Saturday, October 22, 2011

Using SNAP Benefits and Coupons

This question was asked last year.  However, I've had several people ask about this recently so I thought I'd share it again.  For those of you who live outside of Illinois or who do not know what SNAP Benefits are, it is a program through the government.  SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Earlier tonight I posted a question for a reader.  She wanted to know if she could use coupons with SNAP benefits (link card/food stamps).  The following email is a response I got from a reader and I wanted to share with you. 

My husband is permanently disabled and I lost my job and have gone back to college.  Therefore, my family receives SNAP benefits and I have been coupon shopping for about six months now.  I have NEVER had a problem using coupons with my LINK card.  In fact I've received positive comments about making money go as far as I could and not buying "junk".  Before coupons we ate a lot of processed food because it was cheap and paid dearly for it by gaining weight.  We NEVER had enough food to make it through the month and at the end of the month often relied on family, our church or food pantries to get by.   Now, my pantry is overflowing.  I could literally not go to the store at all for at least 2 months and still have food in my pantry.  I have about a two year supply of health and beauty aids and although you can't buy that with SNAP benefits it means I'm spending money on healthier cuts of meat and fresh produce instead of on expensive HBA needs.
I've gone from shopping at Sav-A-Lot for EVERYTHING, to having a pantry and linen closet stuffed with name brand products that I paid pennies on the dollar for.

The only thing to be aware of when paying with SNAP benefits is that some store charge a "coupon fee".  It is usually a penny or two per coupon.  Walgreens has been doing this for a while and CVS recently started the same process.  At CVS the fee is kind of random and the most I've paid has been $0.07 for using 2 coupons.  Another store that charges a fee is MyStore in Mattoon, IL and I'm sure there are others like it.  The only reason I mention this is because with SNAP you do not pay tax, so the first time I was asked to pay a "coupon fee" it threw me for a loop and I didn't understand why I was being asked for it.  Therefore it is worth mentioning that it may happen.

Please pass this along to anyone it may benefit.

Thank you so much for sending this email to me and sharing your knowledge!  I am CERTAIN it will benefit others!!!  I really appreciate your willingness to share!


  1. I just got my LINK card and used it for the 1st time today. I as surprised when I had to pay 11 cents at the end.
    Can you tell me if you can get RR & ECB back if you use your link card to purchase the item?

  2. You can get RR and ECB. You get charge 1 cent for every coupon you use with a Link Card.

  3. it is really the Illinois sales tax you are paying, it recognizes the coupons as "cash" and your are paying 1% for food and about 6.75% for non food item, depending on local sales taxes.