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Costco EBT membership discount isn't a traditional discount, but a smart strategy! By using your EBT card to purchase a Costco Shop Card, you can transform your benefits into store credit to unlock the warehouse club's treasure trove of discounted bulk groceries.

Does Costco Take EBT?

Yes, Costco does take EBT cards! They accept them for eligible food purchases within the store. This means you can use your EBT card to buy a variety of groceries, including:

  • Dairy products
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Bread and cereals
  • Non-alcoholic beverages

However, it's important to note that there are some limitations:

  • You cannot use your EBT card to pay for non-food items like household goods, clothing, or electronics.
  • EBT cards won't work at the Costco food court or gas stations.
  • EBT purchases are subject to state and federal guidelines on approved food items.

Overall, while there's no direct discount on memberships using EBT, you can still leverage your benefits for in-store grocery purchases at Costco.

The Costco EBT Membership "Discount" Explained

Costco, the warehouse club famous for bulk bargains, might seem like a haven for budget-conscious shoppers. But for those who rely on EBT cards (Electronic Benefits Transfer cards used for SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), a big question arises: can EBT cards unlock a discount on a Costco membership?

The answer isn't a straightforward yes or no. There's no direct way to use your EBT card to pay for a Costco membership. However, there's a smart workaround that lets you leverage your benefits and still enjoy the savings that come with a Costco membership.

Here's how it works:

  • EBT for Costco Shop Cards: A Strategic Move
    • Costco accepts EBT cards for eligible food purchases within the store. You can use your EBT card to buy a Costco Shop Card, essentially converting your benefits into store credit. This Shop Card can then be used to pay for a Costco membership, granting you access to the warehouse's discounted bulk goods.

So, is a Costco membership worth it for EBT users?

It depends on your shopping habits:

  • Bulk Buyers Rejoice: Frequent Costco trips and utilizing bulk quantities can easily make the membership fee worthwhile through grocery savings.
  • Family Size Matters: Larger families tend to benefit more from bulk purchases.
  • Budgeting is Key: If your monthly EBT allocation is tight, a Costco membership might not be ideal.

EBT Eligibility

Here's a breakdown of what qualifies you for the perks of a Costco membership when using an EBT card:

  • Being an EBT Cardholder: This is the first hurdle, but it's just the starting point. You need to be approved for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to receive an EBT card.
  • Meeting Age Requirements: Costco memberships are available to all qualifying individuals 16 years of age and over.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Shop Card for Membership

Costco offers a treasure trove of discounted bulk goods, but the membership fee might seem like a barrier for EBT users. However, there's a clever workaround: using your EBT card to purchase a Costco Shop Card, essentially converting your benefits into store credit for a membership.

Here's a step-by-step guide to unlock savings with this strategy:

  1. Gather Your Supplies
    • Your EBT card (ensure it has sufficient funds to cover the Shop Card value)
    • Valid government-issued ID (driver's license, state ID, etc.)
  2. Head to Costco
    • No membership is required to purchase a Shop Card! You can freely enter the warehouse for this specific purpose.
  3. Locate the Customer Service Desk
    • Most Costco locations have a dedicated customer service area. Look for signage or ask an employee for directions.
  4. Inform the Representative of Your Intent
    • Clearly state that you want to use your EBT card to purchase a Costco Shop Card for the amount you wish to spend (it should cover the membership fee).
  5. Swipe and Verify
    • The customer service representative will guide you through the EBT card swipe process. You might need to enter your PIN for verification.
  6. Receive Your Shop Card
    • Once the transaction is complete, you'll receive a Costco Shop Card loaded with the value you purchased.
  7. Apply for Your Membership (Optional)
    • With your Shop Card in hand, you can head to the membership desk or visit Costco's website to apply for a membership using the Shop Card balance.

Bonus Tip: Keep your receipt for the Shop Card purchase for future reference.

Additional Considerations:

  • Shop Card Denominations: Costco Shop Cards come in various denominations, so choose one that aligns with the membership fee you're interested in (Gold Star or Executive).
  • Remaining Balance: If there's any remaining balance on your Shop Card after paying for the membership, you can use it for future Costco purchases.

By following these steps, you can leverage your EBT benefits to unlock the savings potential of a Costco membership!

Is a Costco Membership Worth It for EBT Shoppers?

The allure of Costco's bulk discounts is undeniable, but for EBT users, the question remains: is a Costco membership a wise investment? The answer depends on several factors specific to your shopping habits and budget. Let's weigh the pros and cons:


  • Bulk Savings: Costco offers significant savings on groceries purchased in bulk. If your household consumes large quantities or has multiple members, these savings can easily outweigh the membership fee.
  • Variety of Products: Costco carries a wide range of food items beyond basic staples, including fresh produce, meat, dairy, and frozen foods. This allows you to potentially fulfill all your grocery needs in one place.
  • High-Quality Products: Costco is known for its high-quality private label brands, offering excellent value for your money.
  • Extended Shelf Life: Bulk purchases often come with longer shelf life, reducing food waste and maximizing your EBT benefits.


