Amex adds Family Language to Morgan Stanley Platinum Card

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In the latest blow to their most enthusiastic rewards card customers, Amex has added family language to the Morgan Stanley Platinum card.

As per the new offer terms, you may not be eligible to receive the welcome offer on the Morgan Stanley Platinum card if you have or have had that card, You may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer if you have or have had this Card,  the Platinum Card, the Schwab Platinum or previous versions of these cards.

We’ve previously reported on Amex family language being added to various flavors of the Platinum cards, the Delta credit cards, cash back cards, the consumer Gold card, the Marriott Bonvoy cards, and the Green card. Unfortunately, things are continuing to trend in a family-unfriendly direction.

What is Amex family language and which cards have it?

Historically, Amex has had “lifetime” language. In the offer terms on most Amex application pages, there is a line that says that the welcome offer may not available to you if you have or have had that specific card before. Up until recent months, that lifetime language has only excluded those who have had that specific product before.

However, in recent months, we have seen Amex create restrictions around product “families” that indicate that, in some instances, you may not be eligible for the welcome bonus if you have or have had one of several cards before.

We have seen the following restrictions added over the past year:

  • Consumer Platinum cards: Whereas in the past you could qualify for the welcome bonus on each “flavor” of the Platinum card, you are now restricted from getting the welcome bonus on the Schwab and vanilla versions of the Platinum card (and now the Morgan Stanley version, too.
  • Consumer Delta cards: You may no longer be eligible for the Delta Gold welcome offer if you have or have had the Platinum or Reserve. You can no longer get the Platinum welcome offer if you have or have had the Reserve.
  • Cash Back cards: You may no longer be eligible for the welcome bonus on the Blue Cash Everyday card if you have or have had the Cash Magnet, Blue Cash Preferred, or Morgan Stanley Blue Cash Preferred card.
  • Gold card: You may no longer be eligible for the welcome bonus on the Gold card if you have or have had a Platinum card.
  • Everyday card: You may no longer be eligible for the welcome bonus if you have or have had the Everyday Preferred card before.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Card: You may no longer be eligible for the welcome bonus if you have or have had the Bonvoy Brilliant card before.
  • Green card: You may no longer be eligible for the welcome offer on the Green if you have or have had the Platinum Card, the Morgan Stanley Platinum, the Schwab Platinum or the Gold Card.

Thus far, we have only seen family language appear on consumer cards and the language has spread in stages slowly over the past year.

What’s happened to the Morgan Stanley Platinum card

The following language had been added to the Platinum card for Morgan Stanley:

You may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer if you have or have had this Card, the Platinum Card®, the Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Charles Schwab or previous versions of these Cards. You also may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer based on various factors, such as your history with credit card balance transfers, your history as an American Express Card Member, the number of credit cards that you have opened and closed and other factors. If you are not eligible for a welcome offer, we will notify you prior to processing your application so you have the option to withdraw your application.

This continues the pattern that we’ve seen with Amex’s Membership Rewards-earning and most co-branded cards. The Hilton cards continue to be the last “family” group standing that hasn’t yet added the restrictions.

As we’ve pointed out before, it is worth noting that this language varies from the previous restrictions with other Marriott cards in one key way: it says that you “may not” be eligible for the welcome bonus rather than saying that you “are not” eligible.

That wording leaves room for the possibility that you may still be eligible. In other words, although you may not get the welcome bonus, maybe you will. The terms go on to say that if you are not eligible for the bonus, Amex will let you know before processing your application and give you the opportunity to withdraw it. In other words, if Amex doesn’t give you the pop-up, they are committing to giving you the bonus.

The FM team has all been recently approved for cards where the “may not” language was present and would be disqualifying if applied. In those cases it’s a good idea to take a screen shot of the terms on the off chance that you’re denied the bonus. You could then point to those terms in a complaint. That said, we’ve yet to hear of a data point of someone not getting the promised welcome offer when there was no pop-up.

Quick Thoughts

This probably won’t be a huge blow for many given the more niche status of the Morgan Stanley version of this card (mostly because of the requirement to have a Morgan Stanley account to qualify), though the Morgan Stanley version is the best version of the Platinum card for many households since it offers a free Platinum-level authorized user.

But even if the Morgan Stanley Platinum card wouldn’t have been at the top of your list, it is nonetheless a bummer to see Amex continue on this path toward discouraging customers from trying out different products by adding language that threatens to perhaps not award the new cardmember bonus that most consumers would likely expect.

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