Morgan Stanley Platinum Card Fee Free (how to earn the $695 Annual Engagement Bonus)


Annual Engagement Bonus

Amex Platinum cards come loaded with high end perks such as airport lounge access, hotel elite status, airline fee rebates, prepaid hotel rebates, digital entertainment rebates, Uber credit, and in some cases an “Annual Engagement Bonus” like the one we’ll discuss below.

Amex Platinum cards come in several different “flavors”.  One of the best is arguably the Morgan Stanley Platinum Card because it offers one authorized user card for free.  The authorized user gets many of the same perks as the primary cardholder (see our Platinum guide for a list of perks, along with which ones apply to authorized users).

Another benefit available exclusively to Morgan Stanley Platinum cardholders is the $695 Annual Engagement Bonus.  Morgan Stanley customers who meet certain requirements get back the card’s $695 annual fee each year.  Those requirements used to be very hard to meet.  The old requirements were to maintain a minimum of $1,000,000 in eligible assets and liabilities with Morgan Stanley or have paid at least $10,000 in managed fees/commissions.  Now, as we originally learned from Andy at Deals Points, there is a better option…

Morgan Stanley Platinum CashPlus Account

Through Morgan Stanley’s Platinum CashPlus Account, you can earn the annual $695 engagement bonus without anything close to a million dollars invested.

The following steps should qualify you for the $695 Annual Engagement Bonus:

  1. Open a Morgan Stanley Access Investing account and maintain at least $5,000 in the account.
  2. Open a Morgan Stanley Platinum CashPlus Account.
  3. Make sure to register both accounts for online access.
  4. Sign up for the American Express Morgan Stanley Platinum card.

Here are a few key considerations:

  • You must establish your Platinum CashPlus Account before signing up for the Morgan Stanley Platinum card.
  • The Platinum CashPlus Account normally costs $45 per month ($55 per month starting 2/1/22).  This would wipe out a big portion of the engagement bonus unless you meet the criteria to maintain the CashPlus Account fee free.
  • Platinum CashPlus Account monthly fees are waived if you maintain the following:
    • $5000 in total monthly deposits AND $25,000 in Average Daily Cash Balance (in the Bank Deposit Program)
    • Additional eligible Morgan Stanley investment account (the Access Investing account should qualify)
    • Morgan Stanley Online enrollment
  • Eligible deposits, in order to meet the above $5K per month deposit requirement, include:
    • Direct Deposit of payroll
    • Incoming Transfers
    • Mobile Check Deposit
    • Branch Check Deposit
    • Incoming Send Money with Zelle®
    • Incoming Wire
    • Any Social Security Deposit
    • Distributions from a Morgan Stanley Retirement Account

Is it worth it?

Assuming you meet the requirements to keep Platinum CashPlus Account fee free, here are the costs involved in earning the $695 Annual Engagement Bonus:

  • Access Investing account annual fee: 0.35% = $17.50 per year if you maintain exactly $5,000 in that account.  Then there are also fund-specific fees and expenses.  Let’s round up the former, and assume the latter is about $30, and call the total $50 per year.
  • Cost of money for keeping $25K in the Platinum CashPlus Account.  The Access Investing account doesn’t earn interest.  So, the cost here is the opportunity cost of keeping $25K here vs. in a growth account.  This cost could vary from almost nothing (which is the current interest rate of most interest bearing checking accounts) to quite a lot if the alternative is investing in the stock market (for example).  To come up with an estimate, let’s just call this a 1% cost: $250 per year of interest not earned.
  • Cost of time for making sure to make $5000 in deposits each month.  There must be an easy way to automate this, so I’m not going to estimate this cost.

Total estimated cost: $300 per year. 

Well… is it worth it? 

You can think of the $300 estimated cost as being the cost to get two Morgan Stanley Platinum cards: a primary card and a free authorized user card.  Consider that both users get airport lounge access and elite benefits, and that the primary user has access to many hundreds of dollars in rebates for airline fees, prepaid hotel bookings, digital entertainment, Uber, and more.  In my opinion, it is definitely worth it.  See this post for more details about Amex Platinum cards and their benefits: Amex Platinum Complete Guide.

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I opened the required accounts in July and completed the required activities to qualify for the “engagement bonus” (essentially a refund of the Amex Platinum annual fee). However, Morgan Stanley is claiming the bonus is not paid in the first year and never was. Fortunately, I saved the disclosures I received at account opening. Unfortunately, I am fighting with their (un) trained monkeys on the phone to get the promised bonus. Be forewarned that Morgan Stanley does not honor its promises. My next step will be filing complaints with the SEC against Morgan Stanley and each of the licensed bankers I spoke with who refused to honor Morgan’s obligation.


