National Relief Program

Does IHOP take EBT? How to Find Participating Restaurants and Qualify for Benefits


Does IHOP take EBT? It's a question that many people receiving government assistance ask, and the answer isn't always straightforward. While IHOP itself doesn't have a universal EBT policy, several states participate in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), allowing eligible individuals to use their EBT cards at specific IHOP locations. These states include Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

IHOP and the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP)

The Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) is a federal initiative that allows eligible Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to use their benefits (often accessed through an EBT card) to purchase meals at participating restaurants.

What is the RMP?

The RMP is designed to help individuals who are:

  • Elderly (60 years or older): Senior citizens who may have difficulty cooking or accessing nutritious meals.
  • Disabled: Individuals with disabilities that impact their ability to cook for themselves.
  • Homeless: People experiencing homelessness who may not have access to kitchen facilities.

By enabling these groups to use their EBT benefits at restaurants, the RMP aims to ensure they receive hot, prepared meals.

How Does RMP Work at IHOP?

If you are eligible for the RMP and your local IHOP participates in the program, you can use your EBT card to pay for your meal. This means you can enjoy IHOP's diverse menu, from pancakes and omelets to burgers and sandwiches, without having to worry about cooking.

Important Considerations:

  • Not All IHOPs Participate: Participation in the RMP is voluntary for each IHOP franchise owner. You'll need to confirm if your chosen location is part of the program.
  • Eligibility Requirements: You must meet the RMP's specific criteria to use your EBT benefits at IHOP.
  • Approved Meals: The RMP generally covers prepared meals, not individual items like drinks or sides.

EBT at IHOP: A State-by-State Guide

While IHOP is a beloved national chain, the acceptance of EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) as a form of payment varies widely depending on individual state regulations and the participation of specific IHOP locations. Here's a breakdown of how EBT usage at IHOP differs across the country:

States with Restaurant Meals Programs (RMP):

  • Arizona: Some IHOPs may participate in the RMP, allowing eligible SNAP recipients to use their benefits for prepared meals.
  • California: California has a robust RMP, enabling eligible CalFresh recipients (elderly, disabled, or homeless) to use EBT at participating IHOPs. However, not all locations participate, so it's crucial to confirm beforehand.
  • Illinois: The state's RMP may include some IHOPs, but participation varies.
  • Maryland: Similar to other RMP states, some IHOPs may accept EBT from eligible individuals.
  • Michigan: Michigan's RMP could extend to certain IHOP restaurants.
  • Rhode Island: The state's program may include some participating IHOPs.
  • Virginia: Limited IHOP locations may accept EBT through the RMP.

States Without Restaurant Meals Programs:

In most other states, IHOP does not accept EBT as a form of payment. This is because the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which oversees EBT, primarily focuses on providing benefits for food purchases at grocery stores and authorized retailers.

Important Considerations:

  • Always Verify: Regardless of your state, it's crucial to confirm with your local IHOP directly whether they accept EBT. This will avoid any surprises or disappointments when you arrive.
  • Eligibility Requirements: Even in states with RMPs, only specific individuals qualify to use EBT at restaurants. Generally, these programs cater to those who are elderly, disabled, or homeless.
  • Meal Restrictions: RMPs usually cover prepared meals and may not extend to individual items like drinks or sides.

By staying informed about your state's regulations and verifying with your local IHOP, you can confidently determine whether you can use your EBT benefits to enjoy a delicious meal at this popular chain.

Am I Eligible to Use EBT at IHOP?

While IHOP's acceptance of EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) varies by state and individual restaurant participation, here's a general checklist to help you determine if you might be eligible:

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Do you receive SNAP benefits? The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the federal program that administers EBT benefits. You must be a SNAP recipient to potentially qualify for using EBT at restaurants.
  2. Do you live in a state with a Restaurant Meals Program (RMP)? Some states have RMPs that allow eligible SNAP recipients to use their benefits at approved restaurants. Not all states participate in this program.
  3. Do you meet your state's RMP eligibility criteria? Even in states with RMPs, there are often additional requirements you must meet. The most common criteria include:
    • Elderly: Usually 60 years or older.
    • Disabled: Receiving disability benefits or having a documented disability that impacts your ability to prepare food.
    • Homeless: Lacking a fixed address and access to kitchen facilities.

Confirming Eligibility:

If you meet the above criteria, here's how to confirm if you can use EBT at IHOP:

  • Contact your state's SNAP agency: They can provide information about your state's RMP and eligibility requirements.
  • Call your local IHOP: Ask if they participate in the RMP and accept EBT from eligible individuals.
  • Check online resources: Some states or organizations maintain lists of restaurants that participate in the RMP.

Important Note: Even if you meet the general eligibility requirements, not all IHOP locations participate in the RMP. Always confirm with the specific restaurant before attempting to use your EBT card.


  • EBT benefits are primarily intended for grocery purchases. The RMP is an exception that allows eligible individuals to use their benefits at participating restaurants.
  • If you don't qualify for the RMP, you can still use your EBT card to purchase food at most grocery stores and many farmers' markets.

What Can I Order with EBT at IHOP?

While using your EBT card at IHOP under the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) opens up a world of delicious possibilities, it's important to understand what types of meals are typically covered by the program.

