Inside The Launch Party For Bilt Rewards And Wells Fargo With Wyclef Jean And A$AP Rocky

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The Bilt Mastercard has no annual fee and lets you earn up to 50,000 transferable points per year paying rent – a spending category you generally can’t earn points on with any other card without paying a service like Plastiq 2.85%. Not only that but the card earns double points on travel and triple points on dining, and both United and American (and Hyatt, among others) are transfer partners.

Last night I attended the Bilt-Wells Fargo event in New York City at Summit One Vanderbilt celebrating the launch of their new partnership.


Bilt Rewards Founder Ankur Jain Welcoming Guests


Bilt Stage

This milestone was significant for both for several reasons.

  • Bilt Rewards is unique, one of the first really new ideas in loyalty in a long time. And their credit card is innovative too – high value, high rewards, no annual fee and offers the ability to earn points paying rent with no cost.

  • But Bilt hasn’t been able to scale its credit card portfolio. They had a wait list. People could not apply. Wells Fargo solves that for them. Wells is able to handle the scale and volume that makes the Bilt Rewards Mastercard broadly available.

  • This also gives Wells Fargo a really valuable co-brand card and really valuable travel card, which is something they’ve been lacking.

  • Wells Fargo is a huge bank, but hasn’t had a real presence in co-brand credit cards. This puts them on the map. And it gives what’s traditional seen as a staid, conservative bank a product to reach younger affluent consumers. (Bilt has a presence in the major corporate-owned high rise buildings across the U.S.)

  • With Wells behind them, Bilt Rewards shifts from being a small upstart to a major player positioned to compete with Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards.


View From Summit One

Bilt Rewards is a strong product, but the Wells Fargo partnership makes them a much bigger deal. Wells Fargo is a big bank, but the Bilt partnership gives them an important presence in co-brand and travel. So I wanted to show up for the launch.

Plus I know many of the people involved. On the Wells side their cobrand team is being led by Dan Dougherty who ran the portfolio at Barclays and used to run the Southwest Airlines co-brand at Chase. I’ve known Richard Kerr at Bilt for a long time (the Award Travel 101 Facebook group and The Points Guy) and the head of the loyalty program is Dave Canty who ran loyalty at IHG and JetBlue. I got to know Bilt’s founder Ankur Jain last fall. So I wanted to cheer them on.

The evening was a great opportunity to see old friends.

And the big draws were entertainers Wyclef Jean and A$AP Rocky, though many of the guests were well-known too like Dr. Oz and Mayor Adams. I had to Google who A$AP Rocky was.


A$AP Rocky

I did not, however, have to Google Wyclef Jean.

The Bilt launch event was a lot of fun – and very cool to be there with Wyclef Jean, A$AP Rocky, Mayor Adams and Dr. Oz – but even cooler is that Wells Fargo has a genuine top travel card and has entered the co-brand space with some thunder.

While Bilt is a product that gives consumers something they cannot get anywhere else (free points-earning for their biggest expense) in a no annual fee top travel card to boot.

Bilt Mastercard

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. If I was a financial institution throwing a launch party, I would maybe not have the marquee performer be someone credibly accused of having millions of dollars from his charity mismanaged and illegally directed to himself, his family, and his friends.

  2. Dr. Oz WTF!!??
    I don’t think having a syshter huckster at your event helps your brand.
    Did he try to sell you some weird pills?

  3. Gary, did you pay for the travel/lodgings? Did Bilt pick some of the travel cost?

    Did you do the thing where Bilt paid for the trip and you made a tax deductible donation for the value you received?

    Last time you did something like this you were transparent about the freebies.

  4. A$AP Rocky, Mayor Adams and Dr. Oz

    The great rapper Felonious Assault was unable to perform due to a previous engagement

  5. BILT is being touted primarily for rent payments–which leaves homeowners out in the cold?

  6. @Ex-UA Plat – I don’t know Gary’s situation on this, however, as a Bilt cardmember I received an email invite to this. I have no other relationship to the company. In my case last year I spent to their Platinum level, so maybe invite was targeted to that or more broad.

  7. It’s an awesome products for our customers. So proud of the team have made a successfully implementation.

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