Amazon is dialing up efforts to win over customers that typically frequent rivals such as Walmart: low-income shoppers.
The online retail giant, whose vast North American retail business growth has slowed in recent quarters, has announced new offerings aimed at the poor, most recently a new credit card for consumers trying to establish or rebuild their credit. It has also added half-price Prime memberships for those on certain governmental aid programs, as well as a method for consumers to reload their online accounts with cash at convenience stores. It has even recently looked at buying Boost Mobile, a prepaid cellphone service that caters to low-income customers, from Sprint.
The moves could help Amazon attract a new customer group that has long been loyal to Walmart and its more than 4,700 U.S. stores, many sprinkled throughout rural and lower-income communities. But it also comes attached with some risk for the shoppers: For example, Amazon’s newest credit card’s interest rate tops 28 percent.
“This kind of greed makes the poor even poorer,” tweeted frequent Amazon critic, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., adding that he and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., will introduce legislation to “outlaw it.”
Amazon spokeswoman Paruul Batra declined to comment on Sanders’ tweet. Amazon is “committed to making it easy for all customers” to use Prime, Batra said. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)