Windbag Miles is a blog about points, miles, credit cards, travel, and general windbaggery.

Final thoughts on the Morgan Stanley Amex Platinum/Access Investing end-around

For background on my story with the Morgan Stanley Amex Platinum card, see these previous posts:

When I got approved for the card, I was trying to temper my excitement, since I figured there was a good chance Amex would cancel my account after a review found that my Morgan Stanley Access account wasn't actually an eligible brokerage account. Fortunately that didn't happen, and I got my 60,000-point bonus a little while later after hitting the minimum spend. The card remains open, and barring any surprises, it will become my long-term Platinum card thanks to the free authorized user benefit.

Now that some time has passed, I wanted to add one more post summing up my thoughts about the whole thing. First, I'm happy that people found my strategy useful, and it's great to hear that some folks found their way into some extra Membership Rewards points. Second, at least a couple people took me up on the "extreme" version of what I did, which is to open an Access account with Morgan Stanley and never fund it. Thanks to commenters JB from San Diego and Too Nashty, we learned that Morgan Stanley will eventually close an Access account that never gets funded, but it will take around 80 days, which leaves plenty of time to meet the minimum spend requirement and get the bonus.

(A word of caution to anyone who does this: of course, I can't guarantee that Amex won't at some point realize that you no longer have a Morgan Stanley account and take punitive action. And given how things have been going lately, who knows what their reward abuse prevention squad will do if/when they find out. I would hate to hear about people getting their bonuses clawed back, and although that's probably a very small risk, it's worth being aware of.)

Despite feeling fairly satisfied with myself for my great discovery, something that occurred to me when I first heard reports that unfunded Access accounts were getting people approved is that... maybe Amex stopped checking altogether. After all, that's the case with the Ameriprise version of the Platinum card. Frequent Miler had a post way back when in which he was denied for the card due to not having a Morgan Stanley account, which is why I went to the trouble of setting up the Access account to begin with. However, the sequence of events here seems to suggest that Amex has reverted to taking you at your word when you say that you have an account.

Let's not forget that I was instantly approved for the card, as were most people who applied using the Access method... including people who hadn't even funded their account. It would be unusual for Amex to approve an application and then deny it later after a review -- it would seem more logical for them to send the application to pending like they did with FM, and then either approve or deny it from there.

I also want to be clear that I would find it fucking hilarious if it turned out that anyone could get the card, and that all this Access business was just a whole lot of busy work for nothing. I really want someone to apply out of the blue just so we know for sure, but I'm like 90% sure at this point that Amex just isn't bothering to check anymore. Even better,  the whole Access thing is easily my most meaningful contribution to the churning community (and the "It worked!" post was the most popular thing I've ever written), which makes it even funnier to me that my genius little strategy might actually have been a big pile of nothing this whole time.

I'm not going to shut the blog down anytime soon, but speaking from a narrative point of view, it would make for a great end point that the best thing I ever did ended up being a bunch of empty words, thus proving once and for all that I'm just a big old windbag.

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United says the Excursionist Perk is not defined by time, except that it definitely is.

The mid-year progress report I've been putting off writing for two months because I'm so lazy.