It worked! I had a Morgan Stanley Amex Platinum! (2022 Update)

[2022 Update: whew what a completely tranquil and uneventful four years it has been since I originally wrote this post! It’s nice when life and society don’t continuously throw curve balls at you, and those curve balls aren’t made out of rusty nails, and those rusty nails aren’t also on fire. So relaxing!

Anyway, I’m updating this post with the breaking news that Morgan Stanley is going to stop accepting new applications for Access accounts as of 12/1/22. In a hilarious ouroboros of points and miles blogging, I only found out about this because I saw a sudden spike of traffic on this post as the result of an article on Miles Earn & Burn that announced the new news while linking back to me. I should think ME&B for keeping this blog on life support, since the only traffic I get anymore is from them, or from people who are apparently so curious about timeshare presentations that the post I wrote about attending a timeshare presentation back in 2017 is still relevant to them.

So, to make a short story long, as of 12/1/22, everything written in this post will be irrelevant to you, and people will have even less reason to read my defunct blog about points, miles, and creative uses of profanity. It was a wild ride while it lasted, though, you gotta admit.]

A little while back, I wrote a post about Morgan Stanley’s new investment product, Access Investing. Unlike a normal Morgan Stanley brokerage account, which requires many thousands of dollars to open and comes with perks like a real, live financial advisor, Access is open to anyone willing to invest $5000. You can even sign up online (in fact, that’s what they want you to do — the whole point of Access investing is that you never interface with a real person). Read my original post for more information on what Access is and how it fits into Morgan Stanley’s ecosystem.

I got to wondering if Access would be considered an “eligible brokerage account” in terms of Amex’s co-branded Morgan Stanley cards, and even after someone from Morgan Stanley told me that it wouldn’t, I wasn’t convinced. After all, this hobby thrives in the vicissitudes between one person’s policy and an automated system’s ability to misread that policy for my benefit.

However, I wasn’t about to put up real money just to try to get a fancy credit card, so I spent a while researching the funds Morgan’s algorithm proposed and gaming out the negative compounding of the management fees I would need to pay before I jumped in. Ultimately, I felt that my investment mix was a little stock-heavy already, and I saw an upside to taking $5000 and moving it onto a platform that would track the market with a more muted daily swing (that’s the goal, at least).

Once I started messing around in the account, I realized that it runs on the same online platform as any other Morgan Stanley account, which only bolstered my hunch that the Access account could conceivably pass for one of their standard accounts. I still had to wait a little while to apply for the Platinum card, given other minimum spending requirements I was working on, but I finally got around to it today… and much to my surprise, I was instantly approved.

morgs

From reading this post by Frequent Miler, I was expecting my application at least to go to pending while Amex verified if I actually did have a Morgan Stanley account. On the application page, you only have to check a box promising that you do actually have an account — you aren’t required to provide an account number or any other details, so clearly there’s a verification step that needs to happen at some point.

Given the instant approval, I’m worried that the secondary audit is going to lead to an account shutdown, which is why I qualified my excitement a little bit in the title of this post. After all, I was told specifically that Access accounts don’t qualify for the full suite of Morgan Stanley services, which includes the credit cards. And how would Amex know if I even had a Morgan Stanley account at all, unless they contact Morgan Stanley and ask them?

In any case, the bottom line is that for now, my Access account is enough to get me a Morgan Stanley Platinum card. I sure hope it sticks, since there doesn’t seem to be any other way (at least that I can find out in the open) to backdoor your way into a Morgan Stanley account with a fairly small amount of money. I’ve been interested in this card for a long time due to the free authorized user, so I’ve done some pretty significant digging trying to figure out how to get one without being mr. moneybags. That’s why I was so excited when I found out about the Access platform, and it’s why I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ve finally uncovered a way to get the card without having to win the lottery first.

Here’s one other wrinkle I’ll put out there, in case you really want to push the limits… You can create your Access account without actually funding it. You’ll get an email every couple days reminding you to fund your account, but it exists (with an account number and everything) even without any money in it. You have 60 days to fund your account before it closes automatically, so if you were really averse to giving any money to Morgan Stanley, you could always try to open an account this way, get the Amex card, hit the spending target within 60 days, pocket the bonus, and wait for them to close the card the next time they do an audit and realize you no longer have a brokerage account. I don’t recommend this, given Amex’s penchant for clawing back bonuses when they feel you’ve obtained them wrongly, but you may have a higher risk tolerance than I do.

Finally, for anyone who’s wondering if I’m worried about getting in trouble with Amex for this… I’m not. The terms on the application page are general enough to apply to any brokerage account, and Access investing is a brokerage account. I don’t think they can claim I was trying to defraud them, so the worst that happens is that they update their terms (which they’re allowed to do) and then cancel my account. After all, it’s not as if I’m faking an account or anything, and I do plan to keep my account open as long as I have the card.

