How to Use the Tennessee EBT Card

by Loletrazina Church ; Updated July 27, 2017
You can purchase eligible food items with the Tennessee EBT card.

The Tennessee EBT card is an Electronic Benefits Transfer card program that started in 1998. The EBT card system is used to transfer food stamp and "Families First" cash benefits to eligible recipients. The benefits are transferred to the card monthly throughout your time of eligibility. An application process determines your eligibility. You can apply for food stamp or "Families First" benefits by visiting your local Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Step 1

Receive your Tennessee EBT card in the mail five to seven business days after you have received approval for food stamp or cash benefits.

Step 2

Activate the card by calling the toll-free number on the back of your card and following the prompts of the automated system. Enter and confirm your four-digit PIN, as you will need to register a personal identification number before you can use your card.

Step 3

Go to your local grocery store or participating grocery vendor and select the eligible items you would like to purchase. Make sure the store or vendor accepts cards with the "Quest" logo. You can use your Tennessee EBT card anywhere the "Quest" logo is accepted.

Step 4

Take your grocery items to the cashier and swipe the card as you would a debit or credit card at the point-of-sale terminal. Select "EBT" as your form of payment.

Step 5

Enter your PIN and wait for your transaction to process. If you have enough funds available on your card, your transaction will be approved.

Step 6

Pay for any non-eligible items with cash or with your cash benefits. If you receive cash benefits on your card, you may also use it to request cash back at the register or an ATM teller machine.

Step 7

Take your purchases and receipt before leaving the store and make sure you have your Tennessee EBT card. Your available food stamp balance and the total for the eligible items are calculated and printed on your receipt.


  • Choose a PIN that you will remember and others won't be able to figure out. If your Tennessee EBT card is lost or stolen, contact the EBT Customer Service at .


  • Don't share your four-digit PIN.

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About the Author

Based in Georgia, Loletrazina Church has been a professional freelance writer for more than 24 years. She has written several health-care articles and advertisement publications for websites such as and Church attended Delgado College with a major in surgical technology.

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