Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express Review [2023]: Invest Your Membership Rewards

CREDIT CARDS - TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
If you want to fund your Morgan Stanley investments with credit card rewards, the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express is one of your best opportunities to do so.
Last updated June 1, 2023 | By Ben Walker, CEPF

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Editor's note: This card is no longer accepting applications. For those looking to invest points in their Morgan Stanley account, check out our review of The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley

When you compare credit cards, you won’t find a lot of options for investing with credit card rewards. This benefit is unique to a select number of cards, including the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express. With this card, you can use your points to invest in an eligible Morgan Stanley brokerage account, and you’ll also have other more common redemption options like travel and statement credits.

In this Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express review, you’ll learn who should get this card, its benefits and drawbacks, and how to earn and redeem points. This will help you decide whether the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express makes sense for your spending habits and financial goals.

All information about Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by FinanceBuzz.

An Easy Way to Invest Your Rewards

Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express

Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express

Current Offer

Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

2X points on airfare purchased directly from airlines, at U.S. restaurants, at select U.S. department stores, and at select car rental companies; and 1X points on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

In this Amex Morgan Stanley Credit Card review

Who should get the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express?

Because you’re required to have an eligible Morgan Stanley brokerage account to apply for the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express, this card makes the most sense if you’re interested in earning rewards you can put toward Morgan Stanley investments. However, you can still use the Amex Membership Rewards you earn toward other redemptions, including flights and hotel stays through Amex Travel or paying for purchases on Amazon.com.

Bonus categories on the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express include airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. restaurants, select U.S. department stores, and select car rental companies. If you frequently travel, dine out regularly, and/or like to shop, these categories can net you loads of rewards to use with your brokerage account. If your spending habits don’t line up with these categories, this card may not be worth it for you.

Keep in mind, you likely need an excellent credit score to qualify for the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express. Excellent credit scores typically start around 800 and are the highest scores you can achieve. If you’re worried about qualifying for this card, you might consider one of the best credit cards for good credit. (If you've had trouble with your credit, check out our list of the best credit cards for fair credit instead).

Card basics

Card type Travel
Credit card issuer American Express
Annual fee $0 (Terms apply)
Intro bonus Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Reward rate 2X points on airfare purchased directly from airlines, at U.S. restaurants, at select U.S. department stores, and at select car rental companies; and 1X points on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent
Foreign transaction fee 2.7%

Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome offer: Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Although that isn’t a huge welcome bonus, it’s also not a very big spending requirement.
  • $0 annual fee: Earning Amex Membership Rewards points is much more valuable when your annual fee is $0 as there’s no annual cost to worry about.
  • Earning potential: Earn 2X points on airfare purchased directly from airlines, at U.S. restaurants, at select U.S. department stores, and at select car rental companies; and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Redemption options: Cardmembers can redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for travel, gift cards, statement credits, online purchases, and more.
  • Morgan Stanley partnership: In addition to your typical Amex redemption options, you can also redeem points for deposits into your Morgan Stanley account.
  • Transfer partners: Transfer your points to multiple loyalty program partners from major airlines and hotels. All you have to do is set up loyalty accounts with those airlines or hotels.
  • ShopRunner membership: Receive a complimentary ShopRunner membership for free two-day shipping and free returns from more than 100 retailers. (Enrollment is required for this benefit.)
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: Receive up to $50,000 per eligible car rental against damage or theft.
  • Extended warranty: Add up to one additional year of extended warranty benefits on covered purchases with manufacturer’s warranties of five or fewer years.
  • Purchase protection: Receive up to $1,000 per covered purchase and up to $50,000 per card account against damage and theft of a covered purchase within 90 days of the purchase.

Drawbacks to this card

  • No premium travel benefits: This card has excellent options for travel redemptions, but you won’t find any premium travel benefits like Priority Pass membership, access to airport lounges, or annual travel credits.
  • Morgan Stanley requirement: You can apply for this card only if you have an eligible Morgan Stanley brokerage account.
  • Foreign transaction fee: Paying an extra 2.7% while you’re traveling abroad can quickly add up, making this card a poor choice for foreign transactions.

Earning and redeeming Membership Rewards

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look how your Membership Rewards points can add up with the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from Amex. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 1 cent.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $471

Year two earnings: $371

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model, which looks at points earned via spending, the welcome bonus, and the annual fee. In addition, we did not include all travel spending at the 2X rate because this category does not include spending on hotels.

Best ways to earn

The best rewards credit cards typically offer multiple ways to earn points, miles, or cash back. The Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express isn’t billed as a top rewards card, but you still get quality earning potential in a few excellent categories.

To earn the most points possible with this card, make sure you’re using it for eligible purchases that fall within its bonus categories, including airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. restaurants, select U.S. department stores, and select car rental companies. If you don’t stick to the bonus categories, you’ll only earn points at a 1X rate instead of the increased 2X rate.

