Illinois EBT Card [2020 Guide]

If you have an Illinois EBT Card (Illinois Link Card) and have questions about your card, you’ve come to the right place.

In this detailed guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about your Illinois Link card, including lost card replacement, how to log in online to check your balance, EBT discounts and perk you did not know about, and restaurants that take EBT in Illinois, how to shop for groceries online with your EBT card, and much more.

"Illinois EBT Card Questions and Answers"

This post on Illinois EBT Card will cover:

  • What is Illinois EBT?
  • How do I apply for EBT in Illinois?
  • What can I buy with Illinois EBT?
  • How Do I check my Illinois EBT Card Balance?
  • Illinois EBT Deposit Schedule
  • Which restaurants take EBT in Illinois?
  • Illinois EBT Phone Number
  • Is there an Illinois EBT App?
  • Illinois EBT Discount and Perks
  • Amazon Prime EBT Discount (50% OFF Prime)
  • How do I replace my lost Illinois EBT card?
  • Illinois EBT FAQs

What is Illinois EBT?

"Illinois EBT Link Card"

An EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card is a plastic card that acts like a debit card that is used to distribute public assistance benefits.

The Illinois EBT Card also called the Illinois Link card is used for the delivery of benefits such as food stamps (SNAP benefits) and Cash Assistance.

Once you are approved for food stamps or one of the programs listed above, you will receive your benefits each month on an Illinois EBT Card.

How do I apply for EBT in Illinois?

There are three ways to apply for SNAP EBT in Illinois:

Option 1

The easiest way to apply for Illinois food stamps is online using the ABE Illinois portal. Click here to be taken to the application website.

Option 2

You can also apply in person at your local Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) county office. For the closest DHS county office near you, click here.

Option 3

You can also call the Illinois DHS Information Line (1-(800) 843-6154) and have an application mailed to you, which you can complete and return it to your local DHS county office.

For more information on Illinois food stamps, eligibility and income limits, click here.

What can I buy with Illinois EBT?

Your EBT card works like a debit card. It can be used to purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers’ markets and co-op food programs.

The USDA, which runs the food stamps program has a strict guide on what you can and cannot buy with SNAP benefits.

Here is the list of food items you are allowed to purchase with your SNAP Benefits card:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • meats, fish, poultry
  • deli meats and steak
  • dairy products
  • breads
  • cereals
  • seeds and plants that produce food for the household
  • soft drinks
  • candy
  • cookies
  • snack crackers
  • ice cream
  • energy drinks (must have a nutrition label)
  • live seafood, such as lobster, fish, and shellfish
  • pumpkins (as long as they are edible)
  • birthday cakes (the non-edible piece of the cake cannot exceed 50 percent)
  • bakery items

Here’s what you CANNOT buy with your SNAP benefits:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • tobacco products
  • hot food (prepared for immediate consumption)
  • Nonfood items
  • pet foods
  • soaps
  • paper products
  • medicines and vitamins
  • household supplies
  • grooming items
  • cosmetics

Can I use Illinois EBT to Buy Groceries Online?

If you are an Illinois SNAP EBT Cardholder, you can now use your EBT card online to buy groceries for delivery! This is great news for Illinois food stamps recipients, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In January 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the selection of seven retailers for the initial launch of the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot (Amazon, Dash’s Market, Fresh Direct, Hy-Vee, Inc., Safeway, ShopRite, Walmart Stores Inc., and Wright’s Markets).

The program allows EBT Cardholders to purchase groceries online for delivery or pick-up at these select retailers.

In April 2019, the online purchasing program was launched in the state of New York, with Walmart, Amazon, and Shoprite as the participating retailers.

Since then, more states have been added to the program, due in part to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The program’s expansion provides low-income households with access to fresh, nutritious food during stay-at-home orders and beyond.

Online Purchasing Pilot for Illinois EBT Cardholders

In January 2020, the USDA expanded its Online Purchasing Pilot to include the state of Illinois.

As a result, Illinois food stamp recipients can now use their EBT Card online to purchase groceries at select grocery retailers.

Below is a list of grocery stores that accept Illinois EBT online and participate in the USDA’s Online Purchasing Pilot.

Where to use Illinois EBT Card Online

You can use your Illinois EBT Card to purchase groceries online at Amazon and Walmart.

For a step by step process on how to purchase groceries online on Amazon, see our post on How to Buy Groceries on Amazon with EBT Card.

How Do I check my Illinois EBT Card Balance?

