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.
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.
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.
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)
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.