Platinum Forever Free (After Rebate)

25

Amex Platinum cards come loaded with elite perks: airport lounge access, hotel and car rental elite status, 100% rebate on a CLEAR membership, emergency medical transportation & evacuation, and much more.  They also come loaded with credits and rebate opportunities.  Personal Platinum cards offer annual Uber credits, rebates on Fine Hotel & Resort bookings, digital entertainment rebates, Walmart+ rebates, etc.  Business Platinum cards offer rebates for Dell purchases, cell phone service, and select software.  Both types offer up to $200 per year in rebates for airline incidental fees.  That’s all great, but these perks and rebates come at a steep cost: $695 per year.

What if you want Amex Platinum perks, but you don’t want to pay for them?  Sure it’s possible to earn back the annual fee with each Platinum card’s grab bag of rebates, but it’s a burden to try to do so year after year.  In this post I’ll present another strategy to consider…

First Year “Free After Rebate”

At the time of this writing, there are 4 different Platinum cards available to the U.S. market:

The key idea here is that each Platinum card’s first year annual fee is well worth paying in exchange for the ability to earn a big welcome bonus (which requires being approved for the new card and meeting the spend requirements for the offer).  If you value Membership Rewards points at only a penny each, a 100,000 point welcome bonus, for example, is worth $1,000.  That more than covers the Platinum card’s first year annual fee.  In fact, with the Schwab Platinum card you can redeem points for 1.1 cents each to your Schwab investment account, so 100,000 points are worth $1,100 cash; or with the Morgan Stanley Platinum card you can redeem points for 1 cent each, so 100,000 points are worth $1,000.  Since Platinum card welcome bonuses tend to be around 100,000 points or more these days, let’s call the first year “free after rebate“.

Rotate Platinum Cards

If you accept the first year “free after rebate” notion described above, then it should be possible to get four years of Platinum for “free after rebate” by rotating through each card year after year.  Each year you can sign up for a Platinum card, then cancel after a year and sign up for a different one.  Example:

  • Year 1: Sign up for the vanilla Platinum card
  • Year 2: Sign up for the Schwab Platinum card and cancel the vanilla Platinum
  • Year 3: Sign up for the Business Platinum card and cancel the Schwab Platinum
  • Year 4: Sign up for the Morgan Stanley Platinum card and cancel the Business Platinum

Note that I purposely put the Morgan Stanley Platinum last because it has some features that make it a desirable last Platinum card to have.  More about this later in the post.

Caution: Amex doesn’t like to offer welcome bonuses to people who cancel their cards year after year.  To do the above technique, it’s important to also have one or two other Amex cards that you use regularly without cancelling.  Otherwise, when you go to sign up for a new Amex Platinum card, you may get the dreaded pop-up saying that you’re not eligible for a welcome bonus offer.

Retention Offers

The above plan will only give you four years of Platinum for “free after rebate,” but you should be able to extend this by quite a bit through retention offers.  At the end of each membership year with your card, call Amex to cancel your card.  Often they’ll present you with a big retention offer try to get you to keep the card another year.  For example, here are a couple of retention offers that I accepted in 2021 (I wrote about these here):

  • Business Platinum: I was offered a $595 statement credit for keeping the card another year. There was no spend requirement for this offer.
  • Schwab Platinum: I was offered either $650 or 60,000 points after $4K spend in 3 months.  I took the points.

Before calling, you should have a rough idea of how many points or how much cash back would make it worthwhile to keep the card for another year.  If you average just one good retention offer for each Platinum card as you rotate through, you can extend the “free after rebate” streak to 8 years.  For example:

  • Year 1: Sign up for the vanilla Platinum card
  • Year 2: Accept retention offer and keep the Platinum card for another year
  • Year 3: Sign up for the Schwab Platinum card and cancel the vanilla Platinum
  • Year 4: Accept retention offer and keep the Platinum card for another year
  • Year 5: Sign up for the Business Platinum card and cancel the Schwab Platinum
  • Year 6: Accept retention offer and keep the Platinum card for another year
  • Year 7: Sign up for the Morgan Stanley Platinum card and cancel the Business Platinum
  • Year 8: Accept retention offer and keep the Platinum card for another year

Outlive Lifetime Rules

Amex has “lifetime” rules against getting a welcome bonus for a card you’ve had before.  It’s been widely reported, though, that in practice you can qualify for a welcome bonus offer again after about 7 years.  In some cases, the timespan is even shorter.  See this post for much more on this topic: Bending Amex’s Lifetime Rule.

In other words, it might be possible to start the Platinum card rotation again with a new welcome bonus offer every year.

