EBT Cash Back Rules Explained (for TANF and SNAP Benefits)

Woman putting cash in wallet after getting EBT cash back

Short Answer — You can only get cash back from your EBT card if you receive cash assistance through your state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. You can’t get cash back on standard SNAP food assistance benefits.

Can You Get Cash Back From an EBT Card?

You can’t get cash back from an EBT card if you only receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on the card.[1]

SNAP is a food assistance program; you can only use it to purchase approved food items.[1][2]

However, if you’re eligible for a cash assistance program in your state, you can get cash back from your EBT card.[1]

To find out more about this, we consulted EBT policy documentation from state governments and contacted benefits administrators in several states.

Cash Back Eligibility

If you receive cash assistance from a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, you can get cash back from your EBT card.[1][3]

TANF programs are run by the states,[1] and each state’s program operates under one or more different names; see the list in the table below.

Participating families receive monthly deposits of a certain amount (based on income level and household size) to their EBT cards.[3][4]

Programs by State

The following state programs are TANF programs and allow recipients to get cash back from the funds they receive:

State Cash-Back Eligible Program
Alabama Family Assistance Program (FA)
Alaska Alaska Temporary Assistance Program (ATAP)
Arizona Cash Assistance
Arkansas Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA)/Work Pays
California California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
Colorado Colorado Works
Connecticut Temporary Family Assistance (TFA)
Delaware TANF
Florida Welfare Transition Program
Georgia TANF
Hawaii TANF and Temporary Assistance for Other Needy Families (TAONF)
Idaho Temporary Assistance to Families in Idaho (TAFI)
Illinois TANF
Indiana TANF
Iowa Family Investment Program (FIP)
Kansas TANF/Successful Families Program
Kentucky Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (KTAP)
Louisiana Family Independence Temporary Assistance (FITAP); Strategies to Empower People (STEP)
Maine TANF
Maryland Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA)
Massachusetts Trasitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC)
Michigan PATH
Minnesota Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)
Mississippi TANF
Missouri Temporary Assistance (TA)
Montana Families Achieving Independence in Montana (FAIM)
Nebraska Aid to Dependent Children (ADC)
Nevada TANF
New Hampshire Financial Assistance to Needy Families (FANF)
New Jersey WorkFirst NJ (WFNJ)
New Mexico TANF
New York Family Assistance Program (FA) and Safety Net Assistance (SNA)
North Carolina Work First
North Dakota TANF
Ohio Ohio Works First (OWF)
Oklahoma TANF
Oregon TANF
Pennsylvania TANF
Rhode Island Rhode Island Works (formerly Family Independence Program)
South Carolina TANF
South Dakota TANF
Tennessee Families First
Texas TANF
Utah Family Employment Program (FEP)
Vermont Emergency/General Assistance
Virginia TANF
Washington WorkFirst
Washington, D.C. TANF
West Virginia WV Works
Wisconsin Wisconsin Works (W-2)
Wyoming Personal Opportunities with Employment Responsibility (POWER)
Table Plugin

Multi-Program Eligibility

You may qualify for several government assistance programs.

If you receive both SNAP and TANF benefits (or any other type of benefit) on your EBT card, note that you can get cash back, but only up to the store’s limit or your available TANF cash balance — not the total card balance.[1]

How to Get Cash Back

At the Register

If you have an active “cash” balance on your EBT card through your state’s TANF program, you can get cash back at the register.

When you make a purchase using your TANF balance at a store that accepts EBT cards and allows EBT cash back, you’ll have the option to receive cash back after swiping your card and entering your PIN, just as you would when using a debit card.[5][6][7][8]

Note that cash back limits may vary by state or retailer.[7][8]

Cash back limits at grocery stores, convenience stores, and department stores typically range between $40 and $100; to find out more, see our list of where to get cash back.

At the ATM

You can get cash back at an ATM as long as you have TANF benefits on your EBT card.[1][5][6][7][8]

You can make cash withdrawals at most ATMs but can avoid bank fees by finding a surcharge-free ATM.

Fees and restrictions on the EBT card itself vary by state. For example, some states allow a limited number of free withdrawals per month, charging around $1 per withdrawal after that.[5][9]

Check with your benefits administrator for the limits and fees that apply to your card.

Cash Refunds for EBT Purchases

You may be able to receive a cash refund for an item you purchase using your EBT cash balance. However, you can’t get cash refunds for food purchases that use your SNAP benefits.[10]

Individual store policies regarding refunds vary. Some stores only grant refunds in the form of store credit or will only refund spoiled items; others will refund EBT purchases back to the card.[1]

Contact your local store for information about its return and refund policies.


Cash assistance benefits are meant to help families pay bills or purchase items that aren’t SNAP-eligible, such as toiletries or household cleaning products.

It’s illegal to use your cash assistance balance on alcohol, tobacco, firearms, ammunition, lottery tickets, jewelry, vacation expenses, tattoos, court-ordered fees/fines, or to purchase entertainment items.[11]

More Information

Find your state’s EBT contact information in our research on lost EBT cards; you can use the same number or online portal that you would use to report a lost card to find out more about your state’s restrictions regarding EBT cash back.

Our previous research also features the details on when to expect your monthly EBT deposits.

  1. https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/Can-I-withdraw-cash-from-an-ATM-with-my-Supplemental-Nutrition-Assistance-Program-Electronic-Benefit[][][][][][][][]
  2. https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items[]
  3. https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/613[][]
  4. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/programs/temporary-assistance-needy-families-tanf[]
  5. https://www.michigan.gov/-/media/Project/Websites/mdhhs/Folder1/Folder64/MI-EBT-BR06-ENG.pdf?rev=afea803428cf41e180a51620584c661f[][][]
  6. https://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/entres/forms/English/PUB389_2Col.pdf[][]
  7. https://www.in.gov/fssa/dfr/ebt-hoosier-works-card/[][][]
  8. https://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/ees/Documents/HOPE%20Act/Cash%20withdrawal%20Limits.pdf[][][]
  9. https://ha.saccounty.gov/benefits/Pages/EBTCashBenefits.aspx[]
  10. https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/Can-I-return-or-refund-an-item-bought-with-a-Supplemental-Nutrition-Assistance-Program-Electronic[]
  11. https://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/ebt-electronic-benefit-transfer-card-restrictions-for-public-assistance.aspx[]

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