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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Can anyone help me understand how this engagement bonus game still makes sense, unless you happen to really need this CashPlus cash management account for it’s “features” or have thousands of dollars in ATM fees per year that this would zero out?

Parking 25K in an essentially 0 interest account is like loosing $1250 to gain $700.


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:



Rates are even higher now. However, if you have the CashPlus account (which isn’t a bad deal given ID monitoring and price protection), you still pay less than Vanilla Platinum ($660 vs $695) + you get a free AU.


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):