The Morgan Stanley Finale

Both the Schwab Platinum card and the Morgan Stanley Platinum card are available only to those with investment accounts.  With Schwab, it’s super easy to open an account.  With Morgan Stanley, it’s easy to open an Access Investing account, but you do need to fund it with $5,000.  So, the barrier for entry with Morgan Stanley is a little bit higher.  On the other hand, the Morgan Stanley card has a couple of qualities that make it a great choice to be your final long term keeper card: 1) The first authorized user is free; and 2) It’s possible to get the annual fee completely rebated every year…

Free Authorized User

The Morgan Stanley Platinum card lets you add one Platinum authorized user for free.  The person with this card gets all of the elite-like perks that come with Platinum cards, but none of the statement rebates or credits.  For example, the authorized user won’t get their own $200 in airline incidental fee credits, but they can use their card to get into participating airport lounges (such as Amex Centurion Lounges, or Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta).

$695 Annual Rebate (Engagement Bonus)

Annual Engagement Bonus

By jumping through a few hoops with Morgan Stanley, it’s possible to get the Platinum card’s full annual fee back every year.  Full details about how to earn this engagement bonus can be found here: Morgan Stanley Platinum Card Fee Free (how to earn the $695 Annual Engagement Bonus).

If you ever get tired of cycling through the various Platinum flavors year after year and would prefer to keep just one account open, this is the one that is probably the best fit for those who can meet the requirements for Morgan Stanley’s annual engagement bonus.

Preserving Points

If you decide to cancel your Platinum card each year and sign up for another one, it’s important to make sure that you don’t lose your points.  One way to do that is to sign up for a second Platinum card before cancelling the first.  A better option is to simply keep another Amex card that earns Membership Rewards points.  Two fee free options are the Amex Everyday Credit Card and the Blue Business Plus.  The latter is a great option in general because it earns 2x on all eligible purchases, up to $50,000 per year (then 1x).

Applying for Business Credit Cards: You must have a business to apply, but even a simple sole proprietorship will work. It's likely that you have a business even if you don't realize it.
More:You must have a business (but you probably do): In order to sign up for a business credit card, you must have a business. That said, it's common for people to have businesses without realizing it. If you sell items at a yard sale or on eBay, for example, then you have a business. Similar examples include: consulting, writing (e.g. blog authorship, planning your first novel, etc.), handyman services, owning rental property, renting on airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc. In any of these cases, your business is considered a Sole Proprietorship unless you form a corporation of some sort.
When you apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, you can use your own name as your business name, use your own address and phone as the business' address and phone, and your social security number as the business' Tax ID / EIN. Alternatively, you can get a proper Tax ID / EIN from the IRS for free, in about a minute, through this website.
Is it OK to use business cards for personal expenses? Anecdotally, almost everyone I know uses business cards for personal expenses. That said, the terms in most business card applications state that you should use the card only for business use. Also, some consumer credit card protections do not apply to business cards. My advice: don't use the card for personal expenses if you're not comfortable doing so.

Best Uses for Amex Points

In general, the best use of Amex points is to transfer to high value airline partners in order to book international flight awards.  There are some situations, though, where you can get good value in other ways.  For details see: How to use your Amex Point fortune.

