Published on December 19th, 2017 | by Chuck175
Opening a Schwab Brokerage, Checking, and Amex Platinum Credit Card before Year’s End
Recently, there’s been some chatter about the Schwab credit card and brokerage bonuses. Last month, I finally got around to starting a relationship with Schwab by signing up for their brokerage account, checking account, and the Schwab Amex Platinum credit card.
The biggest push for me to go down this road is the ability to easily cash out Membership Rewards points at a 1.25¢ value. Another cool thing about Schwab, unrelated to their credit card, is that they offer a checking account which has no-fee foreign ATM withdrawals when using the linked debit card.
Let’s recap the important points about these accounts. I’ll also detail the signup process and what needs to be completed before year’s end.
Starting a Schwab Relationship
While some relationship Amex Platinum cards don’t actually require a relationship (like Mercedes Benz ), the Schwab Amex Platinum does require that you have a brokerage account in order to open the card. In the abstract of my mind that always sounded complicated, but after looking at it better, it’s really simple to open a Schwab brokerage account and checking account which have no fees and no minimums which then enables applying for the Schwab Amex Platinum card. There is a hard pull for creating a relationship with Schwab and then another hard pull when applying for the Amex card.
It’s worth mentioning here a few signup bonuses available when creating a Schwab relationship:
- Get $100 when you open a Schwab brokerage account by following the details in this post. (Direct Link to bonus) It’s actually a brokerage bonus, not a checking bonus (funds go into your brokerage account). If you open the brokerage account alone you’ll need to park $1k to keep it fee-free. However, if you have both checking and brokerage, everything will be fee-free with no minimum.
- The standard and steady bonus on the Schwab Platinum Amex card is 60,000 points, worth a minimum of $800. There is the hefty $550 Platinum annual fee to justify, but then there are the $200 in annual airline and Uber credits, plus a host of other benefits, that come with every Amex Platinum card. You can get a separate signup bonus for each version of the Platinum card. I’ve had the personal Platinum, business Platinum, and MB Platinum, yet I’m still eligible for the Schwab signup bonus since I’ve never had this version.
- For someone interested in using Schwab for their investments, there’s currently a bonus of $100 – $500 for investing with them, depending how much you bring over. There may also be a free-trades offer for new customers instead or in addition to the cash bonus.
- There were also a few other targeted Schwab bonuses for existing clients that were going around, though I haven’t gotten any myself in the few short weeks I’m a customer.
Timing your Amex Platinum Applications
It’s now an excellent to apply for an Amex Platinum card since you can max out the $200 in airline credits in December and immediately thereafter in January, largely offsetting the $550 annual fee right away. December also has a higher $35 Uber credit; the rest of the year you’ll get $15 each month.
There isn’t much time to use the Uber credit, but there’s still time to make use of the airline credit by purchasing a gift card at your selected airline.
- Many/most people are getting an instant-issue virtual card number when instantly approved for the Amex Platinum card. I got this and was able to use the virtual card number to buy a $200 Southwest gift card which it triggered the $200 incidental credit.
- Amex is known to send new cards very quickly, I typically get my new Amex cards within 48 hours. Even if you don’t get a virtual card number upon approval (e.g. if the application goes to reconsideration), you should still have time to do the airline credit.
The airline incidental purchase might have to fully post to the account by December 31, so try giving yourself a couple of days leeway before end-of-year.
Schwab Signup Process
Here’s a detailing of the sign up process with Schwab:
- Select Open and Account at this referral link
- On the next page choose Schwab Bank Checking Account (not brokerage account).
- Answer whether you want an individual account or joint account; answer if you want to enroll in Trade Services; click Continue
- The system will then prompt you to open both checking and brokerage. Promo code: REFER will be pre-populated.
- Click: ‘No, I’m New to Schwab’
- Enter your personal information
- Check all the boxes
- Voila, your account is open
- You’ll see an Equifax hard pull show up within a day or two (others said it took a week)
- The debit card and paper checks will come automatically in the mail after about a week
- Expect a phone call within a day from a Schwab representative trying to help/convince you to transfer money and offer you free trades. (Another phone call might come a couple of weeks later.)
- Fund your checking and brokerage account by linking your bank account – I transferred $1 to the brokerage account and $1 to the checking account. This should trigger the $100 brokerage bonus. There is no credit card funding option.
- $100 bonus should post to your brokerage account within 5 weeks. (Sounds like they don’t send a 1099 for this.) Mine came around a month after funding.
- Keep the brokerage account open for a year so as not to lose the bonus. (You’ll want it open anyway for the Amex points 1.25% cash out.)
You can immediately apply for the Amex Schwab Platinum card. However, there is some degree of Chex sensitivity with Schwab. It’s worth waiting a couple of days – if possible – before assuming you’ll be fine. Others say the opposite: apply for the Amex card immediately. That way, even if Schwab closes out your account, you’ll at least get the card with it’s 60k bonus (though you won’t be able to cash out at 1.25% without a brokerage).
- Signup here for the Amex Shwab Platinum card with a 60,000 MR points bonus and a $550 annual fee (there are two Schwab credit cards, be sure to select the one you want)
- If you are instantly approved, you should get a temporary card number which can be used until the physical card comes; mark down the card information, maybe take a screenshot too
- System should give you an option to immediately add your card in the Amex login
- During the online login creation, you’ll probably see a special Amex Offer deal (not otherwise available to you) which can be saved at that time only. Typically it’s for 10% off your cell or cable bill. I got the 10% cellular offer during login creation at signup and then the 10% cable offer when I activated the physical card . Again, these offers need to be saved at these special times.
- Login to Amex and choose your airline for the $200 incidentals credit
- Buy a gift card at that airline, see what works here
- I imagine you can use your $35 Uber credit with the virtual credit card as well; just remember to update your Uber account when the physical card comes as the virtual one may stop working (the card number is the same, but the CVV and expiration is different)
- Cash out your Membership Rewards points at 1.25 cents per point as a deposit into your brokerage account; it can then be easily transferred to the checking account or you can leave it there and invest. You’ll see an option to do this on your home screen in the Amex login.
You can literally finish the entire process of signing up with Schwab, getting the Amex Platinum card, and cashing out the airline credit in less than an hour from when you read this post. My point here isn’t to convince people to signup for Schwab, just to say that it’s still possible to do so before year’s end. Evaluate your credit card goals and decide if it’s a good idea for you.
A lot of people consider 1.25 cents Membership Rewards redemption to be mediocre; personally, my preference is to have an easy and steady way of cashing out the points without having to think too much. I cashed out a large stash of accumulated points now, and this will remain my method of choice until the first membership year finishes. I’ll then have to decide whether to keep the account or cancel/downgrade it.
Aside from the Amex card, the checking account and even the brokerage account are things that could be useful to have in the long term.