10 Fees That Are Worth The Money

Some fees just can’t be avoided, but that doesn’t mean every fee is designed to rip you off.  You can feel good about paying fees when they provide enough benefit to justify the cost.

Whether it saves you time, gives you peace of mind, or actually saves you money in the long run – in some cases you’re better off handing over the money.

Related: 10 Fees You Can Avoid Paying

Here are 10 fees that are worth the money:

1. Warehouse club

Paying $55 a year for a Costco membership is worthwhile if you have a large family or buy a lot of food and household products in bulk.

You have to avoid the temptation to overbuy, but if you watch your budget and take advantage of occasional loss leaders or sale items, that $55 annual fee can lead to savings on your grocery bill.

2. Used car report

A CARFAX report gives you the history of a vehicle, including any previous accident repairs.  One report costs $35, or you can get five reports for $45.

Phil Edmunston’s Lemon-Aid Used Cars and Trucks guide is another good resource that helps inform and protect consumers when shopping for a used vehicle.

These used car reports can save you hundreds if it helps you avoid buying a clunker or overpaying for a used car.  It puts knowledge in your back pocket when it comes to negotiating prices.

3. Auto club membership

If you own an older vehicle that’s not covered by a roadside assistance service, a CAA membership provides emergency gas, towing, battery boosts and lock service along with travel discounts, trip insurance and their famous maps.

The cost of an auto club membership varies by region, but starts at $65.  You can sign up online to avoid an enrollment fee.

Alternatively, your car insurance company may offer roadside assistance for a lower annual fee.

4. Annual fee credit cards

Some premium rewards credit cards can carry annual fees of $75 to $120 for features you don’t use, unless you’re a high spender or business user.

However, they can offer faster accumulation of cash back rebates and travel reward points like Air Miles or Aeroplan.

One of the top cash back credit cards is the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite, which comes with an annual fee of $99.  When you spend $2,500 a month on this card, you’ll earn $684 cash back in one year.

Related: Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Cards

5. Fee-only financial advisor

Financial advisers who work on commission may seem attractive because you don’t pay up-front fees to buy investment products.  But that also means they’re always trying to sell you something that may not be in your best interest.

There is a good argument to be made that a fee only financial planner can offer you unbiased advice about the best investment products for you, particularly if you have a substantial portfolio.

6. Professional accounting fees

Unless you are self-employed or rely on commission income, rental income, or significant investment income, an accountant will be somewhat limited in the planning they can do for you.

However, you can also look at an accountant as insurance.  You don’t like paying it, but when you need it, you’re glad you have it.  There may be years where an accountant can’t provide much in the way of income tax planning, but there will be a year sometime when an accountant may provide advice that covers their fees for the next ten years.

7. Mortgage refinancing

When interest rates are low, many people refinance in order to save thousands of dollars over the life of their mortgage.  However, it’s important to calculate your pre-payment charge before you consider refinancing your mortgage.

A pre-payment charge is the amount you will need to pay for breaking the terms initially negotiated on your mortgage.  This can be a large amount, meaning you won’t actually be saving money in the long run.

Related: How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

It doesn’t always make sense to break your mortgage, but a good rule of thumb is if interest rates are at least 0.50% lower than your current mortgage rate, it’s worth looking at refinancing.

8. Safe deposit box

Opening a safe deposit box at your local bank or credit union can be an inexpensive way to protect valuable documents and irreplaceable items from theft, fire or water damage in your home.

Safe deposit boxes vary in price from $45 – $250 per year, depending on the size required.

Your safe deposit box should contain digital copies of all your important records.  It’s also a good idea to make a video of the contents in your home and keep a copy in your safe deposit box in case of an insurance claim.

9. Music

Some popular music subscription services, like Spotify, aren’t available in Canada.  One that you can find in Canada is Last.fm, a music recommendation service.  You use Last.fm by signing up and downloading The Scrobbler, which helps you discover more music based on the songs you play in your media player or iPod.

For only $3 a month, this music service gives you unlimited radio streaming and personalized recommendations.  Sign up and listen to 50 tracks for free before the subscription kicks-in.

10. Netflix

With Netflix you can instantly watch as many movies and TV shows as you want for just $7.99 per month.  While Netflix is somewhat limited in Canada, there are still over 7,000 films and TV shows available.

Netflix might be a good choice if you enjoy watching your favourite shows and movies more than once.  Rather than buying movies or adding expensive cable packages, Netflix offers a cheap alternative and decent selection that will save you money.

Related: 35 Ways To Save Money

Which fees do you think are worth the money?

