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A No-Annual-Fee Powerhouse
The Bilt Mastercard has quickly gained popularity since it launched with Wells Fargo 2022 and it’s easy to see why. The card has been dubbed a game-changer because it offers fee-free rewards on rent payments. Between generous category bonuses and premium travel perks, Bilt has created a card that appeals to frequent travelers and those who want a simple cash-back card.
The mark of a great loyalty program is an impressive list of transfer partners. Bilt delivers on that front with unique travel partners like World of Hyatt and American AAdvantage. Clearly, the rewards program is top-notch but does the card offer value outside the rental market? The answer might surprise you. Here’s a closer look at the Bilt Mastercard’s various features and perks.
The Bilt Mastercard does not offer a welcome bonus at the moment. While this is a definite disadvantage, it can still be worthwhile for some people. If you earn substantial rewards from the card every year, the lack of a sign-up bonus might not matter.
The Bilt Mastercard has no annual fee, which makes keeping it long-term easy to justify. You don’t have to compare the benefits you’re getting against an annual fee every year to figure out if it’s worth it.
The Bilt Rewards Mastercard earns upwards of 3 points per dollar in popular spending categories. Its most notable rewards feature is the ability to charge rent to your credit card, surcharge-free. You can earn up to 100,000 points every calendar year on rent payments without paying a transaction fee. The only catch? You must make at least five transactions per billing period to earn points.
- 3X points on dining
- 2X points on travel
- 1X points on rent payments (up to 100,000 points per calendar year), without a transaction fee
If you max out the 100,000-point earning cap on rent, you’ll save up to $1,425 in fees while earning valuable rewards.
Payments are made directly to landlords. You can still earn rewards if your landlord isn’t part of the Bilt Rewards Alliance. Bilt will send an e-check to your landlord to cover the payments and make sure you earn bonus points.
In addition, Bilt runs a double points promotion on the first day of every month. You can earn up to 10,000 points on non-rent spending categories:
- 6X points on dining
- 4X points on travel
- 2X points on all other purchases (minus rent)
For a no-annual-fee card, the Bilt Mastercard offers plenty of benefits. Some of them are more common on premium cards with high annual fees. Overall, the benefits line-up is substantial and practical above all else:
Get Freebies on Rent Day
On the first of every month, Bilt has what it calls Rent Day. On Rent Day, you earn double points on all purchases (except rent) and can access various freebies. Bilt members enjoy perks like two-for-one SoulCycle classes alongside 10X points for booking through the Bilt app or online.
Report Rent Payments to Credit Bureaus
If your landlord is part of the Bilt Rewards Alliance, you can have your on-time rent payments reported to credit agencies each month. This can help you build credit or improve your credit score in the long run.
One potential issue around paying your rent with your credit card is that you risk maxing it out and increasing your utilization rate. Your utilization rate is the percentage of your credit limit you use every month. You want to keep your utilization rate under 30% or else it negatively impacts your credit score.
Bilt has a solution for it in the form of BiltProtect. If you use this feature, Bilt will deduct funds from your checking account to pay off rent charges made to your card within 48 hours. That way, you can use your credit line for other purchases while maintaining a low utilization rate.
Discounts on Lyft rides
Through Mastercard, Bilt cardholders get a Lyft credit for every three rides taken in a calendar month. These savings can stack up if you use the service frequently. Plus, in many markets, Lyft is cheaper than Uber.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic is never to travel without insurance. Whether it’s your flight or rental car, you want to be protected in case of a cancellation or loss. The Bilt Mastercard offers several types of travel insurance that normally come with higher-end cards:
Trip Cancellation and Interruption
If your trip is canceled due to a covered reason, you’ll get reimbursed up to $5,000 per person toward non-refundable travel expenses. Covered reasons include illness or death. If you usually pay for travel insurance or keep a high-annual-fee credit card for this benefit, it’s well worth the peace of mind.
Trip Delay Reimbursement
What’s more stressful than a trip cancellation? Trip delays. Suddenly you have to pay for extra meals, transportation, and maybe even a hotel stay you didn’t plan for. With trip delay coverage, you’ll get reimbursed up to $200 per person for expenses incurred due to a delay of six hours or longer. Covered reasons include weather, mechanical issues, and air traffic control delays.
