Frequently Asked Questions
What is EBT?
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is how you will receive and use CalFresh and Cash, CalWORKs, Refugee Cash Assistance, General Relief and Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants benefits. You use a plastic card called a Golden State Advantage Card (EBT Card) and a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to spend these benefits.
How will I get an EBT (Golden State Advantage) card and PIN?
The EBT (Golden State Advantage) Card comes in the mail for most participants. You also will receive a Personal Identification Number (PIN) in a separate mailing. If you use the District Office address for your mail, you must pick up your EBT (Golden State Advantage) Card in the District Office. You can select a PIN at that time or call the toll-free Customer Service Center number (1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929). You need both the Card and PIN to use your CalFresh benefits and your cash benefits.
Who can use the EBT (Golden State Advantage) card and PIN?
The CalFresh head of household and cash case payee will receive a card and PIN. Also, whoever you designate in writing as your Authorized Representative/alternate cardholder or protective payee (if you have one) will receive a card. Contact your worker if you want to designate an Authorized Representative/alternate cardholder.
Note: Whoever you choose as your Authorized Representative or alternate cardholder, that person will have FULL ACCESS to your benefits, just as you do. Be sure you choose someone you really trust. If you no longer want an Authorized Representative/alternate cardholder or want to choose someone else, contact your worker.
What do I need to do when I receive my card?
You need to do the following:
Sign your EBT (Golden State Advantage) card.
You cannot use your card unless your benefits are available for access. If you have any questions about when your benefits will be available, contact your worker.
Keep your card safe.
Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and NEVER write it on the card, the cardholder, or on anything else you keep with your card.
NEVER give your card or PIN to anyone else.
Report a lost, stolen, or damaged EBT (Golden State Advantage) card immediately by calling the Customer Service Center number (1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929) located on the back of the card.
Where can I use my EBT (Golden State Advantage) card?
You can use your EBT card at any store or ATM that displays the Quest® mark throughout California and across the country. To find specific locations, click here.
ATMs (Automated Teller Machines)
Get your cash at ATMs that are Surcharge Free.
Make four (4) or fewer withdrawals from ATMs each month to avoid a Transaction Fee.
Know which stores will allow cash-only withdrawals without a purchase.
Know which stores provide cash-back with a purchase. (If you make a purchase and get cash back, it does NOT count as one of your four cash only withdrawals.)
Know which stores sell money orders.
Note: You can also use your EBT (Golden State Advantage) Card at an ATM if there is a QUEST© sign showing. They are located at some banks, credit unions, check cashers, grocery stores, and other places where you buy things.
You Must Know Your Neighborhood. You must know where your EBT Card is accepted in your community.
How do I use my EBT (Golden State Advantage) card at an ATM?
Follow these steps when you use an ATM to get your cash:
Put your card into the machine. Sometimes you will only need to slide your card through an opening in the machine. A picture next to the slot will show you which way to slide the card.
Enter your PIN (secret numbers).
Press the button that says "WITHDRAWAL."
Enter the dollar amount you want. The machine will give you a choice of amounts or ask you to tell it exactly how much you want in whole dollar amounts. Whole dollar means the amount end in zero and no cents. For example: You can ask for $20.00, but you can't ask for $21.50.
Note: Remember, you can only get as much cash as you have available in your cash account. If you ask for more than you have in your cash account, the screen will tell you, and the machine will not give you cash.
Select "CORRECT" if the amount you entered is right. Choose "CANCEL" if the amount is wrong.
At some ATMs, you will be charged a small fee for getting cash. Watch the screen on the machine, it will tell you if you have to pay a fee. You will not be charged a fee if you stop what you are doing and press "NO" or "CANCEL." You will get your card back and you will not receive any cash. If you continue, you will be charged a fee, which will be taken from the amount of cash you have available.
Take your cash from the machine. Put it in a safe place.
The machine will ask you whether you want another transaction (whether you want to withdraw more cash). Press "YES" or "NO."
Wait for your card and receipt.
DO NOT count your cash at the ATM. Go to a safe place and then count your money. If you do not get the right amount of money, call the toll-free Customer Service Center number (1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929) on the back of your card right away.
Keep your receipt. It tells you how much money is left in your account.
What fees will I pay to use my EBT (Golden State Advantage) card?
There are NO fees for:
Checking the amount of CalFresh benefits you have left.
Purchases with cash benefits (food or non-food).
Purchasing meals at restaurants participating in the Restaurant Meals Program for the aged, disabled or homeless.
Fees ARE charged for:
Checking the cash balance at the ATM will cost $0.25.
How will I know if there is a fee to get my cash?
If a store or ATM charges you a "Surcharge" for using your EBT card, the fee must be posted.
Learn which stores and ATMs DO NOT charge a fee to give you cash.
There are two types of fees you may find when using your EBT card, Surcharges and Transaction Fees. You can avoid paying if you know how.
Some ATM owners charge a "Surcharge" for using their ATMs, usually between $1 and $2. Some ATMs DO NOT charge you.
Your County welfare office or you can click here to find the nearest ATM/POS.
Each month you can make four (4) cash only withdrawals from your EBT account without paying a Transaction Fee. After four (4) cash only withdrawals in one month, you will be charged an $0.80 Transaction Fee for each cash-only withdrawal you make from an ATM.
Note: Remember, there are many ways to get your cash benefits with your EBT card, and if you know the facts, you can avoid Transaction Fees.
