Bilt Mastercard Review: A first for renters and future homebuyers
What could be better than paying rent, earning rewards and skipping the fees? Keep reading to find out.
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Bilt Mastercard® Overview
The Bilt Mastercard® is a unique and versatile rewards card that will appeal to renters and fee-averse travelers. One of the card’s standout features is that it earns 1X points on rent payments without any transaction or processing fees. Try paying rent with any other credit card, and you will typically find yourself paying additional fees that negate the points you may be trying to earn in the process.
The card also earns bonus rewards on travel and dining, and it offers multiple redemption options, including for travel, fitness or future rent payments. You can also save up your Bilt rewards to put toward a down payment on a home — a fantastic feature if you tend to struggle to save for a down payment.
The Bilt card comes with some additional benefits that help it compete with the best rewards cards. It offers elite status, which unlocks new features as you earn more points, like the chance to earn interest on your unused points. Your points can also be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel partners, giving you more flexibility to vacation in style or simply cut travel costs. This is a rare feature you won’t find with many travel cards that charge no annual fee.
No other credit card on the market currently combines the value of being able to make fee-free rent payments with the convenience of saving up points that can build interest. But the Bilt Mastercard won’t be a good fit for everyone, particularly those who don’t pay rent.
Other cards could provide greater value, helping you earn rewards more quickly. The Bilt card also requires good or excellent credit, which will be a disappointment to people with fair credit, low credit, or no credit who could benefit the most from earning rewards and building credit as they pay rent.
Keep reading to see if the Bilt Mastercard can be part of an effective strategy to help you earn as much credit card rewards as possible or for possible alternatives.
What are the pros and cons?
- Rewards maximizers may struggle to quickly earn points compared to other travel and cash back cards
- The lack of a sign-up bonus or intro APR offer gives the card poor short-term value compared to the top rewards cards
- Not open to renters with fair credit
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 3X points on dining, 2X points on travel, 1X points on rent payments (up to a maximum 50,000 points per year) and 1X points on other eligible purchases. Earn points when you make 5 transactions that post each statement period
- Welcome offer: N/A
- Annual fee: $0
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 19.99 percent, 22.99 percent, or 27.99 percent
Current welcome offer
The Bilt card does not currently have a welcome offer, putting it at a disadvantage compared with many other rewards cards. While not the sole feature to look for in a rewards card, sign-up bonuses are a great incentive that can help you quickly earn outsized rewards. They have become a standard feature for many cards, especially for people with good credit, who can typically find offers worth $200 or more, even with cards that charge no annual fee.
The Bilt Mastercard offers bonus rewards for dining and travel and 1X points on all other eligible purchases — including rent without having to pay transaction and processing fees. It’s unusual to celebrate a flat rate of 1X points on anything, but the ability to earn rewards for paying rent while avoiding fees that cost more than the rewards you earn is a great opportunity. At a time when inflation is raising prices on essentials like rent, the Bilt rewards card is the rare card that makes it easy to earn rewards on one of the biggest expenses to impact many.
To pay your rent using the Bilt card, you can log into the app where you’ll find a number of different ways to make a payment. You can choose to have a check mailed to your landlord, or you can use Venmo, PayPal or any online portal. You can even take advantage of the BiltProtect feature, which immediately draws money from your linked bank account after Bilt pays your rent. This is an easy way to avoid interest charges while earning rewards for paying rent.
There are some restrictions to keep in mind: Rent payments can only be made to one rental property per month. And you’ll have to use the Bilt Mastercard at least 5 times each statement period to earn the maximum amount of points. If you fail to make the minimum required transactions each month, you’ll only earn a flat rate of 250 points when paying your rent.
How you earn
Cardholders earn 3X points on dining, 2X points on travel, 1X points on rent payments (up to a maximum 50,000 points per year) and 1X points on other eligible purchases. The spending cap on rent of 50,000 points per year won’t impact anyone who pays $4,166 or less per month. That amount exceeds the national average rent of $2,031 and the average rates paid by many in the most expensive metro areas, according to the Zillow Observed Rent Index (ZORI).
The ability to earn 1X points on rent and avoid a transaction fee is the biggest reason to use the Bilt card since you will currently struggle to find another card with a similar offer. The 3X points on dining is a fine rate found with many rewards cards, but compared to other no-annual-fee rewards cards, the Bilt card doesn’t offer as many rewards on travel or additional bonus categories to help you earn rewards quickly.
