8/4/21: A number of updates: 1) the annual fee on the Platinum card is now $695; likewise, the Engagement Bonus is now $695 as well. 2) The signup bonus is now 100,000 points, at the time of this writing. 3) The Platinum CashPlus cash management account has increased to $55/mo. 4) They no longer offer the $695 during the first year (ht nonozone).
You can get a $550 Engagement Bonus to offset the annual fee on the American Express Platinum Morgan Stanley card if you have open a Morgan Stanley Platinum CashPlus deposit account and maintain $25,000 average balance and have $5,000 deposited to the account each month.
The Morgan Stanley Amex Platinum card is almost identical to the ordinary Amex Platinum card, and comes with a bonus of 60,000 points after $5,000 spend. (You can get the bonus on each Platinum card separately.) One benefit it has over the ordinary Platinum is the ability to cash out points at 1 cent per point (sorry, not 1.25 like Schwab). Another benefit is that you get one free authorized user who gets many of the Amex Platinum benefits; no other version of the Platinum offers that.
Back in 2016 we wrote about how to get the – then – $450 annual fee waived on the MS Platinum card, and it involved having at least $1,000,000 in investments to be eligible. Then, in 2019, we learned that it’s actually possible to have a Morgan Stanley relationship without the big bucks: the bank offers an investing platform called Access Investing which requires just $5,000 deposit and comes with a .35% fee ($17.50 per year). Many people began using that relationship to become eligible for the Amex MS Platinum card, one of the many flavors of the American Express Platinum card.
$550 Fee Waiver
Earlier this year, they tweaked the program to waive the $550 on the Amex MS Platinum card: Going forward, a customer with the MS Platinum CashPlus cash management/bank account who is also an Amex MS Platinum cardholder gets an annual $550 engagement bonus. The cash management account is similar to the cash management accounts at other brokerage firms (e.g. many of us have a Fidelity cash management account), and it seems to be a bit safer than others since they sweep the funds into FDIC insured accounts.
The big thing to be aware of is the Platinum CashPlus cash management account has a $45 monthly fee; paying that fee for a year will cost $540, leaving you with just $10 savings on the card annual fee. You can have the fee waived, but it requires $25,000 tied up and $5,000 deposited monthly. Here are the four requirements to have the fee waived:
- $5000 in total monthly deposits. This includes things like Zelle, check deposits, and more. (Also worth noting that those who get Social Security can have those deposits go to their Platinum CashPlus account and that counts for the deposit requirement, regardless of the amount of your Social Security benefit.)
- $25,000 in Average Daily Cash Balance (in the Bank Deposit Program)
- Additional eligible Morgan Stanley investment account (Access Investing will work for this)
- Morgan Stanley Online enrollment
The $550 credit is not just for renewals – you’ll even get the $550 credit for the first year you signup.
8 $550 Annual Engagement Bonus for Platinum CashPlus accounts may be received if 1) you are the Basic Card Member of the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley (the Basic Card Member is defined as the primary account holder); or 2) if you spend at least $100,000 during the calendar year across Morgan Stanley Debit Cards associated with Platinum CashPlus Accounts in your ALG. Each ALG is eligible for one bonus per calendar year. Each client is eligible for one bonus per calendar year. For more information, please refer to the CashPlus Account Disclosure Statement.
Order of Business
Important caveat: Dealspoints reports that you’ll have to first open the Platinum CashPlus bank account BEFORE applying for the Amex Morgan Stanley Platinum card; those who already have the MS Amex Platinum card will not be eligible for the $550 credit. Also, in order to open the Platinum CashPlus account you need to first have an investing relationship. So here’s the order of how to go about this:
- Open Morgan Stanley Access Investing with $5,000 investment
- (You might need to wait 30 days now before opening the Platinum CashPlus account)
- Open Morgan Stanley Platinum CashPlus cash management account (and register the account for online access)
- Open Amex Morgan Stanley Platinum card
I think it’s quite plausible that you can get the $550 Engagement Bonus if you have a banker manually connect your existing Amex MS Platinum card to your Morgan Stanley Platinum CashPlus profile, but this is unconfirmed. See this discussion in the comments.
Is this a good deal? Well, it ties up $25,000, so not a great deal. It’s still not bad, at least in current environment, to get $550 back on the year for $25,000 tied up since the $550 will amount to a return of 2.20% APY. Personally, I don’t think I’d find it worthwhile to deal with the monthly $5,000 deposits just for the incremental benefit over an ordinary high-yield account (especially being that over time those accounts will likely begin offering better rates), but it’s interesting to hear about this option nonetheless.
After writing this, I see Reddit users note that this $550 annual credit is not be taxable provided you spend $1,000 on your Platinum card throughout the year (pdf link). Hence, you’re actually getting 2.20% return on your $25,000 AND not paying tax on that money. Certainly makes it more interesting.
Reader Daniel sent us the details of the new fee-waiver program back in January, and I added an update to our original post at the time, but I didn’t quite wrap my head around it until seeing this discussion today on Reddit. As the details have changed a lot, I figured it was worth a new post here. Hat tip to dealspoints for their clear write-up on this as well.