Here’s how to check the balance on your Illinois Link Card.

Option 1 – Check your Last Receipt

The first option for checking your Illinois EBT Card balance is to check your last receipt. This is the easiest and quickest way to locate the current balance on your Illinois EBT Card.

Your balance will be listed at the bottom of your most recent grocery store or an ATM receipt. You should get in the habit of keeping your most current EBT receipt, that way, you always have a quick way to check your balance before you shop.

Option 2 – Check your Balance Online

The second option for checking your Illinois EBT Card balance is online through the Illinois Link Card website.

To log in, click here, then enter your Ussr ID and Password as shown below. Once logged in, you’ll be able to view your current balance and transaction history.

You can also register for an online account if you do not already have one.

"Illinois EBT Link Card website"

Option 3 – Check by Phone

The last option for checking your Illinois EBT Card balance is by phone. Call the EBT Customer Service number (1-800-678-5465) on the back of your card. The Customer Service Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

After you call, enter your sixteen (16) digit EBT card number and you will hear your current food assistance or cash account balance(s).

Which restaurants take EBT in Illinois?

The Restaurant Meals Program is a federal program that enables qualified elderly, disabled, and homeless food stamps recipients to buy food at authorized restaurants. Any state or county can enroll in the Restaurant Meals Program.

The purpose of the program is to help expand food access to those who do not have a place to store and cook food, who may not be able to prepare food or who don’t have access to a grocery store.

Unfortunately, the state of Illinois does not currently participate in the Restaurant Meals Program. We will update you as soon as the state joins the program.

Illinois EBT Phone Number

Here’s the number to call if you are trying to reach Illinois EBT Customer Service:

1-800-678-5465

You can call 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week

You can call the Illinois EBT Phone Number if:

  • Your card is lost or stolen.
  • Your card does not work.
  • You want to change your PIN because you forgot it or if
    someone else knows your PIN.
  • You want to find out how much you have left in your account.
  • You have been charged for a purchase but you didn’t get the food or
    if you were charged too much for what you bought.
  • You have other questions or problems.

 How to use your Illinois EBT Card to buy Food

Here are the steps you need to take to use your Illinois EBT Card to purchase food that is on the food stamp list, at approved retail locations.

Before you shop, check your balance using one of the following methods, as explained in detail above:

  • By looking at your last receipt
  • You can also call Customer Service, toll-free at
    1-800-678-5465
  • Finally, you can go online to check your balance.

This balance will be the most you can spend with your card.

Here’s how to purchase food with your card.

Step 1

Take your groceries to the checkout lane.
Depending on the store, you may need to separate
your eligible food items from non-eligible items.

Step 2

Swipe your card through the Point-of-Sale (POS)
terminal or hand your EBT Card to the clerk.

Step 3

Enter your four-number Personal Identification
Number (PIN) on the keypad. The terminal will
show **** instead of the numbers you entered.

Step 4

Press the “ENTER” key.

Step 5

The clerk enters the purchase amount. If the
amount is correct, you press the “OK” or “YES” key.

Step 6

You will get a copy of a printed receipt showing:

  • Store name and address
  • Amount of your purchase
  • Your new food stamp benefits account balance

Step 7

Keep your receipt so you will know your new balance the next time you shop.

Please note that you cannot be charged a fee to use your food stamp benefits.

Is there an Illinois EBT App?

Unfortunately, there is no mobile app created by the state of Illinois for EBT Link cardholders.

We will make an announcement on this website as soon as one becomes available.

Illinois EBT Discount and Perks

Your Illinois Link EBT Card gives you access to the following discounts, freebies, and perks.

"Illinois EBT Discounts"

Amazon Prime EBT Discount

If you have an Illinois EBT Card, you can now sign up for Amazon Prime EBT Discount and get all the great benefits that come with Prime membership, at a fraction of the cost.

Amazon wants to make Amazon Prime membership more affordable to low-income households.

The regular Amazon Prime membership is $12.99 a month. However, if you have an EBT Card, you can get Prime Membership for $5.99. That’s over 50% off the regular price.

The table below shows how the EBT and Medicaid discount on Amazon Prime compares to the other Amazon Prime memberships.

Amazon Prime Membership Price Full Prime benefits
Amazon Prime month-to-month $12.99/mo.
Amazon Prime annual $119/yr.
Prime Student (monthly) $6.49/mo.
Prime Student (annual) $59/yr.
Amazon Prime EBT/Medicaid cardholders $5.99/mo. (max. 4 yrs.)