Take a look at how the Bilt card stacks up against some of the top cards that offer travel and dining rewards while not charging an annual fee:
|No-annual-fee card||Travel rewards rate||Additional bonus rewards rates|
|Bilt Mastercard||2X points on travel||
|Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||5 percent cash back on hotel and rental bookings made through Capital One Travel||
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||5 percent cash back on all travel purchased via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal||
|Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card||3X points on travel||
|Hilton Honors American Express Card||7X on purchases made with eligible Hilton properties||
Having a card or multiple cards that reward you with high bonus points for as much of your everyday spending as possible is one of the best ways to maximize your rewards and ensure you’re getting as much value as possible out of your rewards cards.
How to redeem
Your Bilt rewards must be redeemed through the Bilt app. Once there, you’ll have access to a number of different redemption options. Using the Bilt Travel portal, you can book flights, hotels, car rentals and more. Or you can transfer your points to one of Bilt’s 12 transfer partners, which is a perk typically only reserved for travel cards with annual fees.
If you’re not much of a traveler, the Bilt card gives you plenty of additional options. The chance to use your Bilt rewards to cover rent or to save up for a down payment on a home are unique features not typically found with a credit card rewards program. You can also redeem your points for items at Amazon or for curated art, apparel and decor through the Bilt Collection. Fitness classes are another option, with classes at companies like SoulCycle, Y7 Studio and [solidcore] starting at a minimum of 3,000 points.
How much are the rewards worth?
The value of your Bilt rewards will vary based on which redemption option you choose. Bilt doesn’t publish set values for all of its redemption options, but based on research by Bankrate and our partners at TPG , here are the values you are likely to find when redeeming your rewards:
- Bilt travel portal: 1.25 cents
- High-value transfer partners: 2.2 cents (average)
- Down-payment on home: 1.5 cents
- Rent: 0.55 cents
- Fitness & lifestyle partners: Around 1 cent
- The Collection curated by BILT: Around 1 cent
- Amazon purchases: 0.7 cents
Other rewards cards typically value their points or miles at 1 cent, especially no-annual-fee rewards cards. It may seem like Bilt has the edge in a number of redemption options. But if you earned those rewards in bonus categories that earn more points than what Bilt offers, another card could prove more valuable.
If you spent $2,000 on travel with the Bilt card, you’d earn 4,000 points ($2,000 x 2X points), which would be worth $50 when redeemed in the Bilt travel portal (4,000 x 0.0125) or $60 when saving for a downpayment on a home (4,000 x 0.015).
If you spent the same amount on travel with the Chase Freedom Unlimited using the Chase travel portal, you’d earn 5 percent cash back, which would be worth $100 when redeemed for any redemption option with a point value of 1 cent. That includes statement credits, travel, gift cards, or Apple purchases.
Using your points to pay for rent or for Amazon purchases may be convenient, but since these values fall below 1 cent, they’re not the best use of your points, especially compared with saving for a down payment on a home, using the Bilt travel portal or transferring your points to an airline or hotel partner.
Travelers who transfer their points could get the best value, as leveraging the right transfer partner can unlock an incredible amount of savings. We estimate 50,000 points are worth around $1,100 based on Bankrate’s latest point valuations, which value Bilt rewards at around 2.2 cents apiece (based on the card’s high-value transfer partners). Here is a look at some of Bilt’s popular transfer partners and Bankrate’s points and miles value for each.
|Transfer partner||Bankrate value*||Estimated value of 50,000 points/miles|
|Air Canada Aeroplane||1.2 cents||$600|
|Air France (FlyingBlue)||1.3 cents||$650|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||1 cent||$500|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||3 cents||$1,500|
|Emirates Skywards||1.8 cents||$900|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||1 cent||$500|
|IHG One Rewards||0.7 cents||$350|
|KLM (FlyingBlue)||1.2 cents||$600|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||0.6 cents||$300|
|United Airlines MileagePlus||1.1 cents||$550|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||2.6 cents||$1,300|
|World of Hyatt||2.1 cents||$1,050|
*Based on weighted average of median point/mile values across economy and first/business class fares.
Other cardholder benefits
The Bilt card’s features and benefits are all pretty impressive considering the card charges no annual fee. Other top travel cards like the Discover it® Miles or Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card also skip the annual fee but don’t come with nearly as many benefits as you’ll find with the Bilt card.
If no annual fee is one of the most important features you’re looking for in a rewards card, the Bilt Mastercard delivers on perks. But if you’re looking to make the most of the rewards you earn, you may want to consider upgrading to a card that charges an annual fee but comes with upgraded features that help you offset that fee or justify the cost.
