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If you rent your home and it’s at all significant (it’s the biggest single expense for many), getting the Bilt Mastercard is an absolute no brainer, right? You can charge your rent to the card at no cost and earn points. Those points transfer to 11 different airline and hotel programs, including American’s and United’s.
They charge your credit card and send your landlord a check if you don’t live in a Bilt-affiliate building where they fund your rent electronically. You can earn up to 50,000 points a year this way, which would cost you $1425 if you used Plastiq to accomplish the same thing. And it’s even a no annual fee card. Plus it earns 3 points per dollar on dining and 2 points per dollar on travel.
I was thinking about who shouldn’t get this card, and I suppose if you own your home (don’t pay rent, and don’t pay a grown child rent) and you already have cards that offer similar earn you should consider whether the annual fee on that current card is worth it. Maybe it is, Bilt isn’t giving you an initial bonus as an inducement to switch.
But for renters, is there anyone at all who shouldn’t get this card?
- Sure, if you’re about to buy a home, probably wait until that process is over to consider it. But that’s someone that’s about to not be a renter, and the mortgage scenario is general advice about waiting to get a card, not about not getting the card (or which one to get).
- Someone ‘preserving’ 5/24 slots for Chase cards. Chase will generally only approve people that have had fewer than 5 new cards in the last 24 months, so getting a new consumer card like this one ‘counts against’ the ability to get a Chase card. In other words there’s a tradeoff so you have to consider which card you want to get, again given the return on rent you may still choose Bilt.
- Someone that has so many cards that they can really just get one more without running into trouble with issuers extending them too much credit and so they have to pick and choose the one best card for their situation. Bilt may still win out, plus it’s now issued by Wells Fargo and points and miles enthusiasts probably don’t have any cards or credit with Wells Fargo.
There are some situations where getting one card precludes you from getting something else, whether it’s the best deal on a mortgage (usually not an issue, but always best to be safe before applying) or another credit card. When there’s a tradeoff you have to consider which choice delivers more value to you. The biggest reason not to get a Bilt card is (a) where there’s a tradeoff, getting the Bilt card means you can’t get another card, and (b) where you can identify a different card that you need even more.
You might say ‘Bilt doesn’t offer an initial bonus while this other card does’ but that’s only an argument not to get the Bilt card if you have to choose one or the other, which you might if you’re trying to preserve a 5/24 ‘slot’ to get a Chase card. But if you’re way over or under 5/24, or you don’t usually get more than 4 cards every couple of years anyway this isn’t an issue.
Now how do you weigh Bilt’s return on rent versus a card with a big initial bonus (if you can’t get both)? You need to have some idea,
- How much you spend on rent?
- How long you’ll be renting for?
If you’re in a big city paying a lot of rent and will max out Bilt’s earning in the category (50,000 points per year) and will rent for 4 years, it’s the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth because it’s 200,000 points you wouldn’t otherwise earn (or if you were using Plastiq.com to charge your rent to another card, it’s saving you ~ $5600 to earn those points).
On the other hand if you pay $400 a month in rent the stakes are much lower. The card is still good, perhaps the best no annual fee consumer travel card out there, but it doesn’t offer the most points on airfare or the most points on dining.