social Services says that EBT can buy “food such as breads and cereals, non-alcoholic beverages, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products and more.” This is consistent with the federal rules, so like the article says, you may be able to use EBT at restaurants as long as your purchase is for cold, take out food that falls into one of the eligible categories (breads and cereals, non-alcoholic beverages, fruits, etc.). Because restaurants are a gray area with respect to EBT, it’s always best to call ahead or ask before you purchase to make sure you don’t get stuck in a situation where you can’t pay. Good luck!

  • Are there any places in Maryland that take EBT? We are homeless but have access to a microwave. Just no refrigerator.

  • Brother inlaw tried to use ebt at subway in golden valley az.
    They refused it and told him they do not take ebt at all.

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Mike,

      Due to the volume of comments we receive, we can’t answer individual questions. It is best to call your local Subway directly and ask if they take the EBT card.

    • Sarah Quinn says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Jenna,

      Many Subway orders are eligible for EBT purchases, as long as they are cold and take out orders. I recommend calling ahead to your local Subway to make sure that they’re able to take EBT for those types of purchases. I hope this helps!

  • Hi I’m in Tucson, AZ and I Have Been Trying To Find Out What Places Actually Takes EBT?
    I Have The Hot Meals Program.. just Haven’t Found Places That Accept It!! ((Please Help))

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Anthony,

      Unfortunately, the listings for the Arizona Restaurant Meals Program don’t include any participating restaurants in Tucson. Even in states that have an extensive Restaurant Meals Program, it’s often up to the individual restaurant location whether or not to accept EBT. However, it may still be worth asking at local restaurants that have been known to accept EBT in other areas, in case the Tucson locations simply aren’t listed in the Restaurant Meals directory. Chains that sometimes accept EBT in Arizona include Subway, Jack in the Box, El Pollo Loco, Rally’s Hamburgers, Domino’s Pizza, Golden Corral, Southern Cuisine, CiCi’s Pizza, KFC, and Papa John’s. I hope this helps!

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Jerry,

      I’m not quite sure what you mean. Cold, take-out orders from Subway are generally covered by EBT. Unfortunately, hot sandwiches or meals eaten in-store are not eligible to be paid for by EBT. You can take a cold sandwich to go and heat it up in a microwave if you have one available. I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any further questions!

  • You guys are dumb. Buy a cold hamburger with ebt and use the microwave in the Gas Station to heat it up. Circle k for sure has a microwave in every single store. If you can’t find it ask the cashier. And for real? You want to know how clean a meal is? Have you worked at a fast food place? That’s as dirty as it gets.

    • Will, I worked in a gas station in Wisconsin for over three years and a decent amount of people do exactly that. They purchase a frozen sandwich or food, that is EBT eligible, and after paying for it ask to use our microwave. If you are looking for a hot meal and are homeless, this is one option. Also, in Wisconsin we have places homeless can go to get a hot meal- like a shelter or sometimes churches. I hope this helps someone out there. Hang in there; things will get better eventually.

  • I live in Buffalo, NY I am 63 years of age and every once in a while I would like to eat a meal that I don’t have to cook. I wouldn’t do it often because I love knowing what’s in my meal and if it was prepared in a nice clean environment. I think this matter might be something to speak about to our local leaders about or the 311 Call and Resolution Center on facebook, since all businesses have to be okayed by the Common Council before they can open. It’s food, it’s not cooked and it’s convenient.

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Karen,

      I wasn’t able to find any specific information about EBT for Subway locations in Georgia. Generally speaking, many Subway restaurants do accept EBT, but it does vary from one location to another. It looks like the only way to be sure will be to visit or contact your local Subway. You can get the contact information through the Subway location finder.

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Amelia,

      Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any specific information about the Subway in Orting, WA. You’d have to get in touch with the store directly to ask about the policies there. If you’re looking for the one on Whitesell St., the phone number is (360) 893-0388. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Whitney,

      I wasn’t able to find out anything specific about your local Subway’s policies, but generally speaking, Subway does accept EBT so you should be good to go. If you’d like, you can always call to verify — the phone number for the Subway on Central Ave in Carthage, MO is 417-358-5984.

  • Mark Waldenberger says:

    I am on Food Share in Wisconsin. I only have used my food stamp benefits for grocery purchases. If I were going to purchase anything at Subway, what is the big deal about taking it home and toasting it yourself in the oven? Seems to me that some are just too petty and expect everything to be done for them. We mostly cook at home but if we did get anything, we would take it home and cook it. EBT helps our family make ends meet. I work but my $11 an hour only goes so far with a family of five but it does help which is why we don’t abuse it or complain about the help. That would be ungrateful and rude.

        • Mamabear says:

          If you fall under homeless category you should be eligible for hot food program. There is a list of restaurants that will take your ebt SNAPS for hot food as long as your case is coded for hot food program.

          • Rebecca Turley says:
            First Quarter Finance logostaff

            Hi there!

            You’re right! You may be eligible for hot food at certain restaurants if you are homeless. Check out this article on fast food places that accept the EBT card.

      • Would be nice to have a hot meal when you have no home. Its not all that simple for those of us like myself who are homeless.

        • The only “hot food” that I know that can be purchased is a 7-11 pizza. Technically, you buy it cold and they will cook it for you free just like there heat and go sandwiches. Hope this helps you out. Where I am currently, the wind chill is below zero. So when ignorant people make comments about going home to cook something in order to have a warm meal, maybe they don’t deserve SNAP in the first place!

      • Take food home and cook it? What happens when you are homeless and do not have the means to do so? Can I use your stove and oven? Didn’t think so!

      • well Linda, what if poor ppl don’t have a home to take it to or don’t have any means to make it HOT meal as you state, Not everyone has a way to make it hot

    • Jack in he box here in phoenix does but u have to be on the designated program for elderly or homeless. U will know if u call and ask or if ur ebt card gets declined or approved