Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT)

An Easier, Safer Way to Receive Food Stamps and Cash Assistance

Food Stamp benefits and cash assistance are now being issued electronically to residents of Albany County and other areas of eastern New York State. The current eligibility process for cash assistance and Food Stamp benefits remains the same. The Department of Social Services will continue to authorize benefits to eligible households, but people will receive the cash and Food Stamps through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT). This new approach -- which works just like an ATM debit card -- will provide more convenience and security for low-income residents of Albany County.

Food Stamp benefits will be electronically available through a debit, or spend-down, system. Food Stamp coupons will no longer be used. The check-out process at a grocery store counter will look just like any other ATM card transaction. The cost of the groceries will be deducted directly from the person’s electronic Food Stamp account. Cash will be issued via the debit card at participating businesses or ATM’s. Cash and Food Stamps will be available to qualified households anywhere the QUEST logo is displayed.

EBT offers numerous advantages to customers, to stores who accept Food Stamps, and to the Food Stamp program itself.

  • Customers will be able to manage their Food Stamp dollars better, since they will not have to pick up their entire month’s worth of coupons all at once at the beginning of each month.
  • Since people can withdraw the funds in small amounts as needed, Food Stamps and cash assistance will be more secure from theft or loss.
  • Privacy will be further protected because grocery purchases will not be readily noticed as Food Stamp transactions by other customers.
  • Stores will see immediate savings in administrative costs now associated with counting and banking the Food Stamp coupons.
  • Removing the coupons from the Food Stamp program will decrease illegal trafficking in Food Stamp benefits.
  • EBT will save the costs of printing and securely distributing the coupons month after month.
  • This means that even more Food Stamp benefits will accomplish their intended use -- to reduce hunger while enhancing nutrition and health.

Toll-free Telephone Numbers for Help with EBT

Customer Service: 1-888-328-6399 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Call customer service to report a lost or stolen EBT card, change your PIN, check how much cash or Food Stamps you have available, report any problems in receiving your cash or Food Stamps, ask general questions.

Locator Service: 1-800-289-6739 (Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 5:00pm)
Call the locator service to find participating stores and ATM’s that do not charge extra to access your cash benefits.