What if I told you that it’s possible to get The Platinum Card® from American Express without paying the $695 annual fee? This iconic card is beloved for its extensive airport lounge access, nearly two dozen airline and hotel transfer partners, hundreds of dollars in annual credits (for example, up to $200 in airline fee credits for incidentals with a select airline), up to $200 in Uber Cash for U.S. rides and Uber Eats orders (up to a total of $15 per month, plus up to a total of $35 in December) (Terms Apply) and up to $100 at Saks Fifth Avenue ($50 for January through June and $50 for July through December; enrollment required) and much more. If you use this card right, you can get some serious swag.

You can get the annual fee waived on The Platinum Card® from American Express exclusively for Morgan Stanley* if you have the Morgan Stanley Platinum CashPlus account, which also comes with unlimited ATM fee rebates and is FDIC-insured.

Here’s the fine print:

  • The Platinum CashPlus account is free if you receive at least $5,000 in monthly deposits (or a Social Security deposit in any amount), maintain an average daily balance of at least $25,000 and are enrolled in Morgan Stanley Online. If not, the monthly account fee is $55.
  • All or part of the $695 annual fee rebate may be subject to income tax. Morgan Stanley may be required to report all or a portion of the rebate as taxable income.

Jumping through those hoops can be well worth it

The qualification requirements aren’t chump change, but they’re not just for the super-rich, either. Many middle-class households can make this work.

Morgan Stanley Amex Platinum card members also get one authorized user at no additional charge (a $195 annual value), and their American Express Membership Rewards points are worth 1 cent apiece when they’re redeemed into an eligible Morgan Stanley account. On the traditional version of this card, points are only worth 0.6 cents apiece when exchanged for statement credits. Points can be worth considerably more when you transfer to the right airline or hotel transfer partner (according to Bankrate’s latest credit card point valuations, Amex points are worth around 2.0 cents with the right transfer).

Charles Schwab and Goldman Sachs also offer co-branded Amex Platinum cards. The Schwab version has historically offered an even better redemption value, previously with a high of 1.25 cents per point. Currently, it offers 1.10 cents per point when you deposit your Membership Rewards points into an eligible brokerage account.

Access to Goldman’s version is highly restricted and therefore not worth discussing here (unless you work at the firm or have an eight-figure account balance).

More mainstream brokerage credit cards

If this all sounds interesting but isn’t quite your cup of tea, here are a few alternatives that fit squarely on Main Street. I’m a big fan of the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Credit Card*.

Cardholders earn 2 percent cash back on every purchase (without an annual fee) as long as they deposit their rewards into an eligible Fidelity account. Options include individual retirement accounts, health savings accounts, 529 college savings accounts, brokerage accounts, cash management accounts and more.

I love the idea of earning additional upside from your rewards. If you invest in stocks, bonds and other appreciable assets, you could watch your free money multiply. The SoFi Credit Card* has a similar structure, and even makes it easy to make payments on your SoFi Personal Loan and SoFi Student Loan Refinance accounts with rewards.

Another idea is the Preferred Rewards program offered by Bank of America, which includes its wealth management division, Merrill. If you have $20,000 in eligible balances (for instance, bank accounts or investments), your Bank of America credit card rewards are worth 25 percent more.

You’ll also get a 50 percent bonus if you maintain $50,000 in eligible balances and a 75 percent bonus if you have $100,000 or more socked away. Especially once you hit that highest tier, Bank of America’s credit cards are tough to top.

The bottom line

Loyalty pays, so consider your entire financial picture. It might make sense to consolidate your banking, credit card and investment activity with a single provider in order to earn premium perks such as enhanced rewards and lower fees.

*Iinformation about The Platinum Card® from American Express exclusively for Morgan Stanley, the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Credit Card and the SoFi Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate. Card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Have a question about credit cards? Email me at ted.rossman@bankrate.com and I’d be happy to help.