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  1. Matt on April 16, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Hi Echo,
    Agree with you 100% about the Costco Membership. It’s just SOOOO hard to avoid the temptation to overbuy on all the great multi deals you can get!

    The other membership that I would also consider to be worth paying for would be car sharing club.

    Great work again love reading your blog Boomer & Echo!

  2. WorkSaveLive on April 16, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Netflix, financial advisors, and the carfax reports are fees that I’m always happy to pay!

    LOL. You know you have a good business model when somebody is HAPPY to pay your fees.

  3. Glen Craig on April 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

    These are great examples! Some people run when they hear FEE, but you have to look at the overall value that fee may bring.

    Love my Costco membership. Well worth it to us. I also LOVE my monthly Spotify membership.

    Here’s another fee – Amazon Prime. Not sure how it works in Canada but you pay a yearly fee and get free 2-day shipping, unlimited. I got mine half off through Amazon Student (about $36).

    • Echo on April 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      That sounds pretty good, I’ll have to check it out. We pay through the nose for shipping in Canada.

  4. Sean @ One Smart Dollar on April 16, 2012 at 9:32 am

    These are great examples of “Good” fees. My Costco membership is well worth the money. The money I pay my accountant might be the best money I spend all year long.

  5. Glenn on April 16, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Have you heard of Northern Provincial. They market themself as bulk groceries on wheels, delivered directly to your door. Saves on gas trips to the store. Saves via bulk ordering. Saves b/c it’s just a warehouse and they don’t have to pay overhead costs like tellers etc. I just signed up and have been happy so far.

  6. SE Book on April 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Almost all of what is on the list I have! Good to know someone else is on the same page.

  7. Darmuzz on April 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Another subscription music service available in Canada is Rdio. As you probably know, we can’t get Spotify, Pandora or Mog. Grooveshark is still available free, but seems to be dubious legally (user-uploaded content).

  8. Elizabeth on April 18, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Can’t argue with any of these examples 🙂 My CAA membership has helped me a couple of times, and the peace of mind is worth every penny.

    Another fee I’m happy to pay is the per-use fee at my local rec centre — which offers drop-in fitness classes and a walking track. I tend to use it more in the winter when I can’t easily exercise outside, and it’s still far cheaper than a gym membership.

  9. eemusings on April 20, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Nice list.

    I wish I had a choice in regard to credit card annual fees, but all CCs here have ’em.

    It’s so vital to check out a secondhand car beforehand – not sure how it works in the US but here there are too many horror stories of people buying cars off TradeMe (a bit like eBay/Craiglist) and finding out after that there’s money owed on it when the repo man comes along. It only takes about $15 to get a report detailing stuff like that, which isn’t much if you’re serious about a certain vehicle and are going to spend thousands on it.

  10. dave on April 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Be careful with carfax because they miss an awful lot. Lots of time the report isnt worth the paper it is written on. CAA is another one to evaluate. At $65 a year, think about how much money you spend when you dont need it. I have needed a jump start once in the last 10 years. Netflix is pretty bad in Canada. Most of these tips seem like ads

  11. Gary Jones on April 24, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I don’t agree with your fee for advisors.

    This makes it sound like every advisor is an ambulance chasing scum. Not sure your experience with advisors but as an advisor I do not sell people anything. I help them save money not spend money!

    Last time I checked it’s an advisors fiduciary responsibility to do what is best for the client regardless of pay. So why would you presume that paying someone a fee would be better then having any of the investment/risk management companies paying the advisor.

    That is a myth I think that is perpetuated by fee for only advisors who are trying to carve a niche in to the industry.

  12. Dan - BankVibe on May 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I would argue you should toss a gym membership fee into the mix.

    Even a short workout 3 times a week can have huge benefits to not only your health but your wallet. You overall health will increase and you’ll have far more energy throughout the week. Use this extra energy to take on new projects at work or start up a side project at home!

    Depending on where you live this could be as little as $20 per month. The hard part is committing to an actual exercise plan 🙂

  13. Veronica on November 18, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Love Netflix. I’m a huge fan of Ted Talks and like to watch them on Netflix. I’m aware that they are online, but the comfort of a couch is so much more welcoming than a computer chair. And Carfax… oh, can’t say enough good things about Carfax, if you’re buying a used car – better get one or you’re shopping blind.

  14. xoxox on June 3, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Your advice about financial planners is spot on. Non-fee advisors, despite their ‘fiduciary responsibility’ generally have an incentive to pump and dump. That’s how they earn a living. It’s very simple ask your advisor how s/he earns her/his income and then look at the incentives involved. Human nature is human nature.

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