Bilt Rent Day
On the first of every month, your Bilt rewards card will earn double points on all non-rent purchases for 24 hours, up to 10,000 bonus points:
- Dining: 6x points (regularly 3x points)
- Travel: 4x points (regularly 2x points)
- All other non-rent purchases: 2x points (regularly 1x points)
Once you hit 10,000 bonus points with these outsized rates, you’ll resume earning rewards at your regular rates.
These monthly bonus rewards are impressive rates that line up with many of the best rewards cards. The supersized dining rate is especially appealing, as the best credit cards for restaurants typically only earn 3 percent to 5 percent cash back. And the spending limit is far more generous than a number of other rewards cards that only let you spend anywhere from $500 to $850 on average each month before imposing spending limits. As long as you don’t mind waiting to make your biggest purchases, this will be a handy feature for any cardholder.
Cardholders can earn loyalty status based on the amount of points earned in a year. Here’s a look at each status level:
|Loyalty Tier||Points required||Benefits|
|Blue||Less than 25,000 points per year||
|Silver||25,000 to 49,999 per year||All the benefits of Blue status, plus:
|Gold||50,000 to 99,999 per year||All the benefits of Blue status, plus:
|Platinum||100,000 or more per year||All the benefits of Blue status, plus:
Status earned from Jan. 1 to June 30 will expire at the end of the year, but any status earned between July 1 to Dec. 31 will be maintained until the end of the following year, which is a nice way to encourage you to use the card and build up your points throughout the year — as long as you can take advantage of the elite perks.
The bonus on lease incentives happens when you sign a new tenant lease or lease renewal at an eligible property. And the homeownership concierge could come in handy if you need step-by-step help understanding the homebuying process.
These are nice perks if you have an easy time reaching the upper loyalty levels with rent payments and dining purchases. But it may not make sense for frequent travelers to focus too much effort into chasing these perks and possibly miss out on a chance to quickly earn elite status with airline or hotel travel cards. Your favorite airline or hotel may have their own loyalty program that offers anything from free checked bags, priority boarding, cabin upgrades, free nights or room upgrades. For some, perks that drive down the cost of travel or make your journey more rewarding will prove more valuable over the Bilt card’s loyalty incentives.
Earn interest on points
If you have Silver, Gold or Platinum status, you could earn interest based on your average daily points balance for the previous 30-day period and the FDIC national savings rate. This is an interesting feature that puts more points into your account without having to spend additional funds. If you like earning easy rewards, this is a great perk, but if you like getting as much value as possible out of credit cards, this may not get the job done.
If you use the Bilt rewards card and spend $6,000 per year on an everyday essential like groceries, you’d only earn a maximum value of $60 since groceries are only worth 1X point. No matter how much interest you earn on those points, it would take far too long to match the value you get with a grocery rewards card like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Since it earns 6 percent cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent), you’d earn $360 on grocery purchases alone, which easily offsets the card’s $95 annual fee.
You’d also get to earn high bonus rewards on other everyday essentials not covered by the Bilt Mastercard, like gas and transit purchases. Add in a sign-up bonus worth $350 after spending $3,000 within the first six months of account opening, and you could see upwards of $700 in cash back your first year.
There aren’t too many no-annual-fee travel cards that come with travel insurance, which can offer peace of mind and cost-saving benefits. With the Bilt card, you get up to $5,000 worth of trip cancellation and interruption in the event your trip gets interrupted or canceled due to a covered event. There’s trip delay reimbursement, which provides up to $200 per day and $1,800 in expenses for all covered people on a trip that’s delayed for at least 6 hours. There’s also an auto rental collision damage waiver in the event your rental car is damaged or stolen.
If your cellphone is damaged or stolen, this supplemental coverage will reimburse you up to $800 for the cost of repair or replacement after any coverage that may be provided by primary insurance. There’s a $25 deductible and you can only have two paid claims per year, but this is a perk that goes further than the $600 coverage and $50 deductible offered by many other rewards cards with cellphone insurance.
World Elite Mastercard Concierge
The Bilt card’s concierge service offers 24/7 expert assistance in a number of areas, including travel planning, help finding gifts or making dinner reservations and even having someone at your house for appliance deliveries if you can’t be there.
Cardholders enjoy a free three-month DashPass trial on DoorDash. During the trial, you’ll enjoy perks like a $0 delivery fee on all orders and 5 percent credit on orders you pick up and $5 off your first order every month. After the trial, the regular rate of $9.99 per month (plus fees) kicks in unless you cancel.
Rates and fees
The Bilt card has no annual fee to worry about, which makes it easy for you to come out ahead the moment you start using the card and earning rewards. There are also no foreign transaction fees to worry about.