I don’t know if its new. I read the Disclosure Statement, and found this…

“The Annual Engagement Bonus will be paid in the month following the month you open your American Express Platinum Card (“the Card Anniversary Month”) with the exception of the first year you open your American Express Platinum Card.”

That changes things… Definitely not worth the monthly fee in that case.


Isn’t Access Investing dead now?


I don’t know if I am reading it wrong, but the terms and condition says the first year AF is still reimbursed if the account meets fee avoidance criteria? Some of the posts below says the first year is not reimbursed, but it starts in the second year.. but that’s not what I see.


If your only investment account is Access Investing, then the AF will be reimbursed the 2nd year.


If you have a million in assets with Morgan Stanley, is the fee still waived?


The annual engagement bonus only represents $35 of free money. Why? Meeting the $25k average balance requirement waived a $55 monthly fee, or $660 per year.
This is equivalent to getting 2.6%* interest, which is a bad deal when T bills are yielding above 3%. Those who don’t already have a MS relationship are better off spending their time on other deals and learning how to buy T bills from primary auctions.

* Some contend the 2.6% interest is post-tax, but MS has stated that it offsets fees against the engagement bonus and reports only the remainder on 1099, so you should compare this to pre tax interest rates


Yeah, I think if you have a MS Plat card, might as well get the Plat CashPlus to reduce the annual fee.

MS Plat = $695,
MS Plat with Plat CashPlus = $660


Reading the disclosure, definitely not worth it now if first year, you don’t get the engagement bonus…

First year, without avoiding the maintenance fee:



I already had an etrade account from years back. In the FAQs, it said if you can’t open a Morgan Stanley product, call and vice versa. So I called MS and they opened my PlatinumCashPlus account already. Do I need just the Platinum Cash Plus or do I still need the MS Access account to get the engagement bonus?


You don’t need an Access account for the bonus.
Those who have no account with MS, other than the CashPlus, are just like those who have the Access account. Both group will not receive the engagement bonus for the first year, but will receive it starting from the first anniversary (when you pay the annual fee for the second time) and afterwards.


Oh so if you have the MS Access Account or can still get it before Nov 1st, you don’t need the MSPlatinum Cash? The rep is checking if I can still get the MS Access Account bc I’m just getting directed to etrade.

Does anyone know what other MS account can get the Engagement Bonus in less than 12 months & what is the lowest minimum for other than Access or PlatinumPlus? If it’s $100k with IRA accounts in the mix that maybe doable. But I thought I read no retirement actcts somewhere.


You must have the CashPlus account and of course the Amex MS Platinum card to receive the engagement bonus. You don’t need to have an Access account to receive the engagement bonus. The catch is that you need to have some sort of relationship with MS to open a CashPlus account account. That’s why people open an Access account first, which then let them open a CashPlus account. If a person for whatever reason manages to have a CashPlus account without having an Access account, s/he will still be eligible to receive the engagement bonus (starting from second AF and then for as long as s/he keeps the Amex MS Platinum).


Oh! From the steps listed, it says to get both accounts and have them linked first before applying for the MS Amex Plat. Why do they need to be linked? And are most new folks having an issue getting the Platinum CashPlus Account now or the Access Account? In my case, the link the rep gave me for Access led me to a MS page but it said: We couldn’t find your page. It may have moved or temporarily unavailable. He then told me to google it so I did and told him it directs me to etrade which is why I called in the first place. He was surprised and tried it himself and said that must be NEW – let me find out for you. So before I apply for the Amex just confirming I did the minimum pre-req necessary. I’ll fund the account first I guess. Already have online access soon after I hung up with MS.


Ok so I think I’m confusing the engagement bonus requirements from the fee-free requirements. I need the benefits of both for this to be worthwhile with only loss of opportunity cost of $25k in a high-yield interest account.


I accidentally hit submit before I was able to paste this for Fee Avoidance:
• $5,000 monthly recurring deposit; AND
• $25,000 average daily BDP balance; AND
• Morgan Stanley Online enrollment; AND
• another qualified non-CashPlus Morgan Stanley account

So it looks like I need to setup that MS Access Account to hit that last bullet.


Do I have to maintain the balance in access investing beyond 5,000 at all times? I started with $5500 but its value now is below $5,000. I wonder if that would impact me getting the engagement bonus?
Also, when and where I get the bonus? My platinum annual fee posted in mid Sep, should I be seeing it by now?


