A wheeled shopping cart lightens your load by transporting items in a more ergonomic way than backpacks or heavy totes. Commonly referred to as “granny carts,” these shopping carts reduce strain on your body and save you time and energy. Regardless of their nickname, Karen Jacobs, OT, PhD, and professor of occupational therapy at Boston University, recommends them for anyone who regularly totes heavy items—no matter your age. “You're never too young to think about how you can transport things in a healthier, safer way," she says. We researched the best shopping carts available and rated them on weight, portability, and capacity.
Our favorite, the Costway Folding Shopping Cart with Swivel Wheels, can hold several bags of groceries, is easy to maneuver, and has a separate spot for storing smaller items such as a purse or mobile phone.
Below, the best shopping carts for any age, budget, or amount of heavy stuff.
Best Overall: Costway Folding Shopping Cart with Swivel Wheels
Separate storage area for personal items
Rubber swivel wheels
High weight capacity
Handle not adjustable
A little heavy
Costway is known for its affordable home goods, and this shopping cart is no exception. This traditional-looking cart, which comes in both black and silver, may resemble one your grandparents have used for decades, but it has a few important upgrades. The back wheels are made of rubber, which helps it move smoothly on bumpy or uneven sidewalks. The plastic front wheels, which resemble stroller wheels, can swivel, so you can easily navigate crowded aisles at the grocery store. Another nice thing about the design? There's a separate storage area that can hold a handbag, upright wine bottles, or delicate items like eggs.
The cart is made of heavy-duty metal and weighs 13 pounds when empty, so it's not super lightweight, but the frame is sturdily constructed so it won’t buckle under the weight of your groceries or DIY supplies. The entire thing folds flat (even the small back storage area), so it’s easy to store in a closet or the trunk of your car. Some reviewers did note that the smaller wheels need to face a certain direction in order to fold the cart properly, but most found the folding process easy and straightforward.
One common complaint was that the handle is made of slippery plastic and tends to slide around, so some buyers secured it using Gorilla tape. Since shopping carts can often cost more than $100, we think this one is reasonably priced, even though it's not cheap.
Best Budget: Livebest Multi-Function Folding Two-Wheeled Shopping Cart
Sold in two sizes
Low weight capacity
May not work for taller people
Only two wheels
Small and lightweight (just 5 pounds when empty), this simple plastic cart, which is reminiscent of a milk crate, is best for quick grocery store or farmers market trips. It's also quite popular with teachers, who use it to transport books and other school supplies. The cart easily folds flat and has a retractable handle, though unfortunately it's not adjustable for different heights. Some taller shoppers said the handle landed too low for them to pull it comfortably. When the handle is pushed down, the cart can also be used as a storage container, though some were disappointed there was no lid.
Some reviewers claimed that the plastic felt a bit flimsy and wished the weight capacity were higher. It's also important to use the locking clips to secure the bin when it's open, otherwise it could buckle under pressure. The cart, which comes in either red or green, is also sold in a slightly larger size, and that version has a 77-pound weight limit.
Best Splurge: Joovy Boot Lightweight Shopping Cart
Open design like a store cart
Removable tote has magnetic clips
Handle doesn't adjust
Can't be pulled
If you're looking to splurge, this sturdy shopping cart from stroller manufacturer Joovy is heavy on bells and whistles. The cart is so easy to fold and unfold that you can do it with one hand. You can tell Joovy is used to designing things for multitasking people (like parents and caregivers) because of this cart’s smart and thoughtful features. The removable tote is made from strong mesh and has magnetic clips that keep it securely in place. And a parking brake keeps your cart from rolling away if it's empty or you're stopped at the top of a hill.
There are two tiers to this shopping cart, so you can separate more delicate groceries from heavier items like drinks. For the cost, we wish the handle were adjustable, but unfortunately it isn't. Joovy also makes an insulated bag and rain cover for the Boot, though they must be purchased separately. The cart weighs almost 15 pounds, so it is one of the heavier ones on our list. This might not matter to you if you’re wheeling it along flat ground, but it’s not ideal if you need to carry it up and down stairs frequently.
