Aldi Shopping Cart System – How Does It Work?

You’ve got Aldi Shopping Cart questions, and we have answers!

If you aren’t familiar with shopping at Aldi, you may have heard something about needing a quarter to shop there, or that you have to rent a cart.

Aldi’s shopping carts can be a source of great confusion for newbie Aldi shoppers, but once you learn the system, we promise you will grow to appreciate it!

How do Aldi Shopping Carts work?

You will find Aldi shopping carts outside the store in almost all locations, usually under a covered area. When you get up to them, you will realize the carts are chained together.

You will need to slide a quarter into the mechanism mounted on the handle of the cart to eject the chain and “unlock” your cart.

Aldi Shopping Cart System

(If you can’t remember a quarter when you shop, try picking up an Aldi Quarter Keychain!)

Now, we often hear people not in the know talk about how you have to “pay” a quarter to use a cart. But that’s not exactly how this works. When you check out, you will notice that the cashier puts your items into another cart at the end of the checkout station, and that is the cart you will take out to your vehicle.

But never fear, that cart has a quarter in it, too. When you return the cart to the area you got your cart from, lock it back into the line, and the quarter pops back out for you to keep.

Why does Aldi use this shopping cart system?

Aldi store with shopping carts outside

Aldi will tell you the Aldi Shopping Cart system saves money. It motivates you to return your cart where it belongs, and that cuts down on the staff needed in the store. Many supermarkets employ people whose primary job is to retrieve shopping carts left in the parking lot.

The quarter system eliminates this need. It’s another reason why Aldi is so cheap on groceries!

The Aldi shopping cart system also speaks to an important value in German culture – self reliance.

Aldi Shopping Cart etiquette

As you arrive at Aldi, you may have someone in the parking lot approach you with an empty cart. It seems to be customary to offer that person your quarter you had out to get a cart from the cart corral. It saves you both a few steps and a few seconds.

Aldi shopping cart etiquette

We also often see carts sitting in the cart corral with quarters already in them. Some Aldi shoppers like to “pay it forward” in this manner. If we take one of these carts, we usually go ahead and leave the quarter for the next person, too.

Aldi shopping carts take a quarter

Does Aldi have motorized shopping carts?

This is another question we are asked often. Unfortunately, the answer is “maybe.” Some Aldi stores have motorized shopping carts available, and some do not. This is a question you’ll have to ask at your local store.


  1. I was totally confused the first time I went to Aldi’s and couldn’t get a cart loose. I turned around and walked away, and have never been back. After reading their explanation in this article, I still never go back, unless I just want one thing like a weekly special. Unfortunately not every store has every weekly special and you can’t call them to find out, so once this happened I’ve never been back since. Not ever. Never ever.

  2. Rent a cart. Check yourself out. Bag your own groceries. Next they’ll want you to unload the truck and stock the shelves too. And the prices aren’t really cheap enough to justify all this diy crap not to mention the youngsters/people who needed a summer/second job. Nope, any money they save goes right in the corporations banks.

    • “any money they save goes right in the corporations banks.” Exactly.

      Most of their prices can’t compete with anywhere else anyway, other than maybe a few “specialty” items, and even then. Aldi’s strikes me as a very lazily attempted Walmart (like we need even more of those) trying to moonlight as a real, proper grocery store. It’s so bizarre.

  3. I had no change with me. That eliminated me getting a cart. Requiring customers to find change for a cart is not customer friendly. I ended up buying only 2 items that I could carry. I am unlikely to return to Aldi.

    • Wanna know what else is not “customer friendly”? When I return from shopping at walmert and find a dent in my car because someone left their cart in the middle of a lot and it rolled into my vehicle.

      You could hire 100 employees in a grocery store to retrieve carts and pay them five times the minimum wage and they still won’t be enough to combat human idiocy.

      Frankly, I think this practice should be done in every store until people of ALL ages learn to put things back in their proper place.

      If you can remember to bring quarters to a toll booth, an arcade game, a pinball machine, a gum ball machine, a soda machine, a snack machine, beach binoculars, and your personal piggy bank, then CLEARLY you can have the common sense to remember to bring a quarter to get a grocery cart from an Aldi store.

      And the best thing is? Unlike all those machines I just listed and many more, in Aldi you get your quarter BACK.

  4. Ok Haters!!! Let’s cover this aldi buggy problem 90% of you have!!!
    1. Your a bunch of whiney babies, pay the quarter then go bitch about the price of grapes in November.

    2. And this is directed at the putz who wants to save the jobs of teenagers…. well your little Bobby doesn’t want to work for minimum wage at a union store, really he wants to just sit and play video games, chat on the Facebook, and depend on you till he’s 35.
    3. All supermarkets need to invest in these buggy systems, whether you like it or not….

  5. Love the store and do 90% of my grocery shopping there. I get sticker shock when go to another store for the 10%. By the 2nd time you go, you’ll be totally hooked!!! Been using Aldi for about 20 years. Wish I could buy stock in the company. Do you know they’re related to Trader Joe’s – both German owned???

  6. To each their own, I have never shopped an Aldi because of the quality of food and private label food is not under scrutiny like the big brands! A lot of the can products have more water in them than big brands and less product, but there again to each their own!

  7. I really like aldi but this cart system hasn’t always worked for me and was wondering what other people thought about it. I don’t know what the author of this article is talking about, I always thought they locked them because they were tired of the homeless people stealing them. And there is never a quarter left in there when I go. I walked out of the store today without buying anything because I couldn’t unlock the cart with my quarter and couldn’t get my quarter out. They used to have hand baskets but because they don’t even have those anymore I didn’t want to walk around carrying everything or filling my bag before I got to check out. I appreciate that they want people to be more responsible about using their carts it’s just aggravating for me. Any other store I shop at I can just grab a cart, do my thing and put it back when I’m done. I’m not sure if I want to go back to aldi again because when I go shopping, I just want to get it done. So this cart thing is a really sad and pessimistic statement on society.

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