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We’re over halfway through 2022, and according to Apartment List, an online marketplace for U.S. apartment listings, the national median rent is up 12.3 percent year-over-year.
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 late last year that its lending partners will begin incorporating positive rental histories into the underwriting process, while the Bilt 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 starting to think about becoming a homeowner, 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 2021 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. And as of late March 2022, Bilt announced a new partnership with Well Fargo, which will become the official issuer for the Bilt Mastercard.
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 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.
Previously, the Bilt Mastercard had only been available by invitation. With Wells Fargo as the official issuer of the Bilt Mastercard, the program is now be accessible to millions of qualified renters.
Recent updates to the Bilt Mastercard feature a new rewards earning structure, additional member benefits, a simpler status program and additional point transfer partners. 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.
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.
Bilt Mastercard’s reward structure has been updated to make earning points easier and more straightforward. Here’s how the new 0-1-2-3 points earning structure breaks down:
- 1X points on rent payments with no fees (on up to $50,000 in rent payments every year) and non-bonus purchases
- 2X points on travel
- 3X points on dining
- 3X points on gas (up to $1,250 in net purchases as gas stations from Aug. 25, 2022, through Oct. 31, 2022)
In order to earn these rewards, you need to make a minimum of five transactions per statement period. Plus, there’s an option to boost your earnings with the Bilt 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 and bonus points on new leases and renewals — along with access to a dedicated concierge to help with the process of buying a home.
|Points required (annually)||–||25,000||50,000||100,000+|
|Interest earned on points||–||✔||✔||✔|
|Reports to credit bureaus||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Gift from collection||–||–||–||✔|
|Bonus points on new leases/renewals||–||+10%||+25%||+50%|
As of June 30, 2022, Bilt has added a robust travel portal, akin to the one’s major card issuers like Chase, American Express and Capital One have. The Bilt Rewards Travel Portal, powered by Expedia, allows Bilt cardholders to earn and redeem Bilt Points when booking with over 500 airlines, 700,000 properties, 120 car rental companies and over 220,000 popular activities.
All Bilt Points redeemed through the portal will get a 25 percent boost towards the travel bookings. That means 10,000 Bilt Points is worth $125 when redeemed through the portal. You can use a mix of points and cash to cover the cost of a trip, and there’s no minimum number of points you must redeem.
The travel portal launch is accompanied by the additional of travel protections like trip delay and trip cancellation protection on any trips paid for with the Bilt Mastercard.
In addition to the newly launched travel portal, Bilt cardholders will continue to have the ability to transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to one of several travel partners, the list of which includes American Airlines AAdvantage, World of Hyatt and IHG Hotels and Resorts loyalty programs. As of August 2022, the issuer also added the ability to transfer Bilt points to British Airways Executive Club and, soon, Iberia Plus and Aer Lingus AerClub — all under the Avios loyalty program. When you link your Bilt Rewards account to any travel partner account, you will earn a 100-point bonus per partner.
Bankrate values American AAdvantage miles at approximately 1 cent apiece and Hyatt points at 2.1 cents apiece. Note that Bilt’s other transfer partners (Bankrate valuations in parentheses) are Aeroplan (Air Canada, 1.2 cents per point), Emirates (1.8 cents), Flying Blue (Air France/KLM, 1.3 cents), Hawaiian Airlines (1 cent), IHG (0.7 cents), Turkish Airlines (0.6 cents) and Virgin Atlantic (2.6 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 decorations 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 World Elite Mastercard benefits, including:
- Premium cellphone 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 1.25 cents per point (according to baseline valuations), that’s $625 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 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.