Best Aesthetic: Olli Ella Rattan Rolling Market Cart
Made from fair-trade materials
Handle doesn't retract
This gorgeous (yet pricey) shopping cart is made by Olli Ella, an Australian lifestyle brand originally known for its sustainable kids' products. The company also specializes in rattan items such as picnic baskets, woven storage bins, doll strollers, and even wagons. This shopping cart is fairly lightweight and narrows at the top, which helps keep the contents in place, but this also means you may have trouble fitting traditional paper grocery bags inside. It's made from fair-trade materials, and Olli Ella is a certified B Corporation, which means they "meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency."
This rattan shopping cart can hold 55 pounds of groceries, which is a respectable amount, but the stiff rattan doesn't allow for overstuffing. Although there are some things we don't love about the design (like the fact that the handle doesn't retract and there isn't a lid), it's such a lovely piece and it lets you imagine that you're shopping at a European market town rather than your local Costco. If your kids love to match with you, Olli Ella also sells a mini version of this cart that's meant for little ones.
Best for Stairs: dbest Products Stair Climber Bigger Trolley Dolly
High weight capacity
Safe for stairs
Some felt plastic wheels were flimsy
Loud on uncarpeted stairs
As a company that specializes in making shopping carts, dbest knows how to construct a fantastic option. The Stair Climber Trolley Dolley is not cheap but has several features that make it stand out. It’s extremely versatile, but most notably, it’s one of the only shopping carts that can handle stairs or brownstone stoops.
This shopping cart has six wheels (three on each side), and its spoke-like design offers stability when you move the cart either up or down stairs. It's also quite lightweight but still has a generous capacity of 200 pounds. The handle has foam cushioning that makes it comfortable to hold, which is always a plus if you’re pulling or pushing a cart with 200 pounds of supplies. The weatherproof storage bag is thoughtfully divided into seven pockets and compartments, including a spot for a drink and an umbrella. It also has a strap, so you can carry it on your shoulder if needed. If you must transport something large, like storage boxes or cases of water, you can remove the bag and use the cart as a dolly. If you need to store the cart, you can fold it in half, and it becomes fairly compact.
Another nice thing about the design is that the wheels are under the toe plate, so they're separate from the storage area and less likely to get in the way if you're transporting a box. This shopping cart comes in a few different colors—including a stylish aqua tile print—and it’s available in a slightly smaller size with a lower weight capacity.
Best Foldable: VersaCart Transit
Comes with cover
Can only be pushed
Height isn't adjustable
Lightweight and popular on Amazon, the VersaCart Transit is a smart pick for anyone looking for a bag-on-frame-style cart. The roomy canvas bag detaches, and the double-wheel design makes this cart easy to navigate in small spaces. It has a cover to protect your haul from wind and rain, and the canvas is also water-resistant.
If you're short on space, you'll appreciate that when folded, the cart has a compact footprint—picture the size of an umbrella stroller. The handles are thick and comfortable to hold, though it would be nice if they adjusted for different heights. Although the cart only weighs 9 pounds, it has a generous weight capacity thanks to the rugged tubular steel frame. One thing to note: Because the bottom, like the sides, is an "x" shape with canvas over it, it's important to distribute heavy items evenly, so the cart doesn't tip.
Best Height-Adjustable: Costway Folding Utility Shopping Cart
Extra hooks for hanging additional bags
Separate insulated compartment
Only two wheels
Insulated compartment is small
Taller people will benefit from a cart with an adjustable handle, like this soft-sided option from Costway. This shopping cart has several features that will make life easier at the grocery store, like a separate compartment that's lined with aluminized film to help keep items cold. There are two hooks that you can use for hanging additional bags, and some shoppers also use them to attach their cart to the one in the grocery store. The main bag is made of tough oxford cloth, and it closes with a drawstring to prevent things from falling out. It can also be removed if you want to turn your cart into a dolly.
The padded handle is a nice touch since it prevents slipping as you pull on the cart, and the bag can be folded flat if you need to stow it. Although there are only two wheels, they are large and designed to resist wear.
Best Insulated: dbest products Ultra Compact Cooler
Leakproof and fully insulated
360-degree swivel wheels
Could be more durable
This stylish, insulated cooler will work well for short shopping trips, but it's really meant for packing food and would be ideal for beach days or park picnics. It's leakproof, fully insulated, and can keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours. It's also the lightest option on our list and collapses flat for easy storage. The handle can be adjusted to two different heights, which taller people will appreciate.