Do you get a 1099 for the $695 engagement bonus ?


Is the $695 Annual Engagement Bonus automatic? I recently has my card renewal fee but I didn’t get the $695 Annual Engagement Bonus.


Ignore my comment, I saw my bonus deposited into the cashplus account.


Can I ask what date your renewal fee was on and what date the engagement bonus was deposited into your account? Thanks!


About a month after renewal fee posted on the credit card statement.


I already have Morgan Stanley Amex platinum card, could I waive my next few years $695 fee if I open platinum cashPlus this year?


Does the “Any Social Security Deposit” have to be $5,000?


Does the $5,000 have to remain in the account or can I withdraw it in a few days and redeposit next month?


I think it has to remain, but interestingly enough, the account has not done that badly. In this year’s down market it has performed better that SPY and QQQ. I can’t remember which option I chose for the type of investments.


No, P2 has much less and it has worked for her. But last year it posted on 9/15 and so far don’t see it yet this year.


After I posted I called Amex and the rep and I found the language stating that the deposit can be any amount. MS gave me 2 months grace to set up DD but I was too slow and paid for a couple of months after the grace period.


I remember it took a while to switch the SS. Good to hear you are OK. If I haven’t hear by next week I will call and ask where this year’s enhancement bonus is.


Here is my timeline for the engagement bonus, which I got a few days ago;
I have had a Morgan Stanley IRA investment account for the last 5 years. I opened the MS Platinum card first in July 2021 and later opened my CashPlus account in Jan 2022;
Amex Morgan Stanley Platinum card 2nd annual fee was posted on July 24th 2022;

Since I opened my CashPlus Morgan Stanley account in January of 2022, I was expecting the annual engagement bonus to post in 2023 January as per my discussions with the customer service team.

But, to my surprise, I saw that my refund has been posted sooner than expected. I would love to keep this MS Platinum card for the long haul if I continue to get the annual fee credits from the CashPlus account. 


Yes, but as interest rates go up the $25K in the CashPlus will be a loser soon, unless you really want the Amex Platinum for the few coupons. I will keep it for the travel insurance benefits.


Depends on the competition. Chase and Citi don’t seem to follow the fed.


I had MS Platinum card using this post advised without any issue a year ago and enjoy the Annual Engagement bonus. This past month trying to apply this card for P2 and went through unbelievable amount of time talking to MS rep.who want more and more “financial information” and why she want to open a new Access Investing Account etc.The questions from its “Advisor” was delayed through another “secretary” and passed through. Every time I called a new person will answer the phone and asked all the credential to verify that you were the real person etc and he will send the info. to escalate the application. Spending hours of my time and frustration after 3-4 weeks then got reply that P2 application was denied since she didn’t answer the questions by herself !!

I think MS Bank want a client that will give money for them to manage for profit, not if they think you want to get its Platinum card for free !!


Looks like Morgan Stanley added a new perk for CashPlus clients (Greenlight debit for families):


Wouldn’t it be a better option if we open a join tenant account and apply for the card for both the account holders? Your loss of interest on $25K is mitigated to a large extent just with cash equivalents even @ 75% value – $200 Saks, $400 Airline, $400 FHR, $400 Uber, $480 Digital Credit, $350 Walmart+ et al?


So does this work if I do a joint account and have my player 2 also get the platinum card from MS? Still 25k and 5k maintained in the account right?


No haven’t tried that option


What’s the point of applying tha card for both? You will receive no more than one engagement bonus per CashPlus account anyway, no matter how many Amex Platinum cards you open.


Oh okay got you.


Just found that Morgan Stanley acquired e*trade October last year. On January 1 2022, they are merging e*trade bank and savings bank into Morgan Stanley Private Bank. Not sure about investment account though. I have been waiting for a chance to get the MS Amex card and have an e*trade “investment” account. Any ideas whether this will qualify for the engagement bonus?


E*Trade accounts don’t count at this time. They are still considered outside accounts and require a separate login than the Morhan.


I am pretty sure it will not qualify. The investment account at MS with only $5,000 invested has to be one where they do the investing for you. And they charge a small monthly fee. So, here is my experience:

Invested $5,000 3 years ago, now it’s worth $5,500 – not terrible. $25,000 in the CashPlus account earning virtually zero. Instead of $5,000 deposit each month they also allowed (presumably still do) one’s Social Sercurity monthly payment (yes, you have to be 66 – or more nowadays) to count as the required monthly deposit, no matter how small that amount is.