How do I avoid paying Transaction Fees?
To avoid Transaction Fees, DON'T go to an ATM more than four (4) times a month! Don't make small withdrawals at an ATM. All ATMs can give you at least $200 at one time; many can give you $500 or more at one time.
For CalFresh, there is no minimum amount per transaction required, nor is there a maximum on the number of transactions you make.
Where can I get my cash without a Transaction Fee?
There are NO Transaction Fees if you use your EBT Card at a store Point-of-Sale (POS):
If you only need a small amount of cash, you can get it at most supermarkets for free. Usually you don't even need to make a purchase.
Make purchases directly with your EBT card at participating stores without using cash.
Purchases With Cash Back
Get cash back when you make a purchase with your cash EBT card, instead of using ATMs.
Buy a Money Order With Your EBT Card to Pay Your Bills
Many stores sell money orders. Money orders are safe and inexpensive, but there is a small fee to buy a money order.
Where can I get a list of where I can get my cash without a Surcharge?
Your County welfare office can help or you can click here to find the nearest ATM/POS, or ask your worker for the book of ATMs, stores and Farmer's Markets where you can get your cash benefits. The book can tell you:
ATMs (Automated Teller Machines)
The name and address of ATMs.
If there is a Surcharge and the amount of the Surcharge Fee.
How much money you can get at one time from the ATM.
The name and address of stores that will accept your EBT card.
How much cash you can get at one time from the store.
If you have to make a purchase at a store to get cash back.
If a store sells money orders.
What is a POS?
POS stands for Point-of-Sale. It is a device at the cash register in some stores. You can buy food with your CalFresh benefits and food or non-food items with your cash benefits. Sometimes you can get cash too if the QUEST® sign has a dollar sign on it.
How do I use my EBT (Golden State Advantage) card at a POS?
Follow these steps when using a POS.
Before you shop, check your last receipt (or call the toll-free Customer Service Center number at 1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929) to find out how much of your benefits you have left.
At the checkout lane, press the "EBT" button on the POS device.
Press the "CalFresh" button when using CalFresh benefits or the "Cash" button when using cash benefits.
Slide your card through the opening on the device.
Note: If you have problems, the cashier will help. NEVER give the cashier your PIN.
Enter your PIN.
If the amount is right, press "ENTER."
What will happen if the POS device is not working?
If the device is not working, the cashier will fill out a form called a "voucher." This form will have your EBT (Golden State Advantage) Card number and the amount you spent. You will sign the form. Keep your receipt.
Can I get cash at a POS?
Yes, at some POS devices, you can also get cash. Follow these steps:
Before you shop, check your last receipt or call the toll-free Customer Service Center number (1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929) to find out how much money you have left.
At some POS devices, you will have to pay a small fee to get cash if you do not buy anything (cash only withdrawal). Watch for any warning signs. You can go somewhere else if you do not want to pay the fee.
At the POS device, press "EBT."
Press the button for "CASH."
Slide your card through the opening on the device. If you have problems, the cashier can help, but DO NOT give or tell the cashier your PIN.
Enter your PIN.
Enter the amount of cash you would like to receive.
If the amount you entered is right, press "ENTER."
Wait for your cash and your receipt.
What is direct deposit?
Direct Deposit is when your cash benefits will automatically be put in your bank or credit union account each month. If you have a bank or credit union account, call your worker if you want Direct Deposit information. Direct Deposit is the best way to avoid paying fees for cash withdrawals.
What are my rights and responsibilities?
Your rights and responsibilities are:
After you receive your card, if anyone uses your card and PIN without your permission, benefits will not be replaced. The exception to this is when cash benefits are used afteryou have reported your card lost, stolen or damaged. Only the benefits used after your report will be replaced.
It is your responsibility to promptly report to your worker if you change your address. Lost, stolen or damaged cards may be reported immediately to the toll-free Customer Service Center (1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or to your worker.
Note: Since the phone number for the toll-free Customer Service Center number (1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929) is on the back of the card, copy the phone number and keep it somewhere safe in your house. This way, if your card is lost, stolen, or damaged you will still be able to call Customer Service right away.
You can change your PIN by calling the toll-free Customer Service Center number (1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929) on the back of the card to choose a new PIN.
You should receive a receipt each time you use the card. Your receipt will show your account balance, or you can call the toll-free Customer Service Center number (1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929) to check your balance for free.
You may also receive a two month transaction history by calling the Customer Service Center number (1-877-328-9677 or the TTY at 1-800-735-2929) on your card and asking that it be mailed to you.
You can receive CalFresh coupons if you move to an area that does not have EBT. Call your worker.
Is Training Available?
If you need help using your card, PIN, or making your card work, training is available. Contact your worker with questions you may have or to receive training.
Can I authorize someone else to have or use my EBT card?
Yes, ask your Eligibility Worker how to get an Alternate EBT Cardholder. The person you chose will have access to your EBT food benefit and/or cash aid benefit accounts. This person will have a separate card with his or her own account number and Personal Identification Number (PIN). The EBT System will enable us to track which card is used to access your account.
Will the Alternate Cardholder be able to use all of my food and/or cash benefits?
Yes, the Alternate Cardholder will have access to all of your benefits. It is not possible to limit the access.
Can I choose which account/benefit the Alternate Cardholder has access to?
Yes, you can choose which account they have access – either your food or cash account.
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