Free Amex Platinum annual fee - The Platinum card from American Express has an annual fee of $550 which can deter people from signing up.
However, there are ways to get a Platinum card for less, and potentially down to $0 depending on your situation.
Related - American Express Business Platinum credit limit
Here are 4 Ways to waive 1st year amex platinum fees
1. Active Duty: Military Loan Act
The Military Lending Act (MLA) waives annual fees for personal American Express cards, but not business cards.
MLA is not to be confused with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which is no longer eligible for waived fees.
Under MLA, you can get Platinum (vanilla), Schwab Platinum, or Morgan Stanley Platinum or all three and the fee must be waived.
Before canceling your Platinum card, you want a solid card base with no annual fee reduction lines to maintain your credit history.
Once you cease to qualify for the MLA, your annual fee will be charged upon renewal. The Platinum Card can only be converted into an American Express Gold Card and an American Express Green Card, both of which have an annual fee.
2. Retention Offers
For non-service members, a retention offer is a strategy to partially cover the cost of the annual fee.
Retention offers are targeted rewards typically offered to card members who wish to renew. The goal is to give you an incentive to keep you as a customer.
A few guidelines before requesting a retention quote:
Do not cancel/downgrade a card within 12 months of receiving a retention offer. This could get you banned from American Express for misuse of gifts.
You can't get a retention offer IMMEDIATELY for some reason people think they can get a retention offer immediately after opening the card (or even 3 months after opening). Do not do this. At a minimum, wait until the 11 month mark to request a retention offer.
The general rule is that you can get a retention offer every year for a card. Your mileage may vary.
3. Charles Schwab Amex Platinum Strategy
The Platinum card has several variations, including the co-branded Charles Schwab card. It offers the same benefits as the vanilla Platinum Card, but also gives you the ability to cash out Membership Rewards at a rate of 1.25 cents per point through Schwab.
You must have a significant amount of money with Charles Schwab to qualify for an annual fee credit:
Get $100 statement credit if you have eligible Schwab holdings >$250,000
Get $200 statement credit if > $1 million
As a reminder, this statement credit is only valid if you have a Schwab version of the Platinum card. If you want Schwab Platinum, you must apply in person (and have a Schwab account).
You can NOT change the product from regular vanilla Platinum to Schwab Platinum. You also cannot change the Amex Schwab Investor Card product because this is a limit vs no limit credit card.
4. Morgan Stanley Amex Platinum Strategy
What if you make a lot of money, but not at Schwab's level? Insert a brand card with Morgan Stanley's Amex Platinum.
To qualify for Morgan Stanley Platinum, you need a Morgan Stanley account. Access Investing is the easiest option with reasonable terms of $5,000. You pay 35 basis points (0.35%), but this can be reduced.
Why is the Morgan Stanley Platinum card attractive? You can get the entire $550 annual fee waived if you meet the qualification requirements.