Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions about using your card, see if we've posted the answer here.
Where can I use my card?
Stores post signs with the "Quest" card logo. In the lower left hand corner, these signs will display a simple "food supplements" logo, a dollar sign ($), or both. This indicates whether that store will let you use your card as payment for food (from your food supplements account), other items (from your TANF account), or both. On the sample sign here, there are two small logos. A store displaying this sign would accept your card to buy both food and other items.
Do I need to have my photo taken to get an EBT card?
You may have heard that the federal government has challenged DHHS on its practice of issuing EBT cards with photos. See news article here. Basically, the rule is that no one is required to have a photo on her EBT card. Also, people who are elderly or disabled should not even be asked if they want an EBT photo. MEJP posts all of the rules here. If you do not want your photo taken and DHHS doesn't allow you that choice, contact us or MEJP.
What can I buy with my EBT card?
If you get food supplements (or SNAP), you can buy food with you EBT card. Food includes everything from breads to seeds and plants to grow food. You cannot use your food supplements to buy hot foods, alcohol, cigarettes, pet food, paper products, medicine, or household supplies.
You cannot use your food supplements to buy:
or household supplies.
Here is more information about what you can and cannot buy with your food supplements.
If you get TANF, you can use those benefits to buy things your household needs.
You cannot use your TANF EBT card to:
- Buy tobacco products, alcohol, or imitation alcohol,
- Gamble or buy lottery tickets,
- Pay bail,
- buy vacation or travel services,
- buy firearms or ammunition
- Get a tattoo,
- Or buy obscene items, such as pornographic magazines.
If your EBT card is used to buy these things, DHHS will automatically set up a hearing to determine whether or not you broke the law. You will continue to get your benefits until the hearing.
If DHHS finds that you used your EBT card to buy banned items, the penalties are very serious. First, any money spent on banned items will need to be paid back. You can also lose your benefits for:
- 3 months the first time
- 1 year the second time, and
- 2 years every time after that
You should visit Maine Equal Justice Partners for more information on these hearings, and about what you can and can't use your EBT card of TANF cash to buy.
Why is it so important not to let anyone have my card or my PIN number?
If someone else uses your card, you lose. So, it is important to protect your card, and your PIN, as if they were cash. Also, never write your PIN number on your card. If you lose your card, someone then has both your card and your PIN.
If you lose your card or need to change your PIN, call 1-800-477-7428.
How can I get cash?
Assuming that you get cash benefits (e.g. TANF), some stores will let you get cash back above the cost of your purchase. Some stores will allow a cash withdrawal without a purchase. The store policy controls. Hannaford and Shaws, for example, will allow up to $200 cash withdrawal per day, when you make a purchase.
You can also make ATM withdrawals. You will have two free ATM withdrawals per month at ATM's that do not surcharge. Each extra ATM use will cost you 65 cents.
How can I avoid surcharges?
Many locations do not have surcharges. For example in York and Cumberland County, 385 out of 560 locations were surcharge free (at the beginning of the program). So to avoid surcharges, shop around. Also, remember that after two ATM withdrawals in one month, you will be charged 65 cents for each additional withdrawal.
Can I make a food purchase and a cash purchase at the same time?
Yes, assuming that store accepts use of the card for both. However, you have to swipe the card and enter your PIN twice. This will be two separate transactions.
What if I run into problems trying to use my card?
Call the toll-free Customer Service Number 1-800-477-7428 at any time, day or night. Have your card ready. You are asked to enter your card number, to get past the computerized answering service.
Can I use my card if I am out of state?
Can I still use my food supplements at the local farmer's market?
Yes. Farmers markets can still accept food supplements by using paper vouchers. Some may also be set up to use your card.
More details about using your EBT card:
- Maine Equal Justice Partners
- Maine Pine Tree card website
- Federal Food and Nutritional Services (USDA)
Updated March 2009, partially updated October 2016
PTLA # 733