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Paying $50,000 a year in rent would cost you $1250 if you used Plastiq.com to charge your rewards credit card and send your landlord a check. Now you can charge up to $50,000 in rent each year and earn transferable points without paying any fee as part of the revamp of the new Bilt Rewards program.
Over the summer new loyalty program Bilt launched, based around paying rent. It offers transferable points – including to American Airlines, Hyatt, and other valuable programs. And after a mere three months they’ve already improved the value proposition for the Bilt Mastercard making it really compelling. They’ve also streamlined their elite status program as well.
There’s a waitlist to join the program, and it reportedly takes months to be invited in at the moment. However you can go to BiltRewards.com/waitlist, enter your email to joint the waitlist, and you’ll be asked if you have a fast track code. VFTW4BILT will take you right in. (I do not receive any referral credit for this, I simply pass this along as a service to you.)
New Highly Competitive Earn Structure For Bilt Mastercard
The no annual fee Bilt Mastercard now earns:
- 1 point per dollar on rent (up to $50,000 per year) and all unbonused eligible purchases
- 2x on travel
- 3x on dining
New earn starts right away, even for existing cardmembers, which is great because they weren’t earning in bonus categories and had a convoluted structure for earning on rent payments (up to 4000 points per month, with earn rate based on a sliding scale of card spend). This new structure is clearly more attractive across the board.
Points in the Bilt program transfer to:
- Airlines: American AAdvantage, Air Canada Aeroplan, Emirates Skywards, Air France KLM Flying Blue, Turkish Miles & Smiles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Hotels: Hyatt, IHG Rewards (new)
There’s two caveats. The card’s initial bonus is weak (2x on non-bonus category spend for the first 30 day) and you must make at least 5 transactions a month on the card to earn points. That’s easy to meet, splitting up a single grocery or gas station trip into multiple purchases. But the idea is they want cardmembers using the card and not just doing a single ‘one and done’ rent transaction because that’s going to be a money-loser.
The addition of IHG Rewards as a 1:1 transfer partner is next to useless. Two and a half years ago I valued an IHG point at 6/10ths of a cent, and they’re worth less today. It ‘fills out the program’ and gives them a second hotel, and Dave Canty who worked in loyalty at IHG and JetBlue is Bilt’s Director of Loyalty.
I do like that – unlike the direction some issuers and products have gone – they’ve invested in Mastercard protections including Premium Cell Phone Protection; Purchase Protection; concierge; Trip Cancellation; and Trip Delay.
Relaunched Elite Status
Status-earning is now based on calendar year points-accumulation rather than a more confusing monthly system.
- Blue: general member
- Silver: 25,000 points
- Gold: 50,000 points
- Platinum: 100,000 points
Somewhat oddly, you do not necessarily earn status for the rest of the year and the full following year. Instead if you earn status in the first six months of the year, it lasts only through January 31 of the following year, but if you earn status in the second six months you get the rest of that year and the next year. It’s better to earn status in July than June!
All elite members will earn interest on their points balance each month. We’re living in a period of extraordinarily low interest rates, and they’ll pay based on FDIC national savings rate. Earning 0.06% right now isn’t exciting, but the concept is an intriguing one. Why shouldn’t your currency earn a rate of return?
We’ve seen card programs offer bonuses on points earned over a year. At launch the Chase Sapphire Preferred used to give you 7% on top of that year’s earnings, for instance, and they’ve brought back a less ambitious version of this. But no one is paying interest on your full current unredeemed balance. This could become more appealing as the Fed tapers and begins to raise rates.
Elites also earn bonus points signing new leases or renewals with participating rental properties (large rental companies in major markets, generally).
They offer a ‘Homeownership Concierge’ to Gold and Platinum members spending their points on a down payment to help with the buying process. It seems like they should be making money here, earning referral fees from realtors and mortgage brokers. Perhaps limiting this to members with the most points signals high value customers for this.
And Platinum members receive a Bilt Collection Gift upon tier qualification. Bilt promises that “[a]dditional status benefits will be rolled out in the coming months.”
Other Key Program Features
Regardless of whether you get their credit card, the program is worth joining because of bonus opportunities, because they give you 250 points for paying rent through a linked checking account with their app, and because they report on-time rent payments to credit bureaus which may raise your credit score.
How Does The Bilt Mastercard Compare? Should You Get One?
They’ve made this card a direct competitor to Chase Sapphire Preferred, but with two advantages:
- No annual fee
- Earns 1 point per dollar on rent up to $50,000 a year (without going through any third parties like Plastiq.com)
It’s not directly analogous. Chase’s product, for instance has primary rental car collision coverage. There are nuances. But the basic earning structure is very similar, and these are transferable points you’re earning. Bilt partners with some great airline and hotel programs.
The big downside to the Bilt card, compared to Sapphire Preferred, is the lack of a compelling up front bonus. Bilt will give new cardmembers an extra point per dollar spent in their first 30 days. Compare that to 100,000 points after $4000 spend from Sapphire Preferred. It takes a lot of rent payments to earn that, and the 100,000 points covers a lot of annual fees.
There’s no question this is the best card for earning American Airlines miles. It’s arguably the best standalone no annual fee card for spending, Amex Everyday would be a competitor in the no annual fee space that still allows transfers to miles and points.
And these changes are an improvement, there’s no longer a convoluted scheme were card spend on things other than rent determines how many points you can earn on rent that was harder to decipher than United’s offer to let elites fly to keep their status this year.
Bottom-line: Should You Get The Card?
If you can’t get a Chase card (you’re over 5/24) and you aren’t a homeowner then getting this seems like a no-brainer for earning while paying rent. And once you’re doing that it’s really competitive for your dining spend.
At a minimum, remember what each type of card is for. There are cards you get for the benefits (but don’t necessarily spend money on). There are cards you get for the initial bonus offer (but don’t necessarily spend money on). And there are cards you get for the spend. The Bilt Mastercard is competitive on returns to spend broadly, and a no brainer to get for rent spend provided you rent where you live.
Get other cards for their bonuses, and get this one for your rent. Then once you have it consider whether it’s your strongest dining card. Just make sure to use it at least 5 times a month or your purchases won’t earn points.