Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT, is a system that allows financial aid recipients to buy goods with their federal and state welfare funds EBT was established following the overhaul of the old physical food stamp system. The program allows users to swipe magnetic stripe cards at participating retailers in a process that closely resembles PIN debit payments. The cardholder simply swipes the card, enters a secret PIN, and is either authorized or denied the purchase amount. The merchant then receives the payment electronically just like other card transactions.
A common misconception about EBT cards is that they are exclusively used to purchase food at grocery stores. This is only true of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds, which are intended to help families afford basic food staples. Funds from other government programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and state-funded aid can be spent in a manner similar to cash. This means that even if you don’t sell groceries, you may still benefit from accepting EBT payments from customers.
Here is a list of highly rated merchant services providers that offer EBT processing in addition to their own merchant accounts. Although EBT payments are not subject to interchange costs, processors are still permitted to charge a reasonable amount for processing EBT transactions. You should therefore be sure to inquire about all potential costs before adding EBT acceptance for your customers.
Top-Rated Merchant Services for Accepting EBT Payments
Host Merchant Services
Host Merchant Services is a Newark, Delaware-based merchant account provider that is well-suited for most general business types and some high risk merchants. In addition to EBT acceptance, the company’s products and services include point-of-sale solutions (with specific packages for the restaurant, salon, professional service, and contractor sectors), online marketing tools, an online payment gateway and virtual terminal, mobile credit card processing, gift and loyalty programs, merchant cash advance, and offshore merchant accounts. Host Merchant Services specializes in e-commerce businesses and provides a free website and email address to interested merchants.
Host Merchant Services has received only positive feedback on public forums, with most reviewers singling out the company’s customer service for praise. Host offers interchange-plus pricing with no early termination fees to all of its merchants, meaning that users will enjoy the most transparent pricing model and can cancel service without penalty. The BBB gives Host an “A+” rating, and CPO also gives the company an “A+.”
Based in Woodland Hills, California, PaymentCloud is a merchant account provider that specializes in serving nearly any business with need to accept EBT payments. Along with EBT, the company also provides payment processing services for businesses in a wide array of industries and assigns a dedicated account manager to all its merchant customers for the life of the account.
Custom Pricing Plans
The company has not received any EBT complaints on consumer forums, and it customizes its pricing according to each merchant’s business type and processing history. The BBB does not maintain a profile for PaymentCloud at this time, but CPO gives the company an “A.”
Founded in 1998, CDG Commerce is a merchant account provider that provides online, mobile, and traditional face-to-face credit card acceptance. The company has offices in Virginia and in California and specializes in e-commerce solutions like online payment gateways and integrated shopping carts. CDG Commerce is also able to provide “future-proof” terminals that can process EBT payments and are designed to remain compatible with new payment technologies as they emerge. The company currently maintains an “A+” rating with both CardPaymentOptions.com and the BBB.
Selecting the right credit card processor for EBT payment acceptance is a crucial step for businesses catering to a diverse customer base. A business should prioritize seeking a processor with a strong reputation for reliability and security, as well as competitive transaction fees and responsive customer support. Additionally, the processor should offer seamless integration with the business’s existing systems, along with compatibility across various platforms and devices. By choosing one of our recommendations above, businesses can secure an EBT payment processor that optimizes their operations, fosters customer satisfaction, and ultimately contributes to their long-term success.