Guide to Bilt Rewards Mastercard

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The national median rent has increased by 13.8 percent in 2021 as of Aug. 31, according to Apartment List, an online marketplace for U.S. apartment listings.

Even as rent remains the largest monthly expense for most people, rarely have those on-time payments helped renters improve their credit scores or qualify for a mortgage. And, unlike other recurring bills (utility payments, for instance), rent generally isn’t payable by credit card, which means renters also miss out on the chance to earn rewards for this type of spending.

But the times, they are a-changin’.

For starters, government-sponsored enterprise Fannie Mae announced in August that its lending partners will begin incorporating positive rental histories into the underwriting process, while the recently launched Bilt Rewards Mastercard® lets cardholders earn points that they can redeem for travel, merchandise, rent — and even a down payment on a future home.

Whether you’re planning to apply for a mortgage in the near future or just starting to think about becoming a homeowner someday, keep reading to learn more about how the Bilt Mastercard can help you achieve your long-term financial goals.

What is the Bilt Mastercard?

The New York City-based startup Bilt introduced the Bilt Rewards loyalty program and Bilt Mastercard in June with a twofold goal: first, to give young people a way to earn rewards on their rent payments, and second, to help them on the path toward homeownership.

The standalone Bilt Rewards program, which is free to join, rewards eligible U.S. renters with a flat 250 points for every rent payment they make through the Bilt app (available on iOS and Android). Landlords in the Bilt Rewards Alliance, a network of more than two million apartments across the U.S., may offer other opportunities to accelerate your earnings, such as bonus rewards for referrals and lease renewals.

The associated Bilt Rewards Mastercard, meanwhile, allows renters to earn rewards on paying their rent on time with the Bilt Rewards app and renting in the Bilt Rewards Alliance as well as on regular transactions.

Although the Bilt Rewards Mastercard card hasn’t officially launched yet, recent updates to the Bilt Rewards Mastercard feature a revamped rewards earning structure, additional member benefits, a simpler status program and an additional point transfer partner. Holding the card isn’t a prerequisite for Bilt Rewards members who reside in an in-network building, but out-of-network renters will have to pay their rent with the Bilt Mastercard to earn points on those transactions.

The company has begun to open up membership in the loyalty program to residents of Bilt Rewards Alliance properties and will continue to do so over the next few months. (Those tenants will also be among the first to receive an invite to apply for the Bilt Mastercard.) Other interested renters can join the waitlist to be notified when program enrollment and card applications become available to everyone else.

How does the Bilt card work?

Once you apply and get approved for Bilt’s no-annual-fee rewards credit card, here’s what you need to know about its rewards scheme, redemption options and other features.

Sign-up bonus

While not a traditional welcome offer, new Bilt cardholders earn 2X points on all of their non-rent spending in their first 30 days (the normal 3 points per dollar on dining still applies). Unlike other credit card sign-up bonuses, there is no spending requirement to get the bonus.

Earning points

Bilt Rewards Mastercard’s reward structure has also been updated to make earning points easier and more straightforward.

Here’s how the new 0-1-2-3 points earning structure breaks down:

  • $0 annual card fee
  • 1X points on rent payments with no fees (on up to $50,000 in rent payments every year)
  • 2X points on travel (when booked directly with an airline, hotel, car rental or cruise company)
  • 3X points on dining
  • 1X points on everything else

In order to earn these rewards, you’ve got to make a minimum of five transactions per statement period. Plus, there’s an option to boost your earnings with the Bilt Rewards Mastercard by attaining certain member statuses.

Member status is based on total points earned over the calendar year which can be earned from any source such as rent transactions, non-rent transactions, bonus points and more. As you reach high-status tiers, you can be eligible for additional benefits like earning interest on your rewards points, earning bonus points on new leases and renewals along with access to a dedicated concierge to help with the process of buying a home.

Benefit/status Blue Silver Gold Platinum
Points required (annually) 25,000 50,000 100,000
Interest earned on points
Reports to credit bureaus
Homeownership concierge
Gift from collection
Bonus points on new leases/renewals +10% +25% +50%

Redeeming points

The Bilt card offers an impressive array of redemption choices via the Bilt app, most notably the ability to transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to one of several travel partners, the list of which includes the American Airlines AAdvantage, World of Hyatt and the newly added IHG Hotels and Resorts loyalty programs.

American Airlines is a particularly notable partner because it only partners with one other credit card transfer program (Citi ThankYou points), on a temporary basis, no less (until Nov. 13, 2021). The Points Guy values American Airlines miles at 1.4 cents apiece and Hyatt points at 1.7 cents apiece. Note that The Points Guy founder and CEO Brian Kelly is a Bilt investor and member of its executive team. Bilt’s other transfer partners (TPG valuations in parentheses) are Aeroplan (Air Canada, 1.5 cents per point), Emirates (1.2 cents), Flying Blue (Air France/KLM, 1.2 cents), Hawaiian Airlines (0.9 cents), IHG (0.5 cents), Turkish Airlines (1.3 cents) and Virgin Atlantic (1.5 cents).

You can also use your rewards for SoulCycle, Rumble Boxing and Y7 Studio classes and memberships, future rent payments, a down payment on a house and merchandise from the Bilt Collection, such as home decor and art.

Other perks and benefits

Since Bilt reports your rent payments to the credit bureaus, you can use the card to build your credit history and boost your credit score by demonstrating responsible financial behaviors, like keeping your credit utilization ratio low and always paying your balance in full. You’ll also receive standard Mastercard World Elite benefits, including:

  • Premium cell phone protection
  • Purchase protection
  • World elite concierge
  • Rental car insurance
  • Trip cancellation
  • Trip delay protection

Of course, such perks and benefits are valuable only if you take advantage of them.

What else you need to know

If you’re worried about using too much of your available credit or going into debt on rent, the Bilt card’s optional BiltProtect feature allows it to withdraw your rent payment directly from a linked bank account, effectively turning it into a debit card while still allowing you to earn points.

Finally, the physical Bilt Mastercard is an all-black metal card — which, let’s face it, is still pretty darn cool.

Is it worth it to pay your rent with Bilt?

As long as you’re able to pay in full and avoid overspending, you’ll come out ahead by earning rewards on this large recurring expense that often eludes renters who enjoy credit card rewards. If you max out the 50,000 points that can be earned on rent transactions each year and redeem at a valuation of 1.5 cents per point, that’s $750 in value each year that you probably wouldn’t have gotten with any other card.

The travel and dining bonus categories are solid as well, especially if you end up using your points with the more lucrative travel partners or if you put them toward the down payment on your future home. Since earning 1 point per dollar on general spending can be topped elsewhere, rewards chasers would benefit from complementing the Bilt Mastercard with other cards that provide better ongoing rewards on everyday spending.

Still, it’s rare to find a no-annual-fee card with such an impressive list of transfer partners, and the ace up the Bilt Mastercard’s sleeve is the ability to earn surcharge-free rewards on monthly rent payments.