How to Make Money With Food Stamps – Legally!

The average SNAP recipient only gets $126 per month in food stamp benefits. That’s better than $0 of course, but $126 doesn’t go far at the grocery store unless you rock at frugal living.

That’s why many food stamp recipients supplement their benefits with cash back from rebates, coupon overages, and cash reward apps. You can use this money for more food or put it toward household necessities, utilities, and rent.

Oh, and you don’t have to be a food stamp recipient to use the ideas below. I just tailored this article toward EBT cardholders because I’ve had a lot of food stamp recipients contact me with questions about supplementing their budgets.

Image credit: Pixabay

Before we continue, I need to add a disclaimer:

After carefully researching this topic, I believe you can legally make money from food stamps using the methods below. However, state and federal guidelines for food stamp benefits change regularly. Please protect yourself by reviewing current food stamp guidelines before you earn money using any of the methods mentioned in this article. 

Okay, let’s jump right into money-making options for food stamp recipients. FYI, some of these links are affiliate links, but I only promote brands/companies/products that I actually like.


Ibotta is hands-down my favorite cash rewards app. To date, I’ve earned more than $1000 with Ibotta by redeeming cash-back offers for food, toilet paper, shampoo, soap, and cat food. One thing I love about this app is they have “any item” offers a few times a week. I’ve been getting $0.25 back for “any receipt” offers once a week for as long as I can remember. Probably years.

Click here to get $10 for joining Ibotta.

Ibotta is easy to use, and it’s accepted at most major retailers. I use it at Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Schnucks, Dierbergs, and

Here’s a basic rundown of how Ibotta works:

  1. Select offers that interest you.
  2. Buy the required product(s).
  3. Scan your receipt.
  4. Wait for earnings to appear in your account (mine often appear within an hour, but I’ve waited as long as 48 hours).

You can cash out your Ibotta rewards whenever you have at least $20 in your account. You get $10 just for joining, so it’s not too tricky to reach $20. I usually send my $20 to PayPal so I can access it right away, but you can also send your Ibotta earnings to Venmo or use your funds to buy a gift card.

Checkout 51

If you prefer paper checks over PayPal/Venmo, download Checkout 51. I request a paper check whenever my account reaches $20. I’ve heard some users have PayPal redemption as an option, but I’ve never seen it in my account.

Checkout 51 works pretty much the same way as Ibotta, but I find it more difficult to use. Offers aren’t organized as well as they are on Ibotta, and fewer stores work with Checkout 51 offers. Also, Checkout 51 usually doesn’t let you use coupons or Target Cartwheel with offers, but Ibotta does.

Gift Card Promotions

Okay, gift cards technically aren’t cash, but you can use them to buy diapers, cleaning supplies, and whatever else you need. Target regularly runs gift card promotions that you can do with your food stamp card.

Here are some examples of promotions I’ve seen:

  • Get a $10 gift card when you spend $50 on groceries
  • Get a $5 gift card when you spend $25 on meat or seafood
  • Get a $5 gift card when you buy 10 boxes of pasta
  • Get a $5 gift card when you spend $25 on approved products (these are usually from big-name brands like Pepsi, Kelloggs, General Mills, etc.)

I’m going by memory, so these deals might be somewhat wrong.

I’ve heard that CVS and Walgreens offer similar gift card promotions, but I don’t shop at those stores often. I recommend checking out Krazy Coupon Lady for tips on shopping at drug stores. I coupon regularly but still head to her site for tips when I can’t figure out a good deal on something.

Coupon Overages

Some stores let customers use coupon overages to pay for other items or receive cash back. I thought getting cash back from overages would be illegal for food stamp purchases, but I can’t find anything in the guidelines that prohibits it. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

Anyway, a coupon overage is basically when a store pays you to buy products. Here’s a made-up situation that shows how it works:

  • Marisol has $15 worth of food coupons.
  • She selects $10 worth of food for the coupons referenced above.
  • The store gives Marisol $5 in cash or store credit, which she then uses to buy other necessities.

You can find coupons in newspapers or print them online.

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Bottle Deposits

I’ve never personally returned a bottle for a deposit, but apparently some states let you do that. It’s against EBT guidelines to buy food for the sole purpose of getting a deposit back, but it’s okay to redeem bottles for milk, juice, etc. that you already planned to buy.

You can also redeem cans for cash if your area offers that option. My neighbor said he takes his to a recycling facility to earn a few bucks.

Illegal Ways to Make Money With Food Stamps

You’ve probably heard stories about people selling food stamps for cash. I see a lot of complaints from people claiming food stamp recipients do that to buy drugs.

I’ve never seen anyone try to sell food stamps for drugs, but I do know some people who’ve gotten in trouble for selling food stamps to pay rent or utilities. It’s illegal to sell your food stamp benefits, so keep that in mind if you’ve got friends offering you cash for your card.

I think it’s also illegal to sell food you purchased with food stamps. I’m not talking about people who are like, “Hey, want to buy a gallon of milk?” (but that’s illegal too). I’m referring to selling homemade goods at a farmers market, bake sale, or craft fair.

Again, I’m not 100% sure it’s illegal to sell goodies you prepared with food bought on an EBT card. It just seems like something that might get you in trouble, so I’m posting a warning just in case.

How do you make the most of your food stamp budget?

One thought on “How to Make Money With Food Stamps – Legally!

  • October 7, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Great ideas, Missy! I’ve been signed up for ibotta and checkout51 for a while but I forget to use them. I need to get more organized!


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