I am hoping/assuming? they will now up the Engagement rebate to $695 as the annual fee on the card has just posted. It has been taking 6 weeks for that to post so you need to pay Amex before you see the amount show up in your CashPlus account.

Of course this was better when interest rates were low and so now the opportunity cost of the $25,000 is at least 2% ($500 a year). I get 2% right now at E*Trade.
I count on getting about $440 in reimbursements from Amex ($200 airline incidentals and almost $20 a month on Audible and a news sub). I value the Saks credit as worth nothing. Also I get the occasional “offer” from Amex and so made about $50 last year on top. .

Besides all this, the reason I got the card was for the travel protections, which cannot be matched.


What is the best number to call and open the Cash Plus Platinum account? When I try to apply online I get a message saying to apply via my office (I only have an access investing account however). No contact number to call and apply is provided on the error message.


Do you still get the engagement bonus if you don’t put $25k in the cash account? I know you’d have to pay the soon to be $55 a month – but I’m more interested in the 100k signup bonus + the 15x restaraunt/shop small earning rate for 6 months now. It still comes out to be a net positive the first year considering the bonus and all the other card benefits.


Thank you! I’m really only interested in the signup bonus – I’ve already got the vanilla platinum and the schwab. Now that it is 100k + 10x it seems worth it to go ahead and get the last of the 3 options at least for the first year and then see what kind of retention I can get after that first year! Thank you – I didn’t know that I’d only have to do the investment account!


This is a helpful article but you should really be seeking to earn more than 1 percent on your $25k. For example, you can easily earn 3.3% on $20k (or $40k in 2 player mode) with Evansville TFCU for zero risk. Then you are losing $825 per year in interest and this quickly becomes not worth it. Look at high yield savings options on Doctor of Credit for some zero risk ideas. Strive for more than 1 percent!


After step 3, do you have to fund the accounts before you apply for the Amex card? I didn’t because I wanted to make sure I was approved for the card first. However, when I called in to see why my status was pending, they said they needed to review my Morgan Stanley accounts before making a decision.


Thanks for this post. I am considering this, and I did a little research and found that 1) the AUM fee has been reduced to 0.3%, 2) the fees for mutual funds vary from an estimated 0.07% up to 0.61%, depending on which portfolio the investor selects (point 1 is from Morgan Stanley’s website and point 2 is according to a review on Investopedia). The lower end of the fee range (0.07% – 0.12%) is for the passively managed “Market Tracking” portfolios.


Greg, just a note to say that in order to open up the Platinum CashPlus account, you need to have a pre-existing relationship with Morgan Stanley. The Access Investing Account meets this criteria. So unless you have a current Morgan Stanley relationship, the order you outlined above must be followed.


Could you sign up and then CONVERT a regular platinum AMEX to a MS platinum?


I asked you this question on another post
If we keep a cash plus account we get an engagement bonus
– even people who do not have card still get bonus in their account
So why do you have to open plus account before getting the card?
If I already have the MS card, can I open a cash plus account keep 25k, invest 5k a month and then get the engagement bonus?


I already have a MS Platinum card and would like to open a Cash Plus account and receive engagement bonus. Apart from Deals Point interpretation of the terms (which I don’t find reasonable), is there any evidence that somebody was denied engagement bonus just because s/he opened the card before Cash Plus account. I absolutely don’t expect that such an evidence exists, because it doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Note that ‘being denied’ is different from ‘not receiving’ the engagement bonus. It might be that, if one opens the Cash Plus account after the card, then the accounts won’t be connected automatically, and thus the accountholder needs to call Morgan Stanley… but that’s just another hurdle to jump over and be done…


Who on Earth would do that? Certainly nobody reading this !!


Have you heard if there is a AMEX TITANIUM card coming out? It would fall brewed the Centurion and the Plarinum.


I noticed that these terms are NOT IN the Morgan Stanley offer terms but are in the vanilla platinum terms.

Would getting the Morgan Stanley card prohibit you from earning a bonus on the vanilla in the future (assuming you haven’t had either before):

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card or previous versions of the Platinum Card. 


Does Select UMA count as an eligible investment account? Also, does the $25k balance and $5k deposit need to be in the Cash Plus account, or can it be in the investment account?

Last edited 2 years ago by Andie

I copied the following from a CashPlus Platinum FAQ in Morgan Stanley website:

How is the Average Daily BDP Balance calculated?• Your aggregate Bank Deposit Program (BDP) balance across all CashPlus Accounts in your Account Link Group will be summed each day
• Each day’s total BDP balance is then summed across every day of the month, and that total balance is then divided by the number of days in the month


I was wondering the same thing. My wife has a MS UMA account that was set up years ago by her parents. I will investigate further to see if this is eligible.