There are additional pockets, including one for a water bottle and a small one on the front for things like plates, utensils, or your phone. The four wheels swivel 360 degrees, but they are quite small, so it might take some effort to push this cart through the sand. If you do need to carry the cooler separately, the carrying strap comes with shoulder padding. Some people also use the bag as a cooler during parties since it holds 36 cans at once.
The Costway Folding Shopping Cart with Swivel Wheels is a mid-priced option with a classic metal design, wheels that rotate, and a separate area for holding smaller items. If you just need something small and simple for quick grocery runs, the Livebest Multi-Function Medium Folding Two-Wheeled Shopping Cart is an affordable plastic crate-style cart that folds flat and has a 55-pound weight capacity.
What to Look for in Shopping Carts
Capacity is often measured in pounds, and it's smart to do some research in advance to see what size will work best for you. "I would suggest weighing two bags of your typical groceries first, since that's the minimum you'd want to be able to carry," says Jacobs.
Consider what tasks you will be doing, whether it's schlepping groceries, laundry, sports equipment, or something else. Carts that are wide and open at the top tend to be better for oddly shaped items like bats and balls or laundry bags. Metal shopping carts have a sturdy grid design, which may cause things to slide out, so you'll need to use shopping bags or place something flat (like cardboard) at the bottom.
Although frames and bags get a lot of attention, Jacobs says that it's actually the quality and construction of the wheels that's the most important factor to consider when looking for a shopping cart. "Metal wheels can be noisy—my preference is rubber, which seems to be better in bad weather as well. And if the wheels have a 360-degree turning radius, the cart will be easier to maneuver," she says.
If the wheels are plastic, make sure it’s a high-quality material; for example, some shopping carts have inline double wheels that resemble those found on strollers. Some carts have larger, more stable wheels specifically designed for ascending or descending stairs. Large rubber wheels will work better on uneven surfaces, like lawns or sand.
Some shopping carts have telescoping handles similar to those found on rolling suitcases. If the person using the cart is taller than average height, this may help prevent back pain. "A good guideline for size is that the top of the handle should land roughly at elbow height," says Jacobs.
Storage and organization options
If your cart comes with a bag, note whether it has a cover that closes tightly, which will help protect your contents during transit. Planning to carry the bag around without the cart? Consider whether the straps or handles are comfortable on your back and shoulders. Some bags are completely waterproof and great for events like camping trips, while others are simply water-resistant.
Insulated bags vary: they may keep food cold for an entire day or just a few hours. (If you're planning to transport loose ice in your bag, make sure your bag is leakproof.) Multiple outer storage pockets can be useful for things like water bottles. Some carts can be turned into dollys by removing the bag, which will allow you to transport larger items like moving boxes.
What can you use a shopping cart for?
Many people use shopping carts to transport groceries and laundry, but you can use a cart for almost any task that requires you to carry items from one place to another. This includes moving heavy items like water bottle cases from room to room or carting tools out to your garden. You can also use them to transport kids' sports equipment, bring food to a picnic, or, if the wheels are large enough, haul items to the beach.
How do you clean a shopping cart?
Since shopping carts are made from a variety of materials ranging from metal to rattan, you should follow the specific cleaning instructions for your cart. Keep in mind that the cloth bags found in carts usually aren't machine-washable. Melissa Homer, member of The Spruce Cleaning Review Board and Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro, uses these types of carts daily and recommends using a damp microfiber towel to wipe down the frame and bag.
The wheels can be difficult to clean, so if you use your cart outside, it's best to keep it out of your home and purchase another one for indoor tasks, like moving loads of laundry from your hamper to your washer.
Where can you buy a shopping cart?
Big box stores, online retailers like Amazon, and your local hardware store are all good places to look for shopping carts. "It's best if you can go to a store and try them out since the best cart for each person is going to be the one they're comfortable using. But if you do purchase one online, make sure it has a flexible return policy," says Jacobs.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Lexi Dwyer has contributed to The Spruce since 2019, and she's written about home topics like budget furniture, clothes drying racks, and storage bins. To research the best shopping carts, she spent several hours considering factors like style, wheel type, capacity, customer satisfaction, and various price points. For additional insight, she interviewed Karen Jacobs, OT, PhD, associate dean and clinical professor of occupational therapy at Boston University's Sargent College, and Melissa Homer, The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board member and Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro.