California EBT Card

The California EBT Card, also known as the Golden State Advantage Card, is an electronic system that provides convenient access to public assistance benefits. This article will serve as your guide to understanding how the EBT card works in California.

What is the California EBT Card?

The California EBT Card is a secure card used to receive CalFresh (food stamps), CalWORKs (cash aid), and other state-funded programs. It functions similarly to a debit card, allowing recipients to access their benefits electronically at authorized retailers and ATMs.

EBT card

This replaces the traditional method of receiving paper checks or vouchers, making it more efficient and convenient for recipients to access their benefits.

Benefits of Using the EBT Card

  • Convenience: EBT cards offer a safe and secure way to access benefits, eliminating the need for paper checks.
  • Safer Transactions: EBT cards minimize the risk of loss or theft compared to cash benefits.
  • Tracking Expenses: Recipients can easily track their spending habits through online account access or mobile app features (depending on the county).

Where Can I Use My EBT Card?

You can use your EBT card at authorized retailers displaying the Quest® logo throughout California and nationwide. Look for the Quest® symbol at stores and ATMs to confirm they accept EBT cards.

Approved Use:

  • Groceries (including seeds and plants that produce food) at authorized retailers.
  • Farmers Markets accepting EBT cards.
  • In some counties, qualifying individuals can use EBT cards to purchase prepared meals at approved restaurants.

Not Allowed:

  • Alcohol, tobacco products, and gambling.
  • Non-food items like clothing, personal care products, and household goods (unless authorized by a specific program).

How to Check Your Balance and Manage Your Account

  • EBT Cardholder Portal: The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) offers a web portal ( where you can check your balance, view transaction history, and manage your account.
  • Mobile App: Some counties provide mobile app functionalities for EBT cardholders. Contact your local county agency for details.
  • Customer Service: You can also call the EBT customer service number located on the back of your card to inquire about your balance and report any issues.

Lost or Stolen Card

If your EBT card is lost or stolen, immediately call customer service at (877) 328-9677. Reporting a lost or stolen card prevents unauthorized use and ensures a timely replacement.

Remember: For specific details and program eligibility, contact your local county agency that administers public assistance benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for an EBT card online?

While you can’t apply directly for the EBT card itself, you can often apply for benefits like CalFresh or CalWORKs online through portals like or Once approved for benefits, you’ll receive your EBT card.

Can I use my EBT card to withdraw cash?

Yes, you can withdraw cash from ATMs displaying the Quest® logo. However, some banks may charge a fee for using your EBT card at their ATMs.

What happens to unused benefits on my EBT card?

Unused benefits remain on your card and roll over to the next month. Benefits do not expire throughout the year.

Can I use my EBT card outside of California?

Yes, your EBT card works at authorized retailers nationwide that display the Quest® logo.

Is there an income limit for getting a California EBT Card?

Income limits vary depending on the program you qualify for. CalFresh has income limitations, while CalWORKs considers factors like family size and work participation.

Who is eligible for an EBT card in California?

You don’t directly qualify for the EBT card itself. Eligibility comes from receiving benefits through programs like CalFresh (food stamps) or CalWORKs (cash aid). Each program has its own income requirements, family size considerations, and work participation factors.

Is EBT the same as CalFresh?

EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) is the electronic system used to deliver benefits like CalFresh (food stamps) in California. So, the EBT card is the tool to access CalFresh benefits, but they are not the same program.

Can I use my California EBT card for gas?

No, you cannot purchase gasoline with your EBT card. EBT is meant for food purchases.

Can I use my California EBT card at an ATM?

Yes, you can withdraw cash from ATMs displaying the Quest® logo. Be aware that some banks may charge a fee for this service.

Can I use my California EBT card at restaurants?

In most cases, no. However, some counties allow individuals facing specific circumstances (like homelessness or disability) to use a portion of their benefits to purchase prepared meals at authorized restaurants.

Can you buy McDonald’s with EBT in California?

Generally not. The program is designed for grocery purchases, not fast food. However, some counties may have specific restaurant meal programs using EBT for qualified individuals.

Does Walmart accept California EBT?

Yes, Walmart accepts California EBT cards as long as they display the Quest® logo at the store.

Can I transfer EBT cash to PayPal?

No, EBT benefits cannot be transferred to personal accounts like PayPal.

Can I use California EBT on Amazon?

Currently, California does not participate in online grocery shopping with EBT cards. However, there are pilot programs being explored for the future.

What can’t you buy with EBT in California?

EBT cards cannot be used for alcohol, tobacco products, gambling, non-food items (like clothing, personal care products), or hot food (unless authorized by a specific program in your county).

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