Electronic Benefit Transfer Program

The Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program 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 benefits they need by using a Lone Star EBT card to purchase basic essentials.

Texas stores interested in participating as a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program retailer can visit the Retailers and Processors FAQ page.

The EBT program operates 24/7 to provide consistent and rapid issuance of benefits to Texans. The EBT program 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 clients 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 clients, 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. Clients must enter their 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 (TPP) network to the Texas EBT host system. The EBT system then locates the client's benefits, records the purchase and reduces the client'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 and any adjustments that are received during the day are totaled, and financial reports are created for use by the TPP and by HHSC administrative staff. The purchase amount is processed that night, transferring funds from federal and state sources to the TPP. The TPP then transmits payment to the individual retailers.