Platinum Perks Detailed

Perks for all Platinum cards

The following perks apply to all Platinum cards:
Benefit How to access or enroll Available to Platinum Authorized users?
5X points at amextravel.com: Earn 5X points for prepaid hotel and airline bookings at Amextravel.com This benefit is automatic. Yes. Points and bonus points are added to the primary card holder's account.
$200 airline fee credit: Amex will automatically reimburse up to $200 per calendar year for airline fees for your selected airline only. Eligible fees include: baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases, and airport lounge day passes. Log in and go to Benefit page and click “Select a Qualifying Airline”. For tips on using this benefit, please see: Amex airline fee reimbursements. What still works? No. Spend on authorized user cards does count, but only $200 per year will be reimbursed altogether.
Airport Lounge Access - Centurion Lounges, Airspace Lounges, Escape Lounges: Cardholder plus two guests are allowed free.  Beginning 2/1/23, in most cases guests will be charged $50 each (details here). No need to enroll. Simply show your Platinum card when visiting a Centurion Lounge. Yes
Airport Lounge Access - Delta SkyClubs: Cardholder is allowed free when flying Delta same day. Extra charge for guests. No need to enroll. Simply show your Platinum card and same day boarding pass when visiting a Delta SkyClub. Yes
Airport Lounge Access - Priority Pass Select Lounges: Priority Pass Select member plus two guests are allowed free entrance. Unfortunately, this membership does not include Priority Pass restaurants. You must sign up for Priority Pass Select. Go to benefit page and click “Enroll in Priority Pass”. You will receive a membership card by mail. Present Priority Pass card and boarding pass at lounge entrance. Yes. Each authorized user must sign up for Priority Pass Select.
Airport Lounge Access - select Lufthansa Lounges Free access to Lufthansa Business Lounges (with confirmed ticket) or to Senator Lounges (with Business Class ticket) in the satellite building of Terminal 2 at Munich Airport and in Terminal 1, Departure Area B, at Frankfurt Airport.  Valid only when flying Lufthansa, SWISS or Austrian Airlines.  Yes
Cell Phone Protection: Max $800 per claim, $50 deductible. No need to enroll. Pay your cell phone bill with your Platinum card. Yes
CLEAR credit: Get up to $189 per year reimbursed for CLEAR subscriptions. No need to enroll. Pay for CLEAR with your Platinum card.  See also:  5 ways to get CLEAR for less. No. Spend on authorized user cards does count, but only $189 per year will be reimbursed altogether.
Global Entry or TSA Pre fee credit: Full reimbursement for signup fee once every 5 years, per card. Note: signup for Global Entry since that includes TSA Pre. Sign up for Global Entry here. Pay with your Platinum card. Reimbursement should happen automatically. Yes. Pay with the authorized user card in order to get reimbursed. Terms state “Additional Cards on eligible Consumer and Business accounts are also eligible for the $100 statement credit”. This works with no fee Green and Gold authorized user cards too.
Emergency Medical Transportation Assistance Call the Premium Global Assist Hotline: 1-800-333-Amex (toll free), or 1-715-343-7977 (direct-dial collect) Yes
Hilton HHonors Gold Status: Hilton Gold members receive free breakfast, room upgrades when available, and other perks at Hilton hotels. Go to benefit page, find the Hilton HHonors Gold benefit, and click “Enroll Now”. Yes. Authorized users may have to call Amex to enroll.
Marriott Gold Status: Marriott Gold members receive a points welcome gift with each stay, room upgrades when available, 2pm late checkout, and other perks (details here). Go to benefit page, find the Marriott Gold benefit, and click “Enroll in Marriott Gold”. Yes. Authorized users may have to call Amex to enroll.
International Airline Program: Save money when booking premium cabin international flights originating in the US or Canada. Book your flight on amextravel.com. Make sure to log into your Amex account to see flight discounts. Yes
Fine Hotels & Resorts: Book high-end hotels through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts and get: room upgrade, daily breakfast for 2, 4pm late checkout, noon check-in, free wifi, and unique property amenity. Also: Earn 5X Membership Rewards for prepaid bookings. Browse to www.americanexpressfhr.com and log into your Platinum account. Yes
Preferred Hotels & Resorts Elite Status: Lifetime elite status offers perks such as extra points, welcome amenity Click here to enroll Yes
Fiesta Rewards Platinum Status Use the Spanish language page: http://www.fiestarewards.com/inscripcion and enter code: AMEXPLATINUM Yes
National Car Rental Executive status: Book midsize cars and select any car from the Executive Aisle for no extra charge. Enroll here. Yes
Hertz Rental Car Privileges: Special elite-like benefits for Platinum cardholders, plus discounts, plus four hour grace period for rental car returns. Details and enrollment form found here. Yes
Cruise Benefits: Pay for your cruise with your Platinum card and receive $100 to $300 per stateroom shipboard credit plus additional amenities unique to each cruise line Participating cruise lines and other info can be found here. Yes
Premium Private Jet Program: 20% off plus one time $500 credit towards Wheels Up Connect or 40% off plus one time $2K towards Wheels Up Core memberships. Sign up here. Yes
ShopRunner: Free shipping at a number of merchants. Sign up here. Yes
Neiman Marcus In-Circle Call 1-800-525-3355 to enroll Yes

