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Bilt Mastercard: Earn travel rewards just by paying rent

Our take: The Bilt Mastercard’s single biggest advantage is the ability to generate points from rent payments. As of June 2023 the median rent in a major U.S. city was $2,029, and if the average renter paid using their Bilt Mastercard instead of a bank transfer, they’d generate nearly $500 in travel rewards each year. 

Plus, if your landlord doesn’t already report your on-time payments to the credit bureaus (most don’t), paying rent through Bilt could actually help to improve your credit. 

On the flip side, the points you accumulate through your Bilt Mastercard aren’t great for cash back. They’re worth more than a cent each when redeemed for travel, fitness classes or a down payment on a home, but less than a point each when redeemed for rent, Amazon or other short-term cash-equivalent options. 

Plus, if you already live at a Bilt Rewards Alliance property (ask your landlord), you can generate points from rent payments by joining Bilt Rewards for free – you don’t need a Bilt Mastercard unless you want the extra points from travel, dining etc. 

All things considered, the Bilt Mastercard is an excellent choice if you’re looking to generate travel rewards or a down payment fund through rent payments. If you’re looking to maximize short-term cash back, however, consider a card with a $200 – $600 cash welcome bonus like the Citi Double Cash Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred. 

Pros

  • Earn points on rent payments with no transaction fees to boot
  • Paying rent through the Bilt Mastercard can help build your credit
  • Includes trip insurance, rental car insurance and cell phone protection
  • Accrued points can generate a trickle of interest like a savings account
  • Points worth over 1 cent each when redeemed for travel or a home down payment
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • No cash welcome bonus like most competing travel rewards cards
  • No introductory 0% APR and regular APR as high as 29.49%
  • Must be used 5 times per month or you’ll earn a flat rate of 250 points for paying rent
  • Points worth less than 1 cent each when redeemed for rent or Amazon purchases
  • Landlords outside the Bilt network may not like Bilt sending checks

Bilt Mastercard Highlights

Card type: Travel

  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 
    • 1X Points on Rent Payments (up to 100k points per year)
    • 2X Points on Travel
    • 3X Points on Dining
    • 1X Points on All Other Purchases
    • Earn 6X on Dining, 4X on Travel and 2X on all other purchases on the 1st of each month

Bilt Mastercard Overview

In many ways, the Bilt Mastercard is the ultimate rewards card for daydreamers. By converting inescapable monthly rent payments into travel rewards, it can send you to the exotic locale featured on your desktop wallpaper without asking you to change your normal spending habits or pay a high annual fee. It can also help you save for a down payment on a house, but more on that in a bit. 

For now, here’s how it all works. 

To start, you were probably already aware that most landlords don’t take credit cards. Those who do usually tack on fees which can add up pretty quickly (e.g. 3% or $54 on $1,800 rent). As an alternative, you can always use a third party service like RadPad, Zego or Plastiq to pay rent using your card, but those apps tend to charge 3%, too. 

Enter the Bilt Mastercard, which lets you pay rent with no transaction fee attached and generate 1X points back while you’re at it. Even if your landlord isn’t part of the 3.5 million-strong Bilt Rewards Alliance, you can still pay rent through Bilt’s mobile app and Bilt will send a check to your landlord on your behalf.

As you accumulate points – either as a Bilt Mastercard holder or a vanilla Bilt Rewards member – you’ll also start to earn status.

  • Blue: Base level
  • Silver: 50,000 points or $10,000 annual Bilt Card spending
  • Gold: 125,000 points or $25,000 annual Bilt Card spending
  • Platinum: 200,000 points or $50,000 annual Bilt Card spending

Once you reach Silver status, you’ll start generating a small trickle of interest on your points total. The interest rate rises with each tier, and once you reach Platinum you’ll also receive a complimentary gift from the Bilt Collection comprising “a curated assortment of home decor and art.” 

But overall, the status rewards are really just a small bonus compared to the ability to pay rent and generate points using your credit card. 

Who is the Bilt Mastercard good for? 

The Bilt Mastercard is best for someone who: 

  • Has good enough credit to apply (670+)
  • Can already afford rent and isn’t worried about missing any payments
  • Rents from a landlord who isn’t part of Bilt Rewards Alliance
  • Would simply like some cash back from regular rent payments

If you rent from a landlord who’s already part of Bilt Rewards Alliance, you can always join Bilt Rewards for free to start earning 1X points on rent payments. 