In general, the RMP focuses on providing access to prepared, hot meals. This means you can usually order:

  • Breakfast Combos: Most breakfast combinations, including pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and toast, are likely to be approved.
  • Omelets: Various omelet options, from simple to elaborate, should be covered.
  • Lunch and Dinner Entrees: Burgers, sandwiches, salads, and other main dishes are generally eligible for purchase with EBT under the RMP.

Items that may not be covered:

  • Beverages: Drinks like coffee, tea, juice, or soda are typically not included in the RMP.
  • Side Orders: Individual sides like hash browns, toast, or fruit may not be eligible unless they are part of a larger combo meal.
  • Desserts: Sweet treats like pancakes with extra toppings or milkshakes are usually not covered.

Important Considerations:

  • Restaurant Discretion: While the RMP provides guidelines, each participating IHOP restaurant has the final say on what specific items are eligible for EBT purchase. It's always best to check with your server or the restaurant manager to confirm.
  • Budgeting: Be mindful of your spending and plan your meal accordingly to stay within your EBT budget.
  • Asking for Guidance: Don't hesitate to ask your server for recommendations on RMP-approved meals. They can help you choose options that fit your preferences and budget.

Tips for Ordering with EBT:

  • Inform Your Server: Let your server know you will be paying with EBT before ordering.
  • Clarify Restrictions: Ask about any specific restrictions on meal choices or combinations.
  • Choose Wisely: Opt for combos or entrees that offer the best value for your EBT benefits.

By understanding the general guidelines and communicating with your server, you can confidently use your EBT card to enjoy a satisfying and nutritious meal at IHOP.

Staying Updated on IHOP's EBT Policy

Here's how to stay informed in states that currently participate in the RMP:

States with Restaurant Meals Programs (RMP):

  • Arizona: The Department of Economic Security (DES) oversees the RMP in Arizona. Check their website or contact them directly for a list of participating restaurants:
  • California: California has a robust RMP called CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program (CRMP). The EBT Project website provides comprehensive information and a searchable database of participating restaurants, including IHOPs:
  • Illinois: The Department of Human Services (DHS) administers the RMP in Illinois. Contact your local DHS office or check their website for details on participating restaurants:
  • Maryland: The Department of Human Services (DHS) oversees the RMP in Maryland. Their website may offer information on participating restaurants, or you can contact your local DHS office for assistance:
  • Michigan: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) manages the RMP. Their website or local offices can provide information about eligible restaurants:
  • Rhode Island: The Department of Human Services (DHS) administers the RMP in Rhode Island. Check their website or contact them for information on participating restaurants:
  • Virginia: The Department of Social Services (DSS) oversees the RMP in Virginia. Contact your local DSS office or check their website for details on participating restaurants:

Additional Tips:

  • Call Your Local IHOP: Even in RMP states, not all IHOPs participate. Always call the specific location you plan to visit to confirm their EBT policy.
  • Look for Signage: Participating restaurants often display a sign indicating they accept EBT through the RMP.
  • Ask Questions: Don't hesitate to ask your server or the restaurant manager about their EBT policy and any restrictions that may apply.

Remember, staying informed is key to using your EBT benefits effectively at IHOP and other restaurants. By utilizing the resources provided here, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable dining experience.

Frequently Asked Questions
Does IHOP accept EBT?

IHOP's acceptance of EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) depends on your location and eligibility for the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP). Some states allow SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) beneficiaries to use EBT at participating restaurants, including IHOP. Check with your local IHOP and state's SNAP agency for details.

Which states have IHOPs that accept EBT?

Several states participate in the RMP, which may include IHOP locations. These states include Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia. However, participation varies by individual IHOP restaurant.

How do I know if my local IHOP takes EBT?

The best way to confirm if your local IHOP accepts EBT is to call them directly and ask. You can also check their website or social media pages, or look for signage indicating RMP participation.

Who is eligible to use EBT at IHOP?

Generally, only SNAP recipients who are elderly (60+), disabled, or homeless are eligible to use EBT at participating IHOPs through the RMP. Eligibility requirements may vary by state.

What can I order with EBT at IHOP?

The RMP typically covers hot, prepared meals like breakfast combos, omelets, burgers, and sandwiches. It usually doesn't cover beverages, individual sides, or desserts.

Are there any restrictions on using EBT at IHOP?

Yes, there might be restrictions. Some IHOPs may have limits on the time of day you can use EBT or the amount you can spend per meal. Always check with the specific location for their policy.

How do I pay with EBT at IHOP?

Inform your server that you'll be paying with EBT. They will process your card like a regular debit card.

Can I use EBT at all IHOP locations?

No, not all IHOP locations accept EBT. Participation in the RMP is voluntary for each restaurant.

Can I use my EBT card from another state at an IHOP in a different state?

Yes, you can use your EBT card from one state at a participating IHOP in another state. However, the RMP eligibility requirements of the state where the IHOP is located will apply.

Where can I find more information about using EBT at IHOP?

Contact your state's SNAP agency or visit their website for detailed information on the RMP and participating restaurants. You can also check the IHOP website or call your local IHOP directly.

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