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Below is a guest post from “Derp,” a Naval officer who writes at “The Derp Report.” Derp's blog is a collection of some of the best posts I have seen with regards to credit card bonuses and maximizing your benefits as a military servicemember. Check out his site for funny and interesting observations on the world of credit card rewards.
In the post below Derp explains how he obtained 11 AMEX Personal Platinums and how a savvy servicemember could go about obtaining even more. See his strategy below. I just opened my second AMEX Platinum account (Charles Schwab) and will be working on more in the future! Since I am stationed OCONUS I try to send a free dinner to a friend or family member back home once a month. Can't let those credits go to waste!
One of the greatest perks of being active duty is the generous interpretation of the SCRA from the good folks at American Express. They are not obligated to waive the $550 annual fee on their AmEx Personal Platinum charge card, but they have been doing for many years.
I can only assume they do this because they make money on the backend, on retailers that take AmEx. With more card members spread across thew world, this waiver is the cheapest PR they are going to get when every service-members has one of these in their pockets for no annual fee.
I also like to think that the majority of AmEx Platinum holders do not take advantage of any of their benefits and pay the $550. Where just the savvy few actually maximize these things on an annual basis.
We are also some of the most financially responsible members of the workforce seeing how we would lose our security clearance if our credit score started to dip. This post is to outline the many approaches to getting multiple Personal Platinum and Biz Cards to maximize these benefits.
Each AmEx Personal Platinum card pays dividends in the form of these annual benefits:
- $200 in Uber Credits (good for rides and uber eats) paid in the form of $15 each month (with a $20 extra bonus in December) into the Uber account the AmEx card is added to. I added all of my 11 personal cards to my wife's Uber account so she sees a credit of $165 on the first of each month ($385 in December). This credit must be used by midnight Hawaii time at the end of the month or will be lost.
- $200 in flight fee reimbursements for an airline of your choosing. This resets every 01 January, which means if you get a new card in November, you can hit the benefit again in January. I use all 11 of mine for $2,200 in AA gift cards, some people use it for Delta or Southwest gift cards. The current airlines and what AmEx pays for are found here: AA Thread, AS Thread, B6 Thread, DL Thread, HA Thread, UA Thread, WN Thread
- $100 for global entry which presumably should only be used every 5 years for yourself, but some reports of any charge of $100 for any application will be covered without any limitation (try at your own risk). I would just use one $100 credit per card per 5 years.
Each AmEx Business Platinum card has only the $200 in airline fee reimbursements among other things such as the 35% points back which we have discussed on other posts.
- AmEx has a lifetime (de facto 7 year rule) limitation on bonuses to be paid for a new product. If you ever got the bonus for getting a card at any time in your life they will NEVER pay that bonus again.
- You can't apply for a product you already have. If you have a Green AmEx, they won't give you another green AmEx or if you have one personal Plat, you can't apply for another.
- You can only product change after one year of having the card to another card you have
- Co-Branded cards are considered separate products. the Morgan Stanley Platinum Card is not the same as the Charles Schwab Platinum Card. You can get the sign up benefit for both.
- Your annual fee will get waived for AD and reservists, but if you are in a state that doesn't have common property rules your non active duty spouse may not get a waiver.
- Some co-branded Platinum Cards require relationships to keep open (Schwab and Morgan Stanley, but not Ameriprise)
- There appears to be no limit to how many CHARGE cards you can have, there is a 5 CREDIT card limit.
- Buying only gift cards and paying with multiple accounts is suspicious for bust out fraud, so don't try it!
- Always get the highest product first, then the lower compatible product to product change in the future.
- DO NOT product change to a product you haven't gotten yet
- Go slow and make sure you hit the minimum spend for the bonuses, it will take many years to get to where I am now
- Have a plan lined up and stick with it!
Best Practices Sequence:
- AmEx Biz Platinum
- Open Schwab account with code ‘refer' for $100 free dollars ($1k min) and then apply for AmEx Charles Schwab Platinum
- Open Morgan Stanley Account ($5K min) then apply for AmEx Morgan Stanley Platinum Card
- Apply for Ameriprise Platinum Card Directly without opening an Ameriprise account (No bonus)
- Apply for AmEx Green, then Product Change in one year to AMEX Platinum.
- Apply for Biz Gold and Upgrade to Plat in one year
- Apply for AmEx Gold, then Product Change in one year
- Apply for Ameriprise Gold Card Directly then product change in one year
Theoretical Unproven Sequences:
- Apply for Morgan Stanley Credit card and PC to another Plat in one year (Have not tried this yet)
- Apply for Charles Schwab Credit card card and PC to another Plat in one year (Have not tried this yet)
- Apply for another Green and Gold after Upgrading and PC in one year
- Goldman Sachs AmEx Platinum (Been working on this for years)
- Mercedes-Benz Platinum (Discontinued March 2018)
Predicting how much free money you need
I asked my O-6 select friend what he thought the number of cards you need are and he said “infinite”. However I am framing this in the terms of maintenance, as each card requires time investment to maximize the benefit. Otherwise the effort will be for a benefit you have no time to use. Using the below chart you can see how many cards you will need to fit your lifestyle:
|# of Plats||$ Uber/ Mo||$ Uber Dec||Airline||Saks 6 mo||Total Yr|
Take your time, it took me 5 years to have 11 Personal and 3 Business between my wife and myself.
How many Platinum cards do you have? Click here to read about all the free benefits you can get with an AMEX Platinum card if you're in the military. It would sure be nice to have $150+ of free Uber rides every month!