Electronic Benefit Transfer

What is Electronic Benefit Transfer?
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that replaced paper food stamp coupons with a card that is like a credit or bank card. North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) recipients use EBT cards to access FNS benefits. EBT cards can be used at any USDA authorized retailer. Most major grocery stores are USDA authorized retailers.

How does EBT work?
Food and Nutrition Services recipients apply for their benefits by filling out a form at their local DSS office. Once eligibility and level of benefits have been determined, an account is established in the participant's name, and benefits are deposited electronically in the account each month. A plastic card, like a bank card, is issued and a personal identification number (PIN) is assigned or chosen by the recipient to give access to the account. Recipients may change the PIN at any time. Training is available to recipients who have any problems accessing the system.

When paying for groceries, the FNS customer's card is run through an electronic reader or a point of sale terminal (POS), and the recipient enters the PIN to access the account. If there are benefits in the account, the recipient's account is debited for the amount of the purchase. The store receipt shows the amount of benefits remaining in the recipient's account.

What is Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT)
The Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program helps families purchase food for children whose access to free or reduced-priced meals at school has been impacted by COVID-19. The purpose of P-EBT program is to provide a food assistance benefit for North Carolina (NC) households with students that are always not attending school in a brick-and-mortar building. Families do not need to apply for P-EBT. Eligibility for P-EBT will be determined through student and learning circumstances during the 2020 – 2021 school year. For more information about P-EBT and who is eligible to receive this benefit please visit www.ncdhhs.gov/pebt.

EBT Issuance Information
Your EBT benefits will be available on the same day each month according to the last digit of your social security number, even if that day is on weekend or holiday.

If your SSN ends in: Your benefits will be available after 6 a.m. on the:
1 3rd day of every month
2 5th day of every month
3 7th day of every month
4 9th day of every month
5 11th day of every month
6 13th day of every month
7 15th day of every month
8 17th day of every month
9 19th day of every month
0 21st day of every month

Benefits are available on the 3rd day of every month if you do not have a Social Security Number.

Remember to check your balance before you shop.
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) are not issued following the same timeframe as regular FNS benefits on an EBT card. For more information on P-EBT and when benefits will be issued, please visit www.ncdhhs.gov/pebt.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if my card is lost or stolen?
If your card is lost or stolen report it immediately by calling 1-888-622-7328. You can speak or press your answers such as yes, no or card number into the telephone. Say each number separately. For example: 30 is “three zero”; 57 is “five seven”.

How do I change my PIN?
To change your PIN, call the toll-free number on the back of your EBT card. Follow the automated instructions to change the PIN. Assistance is available from a customer service representative 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What if I forgot my PIN?
If you forget your PIN, you must call 1-888-622-7328 to get a new PIN. If you try to use the wrong PIN four times in a row, you will be required to select a new PIN or wait until after 12:01 a.m. the next day to try again.

How can I check my balance?
There are several ways to check FNS balances 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Using your card number, you can: 

  • Call 1-888-622-7328.
  • Visit www.ebtedge.com. Click on More Information under EBT Cardholders.
  • Download the ebtEDGE mobile app. The app is available as a free download on the Apple Store and Google Play.