Who shouldn’t get the Bilt Mastercard? 

It may seem counterintuitive, but the Bilt Mastercard is not ideal for someone struggling to make rent each month. 

That’s because if Bilt pays your landlord and you fail to pay Bilt, the card’s regular APR of up to 29.49% will apply right away to that large unpaid rent balance. And if your financial situation already caused you to miss rent, ~30% interest on a ~$2,000 credit card balance could lead you spiraling into debt. 

Instead, consider seeking rent assistance through debt.org or asking your landlord for a payment plan. Both are far superior alternatives to letting your unpaid rent accrue nearly 30% interest. 

Bilt Mastercard: How to earn rewards

As listed above, the Bilt Mastercard offers the following rewards points categories: 

  • 1X Points on Rent Payments (up to 100k points per year)
  • 2X Points on Travel
  • 3X Points on Dining
  • 1X Points on All Other Purchases
  • Earn 6X on Dining, 4X on Travel and 2X on all other purchases on the 1st of each month

These rewards categories reinforce that the Bilt Mastercard is more of a lifestyle/travel rewards card than a daily-use cashback card. The fact that it also rewards discretionary spending on the day rent is due should further drive home the point – this card isn’t designed to help you make rent. 

But as long as you apply the card for its intended use – converting rent payments into travel rewards – it could be a rewarding addition to your wallet. 

How to redeem Bilt Mastercard rewards 

Bilt currently offers the following redemption categories for Bilt Rewards points. Whether you have a Bilt Mastercard or just a regular Bilt Rewards account, the points go into the same bucket and have the same redemption options (unless otherwise stated). 

  • Rent
  • Home down payments
  • Travel
  • Dining
  • Fitness
  • Rideshare
  • Amazon purchases (Bilt Mastercard holders only)
  • The Bilt Collection (mostly home decor by Bilt-selected artists)

Redemption values vary by category. The highest, according to various estimates, is travel at roughly 2 cents a pop. 

That means if you pay your $1,800 rent using your Bilt Mastercard each month, you could generate 21,600 points per year worth ~$432 when transferred to one of Bilt’s travel partners. Add in your other rewards categories (e.g. 3X on Dining, 1X on all other purchases) and the Bilt Mastercard could easily generate a $500 annual travel fund for you to spend on flights, hotels and fancy food. 

Here’s a list of Bilt’s current travel partners as of Q4 2023 (you can see the most up-to-date list here): 

Airlines:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage
  • Avianca Lifemiles 
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue®
  • Virgin Red®
  • Emirates Skywards®
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Iberia Plus
  • Air Canada Aeroplan®

Hotels:

  • Marriott Bonvoy™
  • World of Hyatt®
  • IHG® One Rewards

If you’re thinking more about your dream home than your dream vacation, you can also apply points towards a mortgage down payment. The current conversion rate is ~1.5 cents each, meaning five years of making $1,800 rent payments could generate 108,000 points worth $1,620 towards a down payment. 

Plus, those regular on-time payments to your Bilt Mastercard can greatly help to improve your credit score while you save, which in turn can help you secure a lower interest rate on your mortgage.

Unfortunately, the redemption rates for rent and Amazon are valued at between a half cent and 0.7 cents each. When you combine that with a lack of a cash welcome bonus (like the $600 offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred), the Bilt Mastercard is certainly not ideal for generating short-term cash back. 

Bilt Mastercard rates and fees

The Bilt Mastercard’s rates and fees are pretty standard for a travel rewards card. That said, the three standouts are no annual fee (uncommon for travel rewards), no foreign transaction fee and regular APR up to 29.49%. For context, that’s nearly as high as many card issuer’s penalty APR (29.99%), so you definitely don’t want to miss a payment on your Bilt Mastercard. 

