Some fees we love to hate and avoid them at all costs. But others can be worth it if they save us time and money.
A fee that’s worth paying has a number of features. It gives us a good value that can be measured in dollars saved. We also pay more for peace of mind, but it’s hard to put a price tag on how well we sleep at night. Convenience plays a role in determining what a product or service is worth – if you value your time, then you’ll pay a little more when you can save it. Then there are the tangible benefits of getting impartial, unbiased advice before you make a major purchase or life decision, but the advice won’t come free.
Related: 10 fees to avoid paying
With that in mind, here are six fees worth paying:
More than six million Canadians pay $55 a year to shop at the popular wholesale club, which has 87 locations across the country. They take advantage of bulk pricing and several products unique to the store. Is it worth the money? The company says nearly 90 percent of its members renew each year.
While not every item is a bargain – fresh produce and dairy are generally more expensive than at other grocery stores – Costco shoppers tend to save on frozen foods and packaged products, even in bigger quantities, because of the low price per unit.
The company is also known for paying and treating its employees fairly. According to the jobs website, Glassdoor.ca, Costco pays its cashiers $14.60 per hour compared to Wal-Mart, which pays just $10.45 per hour.
Annual fee credit cards:
They can be worth the yearly fees of $100 to $150 if you earn enough rewards to offset the cost and then some. You’ll need to do the math to see what kind of rewards you can earn based on your spending habits.
For example, when your monthly credit card spending comes to $2,000, including $600 on groceries and $200 on gas, you’ll earn 43 percent more cash back using the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite than using the top no-fee cash back credit card – MBNA’s Smart Cash card – and that’s after subtracting the Scotia card’s $99 annual fee.
What sets Scotia’s Momentum Visa Infinite apart is that it offers more cash back on your gas and grocery spend – where cardholders get 4 percent cash back – and it also pays 2 percent back on your drug store purchases and recurring bill payments.
What price peace of mind? Nearly six million people are CAA members and for a $78 annual fee they get roadside assistance anywhere in North America. Tricia Willis, a 54-year-old civil servant from Toronto, has been a CAA member for many years and pays for that peace of mind.
“The value comes in getting towing services and battery replacement when needed, as well as great on the spot service from a trusted source,” she said.
CAA members also get access to products and services like travel planning, passport photos, and insurance. Having a membership is also a sure fire way to save at least 10 percent on your hotel room booking.
Our number one travel destination outside Canada is the United States and beating lengthy border and airport line-ups makes life easier. A NEXUS pass is just the ticket.
The program allows members to bypass pre-border security screening at major airports by going through a designated security line. There are also express lines at most border crossings including the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie and the Queenston Bridge at Lewiston, New York. The fee is just $50, and the card is valid for five years.
Dwight Newell, an engineer in Toronto, travels weekly on business and so he applied for a NEXUS pass two years ago to lessen the time he spends at the airport.
He says the $50 fee is well worth it because the NEXUS pass gets him to the front of the line at airports ahead of lineups 50 to 100 people long.
“Having the pass allows me to arrive a little later than I really should and I can still board the plane effortlessly,” says Newell.
Paying upfront for financial advice may seem like a gamble, but more and more Canadians are turning to fee-only planners to get unbiased advice, not just about their investments but about their overall financial health. You’ll pay $150 to $250 per hour or more, but you’ll get a complete and unbiased financial plan.
You can include tax advice and estate planning. These services can help set you on the right path and save a lot in the long run.
The advice of a fee-only planner is worth its weight in gold, according to Tom Hamza, president of the non-profit Investor Education Fund.
“Not only will a fee-only planner guide you through your financial goals and investment decisions, but they will provide a sober second thought when the markets crash and you’re about to panic,” said Hamza.
Where can you go to find this advice? MoneySense magazine has an online directory of fee-only planners. The list includes fees, expertise, and the services each planner provides.
The Law Society of Upper Canada lists a directory of lawyers and paralegals licensed by the Law Society.
The Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario lists a directory of licensed public accountants.
Consumer guides and reports:
A Carfax report, for example, gives you detailed information about a car’s history which may help with the purchase decision. Each Carfax report costs $39.99, but the information could save you from buying a lemon.
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.
Consumer Reports, a non-profit organization, is another a good source of information for saving money and protecting consumers. A subscription to the magazine costs just $20 per year, and for an extra $10 per year you get full access to the website, www.consumerreports.org.
Willis has subscribed to Consumer Reports for over five years and uses it to research major purchases. She’s learned how the price of goods often bears no relationship to its effectiveness.
Related: 35 ways to save money
“We got our fabulous $99 Hoover Windtunnel based on their ratings, and our $99 colour printer/scanner/copier was also a real find,” she said.
Fees are a fact of life and by choosing which ones to pay for you can feel satisfied that you’re getting something for the money.
Which of these fees do you pay for? What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment below: