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EBT Cards

  • Electronic Benefit Transfer or EBT is a system for delivering Food Stamp and Families First benefits to eligible Tennesseans. The EBT System does not affect the determination of eligibility for these programs or the level of benefits that customers receive. It is simply a method of delivering the benefits. The issuance of Food Stamp and Families First benefits to needy Tennesseans is performed through the Electronic Benefit Transfer process.

    Electronic Benefit Transfer is an on-line system in which food stamp and cash assistance benefits are stored in a central computer database and electronically accessed by customers at a point-of-sale machine via reusable plastic cards. In Tennessee, these EBT cards are called Benefit Security Cards.

    Tennessee ’s EBT program began in November 1998 with a pilot project involving four counties. The program was then implemented over a period of several months, with full implementation of EBT completed in August 1999. There are many advantages to Tennessee having an EBT system. Food coupons and paper checks are no longer issued and accounted for on a monthly basis. The EBT issuance process is streamlined, safe, and convenient. Other advantages of the EBT process include the following:

    Allowing the DHS offices to expedite services and changes
    Eliminating customers' monthly trips to the office or waiting on the postman
    Automating the delivery process
    Helping to eliminate fraud and misuse of benefits
    Saving taxpayers' money.

    ATTENTION FAMILIES FIRST RECIPIENTS:
    Under Federal law, it is illegal for you to use your EBT card at the following locations: liquor stores, casinos and adult cabarets (strip clubs). The Tennessee Department of Human Services has increased monitoring EBT card usage and enforcement. Effective July 1, 2014 additional penalties will apply if benefits are misused. Restricted businesses are also subject to penalties.

    video icon  VIDEO:  Your Tennessee EBT Card


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    Contact information

    EBT Customer Service : 1-888-997-9444
    EBT Merchant Service: 1-800-350-8533

    If you’re a retailer interested in becoming authorized to accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits please contact the USDA, Food & Nutrition Service to start this process. This can be accomplished by contacting them at

    1-877-823-4369 or go to: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/application-process.htm
    Family Assistance Service Center: Toll-Free 1-866-311-4287 or 615-743-2000