The Biggest Reason Not To Get A New Credit Card (How Many Of You Does This Apply To?)

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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.

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 »

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Comments

  1. For anyone interested in an unbiased review: I’m a Bilt cardholder and think the service felt like it was still in beta when they first launched but that they’ve come a long way and are doing a great job now. A no AF fee card that gives 3x on dining and has valuable transfer partners is strong. Admittedly I’m in a sweet spot rent-wise to max out the yearly points (my rent is $4000). But the biggest win (which Gary doesn’t mention) is that they recently figured out how to generate an ACH and routing number that’s tied to your card. I use clickpay to pay rent electronically via ACH and really chafed back when Bilt was still only doing rent payments by check. I hated having to annoy my landlord a few times every month asking if they got my check ok or not. So just know if you have the option to pay rent electronically via ACH with no fees, you can do so with your card. You add the virtual account number and routing and the payment shows up on your card. If you’re not saving a 5/24 spot and are a renter, I think this card is a no brainer. Just my two cents

  2. @ Matt: did you have to call them to get the ACH and routing number? I’m assuming so cause I’ve been poking in the app after reading your comment but can’t seem to find it.

  3. What types of credit limit do they give? My office rent is $25k a month I suppose I can give my employees “free” points if I reimburse them when they use this card to pay my rent lol

  4. Another thing to consider for “Bilt’s return on rent versus a card with a big initial bonus (if you can’t get both)” decision is how stable Bilt’s rewards program is. We’ve seen a lot of fintech companies fold / cut benefits. If if will take one 2-3 yrs to earn the amount in rewards comparable to the big initial bonus, ho confident are you that Bilt points will have the same value two year from now?

  5. @Gavin: go in the app, “Pay Rent” tab, “view setup instructions”. It’s in there a few swipes in for me

    Dima: good point but I’m willing to give it a shot, you can do other bonuses at the same time. Doesn’t have to be one or the other necessarily 🙂

  6. @Matt: absolutely, as Gary pointed out this is only relevant to those who care about 5/24 slots. If you don’t, there’s very little downside to getting Bilt card.

  7. Like millions of homeowners I pay $0 rent so I have 0 reasons to get this card and use a 5/24 slot. It is even less useful than the X1 card

  8. How does Bilt know that you’re paying rent and not HOA fees, maintainance, or a mortgage?

  9. @ As a non-renter with lots of great cards and always switching for a new SUB, this card is pretty much useless.

  10. Again,
    How does Bilt know if you’re paying rent? For example, me paying my own real estate LLC?

  11. A lot of renters pay their landlords through Zelle or equivalent, so Bilt can’t really overcome that convenience for both sides.

  12. Pete, Bilt is only for residential rent and not commercial rent. The number of points garnered from rent is capped at 50k per year.

  13. Oh, I don’t rent, so this card is not for me. But, I don’t rent, so this card is not for me. However, I don’t rent, so this card is not for me. Yeah, fine, I don’t rent, so this card is not for me.

    Look, this card is essentially the Chase Sapphire Preferred without an annual fee. Reward structure.
    Transfer partners. Etc. Excluding Loyalty Points, this is perhaps the best AA credit card on the market. Then thrown in double points on the first of the month (up to 10k extra points).

  14. Got this recently after reading about this repeatedly on this blog (I guess Gary got some $ off me) and so far it’s been pretty good. Living in a HCOL area, my rent is significant and my current landlord does not take credit card, so there was no way for me to earn points easily and for free off this spend without this card.

    If you don’t use BiltProtect Debit, your rent payment counts as one of the 5 monthly transactions. My landlord charges a “convenience fee” for paying online, and that amount, which posts as a separate transaction, also counts towards the 5 monthly required transactions. Simple 50 cent Amazon reloads can let you meet the minimum monthly transaction requirements for basically free (and Amazon credit is pretty much the same as money for me) and for those who don’t want to worry about remembering, you can set up a 5 dollar (minimum for automated reloads) reload weekly to meet the transaction requirements.

    Not sure if this is for everyone or just a temporary promotion, but when I received the card they offered 5 days of 5x points on everything (up to $10k spend). They offer a small amount of points for linking your frequent flier/hotel rewards program accounts to your Bilt account (you don’t need a credit card to do this, I believe).

    Overall, for a free card, 3x on dining and getting points on my rent is pretty valuable and I don’t churn cards often enough for 5/24 or anything like that to be a factor. I guess the only concern is whether the points should be left as-is in the Bilt account since, unlike CSR or Amex points, there’s perhaps more of a risk that Bilt might go out of business, which might make the points worthless.

  15. If Bilt allows mortgage payments with this card, this will be a no-brainer keeper card; $0 AF, up to 50k transferable points/year and 3x on restaurants! Just need a sign up bonus

  16. This card is fantastic, and the program gets better every month. The travel bonus category is the biggest weakness of the Bilt card as a standalone product, as it is too narrow for a travel-focused card, but I also have the Amex Green and Sapphire Preferred, so it’s not an issue personally. The Bilt Rent Day points boost is smartly done, and it is easy to set up and automate multiple payment options via mail, online portal, or PayPal. The Bilt Mastercard is an absolute no-brainer AFTER getting the Chase or Citi trifecta, and is definitely worth a 5/24 slot after the initial batch. You can make up the lack of a SUB in only a few months, in the background (I got the Bilt, Hilton Surpass, and the Amex Green nearly back to back, since the latter two have a spending requirement and this one doesn’t, so the lack of a SUB was a total nothing burger, compared to the opportunity cost of thousands of rent dollars going out unrewarded every month).

    Then again, some of us don’t have difficulty walking and chewing gum at the same time…lol

  17. GARY!!! Add a section on double points on the first of the month . . . up to 10k extra points per month . . . up to 120k extra points per year. This is like a locked in retention bonus.

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