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
If your trip includes a rental car, you want a primary rental collision damage waiver from your credit card. Yes, you can pay around $15 a day or get it for free. If you’re involved in an accident, you won’t have to file a claim with your own insurance. Your credit card company takes care of it.
The Bilt Mastercard offers primary coverage (except to New York residents) of up to $50,000 against collision or theft. All you have to do is charge the rental to your Bilt Rewards card to qualify.
Cell Phone Protection
Most of us have dropped a cell phone or two and remember that devastating moment when the screen shattered and the bill for fixing it came close to the cost of the actual phone. Bilt’s cell phone protection covers up to $800 against damage and theft. You must pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card and pay a $25 deductible when filing a claim.
No Foreign Currency Conversion Fees
Bilt offers 14 airline and hotel partners you can transfer points to at a 1:1 ratio. There is a 2,000-point minimum, which is higher than the 1,000 from programs like Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One miles, Citi ThankYou from our partner Citi, and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Bilt has several transfer partners in common with these programs and transfers are pretty much instant in most cases.
- Aer Lingus AerClub Avios
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- British Airways Executive Club
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Iberia Plus
- IHG One Rewards
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- World of Hyatt
For flights, Bilt members can use an integrated service in the app (through a partnership with point.me) to search real-time award availability across all twelve airline transfer partners.
Transfers to American Airlines shouldn’t be overlooked either. Currently, the only transfer options are from Marriott Bonvoy, which transfers to AAdvantage miles at a 3:1 ratio. The Bilt Rewards program is the only way to top off your AAdvantage account at a 1:1 ratio.
For hotels, Hyatt is particularly valuable because the only other program you can transfer Hyatt points from is Chase Ultimate Rewards. Having another source for Hyatt points is incredibly valuable, considering World of Hyatt is one of the best hotel loyalty programs.
Other Ways to Redeem Bilt Points
If you don’t want to use your Bilt points for travel, you have plenty of other options. Bilt points are worth 0.55 cents each when you redeem them for rent and 1.5 cents down payments.
You can also redeem Bilt points for fitness classes and merchandise through the Bilt Collection. Points are worth around one cent toward these items.
Who Qualifies for the Bilt Rewards Mastercard?
You need good credit to qualify for a Bilt Mastercard, which is generally defined as a 670-739 range. You’re more likely to get approved with a 700 score or higher. If you’re not there yet, you might want to follow our tips for improving your credit score before applying.
Having a banking relationship with Wells Fargo can also help. Banks value loyal customers who have one or more account types. A checking account can go a long way in displaying your value as a customer.
Comparison to Other Cards
The most appropriate comparison to the Bilt Mastercard would be a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points. That’s primarily because Chase and Bilt have 10 out of 14 transfer partners in common.
Chase also offers the Chase Sapphire Preferred® with similar benefits and earning rates to the Bilt Mastercard. While Chase has several application rules like 5/24 that restrict credit card approvals, Wells Fargo is more lax. If you can’t qualify for a Chase card, the Bilt Mastercard is a good alternative.
Is the Bilt Mastercard Worth it?
The Bilt Rewards Mastercard is absolutely worth it if you’re a renter interested in maximizing your rewards potential. Rent is one of the biggest expense categories for most people. Earning points without paying fees is huge. But what makes “points” valuable is how you use them. Bilt’s loyalty program is comparable to Chase Ultimate Rewards because it has 10 travel partners in common with Chase.
Being able to earn valuable rewards at a $0 annual fee makes this card a no-brainer. The lack of a welcome bonus isn’t ideal, but the ability to earn points on your biggest spending category makes up for it. If you max out the 100,000 annual earnings on rent payment, it’s akin to a welcome bonus.
If you’re a homeowner, the Bilt card can still make sense if you want a zero-annual-fee card. The card’s category bonuses, travel protections and lack of a foreign currency conversion fee are competitive. Best of all? You’re not limited to earning cash back like with other no-annual-fee cards. You’ll earn valuable rewards that you can convert to airline miles and hotel points. Overall, this is a solid card that can fit into anyone’s wallet – renter or homeowner alike.