Morgan Stanley Amex: Do you need a Morgan Stanley account to apply?

Morgan Stanley offers two compelling Amex cards which earn Membership Rewards points.  One is the Platinum Card which beats out Amex’s standard Platinum card by offering the first authorized user Platinum card for free.  The other is the Morgan Stanley Credit Card which offers a few compelling 2X category bonuses.  For more about each, see:

The applications for both cards state that you must have an eligible Morgan Stanley 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.

Some other cards have similar restrictions that are not enforced (one example is the Ameriprise Platinum card).

Quick Answer

Yes, you need an eligible Morgan Stanley account.

Longer Answer

While I know that people have asserted that you must have an account in order to get one of these cards, I couldn’t find proof.  I wanted to know for sure, so I tested it by applying for the Morgan Stanley Credit Card.  I do not have a Morgan Stanley account.  The application went pending and was eventually denied.  The reason?  I did not have an eligible Morgan Stanley account.

Question to readers

Does anyone know if there’s a cheap and easy way to get an eligible Morgan Stanley brokerage account?

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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Kate
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Kate

I have an account and find the fees high, but so far have been able to get a family member to waive them. I would really like to know if I close my Morgan Stanley account if Amex will close my ms platinum.

Max
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Max

MS has egregious commissions unless you’re investing big $$$. The Schwab Platinum is a better deal as you can invest MR at 1.25 cpp and have reasonable commissions on brokerage accounts. I think they even let you deposit into their high yield checking.

Max
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Max

Also, Ameriprise waives platinum fee for the first year.

FLL
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FLL

Friend has MS account and just got his MS Plat when he X’ed the regular Plat.
MS would reimburse the $550 AMEX fee, probably because his MS account size.
The annual management fee charged by MS is 1.5% – given his account size, MS SHOULD reimburse the $550.

Ben O
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Ben O

I have the 401k investment account and that one seems to work but I agree the fees are high so it’s hard to judge the value.

Bill mc
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Bill mc

There’s a reason that most of the ultra wealthy have accounts with Morgan Stanley. It’s not because they are the cheapest place to buy and sell stocks. Of that is what you want you should go to Schwab and do it yourself. However if you want good value for an enormous advice about anything related to your finances then you need an advisor. It’s not a charity orginization, and you get what you pay for.

Fathiss
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Fathiss

There is no advice a brokerage firm can give worth a 1.5% fee. Never! You do not always get what you pay for, hence people visit sites like this for outsized value.

Lisa
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Lisa

Spoken like a financial advisor. You’ve clearly never done the math on what a drag on your portfolio even a 1% fee causes. Hint: compounding works both ways.

FLL
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FLL

Actually, what my friend who has a sizable MS account uses MS for – he does not get / use any advice from MS, instead, he gives a small portion of his total assets to be run by his MBA buddy – so that it prevents him to use 100% of his liquid assets in his ACTIVE trading which is done at Ameritrade – far superior than what Schwab could give him, from the trading platform to the varieties of trading vehicles (he trades stocks and currencies, just to name the 2 most frequently traded asset classes).

In a way, the MS account acts as a “discipline” so he always has a cushion of liquid assets stand ready. He does not mind too much for the 1.5% fee for that set up.

His non-liquid assets are all in the residential rental properties. So yeah, the guy is diversified despite he is active trader who would trade even on lengthy family trips aboard. (that is a primary reason he would not go on a cruise, due to no 24/7 speedy internet access.)

Peter
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Peter

I opened a Rollover IRA account with MS few months ago just for the sake of MS Platinum card + free single AU card for my wife. Account fees with e-delivery and CAC are just $50/year which is worth it if you need a second platinum card. We use both our Platinum cards when we fly for individual lounge access (Delta, PP, Centurion etc).
I also liked my MS agent so I moved 100K from IRA to him from Citi and I am already seeing good results in the first quarter compared to the Citi bank IRA (which barely increased over 2 years). In my opinion, a good agent is worth all the fees, which are hidden somewhere even when they say “no annual fee”.
My 100K account fees are 1% ($1000/year), but I have seen 8-10% increase in the funds so far. Again YMMV.

fathiss
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fathiss

It amazes me people work so hard for their money but they put in minimal effort to manage it. So many people are willing to hand it over to a firm and pay them a significant amount to manage it for them rather than take the time to educate themslves on money and investing. It is my experience that spending 80 hours or so in self education will pay an enormous return on investment.
Self financial education –> eliminate full service brokers –> compound an additional 1.5% for 30 years + get at least market performance and probably better –> retire earlier.
I put in the investment 20 years ago, adhered to the dividend growth strategy, retired very early living on dividends from investments, and now travel the world with the help of travel advice from bloggers.
P.S. never take any stock in a brokerage firm that has outperformed someone else over one quarter. I realize you know little about investing thus you have someone do it for you, but any stock fund can show great short term performance.

Tin
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Tin

People are discussing whether or not it’s worth opening an account, but how do you even open one? There’s nothing about it on their site

Derp
Guest

I have a MS account and MS Pt AmEx for my wife and myself we are also AD Military and get the $550 annual fee waived x2. We then get $400 a year on Uber and $400 for flight fee reimbursement on top of the 120,000 bonus (60k x 2) for $10k spend.

Getting to this point was no small feat, I had to reverse cold call several Morgan Stanley offices. Two advisors laughed in my face when i said I only had $10k to put into a 529. They kept on telling me I needed $10 Million! I eventually found a guy who listened to my plea, and invited me over to the office. He wanted a modest $500,000, when I was able to convince him I will have that in several years, he said he would take me on as a client. I opened an $10k 529 in my name with a 6.25% front loading fee ($625 gone right away!). Not a good deal since I could of done it myself for free. He then begged me to transfer my $100k roth IRA from Vanguard. I then negotiated that if he could out preform my indexing (no time line given), I would some day consider transferring the entire Roth to him. For now he could have my wife’s half ($50k) managed at 1.35% as a portfolio I could compete against and evaluate his performance.

I outlined getting the MS account here: http://www.derpreport.com/?p=2555
Here is the portfolio they picked: http://www.derpreport.com/?p=2882
Part 2 here: http://www.derpreport.com/?p=2896

They are closet indexers, the guy has me in Value and Growth of the same index! The picks are overly too complicated, and needless in its complexity. I think its all a ploy to justify the 1.3% fee. This is also on top of the fees each ETF charges. Overall the bonus of 120,000 points worth $2,400 in travel and the $800 in Uber and Airline credits gets eaten up by all these fees. If you have the means to invest by yourself, then stick with cheap ETFs and index funds.

As long as I get more value from the two cards to justify the relationship I will keep it considering the $550 fee waiver only takes in effect at $10 million. Luckily I have the SCRA fee waiver for the military. I say overall not worth it, but it’s up to you to find the MS sucker that will desperate for new accounts.

Recap: Sign up bonus for two accounts worth $2,400 but I had to pay $625 to front load a 529 so $1,775 ahead.

Every year I get charged $650 as a 1.3% management fee for $50k but get $800 in Uber so i am only ahead $150 a year, but I get some sweet illusionary advice on how to index over 19 ETFs.

My $1,100 annual fee will be waved at $10 million in management, but they wave it for military.

Good Luck!

Adam
Guest

wait, how are you getting $800 in uber creds every year? you mean only for the first year right, assuming you pass go again (calendar year switch in your first cardmember year)

derp
Guest

woops, yeah your right, its just $400 a year ($200 per card) paid as $15 a month and $35 in December

James William
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James William

I mean deep
.pls message me