Lifeline Program

If you are currently on Food Stamps/EBT Cardholder, and your income is below a certain level, you may qualify for FREE or low-cost home or cell phone service for you or a member of your family through the Federal Lifeline Program, which serves nearly 13 million Americans.

The Lifeline program helps to lower the monthly cost of phone and internet service. Eligible customers will get at least $9.25 toward their monthly bill. You can only use Lifeline for either phone or internet service, but not both.

Discounted Cell Phone Services

Below is a list of cell phone providers that participate in the Lifeline program in the state of Illinois.

Company Name Phone
Illinois Valley Cellular RSA 2-II Part 800-434-4824
Life Wireless 888-543-3620
Yourtel America 855-299-9990
Safelink Wireless 800-723-3546
Access Wireless 866-594-3644

Discounted Home Phone Services

Below is a list of home phone providers that participate in the Lifeline program in the state of Illinois.

Company Name Phone
Glasford Telephone Company 309-389-2111
Consolidated Communications of Illinois Company 844-968-7224
Egyptian Telephone Cooperative Association 618-965-3481
McDonough Telephone Cooperative 888-640-4334
Marseilles Telephone Company 800-227-5161
Crossville Telephone Company 618-966-2196
Alhambra-Grantfork Telephone Company 618-488-2165
CenturyLink 800-407-5411
Geneseo Telephone Company 309-944-2103
AT&T 855-301-0355
Harrisonville Telephone Company 888-482-8353
Frontier Communications 800-921-8101
Consolidated Communications 844-968-7224
Adams Telephone Cooperative 877-696-4611
Hamilton County Telephone Co-op 618-736-2211
Moultrie Independent Telephone Company 217-873-4636
Grafton Telephone Company 618-786-3311
Cass Telephone Company 800-508-5405
Montrose Mutual Telephone Company 217-925-5242
New Windsor Telephone Company 309-667-2712
Home Telephone Company 888-746-4482
Gridley Telephone Company 309-747-2221
Wabash Telephone Cooperative 800-228-9824
Mid Century Telephone Cooperative 877-643-2368
Leaf River Telephone Company 815-738-2211
Woodhull Community Telephone Company 309-334-2150
Madison Telephone Company 800-422-4848
Metamora Telephone Company 800-227-5161
Data Net Systems 888-771-1010
Shawnee Telephone Company 800-461-3956
Cambridge Telephone Company 309-944-2103

Free Admission with EBT Program

One of the great benefits of the Illinois EBT Card is access to great tourist, cultural, educational, and adventure museums – including zoos, aquariums, and many more.

This is under free admission with EBT program, otherwise known as Museum for all.

The Illinois Museums listed below all offer FREE to $3.00 to individuals and families who have an EBT card, and a valid form of photo ID.

The offer covers up to four individuals per EBT card, which means that if you have a family of 4, you can use your Illinois EBT card to get the special discounted rate or the free admission for all four members.

We advise that you call the museum first before you go – so that you can find out what their special rate is for EBT Cardholders (whether it’s free admission or $3).

See the list of Illinois Free Admission with EBT Program sites.

How do I replace my lost Illinois EBT card?

If you just realized your Illinois EBT Card is lost or you simply do not know where it is, you should we can help you get a replacement card.

The first thing you need to do when you realize your Food stamps card is lost, stolen, or not working is to call the Illinois EBT card customer service.

Report a lost, stolen or damaged Illinois Link Card

If your card is lost, stolen, or damaged call EBT Customer Service at 1-800-678-5465 right away.

Instructions on what to do when you call

First, when you call the customer service number above, you will be asked to enter your card number.

Do not enter your card number or press any keys. You will be asked to enter your card number again.

Again, do not enter your card number or press any keys. You will then be asked to press one to report your card as lost, stolen, or damaged.

Press the 1 key on your phone. Once you report it, your EBT card will be deactivated so that the benefits cannot be used by anyone else.

You should usually receive your new card in the mail within five days (excluding Sundays and holidays).

Call As Soon As Possible

We encourage you to call the customer service number as soon as you can so that your account can be secured, especially if you think the card is stolen.

That way, you don’t risk losing the money currently in the account.

When you call customer service, they will confirm your mailing address before they mail the card to make sure they have the current address on file.

You will be able to use the same pin you used on the previous card unless you decide to select a new pin with the new card.

How long does it take to get a Replacement Illinois EBT Card?

Your replacement card will be mailed to you and it will take 7-10 business days to arrive.

