EBT Merchant Services Explained


EBT has been talked about greatly of late, so what is it and should your business be using it? Below we explain EBT in more detail, talk about who uses it, and advise whether you should look into it in more detail. Let’s begin by explaining what EBT is.

What is EBT?

EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. This is a method used by the government to pay benefits to households on low incomes. The system works by paying the money onto an EBT card. This is like a debit card and can be used at authorized retailers to buy goods that are approved by the government as essentials. The advantage is that the retailer gets the custom, and the buyer can only spend their benefit award on goods that are approved. The card works as a standard PIN debit card, so there is no new hardware required for retailers that already take payments that way.

How Do I Register to Accept EBT Payments?

If you are a retailer who does not yet take EBT payments, you must first register as a SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) retailer. If you are already a SNAP retailer you can be taking EBT payments already. Once you register with SNAP you get a number that is known as an FNS number, this being your registration number. Once you have this you should contact an EBT merchant services provider such as Host Merchant Services and start the ball rolling to take EBT payments.

What Equipment Do I Need?

When you contact the EBT merchant services provider as above they may send you a new PIN terminal free of charge. They will do this when necessary. Should you already accept PIN payments you are ready to go, and if not, you will need to contact your service provider to have PIN payments activated. It’s quick and easy, and you will be up and running in no time. All EBT payments are made straight to your bank as with any other PIN payment, so that’s extra sales for you.

What is the Cost?

The cost of the equipment needed to take EBT payments is nothing. To take payments there is a $0.10 charge per transaction, which is among the lowest of all card payments. There are no other fees thanks to the EBT scheme being a government run program, so this is the cheapest form of card payment you can take. It will allow you to take business on that you could not if you were not previously registered as a SNAP retailer and is worth taking the few minutes to sign up for.

We recommend you register as a SNAP retailer and obtain your 7-digit FNS number. Once you have this, get in touch with one of the team at Host Merchant Services and register with us. We’ll do the rest – including supplying you with a free card payment terminal if needed – and all you need to do is start taking payments from EBT cards.

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