The other Morgan Stanley Amex is worth a look

Morgan Stanley Amex plus Biz Plat plus ED Preferred plus Dog

The other day, as I was researching details for my post comparing the many flavors of Amex Platinum cards, I made a big mistake with the Morgan Stanley Platinum card.  Something I read that day made me think that they had dropped the benefit that gives you the first authorized user for free.  I was wrong (thanks to Eric and Adam for pointing that out!).  That feature is alive and well, so I updated yesterday’s post accordingly.  I even updated the table showing the breakdown of costs based on number of cardholders.  Please check it out if you only read the initial post.

My excuse for the mistake is that I was distracted by another Morgan Stanley Amex card: The Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express.  I vaguely knew that such a card existed, but I had never paid much attention to it before.  But, since I recently completed an overhaul of my Best Card Category Bonuses Page, I found the Morgan Stanley Amex, very interesting.

The Morgan Stanley Amex has no annual fee and yet it earns Membership Rewards points that can be transferred to partner airline programs.  The only other card that I know of with that feature is the Amex EveryDay Card.  So, if nothing else, this card is a great option for those who want to cancel their other Membership Rewards cards since having this one open will keep your points alive and useful.

The Morgan Stanley Amex also offers 2X points for the following categories of spend: Airfare booked directly with airline; US restaurants; select US department stores; and car rentals purchased directly from select car rental companies.

For most people, I wouldn’t recommend this card as your only card, but if you spend a lot within its bonus categories it’s not a bad choice for a no-fee card.  Instead, I think this is a perfect tertiary card for those who have chosen Membership Rewards as their rewards currency of choice.

In my recent post about super credit card duos, I highlighted the Amex EveryDay Preferred plus Amex Business Platinum combination.  The EveryDay Preferred offers up to 4.5X for US grocery spend, up to 3X at US gas stations, and up to 1.5X everywhere else.  And the Business Platinum Card offers 5X for flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel.  And, more importantly, it offers 2 cents per point value (or possibly more) when used to pay for flights.

Two big categories of spend missing from the EveryDay Preferred + Business Platinum super duo are restaurants and car rentals.  The Morgan Stanley card offers both.  For free.  And 2X for select department stores is a great addition for regular shoppers.  Very few cards offer bonuses for department stores, so this can be a great option for that alone.  Click here to see a list of cards offering department store bonuses worth more than 2%.

If you were holding onto your Premier Rewards Gold Card with its $195 annual fee because it was the only Membership Rewards card to offer 2X at restaurants, it may be time to retire that card.  All of its category bonuses (3X for flights booked with airlines, 2X at US gas stations, US supermarkets & US restaurants), are bested by the trio described above.  Two caveats: 1) The Premier Rewards Gold card offers 3X for airfare booked with airlines whereas the Business Platinum card requires booking through Amex Travel to get 5X.  And, 2) I believe the Premier Rewards Gold 2X grocery store benefit is uncapped.  The EveryDay Preferred offers 3X to 4.5X at grocery stores for up to $6K spend per year.

Do you really need a Morgan Stanley account?

It appears so.  The card’s application says that you must have one. Specifically, it says:

The Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express is only available to you if you have an Eligible Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC brokerage Account (“Eligible Account”). Eligible Account means a Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”) brokerage account held in your name or in the name of a revocable trust where you are the grantor and trustee, except for the following accounts: Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts, Charitable Remainder Unitrusts, irrevocable trusts and employer-sponsored accounts. Eligibility is subject to change.

American Express may cancel your Card Account and participation in this program, if you do not maintain an Eligible Morgan Stanley brokerage Account.

That said, I know plenty of people who have signed up for the Ameriprise Platinum card (which has similar language) even though they do not have accounts with Ameriprise.  Still, the terms clearly say that you must have a Morgan Stanley brokerage account, so I won’t recommend applying without one.

Readers, what has your experience been?  Please comment below.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. @Greg Is there a minimum amount in the Morgan Stanley account stated that you saw? I’m a Merrill Lynch account holder so anchoring the BofA and ML stuff, but maybe could sling a little bit in another direction.

  2. I have that card. It used to have a $95 AF, but they made it free in the last year or so. The main downside to it is that it only works in the US for bonus categories and has a foreign transaction fee. It’s kind of neat for 2X MR at Nordstrom, for example.

    I have a free MS AAA account with no balance through my employer due to our stock plan. They do some linking of the card to the account because you can use it to cash out MR at 1¢/point.

    I wouldn’t trade Merrill Edge for MSSB just because the management and trading fees are astronomical in comparison.

    • You’ve got your banks mixed up there. The 5/24 rule is Chase. Amex doesn’t have such a rule. The rule with Amex is that they will allow you a max of 4 or 5 Amex credit cards. For a long time, the hard rule seemed to be 4 credit cards. Some people have reported success with a fifth I believe.

  3. The Mercedes Benz revolver also awards 2x MR points at restaurants as well as 3x MR for gas stations and 5x MR at Benz dealerships. Blue for Business also has a restaurant spending bonus as well.

    • Thanks. I should probably add the Mercedes card to my Category Bonuses page. It’s not a fee free card though.

      The Blue for Business had a signup offer that included a temporary restaurant spend bonus but that’s not a standard feature of the card

  4. I agree with the fact that the PRG has been almost cannibalized by the Everyday Preferred as well as the Platinum. But I do still value it for the $100 airline credit. I would still like to see an update.

  5. Love this card! In regards to redeeming rewards, you can have the points converted into cash and deposited directly into your Morgan Stanley account.
    Also, if you use your Morgan Stanley AAA account for direct deposit (currently $2500 a month minimum) and use two payment methods per month (Amex, debit card, check, bill pay, ACH) for 3 consecutive months, you can become a Premier client and after that you will not be paying anymore account fees on the account.

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