Benefits Cards and More Ways to Shop!

online shopping

Why don’t cows shop online? They prefer printed cattle-ogues. Ha ha! 🙂 Cows may prefer those, but in 2023, almost 250 million Americans preferred e-commerce. And with more online health and wellness shopping options than ever, I can’t say I’m surprised. (You may already use your benefits cards at your go-to retailers like,, or Let’s dig deeper and look at what you can get using those benefit funds online.

What can you buy online?

First, remember that not everything you buy online is eligible for purchase with tax-advantaged account funds. Here’s a short list of things that often are:

  • Bandages (non-medicated)
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Diabetic supplies
  • Eyeglasses
  • Family planning items (condoms, pregnancy test kits, etc.)
  • First aid kits
  • Prescription medication
  • Sleeping aids
  • Sunscreen
  • Thermometers

Here’s how the IRS decides what products and services are eligible, according to IRS Publication 502:

Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists, and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes.

Medical care expenses ease or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness. They don’t include vitamins, a vacation, or other items or services that are good (but not medically necessary) for your overall well-being.

Perks of Online Shopping

Identifying Eligible Items

Many online stores help shoppers by labeling their healthcare products. If you search for “FSA” or “HSA,” most websites will lead you to those items. Using the search tool can help filter out products that are not eligible and avoid unauthorized use of your benefit funds.

How to Use a Benefits Card Online

An FSA or HSA card gives you quick, convenient access to your benefit dollars. It also helps reduce the number of reimbursement claims you have to submit. Most stores require that you create an online account to buy qualified products using a healthcare benefits card.

Once you create an account, log in and enter your benefits card as a payment option. In some cases, you may be able to also pay associated sales tax and shipping costs with your FSA, since they are part of the cost of obtaining the eligible product or service.

Benefit plans to which benefits debit cards are linked are typically set up in a way that makes it hard to successfully purchase a non-eligible product. However, if you do accidentally buy a non-eligible item, you will have to reimburse your account or risk facing a tax penalty.

What if I shop online with a local delivery service?

During the pandemic, when many even bought their fresh groceries online, local delivery services like Instacart, DoorDash, and Uber Delivery became a lifeline for those who couldn’t leave their homes. Much like your favorite benefits superhero (that’s me!), these delivery service providers are coming to the rescue again. DoorDash and Instacart began storing HSA and FSA debit card information for eligible purchases in 2023. Uber has also announced plans to roll out this feature for FSA payments in 2024.

So, instead of ordering your fresh groceries from the supermarket and your health and wellness products elsewhere, you can place one order from one place, saving you even more time. But make sure you still shop around when and where it’s convenient. These days, every penny counts. But, no, that late-night pizza from your favorite restaurant isn’t an eligible purchase as it’s not on the IRS list of approved items. I may be a superhero, but I can’t change that.

When in doubt, contact your administrator

If you have questions about using your healthcare benefits card online, filing a reimbursement claim, or eligible expenses, follow my blog or contact your benefits administrator – or better yet, do both! So, get to using those benefits funds, shop online, and tell them Captain Contributor sent you. 😊