Rather than issuing paper food stamps, SNAP now relies on EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards. It’s greener and, for most people, more convenient and efficient. EBT policies vary from state to state, but they all run according to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP — it’s part of the Farm Bill) and administrative rules set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Generally, SNAP is available to low-income Americans, and benefits can be used to buy qualifying food in grocery stores.

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. Pursuant to these programs, there are in fact some Subways that accept EBT cards! Keep reading to find out all the details.

In This Article

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. Michigan, Hawaii, and Florida also have Restaurant Meal Programs of some sort, but they’re more limited. Unfortunately for those who truly aren’t able to prepare food at home, not many states have created restaurant meal programs.

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 located any Subways outside of restaurant meal program states that accept EBT, but if you’ve found one, let us know where in the comments! Future readers will also appreciate it.

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 has a phone app that 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 meals 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 counter productive to list them out here. Instead, refer to this list of restaurant meal program approved restaurants. If you’re on a computer, you can use ctrl + f to search for Subway.

California

You can use your EBT card at Subway if you qualify and register for the restaurant meals program. To do so, you must be homeless, elderly, or disabled, and register for RMP 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 meals 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)

Other Restaurants That Accept EBT Cards

There are actually lots more restaurants that accept EBT cards, but almost always, you’ll only be able to use your EBT card at a restaurant in a state with a restaurant meals program. For the list below, we’ve included the states where you can find the listed restaurant participating in a restaurant meals program. Where we’ve listed states as unconfirmed, there have been reports of people using their EBT cards at the restaurant, but we were not able to confirm that information via any state agency. We’ve listed cold foods that might be purchasable outside of restaurant meal programs, in case your in a state without such a program. If you successfully use your EBT card at a restaurant we’ve listed as unconfirmed or in a state we haven’t listed, let future readers know in the comments!

1. Arby’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Salads, milkshakes, applesauce, milk, desserts, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: Some people have purchased the roast beef sandwiches and other “hot food” sides using EBT cards, but that will depend on each franchise’s policies.
  • States with locations that accept EBT: Unconfirmed
  • Find an Arby’s

2. Burger King

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Salads, milkshakes, applesauce, milk, desserts, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: Participates in California’s RMP
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Burger King

3. Carl’s Jr.

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None reported
  • Additional information: We found no reports of locations accepting EBT outside CA
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Carl’s Jr.

4. Church’s Chicken

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Coleslaw, desserts, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: Many people report purchasing their chicken using EBT cards. Check with each franchise before purchasing.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Unconfirmed
  • Find a Church’s Chicken

5. Cici’s Pizza

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona
  • Find a Cici’s Pizza

6. Dairy Queen

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Ice cream, cakes, and drinks
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona
  • Find a Dairy Queen

7. Denny’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Denny’s

8. Domino’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Salads, subs, desserts, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: Take advantage of their daily deals to get better prices.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Domino’s

9. El Pollo Loco

10. Jack in the Box

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Jack in the Box

11. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Coleslaw, desserts, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: Some KFC restaurants reportedly allow for chicken and sandwiches to be purchased using EBT cards, but check with your local franchise.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a KFC

12. McDonald’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Salads, milkshakes, cold coffee drinks, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Non confirmed, but reported use in Tennessee
  • Find a McDonald’s

13. Papa John’s Pizza

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona
  • Find a Papa John’s Pizza

14. Papa Murphy’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Take and bake pizzas, salads, sides, and drinks
  • Additional information: Since all of their pizza is “take and bake,” it doesn’t fall under the restriction of “hot foods.” Sign up for extra offers on their website.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Almost all states
  • Find a Papa Murphy’s

15. Pizza Hut

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Pizza Hut

16. Popeye’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Popeye’s

17. Quiznos

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Quiznos

18. Rally’s Hamburgers

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Desserts, milkshakes, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Rally’s Hamburgers

19. Taco Bell

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Chips, desserts, specialty cold drinks, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Taco Bell

20. Wendy’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Salads, desserts, specialty drinks, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Wendy’s

21. White Castle

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Oatmeal, desserts, specialty drinks, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: Some people report purchasing hamburgers and other main menu items using EBT cards, but it depends on each franchise. White Castle products are also available in retail stores to purchase using EBT cards.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Unconfirmed
  • Find a White Castle

22. Wing Stop

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • Additional information: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Wing Stop

In Summary

EBT cards can be used to purchase meals at many Subways that participate in state “restaurant meals 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 at. Outside of these states, we couldn’t locate any Subways that accept EBT cards.