Agile.Travel, a strong contributor to the travel hacking community, has done quite a bit of legwork on the rarely discussed Morgan Stanley American Express Platinum. This card is interesting because:

  • You get a free Platinum authorized user card, which gives the AU access to lounges and Priority Pass just like the primary card holder gets (other American Express Platinums charge $175)
  • It’s a different product than other American Express Platinum cards, so you can get it regardless of what other flavors of the Platinum you have or have had, so it’s potentially a new sign-up bonus
  • It typically offers 50,000 Membership Rewards as a retention bonus after the annual fee hits
  • You can get a $550 annual fee offset credit from Morgan Stanley with a bit of legwork, making the card effectively fee free even before retention bonuses

To get the card, you need to be a Morgan Stanley client, which normally requires quite a bit of capital, but a few years ago Windbag Miles discovered that a $5,000 Morgan Stanley Access account is enough to be eligible. Agile.Travel’s discovery is that some of what’s documented about getting the $550 annual fee credit is wrong (in some places you’ll read that you can only get the credit once, and in other places you’ll read that you have to jump through some of the hoops before opening the card, both of which are incorrect.)

You can get the annual fee waiver every year, and you don’t have to do it before getting the Morgan Stanley Platinum. To get the waiver:

  • Open a Morgan Stanley Cash Plus Platinum account
  • Hold $25,000 in the Cash Plus account
  • “Direct Deposit” $5,000 a month into the account (more likely, set up a monthly recurring ACH transfer of $5,000 from another account, then a day later back out to an external account)

The annual fee credit of $550 is effectively a 2.2% APR on $25,000. Assuming you maximize the Platinum credits, lounge access, and get a retention bonus, you’ve got a compelling argument to hold on to the card long-term which honestly is really rare for a Platinum. Note also that the card will cash out Membership Rewards at 1 cent each, but if cashing out is your game look for the Schwab Platinum which will get you 1.25 cents per point.

Wow, talk about brevity challenged today, eh? I guess that means I’m witless.

A cartoon drawing of William Shakespeare's head with the quote "Brevity is the soul of wit."
Shakespeare I’m not.