So if a self-directed account works, one could go that route and avoid the fee on the Access Investing Account which you calculated as being about $50/year.


Greg, you mentioned “Retirement Plan accounts including IRAs and 529 Accounts are currently not eligible”.
When I reviewed the PDF (, under the section “opening/maintaining an eligible non-cash plus account” it says “retirement accounts including IRA’s are eligible account types for individual and joint cashplus accounts only”.

I am reaching out to my MS advisor for the IRA account for clarification and I will update the post later with what I learned.


This sounds awesome, but once you get all this in place, can you sign up through a public MS Amex Plat link and get a great SUB on top of this? Or is it like the old Ameriprise card with no SUB? And if you do sign up through a public link, how does Amex know not to charge you the AF? Also, is this a year after year no-AF offer, or just the first year?

Nick Reyes

Yes, of course you can get the big welcome bonus.

Amex charges you the annual fee. Morgan Stanley reimburses it if you meet the requirements.

As it is an “annual” engagement bonus, it happens every year. Again, Amex charges the fee. Morgan Stanley just reimburses it:

“Morgan Stanley customers who meet certain requirements get back the card’s $695 annual fee each year.”


Seems like they updated their disclosure on fee refund tax:

You may be subject to tax and information reporting with respect to any
Annual Engagement Bonus. Morgan Stanley may be required to report
the Annual Engagement Bonus as taxable income on your Form 1099.
You should consult your tax advisor regarding the tax implications of
any awards, including the Annual Engagement Bonus, based upon your
specific circumstances.

Anita Parsa

Is there any hint that Schwab plans to improve their rebate (capped at $200 back for $1mm) now that the af has increased so much?

Nick Reyes

I haven’t heard anything about it, but it does seem reasonable that they might do something.


But am I still eligible for the MS Plat card sign-up bonus if I already have a Personal Platinum card?

Nick Reyes



Opened the CashPlus account late July 2020. Have had the Access investing for over a year. Funded cashPlus in early August with $25K and added $5K in August and added $5K+ in September. Set up Dir Dep starting in October. Applied for the AMEX MS Platinum card in late July after opening the CashPlus account. Already spent the $5K on the card and received the 60K MR points.

But no $550 from Morgan Stanley. When should I expect it?


It came as a credit on the Morgan Stanley Cash Account, $550 cash as promised. It did take a couple of calls to get it to happen. Let’s see what happens when the next Platinum for MS annual fee arrives in a couple of months. It should be $550 again this year and hopefully it will be credited without the need to call MS, though I doubt it. Then next year will be the question of what will be credited with the increased annual fee. I will keep you posted.


The first/initial year’s annual engagement bonus is on a slightly different timeline than subsequent years, which if I’m remembering correctly delays it by maybe a couple of months. Reason for this is they don’t have any history for the CashPlus account yet showing you’re going to start meeting the requirements, and in addition, you don’t have to meet the requirements in the first couple of months (or something like that). In subsequent years, my experience is that the credit from Morgan Stanley comes the same month as the annual fee is charged.


Just opened an Access Investing account and wanted to provide some additional info. As a managed account, you have to choose from 10 investment strategies. Once you select a strategy, you can’t change it and you can’t tweak the underlying investments in the portfolio. Also, each strategy contains some investments that have fees in addition to Morgan Stanley’s .35%.

I selected the socially responsible investing portfolio with a focus on addressing climate change. The MS representative I spoke with said this portfolio would come out to a total of .50 – .55% for AUM (.35% from MS and .15- .20% from the underlying investments). That’s only $27.5/year on $5,000, so not a big deal, but important to know if you’re planning to invest significant money in the account.

The other thing to mention is that they told me I need to wait 1 month after opening the Access Investing account before I can open the Plat CashPlus account. Not sure if others have had luck opening it right away?


Not true. I called to open cash plus platinum account approx 2 days after opening access account. I applied for MS platinum within a week after opening cash plus platinum.


I think one other benefit is Amex Plat still have the roadside assistance UpTo 4x per year?