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: $0
  • Purchase APR: 21.49%, 24.49%, or 29.49%, based on your creditworthiness and variable based on the current U.S. Prime Rate

Additional benefits

Finally, the Bilt Mastercard offers a generous suite of travel-centric benefits ranging from travel insurance to cell phone protection. Here’s a full breakdown: 

  • Cell phone protection covering up to $800 worth of damage or theft of your cell phone, minus a $25 deductible per claim.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption reimbursement offering up to $5,000 in reimbursement if your trip is canceled or interrupted by a covered reason.
  • Trip delay protection covering your meals and other expenses if your trip is delayed longer than six hours.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver which offers collision or theft of your rental car so you can decline certain coverage at the rental car counter.
  • No foreign transaction fees on overseas purchases converted to USD.
  • $5 Lyft credit after taking three rides in one calendar month.
  • Purchase security covering theft or damage of a purchase up to $10,000 within 90 days of purchase. 

For comparison, many top-tier travel cards don’t offer benefits this strong, and many of those charge an annual fee to boot. 

Credit cards similar to Bilt Mastercard

Even though the Bilt Mastercard is pretty unique in its ability to convert rent payments to travel rewards, there are still other options out there for maximizing travel rewards or saving on rent in general. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Bilt Mastercard

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or “CSP” is many traveler’s go-to choice for maximizing flight, hotel and dining rewards. Its chief advantage over the Bilt Mastercard and most other travel rewards cards is its 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. But if you book travel using points instead of cash, you’ll still get a 1.25X points multiplier – meaning your 60,000-point welcome bonus could be worth a whopping $750. 

The CSP does command a $95 annual fee, but if you’re looking to accumulate travel rewards much faster, it’s a superior substitute – or a great companion – to the Bilt Mastercard. 

Citi Double Cash vs. Bilt Mastercard

If you’re purely looking to save money on rent or life in general, the Citi Double Cash card is a better option than the Bilt Mastercard. 

The card has a lower minimum credit required to apply (~630 versus 670), offers 2X cash back on every purchase (1X when you buy, 1X when you pay it off) and currently offers a $200 cash welcome bonus if you spend a reasonable $1,500 within six months of account opening. 

Unlike the Bilt Mastercard, the Citi Double Cash card doesn’t reward you for paying rent – but it rewards you more in general for everyday purchases. 

That all being said, it might not be an either-or situation – if you devote a large portion of your income to rent, it could benefit you to have both the Bilt Mastercard and the Citi Double Cash card. You can use the former for rent (and at least five purchases per month to trigger your rewards), and the latter for everyday purchases. That way, your Bilt Mastercard will generate enough travel rewards to pay for a plane ticket home for the holidays, while your Citi Double Cash can help you make rent in the first place. 

Is the Bilt Mastercard right for you?

If you pay rent, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll benefit from using the Bilt Mastercard. 

Roughly speaking, every $100 you pay in rent each month could generate up to $25 worth of travel rewards each year. So if you pay $2,000 in rent like the median renter in a U.S. city, you could generate $500 in travel rewards out of thin air by switching to the Bilt Mastercard. 

The only major drawback to consider is that if you miss a payment, Bilt (or, more accurately, Wells Fargo) will apply a dangerous 29.49% interest rate to your unpaid rent. So don’t let Bilt pay your rent unless you’re absolutely sure you can pay off your card right away. And if you can’t, help is out there. 

If you’re not concerned about making rent, the Bilt Mastercard can be an excellent addition to your wallet—even if you only use it for rent. Just be sure to put at least five charges on it each month to ensure you qualify for rent rewards. 

Frequently asked questions

How much can I save/earn each month paying rent with a Bilt Mastercard instead of by check or bank transfer? 

The Bilt Mastercard offers 1X points on rent payments, meaning $2,000 rent could generate 24,000 points per year. Those points in turn could be worth $360 when applied to a home down payment or roughly $480 when transferred to one of Bilt’s travel partners. 

Will paying rent with a Bilt Mastercard help to build my credit? 

Making regular on-time payments to any credit card account can help build positive credit and the Bilt Mastercard is no exception. The reason paying rent by check or bank transfer doesn’t build credit is because most landlords don’t report it to the credit agencies. 

Will I earn points by paying my mortgage with a Bilt Mastercard?

No, although Bilt says it’s considering that option in the future. For now, points only apply to rent payments on a single property every 30 days. 

Can I earn points on rent payments to multiple properties? 

No. You can only earn points by paying rent on a single property every 30 days. 

Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.

Bilt Mastercard: Earn travel rewards just by paying rent

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