Categories Rewards rate
Airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. restaurants, select U.S. department stores, and select car rental companies 2X
All other purchases 1X

Maximizing your redemptions

You have multiple redemption options with the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express, but they don’t all offer the same value. For example, 10,000 points will get you $100 worth of value for flight redemptions through Amex Travel or $100 toward a Morgan Stanley deposit, but you’ll only get $60 toward statement credits or $70 toward prepaid hotels.

So if you want to maximize your redemptions, sticking with flight redemptions and deposits into your brokerage account will often provide the best value for your points. You can also transfer your points to partner loyalty programs and get a potentially higher value on available flights and hotel stays.

Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express transfer partners

Amex Membership Rewards points earned with your Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express can be transferred to more than 20 loyalty programs for major airlines and hotels.

Major airline loyalty programs within the Amex transfer partner program include:

  • AerClub (Aer Lingus)
  • Aeromexico Club Premier (Aeromexico)
  • Aeroplan (Air Canada)
  • ANA Mileage Club (All Nippon Airways)
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific Airways)
  • Avianca LifeMiles (Avianca Airlines)
  • Delta SkyMiles (Delta Air Lines)
  • El Al Matmid Frequent Flyer Club (El Al Airlines)
  • Emirates Skywards (Emirates)
  • Etihad Guest (Etihad Airways)
  • Executive Club (British Airways)
  • Flying Blue (Air France KLM)
  • Flying Club (Virgin Atlantic)
  • Frequent Flyer (Qantas)
  • HawaiianMiles (Hawaiian Airlines)
  • Iberia Plus (Iberia)
  • KrisFlyer (Singapore Airlines)
  • Millemiglia (Alitalia)
  • TrueBlue (JetBlue Airways)

Major hotel loyalty programs include:

Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express FAQs

Which Morgan Stanley American Express card is better?

The better of the two Morgan Stanley American Express cards for you depends on what you’re looking for in a credit card. The Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express has a $0 annual fee, earns Amex Membership Rewards points, and has useful benefits like extended warranty coverage and purchase protection. However, it doesn’t have luxury travel benefits.

For a premium travel card more akin to the American Express Platinum Card, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley. This is a card that can be used to invest in an eligible Morgan Stanley brokerage account, plus you get Priority Pass membership, Amex Centurion Lounge access, up to $200 of annual Uber credits, and a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit. (Enrollment is required for select benefits.)

All information about The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley has been collected independently by FinanceBuzz.

Is Morgan Stanley better than JPMorgan Chase & Co.?

Morgan Stanley isn’t necessarily better than JPMorgan Chase, though JPMorgan Chase also isn’t necessarily better than Morgan Stanley. Both Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase are large financial institutions with global footprints, but their offered services and products are very different.

Morgan Stanley focuses on wealth management and investment banking, whereas JPMorgan Chase offers credit cards, checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, different types of loans, and much more. To choose between Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, you’d first need to see what your financial needs and goals are and then align them with the offered services between both companies.

How much money do you need to invest with Morgan Stanley?

You need to invest a minimum of $5,000 to open a Morgan Stanley Access Investing account. This type of investment platform offers a fully digital experience for easy access to your investments from wherever you are. Morgan Stanley Access Direct accounts have no account minimums.


Other cards to consider

The Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express is a decent travel card, but its requirement to have a Morgan Stanley brokerage account can throw off potential applicants. Other options you might consider are The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, or an app like Stash, which offers a unique tool designed to help you grow your investment portfolio.

The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley is nearly the equivalent of The Platinum Card® from American Express, except for its Morgan Stanley ties. This card has loads of travel benefits, such as Priority Pass, Amex Centurion Lounge, and Delta Sky Club access; Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Elite statuses; no foreign transaction fees; a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit; and up to $200 in annual Uber credits. (Enrollment is required for select benefits.) Overall, it's much better suited for frequent travelers, though it does have an annual fee of $695.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is another card that suits frequent travelers. This credit card offers a generous sign-up bonus and earns valuable points that you can transfer to over a dozen Chase transfer partners, like World of Hyatt, IHG Rewards Club, and Southwest Rapid Rewards. Cardholders also more travel perks than they would with the Morgan Stanley Credit Card, and you don’t need a Morgan Stanley brokerage account to apply for it.

While it isn't a credit card, a Stash 2 account is worth considering if you're interested in investing. You can start investing with Stash for just $1 and build a portfolio of individual stocks, bonds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). It also offers a debit account, which enables you to earn Stock-BackⓇ rewards at more than 11 million places. 1 If you shop with your Stash debit card at a participating store, your rewards are used to buy stock in that company. 

Stash Benefits

  • Get $20 to make your first investment 3
  • Invest in stocks, bonds, and ETFs
  • Fractional shares available
  • Start investing with just $5

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF Ben Walker, CEPF, is a credit cards and travel writer at FinanceBuzz who loves helping others achieve their travel goals through financially sound decisions. For over a decade, he has been using credit card points and miles for the sole purpose of traveling the world. Ben is a Certified Educator of Personal Finance and has been featured in The Washington Post, MSN, Debt.com, and Finder.com.