Just wanted to comment that I was able to open a Cash Plus account first without any Morgan Stanley relationship and the Access Invest account after. After some thorough research, I actually went for the lower tier Premier CashPlus account because it’s a pretty good and compelling cash management account that most people are overlooking…it has no foreign transaction fees, free checks, unlimited worldwide ATM reimbursements, metal debit card, comprehensive credit protection, Zelle, and what sealed the deal was free incoming/outgoing wire transfers (outgoing needs to call). Normally wire transfers easily cost $20-35 easily at most banks. I can’t think of another cash management account that has all these features combined (Fidelity/Schwab come close but still don’t have all of these). I only put 5k in access investing account which the ~$20 in ‘management’ fees is well worth cost since I’m technically getting free wire transfers and technically those fees I consider paying for the identity theft protection which comes out to $20/12 = $1.67/month or less. The identity insurance is more comprehensive in the sense it gives credit scores and reports from all 3 bureaus, monitoring, and insurance up to 1 million. Given all that, I can just set and forget the Access investing account since it’s 5k I don’t need and there’s no minimum balance to maintain in the Premier cashplus account. Just an automated recurring $2500 in and out of the account is all I need to keep the account fee free.

I’m still waiting for my debit card/checks, but so far fund transfers have been fast. I’ll have to test out how fast they reimburse ATM fees. At least the UI doesn’t have the visual balance quirks Fidelity has. And the bank linking is comparable to Schwab where you can verify instantly or enter in routing/account numbers (Fidelity still has trouble linking other brokerages like Merrill Edge or companies that use 3rd party banks.


Just talked with Morgan Stanley this afternoon and they told me they use a variety of clearing banks for wire transfers, despite their web site saying Citibank.


Have to enroll for credit protection?
I get an error using the link provided in the documentation
Platinum CashPlus Account is entitled to four enrollments in Morgan Stanley’s Comprehensive Identity and Credit Protection. This optional service is available to four CashPlus Account owners within an ALG, at no charge, and will provide identity protection, identity restoration and identity theft insurance, fraud resolution and credit reporting and monitoring.
Morgan Stanley Comprehensive Identity and Credit Protection is provided by Experian, a leading global credit reporting agency. Since this is an optional service, it requires your enrollment, which can be completed by visiting Morgan Stanley Online or through the Experian-hosted website available at


What does MS have that Fidelity and Schwab don’t other than the Identity Protection? Fidelity has lower fees and better options for earning interest on your money (when the Fed rate isn’t 0%). I’ve been happy with my Fidelity CMA account, but to each their own. Now, if you are saying this is a great free checking account in addition to a free Amex Platinum then I agree with you.


The MS account generally is more well rounded. Fidelity/Schwab don’t have Zelle. Some people send payments to me via Zelle and I use it as a way of transferring money between my outside accounts instantly. Schwab doesn’t have free wire transfers and you have to wait till end of the month for reimbursement. Fidelity has low ATM withdrawal limits and foreign transaction fees. MS reimburses next business day. Also, interest rates are close to 0% right now and doesn’t matter much in a checking account anyways since I keep a low balance. Lastly, the MS card is a metal card which gives it a nice touch of exclusivity since too many people have Fidelity/Schwab. So I’d say the MS account edges out Fidelty/Schwab marginally.


I assume you mean Fidelity has Foreign Transaction fees for using your debit card. They do not have fees for using a foreign ATM. Also, conversion rates have been very good.


Yes, foreign transaction fees for using the debit card. I can’t get used to Fidelity’s cash management interface. It is very clunky and is geared more towards investing. Hope they improve that soon. I didn’t use Fidelity as my primary checking because it’s bank linking system is not very good. You can’t even link a third party brokerage checking account like Merrill Edge online.


I didn’t start until about 1-2 years ago when I noticed Fidelity had better rates than most online savings/checking accounts. Considering it was checking with free wires, I invested the time. I agree it’s more clunky and you can’t easily do brokerage to brokerage transfers. Once you setup ACH it’s fine. The other thing that’s annoying is remembering to buy into the money market.


Just wanted to note the free authorized user has some additional value as well.


Do the free authorized user get priority pass and all benefits?


Greg, so in order to get the $550 fee waive, you need 25k tied up in a Morgan Stanley checking account and 5k in their investment account? Can I invest in any stocks I want in that account? I believe we also have a monthly transfer of 5k a month?
Thinking about doing this and see if the benefits outweigh the opportunity cost.


Ok thanks. Do you know if the amex business platinum gets the waiver too? Its 595 and has better benefits like Dell $400 credit. If it does, it looks more enticing!


It is a managed account. I put in $5,000 in June 2019 and a year later I had gained 8.78%, so, not bad at all. You pick a style of investing out of a few options. I don’t know what I picked as I expected it to perhaps even lose a bit. The interesting part is that it didn’t drop anywhere near the rest of the market in March.

I keep a lot of cash on hand as I don’t want everything in the stock market and, at a pinch, I could always cash out (temporarily or permanently). So I see this as about a 1% loss on the $25,000 in the CashPlus, but the AMEX rewards are worth so much more.

