Aldi Cart Etiquette: What Not to Do

In our lengthy experience, most Aldi shoppers are pretty good at knowing how to navigate things in and out of the store. Yes, there are exceptions. Yes, some people don’t behave well. But most shoppers do a great job at navigating the store and being polite and courteous to others while doing it. Considering that Aldi is different in how it’s run compared to other grocers, this is a positive.

When there is bad behavior, it’s for one of two reasons. One, the person doesn’t know better. Or two, the person knows better but chooses to behave badly anyway. When I see people doing things that aren’t good Aldi etiquette, sometimes I know which one is the cause and other times I’m not sure.

Here, then, are some behaviors to avoid when you’re dealing with Aldi carts and quarters.

Don’t leave the cart out on the lot.

The whole idea behind the quarter system is to get people to return the cart. Despite that, we’ve seen people abandon their cart out near their car, giving up the quarter in the process. It should go without saying that it’s unhelpful to leave the cart on the lot, but I’ll say it anyway: it’s unhelpful to leave the cart on the lot. Aldi’s speed and low prices happen because the company keeps things lean, including not hiring workers to bring carts back to the store. When you return a cart, you keep prices low. You also reduce the chances of getting your car dinged by a stray rolling cart.

Don’t pay it forward by leaving an unplugged cart up front.

This is going to be controversial, in part because this act is often rooted in good intentions. Why not leave a cart with a quarter in it in case someone forgot a quarter? It certainly appears to be a nice gesture.

In my experience, though, it causes more problems than it solves. Most customers with quarters aren’t going to take it, because they have a quarter. So you have a situation where people are navigating around the quartered cart to get one of the unquartered ones.

I’ve also seen instances where people start latching other carts to the one with the quarter in it. This also creates a potential hassle because you end up with a parade of quartered carts attached to an unquartered one. You also create an instance where someone could do the next item.

Don’t misuse the quarter lock mechanism.

For various reasons, some people get ideas like plugging the cart into itself, essentially short-circuiting the quarter mechanism. This can happen when someone pilfers a quarter from one left behind in a cart and then plugs another cart into itself. Any time you use the lock in ways other than how it’s designed, you create a problem that slows Aldi down and makes it a less efficient store.

Don’t give pocket change instead of a quarter.

We’ve been in situations, personally, where people decided to trade 25 cents for a cart … and instead of giving a quarter, they gave two dimes and a nickel. Swapping two dimes and a nickel for a cart is incredibly bad form. Most Aldi shoppers try to keep a quarter on hand for the cart, and taking away that quarter — even for equal change — creates a hassle for the other person. Don’t do it.

Do you have any thoughts about Aldi cart behavior? Let us know in the comments. Just be mindful of our Community Guidelines.

About Joshua

Joshua is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. He is also a writer and novelist. You can learn more about him at


  1. I have seen carts in the lot where a lazy person left one and others just plugged their cart into the first to get their quarter without having to return it — eventually blocking multiple parking places

  2. Catherine+A.+McClarey

    I have occasionally arrived at an Aldi without a quarter for the cart, and have gone inside to exchange a dollar bill for 4 quarters with the cashier. And I do have to wait a while when this happens, because the cashier has to make time between checking out customers to give me quarters. Perhaps a dollar-changing vending machine inside the Aldi (similar to what one finds in laundromats which still have coin-operated machines) would be helpful?

  3. We always have several quarters in the car so it’s never an issue for us but as I was returning my cart the other day, two women standing at the carts said they had no quarter and asked if they could they have my cart. Of course, I said yes but be like a boy scout, people! Be prepared! In their defense, they may have been newbies.

  4. At my Aldi it’s quite common to see people exchanging freshly emptied carts for quarters out in the parking lot. Saves one person from making the round-trip to return the cart; saves the other person from wrestling with the coin and chain; saves them both a little time; provides both with a civilized and pleasant moment.

    • I agree. This has been my experience and I’m always happy to give the person who’s done with their shopping with their empty cart my quarter. If, when I’m finished putting my groceries in my car’s trunk, and there isn’t anyone going inside asking to “purchase” the cart I just used —- I just return the cart to the cart bay, hook it up and get my quarter back.
      I guess I don’t understand how that is a problem.

  5. If someone gives me a cart and doesn’t want the quarter I just pass it on to the next person

  6. For years, especially from Aldi detractors I’ve heard its cart loan process referred to as ‘rent, as in ‘You have to rent a cart.’ The term RENT implies that one’s quarter will not be returned. A better way to refer to Aldi’s cart loan system would be to say, DEPOSIT. ‘Deposit’ carries with it the expectation that one’s quarter will be returned once the cart is back in its nest.

  7. My gripe is with folks who don’t bother to get a cart, put their items in the bag, unload them on the belt,then as the items are checked through put them back in the bag. Slows the whole process down in my opinion. My Aldi has just installed self checkouts. Problem solved 🙂

  8. When people leave a cart, there might be a valid reason. I have lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and when I can’t find a handicap spot I’m left parking wherever I can find a spot. There have been a few times when, by the time I’ve gotten to my car and loaded my groceries, I’m exhausted. Getting the cart back is impossible for me. I always look for someone to give it to, but frequently I have trouble finding someone.

    As for criticizing people for not having quarters, life happens. I try to keep two quarters in my wallet. At one point, I gave someone a quarter who didn’t have one, and needed my other quarter for another purchase (after leaving Aldi). I didn’t get around to getting a quarter by the time I went back to Aldi. Life happens.

  9. Blue, I agree and empathize with you. I have atrial flutter, which inhibits me from more than a couple dozen feet before running out of breath.
    During one visit, I had barely walked from my car to the front of the store and taken a cart, when I needed to sit down for a few minutes. Fortunately, in the lobby was a garden bench on display. I took a seat while clutching the cart and waited quietly for my lungs to catch up.
    A woman entered the store, glanced over at me, and said, “Are you comfortable?”
    Whereupon I replied, “I make a living.”

  10. I don’t mind “selling” my cart for change. It’s what a good neighbor does to make somebody’s day go a little easier.

  11. My spouse and I make a game of hunting for the abandoned carts, sometimes gathering several from the parking lot, and keeping the quarters. Yes, I’m frugal!

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