Additional Business Platinum Perks

The following perks apply only to Business Platinum cards:
Benefit How to access or enroll Available to  Platinum Employee Cards?
1.5X points per dollar: Earn 1.5X on individual purchases of $5000 or more; and on select categories: Construction material & hardware, Electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and Shipping providers Automatic Yes. Points and bonus points are added to the primary card holder's account.
$400 in Dell Credits: Up to $200 in credits each year from January through June; and another $200 July through December. Go to benefit page to enroll. No. Employee cards do not receive their own Dell credits.
$120 in Wireless Credits: Up to $10 per month when you use your card to pay for wireless telephone service. Go to benefit page to enroll. No. Employee cards do not receive their own wireless credits.
$360 in Indeed Credits: Up to $90 per quarter for purchases with Indeed Go to benefit page to enroll. No. Employee cards do not receive their own Indeed credits.
$150 Adobe Credits: Up to $150 per year on annual prepaid plans for Creative Cloud for teams and Acrobat Pro DC with e-sign for teams Go to benefit page to enroll. No. Employee cards do not receive their own Adobe credits.
35% points rebate on airfare: Pay with points for airfare on your selected airline or for business or first class with any airline and get 35% of your points back. Book flights through AmexTravel.com and select to pay with points. No.

Additional Consumer Platinum Perks

The following perks apply only to consumer Platinum cards (including the regular Amex Platinum, Morgan Stanley Platinum, and Schwab Platinum):
Benefit How to access or enroll Available to Platinum Authorized Users?
$200 in Uber / Uber Eats Credits: Amex will reimburse $15 per month ($35 in December) for Uber charges. You will also get Uber VIP status. Add your Platinum card number to your Uber account as a payment method. You do not have to pay with the Platinum card in order to get this benefit. Important: when requesting a ride, select Uber Cash for payment in order to use your credits. No. Authorized user cards do not receive their own $200 in Uber credits or VIP status.
$200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back per calendar year towards prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings No need to enroll.  Book through Amex Travel and pay with your Platinum card. No. Spend on Authorized user cards does count, but only $200 per year will be reimbursed altogether.
$240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Up to $20 per month rebate for select digital entertainment services (Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times ) Enroll here. Enroll in any of the listed services and pay with your Platinum card. No. Spend on Authorized user cards does count, but only $20 per month will be reimbursed altogether.
$100 in Saks Fifth Avenue Credits: Up to $50 in credits each year from January through June; and another $50 July through December. Enroll here. Pay with your consumer Platinum card at Saks Fifth Avenue online or at locations in the US and US Territories. No. Spend on Authorized user cards does count, but only $50 per 6 months will be reimbursed altogether.
Free Walmart+ Subscription: Get back the full cost, including taxes, for a Walmart+ monthly subscription. No need to enroll.  Use your Platinum card to pay for a monthly Walmart+ subscription. No. You can use an Authorized user card to pay, but you won't get more than one credit per month.
$300 Equinox Credit: Get $25 per month for select Equinox subscriptions. Enroll here. Use your Platinum card to pay for monthly Equinox All Access, Destination, E by Equinox, or Equinox+ membership fees. No. Spend on Authorized user cards does count, but only $25 per month will be reimbursed altogether.
$300 SoulCycle Rebate: Charge the full price of a SoulCycle at-home bike and get $300 back. Must join Equinox first (see above) Sort of: Each Platinum account can get $300 back on each of 15 bikes purchased per year.
5X points on flights booked directly with airlines. With business cards you must book through Amex Travel to get 5X. Automatic benefit Yes. Points and bonus points are added to the primary card holder's account.
Active Military Fee Waiver: Amex will waive consumer card fees (including annual fees) for US active military personnel. Call the number of the back of your card and tell them you are serving on active duty military and had heard that AMEX offers to handle your account in accordance with the Military Lending Act (MLA) Yes (primary user must call and can get fees waived for additional cardholders)

Additional Schwab Perks

In addition to standard consumer Platinum perks, Schwab Platinum cards add the following perks:
Benefit How to access or enroll Available to Platinum Authorized Users?
Invest with Rewards: Liquidate Membership Rewards points for 1.1 cents each when deposited to your eligible Schwab account. Log into your account to redeem points to your Schwab account. No.
$100 to $200 statement credit Receive a $100 Card statement credit if your qualifying Schwab holdings are equal to or greater than $250,000 or receive a $200 Card statement credit if your qualifying Schwab holdings are equal to or greater than $1,000,000, when measured following Card account approval and annually thereafter. No.