I want the AMEX card for the travel coverage mainly – still banking on being able to travel again one day.

For the first year, you get essentially a no-fee card, 60,000 MR points after a biggish spend (or just MS for a cost of about $130 or so), plus $40 a month till December, $200 in 2020 and $200 in 2021 for travel incidentals (wink wink), never would have thought I would buy anything at Saks, but I did get face masks for my grandkids, Can’t use the Uber credit right now, but I am happy.

Lastly, Morgan Stanley does not have a great web setup for Access or CashPlus, so be prepared to phone when you need anything and Covid-19 makes that much worse (but then that’s the same with any other bank nowadays).


When I did it 3 years ago I was allowed to pick a strategy for the type of investing – I think there were 3 or 4 choices. I don’t even remember which I chose and I doubt they make much difference. I expected to lose money but I have gained about 10% in 3 years.


I wonder if MS will send you a 1099 for $550 every year. Since it’s labeled as a bonus and not a rebate sounds like they should, but would be good to see some DPs later on.


That’s awesome, thank you for that info Greg.

Edit: this also improves the math in favor of this deal, as many people are looking at 30% or so in fed / state taxes on the interest they make on 25k in HY Savings Acct. Those $325 from Citi in your example will end up being $225 after the taxes are done.


You are forgetting the May (now June) to December monthly $20 wireless and $20 streaming credits. Makes it a better deal this year.


I was hoping I could still get the cash plus platinum account while not maintaining $5000 in the Access investing account. I have kept open an Access account with a small amount of money for when I’m ready to get the MS plat, and they haven’t shut my account down yet after 4 months. It can’t be invested until the $5k threshold, so it just sits in a cash account earning no interest.

So I started the process of trying to open a cash plus platinum account, but it says “Unfortunately, we are unable to open your Cash Plus account online at this time”. Anyone else seeing this? I’m guessing because the Access account isn’t fully funded. I’ll call in to see if I can only open it over phone for some reason.

In any case, I’m not planning on leaving $25k sitting there, so I’ll probably close that account after I get the $550.


No, you would still have to call even once funded. That was my experience. And the call took over an hour. They told me that everyone without an actual advisor assigned, such as with Access, needs to call. But your plan may work if you tell them over the phone that you plan to fund the access account.


“You must establish your Platinum CashPlus Account before signing up for the Morgan Stanley Platinum card.”

Can you still use a referral link to sign up & get this incentive?

ktc : “Eligible American Express Cards include…American Express Platinum Card for Schwab, Morgan Stanley Platinum Card, Morgan Stanly Credit Card, Ameriprise Gold Card, Ameriprise Platinum Card,”

Probably outdated, ‘American Express Costco Card’ is still there.

Ed L

I’ve seen recent comments that AmEx has tightened up on credit cards. Formerly, the maximum seemed to be 5 credit cards per person, but apparently now AmEx may be limiting people to 4 credit cards. Am I correct that there was no previous limit on AmEx charge cards?

I’ve got 4 AmEx credit cards and my wife has 5 AmEx credit cards.

My question: have they changed that old “rule” of no limit on charge cards? In other words, if I put in the effort to get a Morgan Stanley Plat card, has there been any change (due to the current recession) in the chance that either of us will get approved for the Plat?


I think the new limit on charge cards is 10.


Hi Greg, great post as always! I wonder if the Access Investing account is a requirement here or just as a step for the Plat CashPlus account? If I already have some investment account with stocks, do I just go straight to the Plat CashPlus? It is the latter and the fee free criteria that qualifies for the $550 engagement bonus? Or need both account to qualify? Thanks


You need the CashPlus and Access Investing.


You need Access or another investment account to qualify for the fee waiver on the CashPlus. But you could open just the CashPlus and pay $45/mo ($540/yr) and still get the $550 retention bonus and the free authorized user on the plat. Better than the vanilla plat in my opinion, but would still go the fee waiver route.


What if you open the cash plus account, get your $550 and then close the cash plus account? Maybe repeat that a year later.


Maybe with a different issuer….I wouldn’t trust AMEX to overlook that


I’m wondering this too. Seems like it should work as long as you keep the access account open.

Stefan Krasowski (Rapid Travel Chai)

Doesn’t seem to be an incentive for them to stiff existing cardholders…either way the engagement bonus would get their desired result of signing up for the CashPlus account. Since I already have the card, I don’t need to go through the mental gymnastics for this offer.


