Electronic Benefit Transfer Program

The Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system delivers Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits to Texas recipients. This mission-critical function of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) provides Texas households with easy access to the benefits they need by using a Lone Star EBT card to purchase basic essentials. Texas retailers interested in participating as a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program visit the Retailers & Processors FAQ page.

EBT operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with its primary goal remaining that of consistent, rapid issuance and safe, simple, continuous access to benefits for Texas citizens. The EBT system processes approximately $6 billion in SNAP and TANF benefits each year, making it one of the largest and most successful EBT systems in the nation.

Texas customers can access their benefits in more than 20,700 participating retail locations across the State. Eligibility determination staff in offices across Texas use a web-based EBT software application to issue Lone Star Cards (magnetic-stripe plastic cards).

For customers, the process to access their benefits is simple. The Lone Star Card is swiped at a retailer location for payment in the same way that a commercial debit card, such as Visa or Mastercard, is swiped. The customer must enter his or her personal identification number (PIN), which protects the card from use by unauthorized people. The transaction is carried from the point-of-sale (POS) device at the retailer location through a third-party processor's (TPP's) network to the Texas EBT host system. The EBT system then locates the customer’s benefits, records the purchase, and reduces the customer’s available benefit balance by the amount of the purchase. A response authorizing the purchase is generated and returned to the POS device in a matter of seconds.

All EBT transactions for purchases on a given day and any adjustments that are received during the day are totaled and financial reports are created for use by the TPPs, as well as by HHSC administrative staff. The purchase amount is processed that night, transferring funds from federal and state sources to the TPPs. The processors then transmit payment to the individual retailers.