There’s an introductory balance transfer fee of 3 percent, which lasts for 120 days from account opening before becoming 5 percent. If you have debt that you want to pay off, a better option is to take advantage of a balance transfer card with a long 0-percent intro APR offer, which can help you save a lot of money on interest charges. These cards may also come with intro APR offers that give you time to pay off purchases without having to deal with interest charges.
The card’s variable APR of 19.99 percent, 22.99 percent, or 27.99 percent is fairly typical for rewards cards. To make the most of your rewards and avoid the chance of falling into debt, it’s always a good idea to pay your balance in full each month. If you can’t, a low-interest credit card could prove more useful. Some of the best rewards cards have rates that go as low as 14.24 percent, and there are also credit union cards with even lower rates, which can save you a lot of money over the course of paying off large balances.
The card’s other common credit card fees to watch out for include late payment fee and cash advance fee, which are pretty typical for a credit card and should be avoided, if possible.
How the Bilt Mastercard® compares to other no-annual-fee rewards cards
The Bilt card is unrivaled if you’re looking for a card that rewards your rent payments and helps you save money for a home. But there are other rewards cards that can possibly do a better job of getting you the most value for your rewards.
Bilt Mastercard® vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Bilt card takes the prize over any card when it comes to using a credit card to pay for rent. It’s also the rare no-annual-fee card that lets you transfer your points. This gives it a leg up over the Freedom Unlimited, which doesn’t let you transfer rewards unless you have one of the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The Bilt card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, which is a step above the Chase Freedom Unlimited. But for many, these limitations won’t stop the Freedom Unlimited from being one of the best rewards cards around.
The Freedom Unlimited card combines high-earning bonus categories with an elevated flat rate on all general purchases. While the Bilt card only covers specific types of travel, like airfare hotels, resorts and car rentals, the Freedom Unlimited opens the doors to most forms of travel, including transit purchases like buses, taxis, ferries, parking lots and garages. It also comes with a welcome offer that could earn big spenders up to $300 worth of rewards and an intro APR offer that gives you more than a year to avoid interest charges on purchases and balance transfers.
Bilt Mastercard® vs. Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
Both cards come out on top over a number of entry-level travel cards, but the Autograph card goes a bit further. It offers elevated rewards rates in more everyday categories and a sign-up bonus that’s larger than most no-annual-fee cards. It also comes with an intro APR offer that gives you some time to pay off purchases, which could come in handy if you book travel that you haven’t completely saved up for yet.
Unlike the Bilt Mastercard, you won’t be able to transfer your points to any airline or hotel transfer partners, which could be a disadvantage for travel strategists who know how to earn the most rewards and transfer them for the best value. But if the majority of your purchases with the Bilt rewards card fall into the 1X category, the value of your rewards with a transfer partner could still fall short of what you could get with the Autograph card, especially if the majority of your purchases fall into the high-earning bonus categories.
Best cards to pair with this card
The Bilt card will make an excellent addition to the wallet of rewards strategists who pay rent and who use multiple credit cards to get as much value and convenience as possible. Pay your rent with the Bilt card and use it for dining purchases and any other small purchases needed to meet the minimum use requirement each month. But for all other purchases, consider using a high-earning rewards card that fits your spending habits, which can help you bring in more rewards than you would with the Bilt card.
Depending on your grocery budget, either the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express or the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express could be the best card for households to pair with the Bilt card, especially if you’re looking for a card that covers everyday purchases like groceries, gas and popular streaming services. They both also come with top-of-the-line perks like a generous welcome offer and intro APR offer.
Travelers looking for maximum value without a hefty annual fee may want to check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — one of the best midlevel travel cards around. The card’s bonus categories cover travel, dining, online grocery purchases and select streaming services. You also get outsized perks like a travel credit, transfer partners, the chance to redeem rewards for 25 percent more value and one of the best sign-up bonuses around: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. That’s worth $750 when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Bankrate’s Take — Is the Bilt Mastercard worth it?
Yes, the Bilt card is a solid pick for many people who want to take advantage of this no-annual-fee card’s main feature: the ability to use a credit card to pay your rent without having to deal with transaction fees.
The card comes with some additional features — transferable points, elite status and the chance to save up interest-earning points for a down payment on a home — that could be appealing to renters looking for an easy way to earn and use rewards without having to pay an annual fee. But for maximum value, this is the kind of card you want to pair with another rewards card, or even multiple rewards cards, to ensure you’re doing all you can to bring down the cost of travel or save up for the home of your dreams.