Additional Morgan Stanley Perks

In addition to standard consumer Platinum perks, Morgan Stanley Platinum cards add the following perks:
Benefit How to access or enroll Available to Platinum Authorized Users?
First authorized user free: Add one Platinum authorized user for free. Add up to 3 more for $175. Simply add an authorized user to your account N/A
Invest with rewards: Liquidate Membership Rewards points for 1 cent each when deposited to your Morgan Stanley brokerage account. Log into your account to redeem points to your brokerage account. No.
$500 anniversary spend award: Spend $100K in a cardmember year to get $500. If you spend exactly $100K per year, that amounts to a bonus of half of 1 cent per dollar spent. This benefit is automatic Not really. Authorized user card spend does contribute towards the required $100K spend, but authorized users do not get their own $500.
$695 Annual Engagement Bonus: Platinum CashPlus clients can get a $695 Annual Engagement Bonus. Details here: Morgan Stanley Platinum Card Fee Free (how to earn the Annual Engagement Bonus) No

 

4 3 votes
Post Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

25 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Steve Smith

I guess everyone needs a hobby! Very interesting but allot of work to save a few hundred dollars a year. Sort of depends on how you value your time and how much enjoyment you get from maximizing these opportunities.

Paul

Stuck in pop up hell at Morgan Stanley.

Access investing account online opening is frozen, says it ran into a problem and a team member might reach out. It has been weeks and no one has. Can’t go backwards, can’t go forwards…can’t open another account because it say there is an account pending. It doesn’t bode well for a banking relationship.

Phone or office have offered no help or solutions…seems they don’t care

Aloha808

Anybody have any idea on how to use the biz plat wireless credit with Verizon without losing the auto pay discount? Apparently buying Verizon GCs in store doesn’t trigger the credit anymore.

[…] Get Your Amex Platinum “Free” Forever After Rebate:  We’ve discussed how valuable the American Express Platinum card is multiple times.  They offer amazing perks and rebates that help offset the high annual fee.  If there was a way to keep the Platinum perks “free” every year would you do it? […]

dan

haven’t had a MS card, i should wait til Dec of this yr to apply or go for it, right? that way, could get a free AU card for wife to access CL lounges after Feb 23

Last edited 4 months ago by dan
Esquiar

I’m worried the MS Plat deal won’t last if it keeps getting outsize attention. They already pulled first-year engagement bonus for Access Invest clients. If they have to pay Amex AU fees for too many low-revenue clients, they might institute an asset or spend minimum for the perk…

Johnny

Ok, crazy as this sounds but HOW do I open a Morgan Stanley brokerage account? The website is full of garbage articles and fancy things but nowhere does it have an “open account here” button.

I just want to invest in a few mutual funds and get the Platinum.

Johnny

Lol, just found it by answering a bunch of third grade questions. So far, not impressed.

rockyer

MS does not have self managed account, so you can not pick what to invest. They do it for you.
Regarding their website, I think it’s great, better than any bank I experienced before.

Johnny

Thank you, I’m moving forward with this today.

DCJoe

I have done exactly this over the last few years, and have “landed” on the Morgan Stanley flavor for the reasons discussed. Yes it takes a good sized deposit with Morgan Stanley to make the card fee-free (essentially $30k), but that just ends up being a significant chunk of my emergency fund, so I don’t expect a significant return on it anyways. I can confirm that monthly ACHs in/out of $5k trigger the fee waiver on the Cash Plus account. The whole setup takes probably an hour of total time between online signups, the phone calls to open the Cash Plus and link everything, setting up bank links and automated monthly transfers. But now it’s fully automatic and everything works as intended.

Ron

This also wouldn’t work if you landed in popup jail.

Grant

I think the big issue with ANEX Plat cards in the $75k spend requirement to bring in guests to Centurion Lounges, starting in 2023. Are there any tricks to bring in guests without spending $75k in 2022?

LarryInNYC

Authorized user cards (if you travel with the same people frequently).

Grant

Ya, that is a good point. It’s crazy that authorized users / employees on the Biz Plat cost $300 per card but you can get 3 for $175 on the personal Plat cards. Wish the pricing was the same across all Plat cards.

LarryInNYC

That’s one of the reasons Greg points to the Morgan Stanley card as the “keeper” — first AU card is free. But yeah, when things settle down from the recent super offers and our family is deciding whether to keep a Platinum at all long term then A/U cards will probably be part of the solution.

Frank

Be careful what you wish for: they could make it 3 for $900 on the personal cards. 🙂

rockyer

The only problem is you can’t open AU for kids. So if you are traveling with kids, you are out.

LarryInNYC

Fair point. The minimum age is 13 I think?

satellite

Open authorized user cards for your travel companions so they have their own Platinums.

Dublin

OK I love the idea! But there is no way AMEX is ever allowing that. They would see this as a gaming of the system and shut you down. I would give you one full rotation tops before they were on to you

Steve S

Also in the discussion here – two player mode needs to be discussed. Flip back n forth between who holds the cards. Wife n I usually travel together

Josh

until they no longer let you use the centurion lounge with guests.

Andre

I have a feeling this is going to be the Main Event topic on this week’s podcast…