Has anyone else tried this? Are you going to? I’d love to get some other data points to see if my instant approval just happened to be good luck (possibly followed by the bad luck of having my account shut down). I’m also curious if anyone is interested in the other Morgan Stanley card (which Frequent Miler has covered in detail as well). And of course, I’d love to be responsible for breaking useful information for a change, instead of just rambling on semi-coherently!

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78 Comments

  1. Adam says:

    Thank you for taking the approach of “be the data point you want to see”. I also have been eyeing this card for the free AU account but quickly changed my mind when I researched how much I’d need to open an eligible account. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Miles says:

    What’s your investment mix there?

    Like

    1. Windbag Miles says:

      It’s a pretty basic mix of market tracking funds. I selected “retirement” as my goal, and I kept everything pretty vanilla. They let you choose exposure to certain market sectors (like robotics/AI, clean energy, etc), although the associated funds tend to have comparatively high fees involved.

      Like

      1. Kevin says:

        How long did you have your access account open until you applied for the Amex card?

        Like

      2. Windbag Miles says:

        Around a month I think. Maybe 45 days before if I funded it and then applied, although I think a lot of people went much faster.

        Like

  3. Chuck says:

    Great post and research.
    Do we have any data points indicating that Amex closes Platinum cards after they’ve been opened? Like, let’s say someone is a legit Morgan Stanley user and has a Plat MS card, and then 5 years later they switch to a different brokerage. Maybe once the card is open they don’t close it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Windbag Miles says:

      I don’t know of any data points around the Morgan Stanley card, but haven’t people had their Ameriprise cards closed due to not having an account?

      Like

  4. Ben says:

    Yaassss! I’ll bet $0.50 they’ll let you keep it…

    Like

  5. MM says:

    What is the annual fee on the card? Can you provide a link to the card benefits? Thanks!

    Like

    1. Windbag Miles says:

      It’s $550 per year. Benefits are the same as the normal platinum card except you can cash out points at $.01 each into your Morgan Stanley account, and the first authorized user is free. It’s this last benefit that was most interesting to me (plus the sign up bonus).

      Like

  6. Christian says:

    So what was the sign up bonus?

    Like

    1. schwaid says:

      Do any of you people have google?

      Like

    2. Windbag Miles says:

      It’s 60k, same as most of the other platinum variations.

      Like

  7. WR says:

    Seems like just having a pulse got you approved, not having an Access account. Really a meaningless DP until you go though their verification process (assuming that wasn’t you checking a box)

    Like

    1. Windbag Miles says:

      Yeah, that’s why “for now” is in the title. Twice.

      Like

      1. Adriana says:

        So how did this all work out for you?

        Like

  8. physixfan says:

    Great post, thanks very much! I opened the Access Investing account and did not fund it, and then I applied the AmEx Platinum for Morgan Stanley and it was approved after ~5 days pending. I’ll leave 0 balance there and see what happens after 60 days.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tom says:

    Any updates yet? It’s been two weeks. Did you receive your card? No adverse action yet? No phone calls? Everything still appears good?

    Like

    1. Windbag Miles says:

      Nothing to report yet… still open for now, $200 fee credits have posted.

      Like

  10. JB from San Diego says:

    I got this link through DOC and I followed your instructions to apply for the access account and I was successful without funding it. I applied around the time this was published. Then around May 5, I applied for the MS Platinum and approved instantly. I am going to hit the 5K in spend early next month, partially by paying for my taxes and before I go to Greece. I will update on this link as soon as I hit the 5K and get the 60K MRs. I leave on June 9, so I will hit the mark around June 1 or so. This is my 11 Amex in the last 10 month. I strongly feel this will stick and I don’t think they will close my MS Plat after my access account is closed after 60 days from opening. If it comes to fruition that my MS does get closed after my access gets closed, then I would recommend to apply in December to get the $200 airline credit in December and in January. You are the man Windbag!!! This is a monster break through, to say the least!!! This maybe the biggest hack in all time!!! I can go on forever in complementing you!!

    Like

  11. Too Nashty says:

    Signed up for brokerage account and immediately applied for the card. Status went to pending which leads me to believe since you guys let it marinate for a bit they do verify on the back end at the time of application submission. 50/50 I get approved but if not I’ll apply again I a couple weeks when it percolates through the system.

    Like

    1. Too Nashty says:

      Amex still showing pending on their website. No credit report was ran yet. I bet they are confirming I have a MS account before doing a credit pull. You guys should be in good shape.

