Morgan Stanley Platinum Card Fee Free (how to earn the $550 Annual Engagement Bonus)


Morgan Stanley Platinum Card $550 Annual Engagement Bonus

Amex Platinum cards come loaded with high end perks such as airport lounge access, hotel elite status, airline fee rebates, credit towards Uber and Saks Fifth Avenue spend, and much more.

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 (See: Which is the Best Amex Platinum Card?).  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 $550 Annual Engagement Bonus.  Morgan Stanley customers who meet certain requirements get back the card’s $550 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, there appears to be a better option…

Morgan Stanley Platinum CashPlus Account

Andy, at Deals Points, reports a better option for earning the Morgan Stanley Platinum $550 Annual Engagement Bonus.  Morgan Stanley’s new Platinum CashPlus Account is the key.

Andy reports that the following steps will qualify you for the $550 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. Register the accounts for online access.
  4. Sign up for the American Express Morgan Stanley Platinum card.
  5.  You will get the $550 Engagement bonus during your first year after a month if you meet the fee avoidance criteria and within three months if you don’t meet the fee avoidance criteria. For subsequent years, the annual bonus will be paid in the month after your American Express Platinum account anniversary.

See the Deals Points post for full details.  I’ll highlight 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.  This would wipe out $540 of the $550 annual benefit 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 $550 Annual Engagement Bonus:

  • Access Investing account annual fee: 0.35% = $17.50 per year if you maintain exactly $5,000 in that account.  Let’s round up and call this $20 per year.
  • Cost of money for keeping $25K in the Platinum CashPlus Account.  Compared to Citi’s high yield Accelerate Savings account, which currently earns 1.35%, the Morgan Stanley account earns more than 1.3% less.  By keeping $25K in the CashPlus account instead of the Citi account, you lose 1.3% of $25K = $325.
  • 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: $345 per year. 

Well… is it worth it? 

You can think of the $345 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 $200 per year in airline fee credits plus up to $200 per year in Uber and Uber Eats credits, plus up to $100 per year in Saks Fifth Avenue credits.  Yeah, I’d say it’s worth it, but only if you value those benefits.  See this post for more details about Amex Platinum cards and their benefits: Amex Platinum Complete Guide.

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