However, unlike getting a credit card or debit card replacement, you cannot get your EBT card expedited or a tracking number for the card.

In addition, there is no option to get a replacement EBT card the same day.

Furthermore, while you wait for your card to arrive, you cannot use your EBT funds. There is no way to manually enter the card number at retail locations and online And even with online shopping on Amazon, you need to enter your card CVV number to complete the transaction.

Therefore, Unfortunately, you have to wait for your card to arrive before you can use the funds in your EBT account.

Replacement Card did not arrive?

If you have requested a replacement Illinois EBT Card and it has not yet arrived in the mail after 5-7 business days, here’s one possible reason.

If you previously changed your address and did not update your EBT account, that is probably the reason your card has not arrived.

That is because your new card is going to be mailed to your old address, and if it is mail that cannot be forwarded, then the card will likely be returned to the card issuer, which means you will have to wait longer to receive the re-issued card, further delaying your ability to be able to buy the food you need.

You can resolve this by calling the Illinois EBT Customer service number and updating your mailing address so that your new card can be mailed to the correct address.

Illinois EBT FAQs

"Illinois EBT Card FAQs"

Here are the most frequently asked questions about Illinois EBT.

I didn’t get my EBT benefits this month

If you did not receive your benefits this month, you should contact your local Illinois DHS Assistance office for help. For the DHS county office closest to you, click here.

The ATM didn’t give me the money I requested, but it took it from my cash benefits. What do I do?

You should call the EBT Card customer service telephone number at 1-800-678-5465.

You will be provided directions for filing a claim.

Note that the bank or ATM owner will not be able to give you the missing cash. You will have to go through the claims process with EBT customer service.

How can I set up or change my EBT card PIN?

To set or change your PIN, call the Illinois EBT Card toll-free customer service telephone number at 1-800-678-5465.

You will be able to set up a PIN over the telephone.

Can I have someone else help me shop using my EBT account?

Yes, you can set up an Authorized Representative (AR) to help you shop with your EBT Card.

However, the AR will have a separate card with his or her own account number and PIN.

The EBT system is able to track which card is used at any time. The AR will have access to your entire benefit account.

Note that it is not possible to limit the AR’s access to a lesser amount.

However, you may choose the account(s) to which the AR has access.

If you don’t want him or her to have access to all of your benefits, it is possible to limit the AR’s access to either your food benefits or cash benefits if you like.

Ask your county caseworker about setting up an Authorized Representative (AR).

Can I use my Illinois EBT card in other counties and other states?

Your Illinois EBT card will work at any store in the state that accepts SNAP/EBT benefits.

In addition, you can use your card in the other 49 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.

However, if you are unsure, ask the store manager.

Currently, Illinois EBT cardholders cannot use their EBT cards in Puerto Rico.

If I don’t use all my Illinois EBT benefits this month, will I lose them?

No. If I don’t use all of the benefits you received this month, they will stay in the EBT account, and you may use these benefits in the following months.

What happens if the ATM does not give back my EBT card?

Occasionally, an ATM will not return your EBT card. In most cases, this occurs when you do not remove your card from the ATM within a certain amount of time.

In some cases, the bank will return your card if you present proper identification.

However, in many cases, the bank will destroy the card even if you request it be returned to you showing proper identification.

If your card cannot be returned, you should request a new card by calling customer service at 1-800-678-5465.

When are IL food stamps posted on EBT Card?

The Illinois EBT Card, or the Illinois Link Card, holds the food assistance benefits assigned to you each month. Your benefits will be deposited onto your EBT card according to the schedule below:

Benefits are made available on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 17th, and 20th of every month, based on a combination of the type of case and the case name. Recipients may obtain information about eligibility and benefit availability by calling the DHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154.

Once your benefits are deposited into your account, you can begin using them with your Illinois EBT card to purchase eligible food items. For a full list of approved food items, see the Food Stamps Eligible Food List here.

What Farmers Markets Accept Illinois Link Card?

For the complete list of farmers markets that accept the Illinois Link card, including those that offer Double Value Coupons, click here.

Illinois EBT Card Summary

We hope this article on Illinois EBT Card was helpful.

If so, we encourage you to share this article with anyone who may also find it helpful by using the “Share this” button below.

If you have additional questions about the Illinois EBT for food stamps, please leave those in the comments section below. We are here to help you!

Be sure to check out our other articles about EBT, including How to get 50% OFF Amazon Prime for EBT Cardholders and Medicaid Cardholders and EBT Discounts and Free Stuff

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