      Like

      1. Too Nashty says:

        Approved and card is on the way. Anyone meet spend yet and got the points?

        Like

      2. Windbag Miles says:

        Getting close! Just paid a $2100 royalty to someone (related to my hobby business), so that took care of a big chunk of it. It’s been over a month so far…

        Like

      3. Too Nashty says:

        My points posted as well. I’m not going to fund the Morgan account and hopefully Amex closes the card on their end so I can get the $550 refunded!!

        Like

  12. Magyver4114 says:

    Is there a specific link for the Morgan Stanley Amex application? I can’t seem to find it

    Like

    1. JB from San Diego says:

      google ‘Morgan Stanley Access Account’ and select ‘start today’ button on their main webpage or you can use this link:
      https://login.morganstanleyclientserv.com/access

      On the next page, select the bottom button ‘continue as guest’ and then, you will go through a series of questions that may take 10 minutes as mentioned above by Windbag.

      After your account is setup, wait about a 5-7 days or so (may take less, but you will have 2 months to hit the $5K spend). I would recommend to start slowly on spending like utilities, every day spending and then larger bills like your taxes (I am employed, so I signed up for a low rate of tax deduction from my paystub), car insurance, home owners insurance, kids education, etc (you get my drift). Just with taxes alone, you can hit the $5K spend in one day.

      Good Luck!!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. JB from San Diego says:

      once you have your access account established, login to your account and select the ‘Home’ tab, top-left of screen. Then there will be an advertisement to the bottom right of the webpage, below ‘Contact your Advisor’. Select the left arrow ” until you see the Amex advertised (it maybe for either of the two Amex cards). Then you are connected to the MS Amex App page!

      btw – As Windbag mentions, your access account closes after 60 days of inactivity and as the app states, your MS Amex will also close, but it is unknown if this will actually happen. I will find out in the next couple of months and I will keep this link posted.

      Good Luck!

      Like

    3. Windbag Miles says:

      Here’s the landing page for both Morgan Stanley Amex cards: https://www262.americanexpress.com/dapply/partner/msb/msb-ms-2/cshop/cshome/#/cshop

      Like

  13. JB from San Diego says:

    I just hit the $5K spending. I suspect within the next day or two, I should get the 60K miles. I hit the spending over the weekend and my charges was posted today. Also, I got my $200 airline credit and spend half of it already.

    We will know soon what happens…..stay tuned!

    Like

    1. JB from San Diego says:

      correction: 60K MRs

      Like

  14. JB from San Diego says:

    The moment everyone has been waiting for, including myself! From my Amx MR Summary page:
    06/05/2018 Earned MS Plat $5K Spnd/60K MR Pts 60,000

    Just as I stated yesterday and this morning I got the 60KMRs!!

    U R the mannnnnnnnn Windbag!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What a breakthrough this is and I can’t say enough!!

    My MS Access account is schedule to expire at the end of this month. So the question now is, will Amx close my MS card? I will post at the end of this month on status of my accounts.

    Thanks Windbag, for this astonishing breakthrough!!!

    BTW – I didn’t buy any gift cards

    Like

    1. Windbag Miles says:

      Congrats! I got my 60k bonus last week. I’m keeping my Access account at least for the time being, although I’m really curious to hear what happens if the account gets closed after never being funded.

      Like

      1. david says:

        thanks for the update!

        Like

      2. sdrebel says:

        I’m confused. didn’t you fund it with 5000? or what was a different account?

        Like

      3. Windbag Miles says:

        Yeah, I meant I’m planning on keeping the $5000 in my account and leaving it alone for a while. I was responding to JB, since he didn’t fund his account but was still able to get the MS Platinum card. Presumably his Access account will close after 60 days, at which point we’ll see what happens to the MS Plat.

        Like

      4. sdrebel says:

        ahhh, cool, thanks for clarifying

        Like

  15. JB from San Diego says:

    Personally, I think this is a loophole with Amex. It is easy for the Amex software to check if you have or have an account open with MS. This works bc the algorithm is triggered when you submit your application. On the other hand, Amex would have to run a suffisticated algorithm to continuously check if your MS is still active. And the only way this could happen, is for MS to send a message (flag) to Amex to indicate that your account has been closed. This would be a costly software to develop.

    Even if you fund your MS account, who is to say that your financial plans have changed (say an emergency or change investment to buying a rental house or help your child to buy there first house) to pull your money out completely.

    Even if my MS Plat does get closed, there maybe a delay of a few days, 15 days, 30 days, 6 months. Who knows? So this could be a long wait.

    BTW – I am in Greece via Rick Steves tours and if you haven’t been here, this place is truly amazing, to say the least!!

