Aldi is stepping up its competition to other traditional grocery chains by accepting credit cards.

Credit cards coming to Aldi

The Batavia, Ill.-based retailer has long been a hold-out in the grocery world because of its limited payment options. Many Aldi locations only took cash, while others might accept select debit cards. But all stores had one firm rule: No credit cards!

That's changing, effective immediately, to make the shopping experience more easily accessible to more people. The store will accept all Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express cards.

And for those of you who worry that accepting credit cards will drive Aldi's prices up, fear not! "Aldi is dedicated to keeping customers’ grocery carts full and their wallets even fuller," CEO Jason Hart said in a press release. "That’s why the acceptance of credit cards will have no impact on the price customers pay for the Aldi products they love."

Aldi undertaking big move toward organics

Late last year, Aldi announced its intent to make sure eating healthy and saving money are not mutually exclusive. The store has been rolling out "fancier" foods despite its reputation as a place to get no-frills groceries at rock-bottom prices, according to Business Insider. We're talking things like artisanal cheeses, smoked salmon, quinoa and coconut oil.

But that's just one avenue into health food that Aldi is pursuing. The store has already removed artificial growth hormones from its milk. Up next is removing the same from its yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and other dairy products.

Finally, one other thing on the horizon is that Aldi will ramp up the presence of its Never Any! brand of meats, which contains no added antibiotics, hormones, animal by-products or other additives.

 

A track record of removing MSG, fake colors and more

At the end of last year, Aldi completed its efforts to remove certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils and added monosodium glutamate (MSG) from their private label goods. And because 90% of what Aldi sells is private label, that's great news!

Read more: 18 foods that are breaking your grocery budget

The cheap grocer had already introduced its SimplyNature line of products several years ago, which bars 125 of the most egregious ingredients, and it also offers a gluten-free line called liveGfree.

"Our decision to remove these ingredients from all of our exclusive brand foods delivers on our ongoing commitment to meet the evolving preferences of our customers," CEO Jason Hart said in a press release. "Since more than 90% of the products we sell are under our exclusive brands, eliminating these ingredients will have a real impact on the over 30 million people who shop in our stores."

Bottom line: Aldi saves you money!

Of course, the real selling point of Aldi is the money you save. Customers can save up to 50% off traditional supermarket prices and up to 30% off Walmart prices. But beware that there are tradeoffs for that savings:

  • Small stores. Aldi stores are about the size of a neighborhood chain drugstore with small aisles. Less real estate means less overhead and more savings for you.
  • Focus on private labels. There's only a tiny selection of products because of the emphasis on store brands. You don't have 10 kinds of butter, for example. There may only be one or two kinds available. Forget about the paradox of choice.
  • Schedule conflicts. They have limited hours and long lines.
  • Bring your own bag, but plan to rent a cart. The stores does have grocery bags for sale, but you may want to bring your own to save even more money. Also, be sure you have a quarter on hand when you go to Aldi. You'll have to put a 25 cent deposit in the cart, which you get back when you return it to the corral. That reduces the cost of having to pay somebody to round up carts in the parking lot and it reduces accidental dents to your car when carts roll around the parking lot.

Read more: 13 secrets you don't know about Aldi

Image of Theo ThimouAbout the author: Theo Thimou

Theo is director of content for ClarkHoward.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times. View More Articles

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