Did you sign up for a CashPlus account and receive the engagement bonus for the Platinum card you already had? I am in the same boat and would like to know if there is any trick or something I need to be aware of to make things work …


Hello! I’ve had the standard AMEX Platinum and the Amerprise AMEX Platinum. Is this considered a new card or is it likely I won’t receive the bonus?

[…] today I published a method for getting the Morgan Stanley Platinum card for free.  More specifically, the post detailed how to earn the Morgan Stanley $550 Annual Engagement […]


The flaw in your assessment of the cost is assuming you’re only losing 1% of the $25k by tying it up in the Morgan Stanley account. That assumption also assumes you would otherwise be keeping $25k around in a savings account. If you don’t need that much liquidity though, chances are that you would be taking the $25k out of more profitable investments… That even modestly should be earning, say, 5%/yr….. Taking that into consideration you are actually spending way more than the normal annual fee to get this work around.


I think any of these kinds of offers — opening bank accounts for new account bonuses, moving money around to get access to better rates or credit card earnings, etc. — should not be considered by anyone who is comfortable with not having a slush fund and who has decided that investing in the market or in other higher yield investments is something that they are comfortable doing with all their money. I sort of think that goes without saying. But for those who keep cash on hand as part of their overall financial plan it is definitely good to be considering ways to deploy it to pick up benefits here or there.


You’re ignoring the scaling, though. Most lucrative opportunities for new account bonuses require a slush fund on the order about $5k.. And once you you start playing with five times that amount, you have to consider the opportunity cost of tying up $25K for a few hundred dollars here where instead you could be using that for multiple other new account bonuses. Plus, this is an annual commitment versus the slush money required for other new account bonusesusually decreases substantially after the first few months of opening the account. So either way just using 1% to calculate the opportunity cost is inaccurate

Nick Reyes

I’ll admit to being one of those readers (and also a writer) :-). I’m just not comfortable putting everything in investments.


There’s also the question of what does “investments” mean. Many people subscribe to the philosophy that they want a certain % of their investments in stocks and a certain % in fixed income. Cash equivalents certainly can be a part of fixed income. Bond yields are so poor right now that getting 1%+ from a savings account is about the best you can get for guaranteed return. Therefore I think it’s perfectly fair to compare this to a savings account, assuming one then counts this Morgan Stanley money as part of their fixed income allocation.


Actually I think Greg overestimated the opportunity cost. To his point, I would keep 10-15k in checking anyway and at least as much in savings. But if using a high yield savings account rate, you have to take income tax into account. You will not pay tax on the retention bonus. I use municipal money market rates when calculating my own opportunity cost.


I would add that this is a lot of work to sign-up for the bonus just to cancel. If you’re using Access as the qualifying investment account, you have to open CashPlus over the phone with an advisor. I did this about a month ago and it took over an hour. Although not paying much in interest, the CashPlus account has some decent benefits itself. My AU (with the free amex plat AU card) also opened a CashPlus and we have them in what MS calls an account linked group (ALG), which means our combined balances/deposits go to meeting the minimums. We plan to keep this setup long term.


“Morgan Stanley will pay only one Annual Engagement Bonus per ALG.” – In case anyone else is wondering if two people, each with a Platinum CashPlus Account but meeting the $25K minimum by linking accounts together, could get two $695 card fees reimbursed.


Loren i will give you some money. You need to guarantee me 8% return. Anything above it is 100% yours to keep.

You will need to sign over house and title deeds to be kept in escrow in case i don’t get back my initial investment compounded away 8%


I am not sure where you would find this 5%/yr. Let’s say you have most of your money in the stock market and get much more than 5% in the long run. Are you saying you’d keep 100% of your funds in the market? That would seem to be extremely foolish. And are you forgetting the value of the 60K MR points?

To me this is a no-brainer for the first year. After that we’ll see.


Any data points on whether retention offers for the MS platinum are similar to retention offers on the vanilla plat? You can never count on retention offers but I have a general sense of what I’m going to get every two years on my plat and I definitely take that into account in thinking about the annual fee.

I guess one other cost of doing this is the hassle of figuring out how to get the $5k per month back out of the MS account. Maybe that can be automated too. If you just let it sit there you have to account for the lesser interest on the dollars in the account over $25k.


I have had MS fir one year and barely used it. I called last week for a retention offer and received 50k points. The previous month I received 50k for regular platinum card. Also had little use.


I’m a MS Amex user. All incoming and outgoing transfer can be scheduled as recurring.


So the 5k per month deposit requirements can you just transfer back to say the same account it came from monthly and still get a waver on the fee of the card ?