Morgan Stanley Credit Card Offers From American Express

Disappointed with my broker, I’ve been shopping around for a new one lately. While researching Morgan Stanley, I noticed they have a couple new credit card offers out which were launched last year.

There is no application online and the website only provides very basic details about the two cards. For example on the first card, all they say is “Get Membership Rewards points on all eligible purchases” in regards to the rewards program… not very informative, right?

So I called up cardholder customer service to find out the nitty-gritty on both of the offers for 2013.

Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express

  • Morgan Stanley credit cardAnnual Fee: $95 but the first year is free.
  • Rewards: 1 MR point per dollar spent. There are no bonus categories.
  • Anniversary Bonus: For each year $25,000+ is charged to the card, an anniversary bonus of $100 is given. The year starts/stops on the date of which the account is opened.

In a nutshell this is the same as the Green Card from American Express. However it does come with one extra benefit, which is the anniversary bonus for spending $25k or more. Other than that, you’re essentially applying for a Green Card.

Morgan Stanley American Express Platinum Card

  • Morgan Stanley Platinum AmExAnnual Fee: $450, this is NOT waived for the first year.
  • Rewards: Same as the non co-branded Platinum Card, which gives 1x points on regular purchases, 2x thru American Express Travel Services website, and additional points through the Bonus Points Mall/Partners.
  • Anniversary Bonus: For each membership year $100,000+ is spent,  a $500 bonus from Morgan Stanley is given.

In a nutshell this card is the same as the traditional Platinum, with the exception of two key differences – the anniversary bonus and an additional Platinum Card (under the same account) can be ordered for no additional charges. For everything else, you can read about the Platinum Card benefits on the traditional version for comparison.

Who should (and shouldn’t) get them?

If your brokerage account is with Morgan Stanley, then a strong case can be made for getting one of these cards if you spend enough to earn the anniversary bonus each year. It’s a pretty compelling reason when you consider that it basically will offset the cost of the annual fee on both cards. To apply for these cards, you will have to call Morgan Stanley’s customer service because there are no online versions of the application. Either of these offers beat the ol’ Morgan Stanley MasterCard, which was 1 point per dollar and flimsy when it came to benefits.

However the regular Morgan Stanley credit card (Green equivalent) I don’t think is worthwhile, even when you take into account the $100 bonus for spending $25k/year. Why? Because the AmEx Premier Rewards Gold is $80 more per year and it gives you double and triple points on categories, plus the ability to earn 15k bonus points each calendar year you spend $30k.

In short, compare spending $30k on the PR Gold Card vs. the $30k on the basic Morgan Stanley AmEx. Factor in the bonus point categories and the annual spend bonus (15k MR points is worth a lot more than $100). Despite the higher fee, you’re going to come out ahead substantially with the PR Gold.

Meanwhile going back to the co-branded Platinum, it seems to be a new tread. There is a Mercedes Benz American Express Platinum which was launched back in 2011 (though its annual fee is slightly higher). Whether you get that or the Morgan Stanley Platinum AmEx, just make sure you’re comfortable being married to the co-brand (i.e. If your next car is a BMW or you switch brokers next year, suddenly you may no longer like that aspect of the card).

Written or last updated Jan 2013

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