There are four Amex Platinum versions: the plain vanilla Platinum card, the Ameriprise version, the Schwab version, and the Morgan Stanley version.
You can get a signup bonus from each of the three co-branded versions of the card. You can even hold multiple versions of the card at the same time. This post will look at the difference between the four cards and which versions you should cancel, and which you should keep.
How much is the Amex Platinum worth?
Most would balk at paying a $200 fee for a credit card, let alone $450, or even $550. Yet, if there is value to be had, most involved with this hobby would not bat an eye.
The American Express Platinum card gets a lot of attention from fellow travel hacking bloggers and for good reason. The card is packed with valuable benefits and it often comes with a sizeable 60-100k point signup bonus.
Most will get the card for its sign up bonus and then cancel before the annual fee comes due again in the following year. However, if you are diligent about taking advantage of the card’s benefits, it can make sense to keep the card long-term.
With a $200 a year air travel incidental credit that can be easily liquidated), and $200 a year in Uber / UberEats credits, you can easily recoup most of the annual fee. That’s not even considering the $100/year in Saks credits, Amex Centurion lounge access, Delta SkyClub access, and more.
The co-branded Amex Platinum versions have the same annual fee but offer even more benefits that are not available through the regular Platinum card.
The various flavors of Platinum
American Express considers each of the Amex Platinum versions as a unique product. Therefore, you can get the signup bonus on each, for example, you are allowed to get the bonus for both the Amex Platinium and the Schwab Platinium.
All four versions of the card offer the same 60,000 point sign up bonus after spending $5,000 in three months. However, some have had success receiving a targeted offer for a 100,000 point sign up for the regular Platinum card through the CardMatch tool at CreditCards.com.
This card earns an additional 5k points (up to 30k) for every 20k in spend each calendar year. It previously came with no annual fee for the first year, resulting in users canceling and re-signing up for the card each year. Unfortunately, that benefit was removed in February 2019.
Theoretically, you can be approved for this card without being an Ameriprise client. However, the terms on the application page explicitly require it:
Your ability to have this Card product is contingent on a relationship between you and Ameriprise Financial, Inc. If no relationship exists, or if your relationship with Ameriprise Financial ends, American Express has the right to cancel your Card account or transfer your account to another American Express Card product that will have different features and benefits.The Platinum Card® from American Express for Ameriprise Financial Terms & Fees
While this requirement has not historically been enforced, it remains possible AMEX will begin to enforce this at any point.
It is also not readily apparent how easy and costly it would be to establish an Ameriprise “relationship” for the purpose of applying for the card. If you have experience with this, I would love to hear thoughts in the comments.
Regardless, it seems the worst case scenario is that your card is cancelled or converted to a regular Platinum card.
This version allows you to cash out your Membership Reward points into your Schwab investment account at a rate of 1.25 cents each. You will also receive a statement credit each cardmember year if you have a certain amount in your Schwab account: $100 credit for $250k or more or $200 credit for $1m or more.
You need to have a Schwab account to apply for the Charles Schwab Amex Platinum. There are is no minimum deposit required to open a Schwab brokerage account and no monthly fee if you also open a Schwab checking account. .Therefore, the accounts can be both be funded with an initial deposit of $1.00. Note that opening these Schwab accounts will result in a hard pull on your credit report.
There is currently a $100 sign up bonus when you are referred by an existing Schwab member, and regularly other bonuses based on the size of your initial deposit. There are various data points indicating you may need to have the account open a few days before applying for the Schwab Platinum card.
This card offers a free authorized user Platinum card, the ability to redeem Membership Rewards point for 1 cent each when funding your Morgan Stanley brokerage account, and a $500 statement credit each cardmember year after 100k in spend.
The easiest way to establish a Morgan Stanley account and become eligible to apply for this card is to open an Access Investing account. This is the company’s Robo-advisor product aimed at hands-off investors with a modest amount of funds. The platform provides a choice of several different strategies with varying risk tolerance levels, most of which invest in a portfolio of low-cost ETFs or mutual funds.
The account comes with an annual fee of 0.35% of assets under management and has a minimum initial deposit of $5,000. Meaning, if you deposited $5,000 and there was no change in the value of your portfolio, you would pay $17.50 in management fees a year. That fee is higher than the 0.25% charged by industry-leading robo-advisors Betterment and Wealthfront. So, while I would not necessarily recommend putting more than $5,000 into the account, the fee may be worth it if you want access to the associated AMEX card.
Theoretically, you could “open” an Access Account and not deposit funds into your account, but there have been data points indicating this has led to cardmember accounts being shutdowns.
Which one is best for you?
The Schwab card’s ability to cash out your Membership Rewards points at 1.25 cents each could be a decisive factor, especially, for those generating more points that you can use (see my manufactured spending guide for ideas) or for those more interested in earning cashback.
However, if you travel with someone else who would find value in the Platinum benefits and you are not concerned with liquidating your membership rewards points for cash, the Morgan Stanley card is the obvious choice.
The Morgan Stanley card’s free authorized user feature allows you to share valuable benefits including:
- Marriott Gold status
- Hilton gold status
- Delta lounge access (when flying Delta)
- AMEX Centurion lounge access
- Global entry / TSA Precheck credit
All the Amex Platinum versions charge $175 to add 1-3 AUs to your account. My fiance and I have both held different versions of the Platinum cards in the past, and have found the above benefits, along with the other benefits ($200 airline fee credit, $200 Uber credit, $50 Saks credit) to be more than worth the $500 fee.
However, given neither of us is currently working toward a signup bonus on any of the other branded cards, the Morgan Stanley Platinum card makes the most sense for us. This card allows my fiancee to access airport lounges and hotel elite status benefits even when I am not traveling with her.
Featured photo courtesy of Evan Didier on Flickr