    Like

    1. Too Nashty says:

      I don’t think Amex will proactively close accounts without a Morgan account open. If you have a paying customer and you just spend XX dollars on acquisition costs to acquire that customer why would Amex pull the plug? Makes no sense. I hope they do but don’t think they will.

      Like

  16. JB from San Diego says:

    My unfunded MS access account has now been opened for 64 days with no indication of closure.

    Like

  17. JB from San Diego says:

    My unfunded MS access account has now been opened for 79 days with no indication of closure. At this rate, looks like I will be able to also get my $200 airline credit once Jan 2019 comes around :]

    Like

  18. JB from San Diego says:

    Just got notified that my MS Access account will be closed in 7 days!

    Like

    1. MH says:

      Dear JB,
      Can you please tell us what will happen to your American Express card do you think it will be shut down or closed. Any sound from American cas any sound from American express to close your card .

      Like

    2. Frank says:

      JB,
      Interested to see what happens as I am around 60 days right now with same situation as you.

      Like

      1. JB from San Deigo says:

        I received a warning email from MS that my unfunded Access account was going to be closed in 7 days after 81 days of in-activity. In total, my account was closed after 88 days opened. So you still have a ways to go.

        Like

  19. MH says:

    Sorry JB,
    I have you try to cashout your points with MS account. Do you think i will work.

    Like

  20. JB from San Diego says:

    I just received an email confirmation that my MS Access Account has been closed. Now, the clock starts on the MS Amx?

    Like

    1. Too nashty says:

      Just got my closure email too

      Like

    2. Frank says:

      Have you moved out your Amex points?

      Like

      1. JB from San Deigo says:

        I have not moved my points out since I have been accumulating points from other Amex cards (all bunched into one Amx account). I don’t think there will be a claw back since after all, I did pay that hefty initial fee, $550.

        As of today (4 days since MS Access closed), my MS Amex is still opened and I haven’t heard any news from Amex concerning my closed MS Access account.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Too Nashty says:

        Morgan closed my account too 4 days ago. Still have the Amex open. Would be surprised if they did close but wouldn’t be upset about getting the $550 refunded since I’ve cashed out travel credits already 8)

        No need to clear out points, my wife has been shut down by Amex twice for sending Paypal payments and they give 30 days to transfer points out. I got scared the first time and transferred out to Air France, what a mistake, 250k…..

        Like

  21. Frank says:

    Too Nashty,
    I was never shut down but had 100,000 MR points confiscated once, wife too. So I am not too trusting.

    Like

  22. JB from San Deigo says:

    19 days since my MS Access account was closed and my Amx MS Plat is still opened. No news here, is good news, until otherwise

    Like

  23. JB from San Diego says:

    33 days since my MS Access account was closed and my Amx MS Plat is still opened.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Frank says:

      Good to hear, please keep it up as I am right behind you …

      Like

  24. Derek says:

    The issue isn’t getting the card. The issue is getting the $550 refunded. You need to meet the requirements for a premier account and the various usage requirements within 30 days to get refunded. I know someone who is clearly a premier who didn’t complete the usage requirements and didn’t get the $550 refunded. I’m still waiting for my reimbursement (I did finish my requirements within a month.)

    Like

  25. Too Nashty says:

    Applied for my GF today. Let the MS account marinate for a couple weeks before I applied. Went to pending. I hope it is because we moved 4 months ago rather than the loophole being closed. Will report back when I have an answer.

    Like

    1. JB from San Diego says:

      GF?

      Like

      1. Too nashty says:

        Girlfriend got a letter in the mail that she doesn’t have a Morgan Stanley account open so no approval. Wonder if the loophole is now closed… any other DPs on this lately ?

        Like

    2. JB from San Diego says:

      from the ‘final thoughts’ talk stream from this blog, looks like someone new applied recently and got approved

      Like

  26. JB from San Diego says:

    *73* days since my MS Access account was closed and my Amx MS Plat is still opened.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy says:

      I didn’t have a Morgan Stanley account when I applied for the MS Platinum, and it went to pending status. The next day, I opened an access account without funding it. My application for the Platinum went a week before being approved. We’ll see if it remains open even if I don’t fund my MS Access account.

      Like

      1. JB from San Diego says:

        if you read through this stream of posting, you should be go to go. Like ‘Too Nashty’ says, it take a few days, after opening a MS access account, for Amx to realize that you actually have a MS account. Therefore, leading to your Amx MS Plat approval.

        Like

    2. Adriana says:

      How did this all turn out?

      Like

      1. Windbag Miles says:

        Worked like a charm. I ended up canceling the card after 13 months, because I didn’t want to keep my Access account open any longer.

        Like

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