Should you pay extra to get better deals when you shop? It sounds counterintuitive but many retailers are banking on you to buy membership plans that unlock all kinds of deals.

Several years ago we would have thought it the height of arrogance – retailers asking you to pay a fee for the privilege of shopping with them. But paying for a retail membership can be highly valuable, depending on how you use it.

Randi Odesser shops for deals at Whole Foods using her Amazon Prime membership to unlock the discounts.

A Prime membership in Canada costs $79 and not only will it get you deals on groceries but also free, expedited shipping, unlimited cloud storage for photos and access to lots of movies and music.

"I am a loyal Amazon shopper to begin with and now having the added benefit of Whole Foods discounts makes it even better. Definitely a win-win,” said Odesser.

"Clearly, Amazon is onto something. More than 100-million prime members likely make Amazon their first stop, when they shop," explained Consumer Reports, Margot Gillman.

Consumer Reports says many retailers are jumping on board with membership loyalty programs. Like Bed Bath and Beyond and Restoration Hardware – offering perks like discounts, free shipping and priority services.

"The benefits sound great, but you have to make sure that the numbers add up. Restoration Hardware, for example, charges 100 dollars for a year for a membership, which entitles you to some discounts and design consultations. And that would be great if you have a lot of furniture in your future," Gillman said.

She advises caution with your spending so that simply having a membership doesn't lead to you blow your budget.

"Amazon Prime members typically spend an average of $800 a year more than non-prime members," Gillman explained.

"I have my Amazon Prime app," said Odesser as she prepared to check out.

Follow Randi’s lead and be smart when you join and when you shop.

Make sure that any membership you subscribe to is easy to cancel. Many automatically renew so make sure you set a calendar reminder to review before you are charged. Some don’t offer refunds.

Be aware of how your data might be used. To become a member you’ll likely have to share your name, address and phone number. But be careful about handing over other identifiable information. You may be asked for your birthday in order to receive a "present." If you’re concerned about privacy and data breaches, be stingy with what information you willingly give up.