Electronic benefit transfer: Is it possible to pay in this way at McDonald's?

The EBT system is used to transfer funds (social benefits) under the SNAP and TANF government programs. But this form of payment is not available in all establishments, but only in pre-determined stores and trading companies. The list also depends on the type of a program via which state support is provided.

Do social benefits work in McDonald's restaurants?

According to the standard rules for using EBT cards, McDonald's doesn’t accept these means of payment. But there is a way out of this situation. Only the following categories of citizens can use the loophole described below:

  • people over 60 years old,
  • patients with disabilities,
  • homeless.

Does McDonald’s take EBT? Rules of profitable hot meals

The company doesn’t give the opportunity to pay in the restaurants of the chain using Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. This is true for both restaurant meals and drive-through. But there is a way to spend money for shopping at McDonald's. As you know, you can't just withdraw money from the card for non-targeted purchases.

However, the TANF assistance program allows this action for purchases at fast-food restaurants. Some US states have an RMP (or Restaurant Meals Program) system that is valid for people receiving SNAP benefits. This method helps those visitors who don’t have the opportunity or suitable living conditions that allow them to prepare full meals. This system is not available in all regions. The Arizonian and Californian residents may apply RMP. In states such as:

  • Maryland;
  • Rhode Island;
  • Michigan;
  • Florida;
  • Virginia.

The program is available only in specific districts. In New York and Illinois, social institutions can take part in the RMP via an application for participation in state support programs.

What opportunities does the TANF program give visitors?

TANF or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families provides support to families with children, single mothers and fathers. But such assistance has time limits, and participants must find a job within a certain period. The funds received through this system on EBT cards can also be applied to McDonald's. TANF recipients can also withdraw money to pay not only for hot lunches, but also for apartment bills.

The TANF system was designed to help families get out of poverty by finding a job. But if a person doesn’t find a work within two years, he is removed from receiving state support. This approach has both pros and cons.

Previously, they applied standard food stamps, but then they were abandoned in favor of EBT. One advantage of the SNAP system is the absence of taxation, which makes purchases even more profitable. But social benefits cannot be transferred to third parties, since the system is protected by an individual PIN code. Any fraudulent schemes and operations in obtaining benefits are strictly controlled by the state.

EBT cards are like conventional bank means of payment, and money when using TANF can be:

  • cashed out at ATMs;
  • received in the form of cashback;
  • spent on buying hot food.

You can apply for social support online or at the office at your place of living.

When using SNAP, financial transactions take place at the checkout. The system receives information about the account, and then, the transaction is accepted or rejected. Each person has their own date of monthly crediting of benefits to the account.

Payment options at McDonald's

Does McDonald's take EBT? No. Visitors who often ask this question are also trying to find out about alternative payment options for purchases. Among them:

  • Gift Cards by Arch;
  • Bank Cards (Discover/Visa/Mastercard/AmEx);
  • Google/Apple Pay mobile services.

SNAP: How to apply its features correctly?

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allows customers to do shopping via EBT in retail chains, but they can buy only specific categories of goods. They belong to wholesome nutrition, such as:

  • animal products;
  • bread and cereals;
  • greens and fruit;
  • seeds for growing your own crop, etc.

But non-food products, medicines and alcohol/tobacco are prohibited from EBT purchase, as the program takes care of the health and well-being of children and their parents.

Where does SNAP cards work?

Although people can't pay at McDonald's via EBT system, they shouldn't be upset. Customers can have a snack with SNAP at retail outlets of companies, such as:

  • Domino's;
  • Walmart;
  • Target;
  • Subway;
  • Del Taco;
  • Wendy’s;
  • Publix;
  • City Market;
  • Harvest Foods;
  • Red Apple Markets;
  • Sprouts, etc.

Social benefits in dining establishments

The EBT usage in fast-food restaurants is regulated by local state laws. To do this, the region must take part in the charity program. Therefore, clients should find out the conditions for obtaining state support, which may vary depending on their geographical location. Sometimes additional benefits may be offered.

The social benefits program is available to low-income US citizens, refugees, or immigrants. Social workers consider a total family income, and the amount of money is calculated based on it. Each participant must notify employees of social institutions if their financial situation changes. Just in case, EBT recipients undergo regular verification.


EBT cards cannot be used at McDonald's or other fast-food restaurants. SNAP programs do not cover the purchase of hot meals. But TANF support recipients can withdraw money from the card to have lunch at any fast-food restaurant.

State laws regulate this service, so the terms of use of the special account may change. So far, the RMP program is available in a minimum of states, but it is assumed that in the future the situation will change for the better, since many people need such support.

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