  • Upfront Cost: The annual membership fee can be a significant upfront cost, especially if your EBT allocation is tight.
  • Storage Space: Bulk purchases require ample storage space at home. If you live in a small apartment, this might not be feasible.
  • Spoilage Risk: Not all families can utilize large quantities before expiration, potentially leading to food waste and negating the cost savings.
  • Limited Selection: Costco carries a curated selection of products. You might not find all the specific brands or varieties you're accustomed to.

Here are some additional considerations:

  • Family Size: Larger families tend to benefit more from bulk purchases as they can consume larger quantities before spoilage.
  • Shopping Habits: If you're a frequent shopper who readily utilizes bulk items, a Costco membership can be highly advantageous.
  • Compare Prices: While Costco offers bulk discounts, it's still wise to compare prices with other stores, especially for non-bulk items.
Exploring Other Stores for EBT Grocery Savings

While Costco offers a unique approach to maximizing EBT benefits through Shop Cards and bulk purchases, it might not be the perfect fit for everyone. Here are some alternative stores that accept EBT cards and offer strategies for budget-conscious grocery shopping:

National Grocery Chains:

  • Walmart: A widely accessible option with a large selection of groceries at competitive prices. Many locations offer online ordering and EBT pickup options.
  • Target: Known for its brand variety and frequent sales. Explore their Circle rewards program for additional savings on groceries.
  • Aldi: A discount grocery chain focused on private label brands at budget-friendly prices. Their streamlined selection can be helpful for focused shopping trips.

Membership Clubs (Alternatives to Costco):

  • BJ's Wholesale Club: Offers a similar warehouse club experience to Costco with bulk discounts on groceries and household essentials. Check for membership promotions and compare prices before committing.
  • Sam's Club (Walmart): Another warehouse club option with a focus on value and bulk purchases. Explore their membership options and see if they align better with your shopping needs compared to Costco.
Maximize Your EBT Savings

While the Costco Shop Card strategy unlocks a world of discounted bulk goods, it's not the only way for EBT users to save on groceries. Here are some additional tips to stretch your benefits further:

Planning and Organization are Key:

  • Meal Planning: Dedicate some time each week to plan your meals. This helps create a targeted shopping list, preventing impulse buys and ensuring you use your EBT allocation efficiently.
  • Utilize Grocery Apps: Download apps of stores you frequent. These apps often offer digital coupons, loyalty programs, and weekly ad flyers to help you plan your shopping trips and snag the best deals.

Embrace Smart Shopping Strategies:

  • Shop Sales and Clearance Sections: Become familiar with your grocery store's sales cycle. Look for discounted items nearing their expiration date or seasonal clearance sections to maximize your EBT dollars.
  • Consider Store Brands: Store brand products are often significantly cheaper than name brands and offer comparable quality. Give them a try and see if you can find budget-friendly alternatives to your usual items.
  • Compare Unit Prices: Don't be fooled by package size! Always compare unit prices (price per ounce, pound, etc.) to ensure you're getting the most value for your money.

By implementing these strategies and exploring alternative options beyond Costco, you can become a savvy EBT shopper and ensure you get the most out of your grocery budget.

Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use my EBT card to get a discount on a Costco membership?

While there's no direct discount, a clever workaround exists. You can use your EBT card to purchase a Costco Shop Card, essentially turning your benefits into store credit to pay for the membership and unlock bulk-buying discounts.

Does Costco accept EBT cards for groceries?

Yes! Costco accepts EBT cards for eligible food purchases within the store. This includes dairy, fresh produce, meat, and non-alcoholic beverages.

Are there any limitations on using EBT at Costco?

Yes. EBT cards cannot be used for non-food items, the food court, or gas stations. Additionally, purchases are subject to state and federal guidelines on approved food items.

Is a Costco membership worth it for EBT users?

It depends! If you shop frequently, have a large family, and can utilize bulk quantities, the membership fee can be offset by grocery savings. However, consider your budget and storage space before committing.

How do I use my EBT card to buy a Costco Shop Card?

Head to the customer service desk at Costco (no membership needed for this). Inform the representative you want to use your EBT card to purchase a Shop Card with the desired value (enough to cover the membership fee).

What are the different types of Costco memberships for EBT users?

Both Gold Star and Executive memberships are available, regardless of EBT status. Choose based on your shopping habits and if you want cashback rewards (Executive).

Can I use the remaining balance on my Costco Shop Card after paying for the membership?

Absolutely! Any remaining balance can be used for future Costco purchases on eligible items.

Are there any alternatives to Costco for EBT grocery savings?

Yes! Explore options like Walmart, Target, Aldi, BJ's Wholesale Club, or Sam's Club. Each offers EBT acceptance and potentially lower membership fees (compared to Costco).

What are some additional tips for maximizing EBT grocery savings?

Plan meals, utilize grocery store apps, compare unit prices, explore store brands, and consider programs like Double Up Food Bucks (for fresh produce at farmers markets).

Where can I find more information about EBT and healthy eating on a budget?

Look into SNAP-Ed, a free program offering nutrition education on making healthy and budget-friendly meal choices while utilizing your EBT benefits.

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