Is Paying an Annual Fee Worth it?

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For the longest time, I hated paying fees for banking and services. Why would I pay money when I don’t have to right? Well, over the years my stance on fees has changed quite a bit. I’m still totally against monthly banking fees (I need to pay you to hold my money?), but paying an annual fee for my credit card and subscriptions don’t bother me anymore.

I get that people don’t like paying money for things, but in the end, you’re paying for services which you believe you get value for. I pay monthly maintenance fees to live in my condo and my cell phone service also has a monthly charge which I never complain about. Sure, I could argue that I’m paying too much, but I do believe I’m getting value for my money.

I’m not saying you should pay whatever price is quoted, in fact, I encourage you to save where you can. But, I do understand that if the benefits I’m getting outweigh the costs, then I’m coming out ahead. Let’s look at some typical fees and why you shouldn’t obsess over them.

is paying an annual fee worth it

Credit card annual fees

For whatever reason, credit card annual fees drive people crazy. They think it’s insane that they need to pay a fee to use a credit card. I don’t necessarily disagree with them, but when you look at some of the best credit cards in Canada, they almost all have annual fees. The thing is, they also come with a ton of benefits that are usually worth more than the fee you’re paying.

For example, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card has a fee of $139, but you get a PriorityPass membership, 6 free annual airport lounge passes, and a comprehensive travel insurance package. The Priority Pass Membership and lounge passes are worth $261 USD or $344 CAD and the travel insurance is worth at least $120 a year (more if you have a family). Those two benefits alone give you $464 in value a year so why complain about the $139 fee?

Then there’s the American Express Platinum card that has an annual fee of $699 which many people find insane. With this card, you get an annual $200 travel credit, travel insurance, unlimited lounge access, hotel status upgrades, and additional perks. One of those additional perks was a deal where you would get $300 off travel purchases of a combined value of $900. You can see how you could quickly get $699 in value with this card.

PC Insiders

PC Insiders is a new subscription program from President’s Choice that delivers huge benefits for their members. When the program was launched, some people could not fathom why you would pay $9.99 a month or a $99 annual fee just to get a few deals at the grocery store. I certainly understand their concerns, but look at what the program gets you.

  • A $99 PC Travel credit (for annual subscribers)
  • Free PC Express pick-up
  • 20% back in points on essentials like baby diapers and formula, PC Organics, PC Black label products and luxury beauty items online
  • Free shipping from Shoppers Drug Mart and Joe Fresh online

Since annual subscribers get a $99 travel credit at PC Travel, joining PC Insiders is basically free. PC Travel is a full-service travel agency so if you make just one travel reservation a year, you’ll break even.

Of course, you’re not signing up to PC Insiders for the travel credit, it’s the extra benefits that are really appealing. PC Express pick-up normally costs $3-5, but it comes free with PC Insiders. You also get 20% more PC Optimum points on select products such as diapers, formula, PC Organics and PC Black label products.

At first, you might not think that matters, but let me tell you that it can be game-changing. Click and collect groceries has made life easier for my family since I can order my groceries online and pick them up during my selected time. This saves an incredible amount of time since I’m no longer browsing grocery aisles.

I didn’t think the extra 20% in points on select products would be a big deal, but points are quickly racking up in my account. In just one month, I’ve probably received $25 in value from PC Insiders and that’s not counting the travel credit. Honestly, PC Insiders pays for itself which is why you should sign up. Read my PC Insiders review now for more details.


When Netflix was $7.99 a month, it was a no brainer. Even if you already had cable, paying $7.99 for all these shows was totally worth it. When prices went up to $10.99 a month, people complained a bit, but it still wasn’t a huge deal since you could have multiple accounts and stream on different devices. Well, now that prices are $13.99 a month for a standard plan, you’re probably wondering if it’s still worth paying for?

I don’t know about you personally, so I’m going to look at it from my perspective. If I cancel Netflix, I’ll basically only be able to watch channels that I get over the air or anything on Amazon Prime (I’ll get to that in a bit). Things would probably get boring fast so I’m keeping it.

The value with Netflix is obviously there too. If I were to go to the movies, I’d spend about $15 just to see one film. Even if I waited for it to come on demand, I’d still have to pay $5 per film. With Netflix, I’m getting access to thousands of movies and TV shows which is obviously worth the $13.99 to me.

Amazon Prime

At $79 per year, Amazon Prime is arguably the one service I don’t need. Getting free next day shipping is nice, but many of the things I purchase on Amazon, I could easily get at the mall. To be honest, Amazon Prime has made me pretty lazy as I’ll just get everything shipped to my door instead of actually going outside.

That being said, as a new parent, Amazon Prime has been a bit of a blessing as there were many times I needed things for my baby such as swaddle blankets and specific bottles that were now easily found nearby.

Amazon Prime also gives me access to Amazon Prime video which is similar to Netflix, but I find their shows and movies to be not that good.

Final thoughts

Is paying an annual fee worth is often subjective, but in many cases, I think the value you get from your credit cards or services is worth the fee. Instead of focusing on another thing you need to pay for, take a look at what you get and if you actually use it. If you’re getting value for those fees, why complain?

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Andrew Smith on February 24, 2019 at 3:04 PM

    Excellent post again! I love the way you compose your writing and the content of it! Kudos to you and the entire team there. Love a X

  2. Braden on February 24, 2019 at 6:49 PM

    For a young family like mine, Amazon Prime pays for itself. It gets us 20% off diapers with a subscription (delivered right to our door) which more than pays for the membership price. Prime Video and fast shipping are great bonuses.

    • Barry Choi on February 25, 2019 at 8:24 AM


      Ha, I have a 19-month old and the subscribe and save diapers have saved me sooo much.

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