Are you earning credit card points on your largest monthly expense? If you’re going to pay rent anyway, let’s talk about a credit card that could turn those regular transactions into points you can put toward flights or hotel stays. This is another great way to conquer the credit card points game.
For a lot of us, rent is a mandatory expense, and for the longest time, there was not an easy way to use your credit card to pay for rent without paying unreasonable fees to do so. Thankfully, this has changed, and if you own your home, hang with me anyway. This service is planning on making mortgage payments a part of their infrastructure, so there is a lot more to be gained on this credit card in the long-term.
The links to the Bilt Rewards are affiliate links. I’ve been using the platform for seven months now and can attest to its legitimacy and ease of use. If you grab the Bilt Mastercard, you too can earn 2,500 bonus points for every referral.
What is Bilt Rewards?
You may have heard of premium travel cards, cash back cards, and the dizzying array of co-branded cards that reward your loyalty to hotels, airlines, food delivery services, wholesale clubs, retail stores, and payment processors like Venmo. But there were no rewards for paying your monthly rent, typically your most expensive monthly charge. Sure, some people were using platforms like Plastiq to pay for rent, but that option required a 2 to 3 percent transaction fee, and you know how I feel about wasting your money on unnecessary fees. Besides, Plastiq recently filed for bankruptcy. The company will supposedly continue under new management, and although they claim they will run the service at lower fees, any unnecessary fee is still unacceptable.
And then, there was Bilt Rewards.
Bilt Rewards launched in June 2021 and is a loyalty program for property renters to earn points on rent with no fees. With the housing market putting homeownership out of reach for many of us, it’s likely we’ll be paying rent for a while–though Ankur Jain, the entrepreneur behind Bilt Rewards, believes the platform will follow us into homeownership. Jain has aspirations of Bilt Rewards eventually serving as a mortgage provider.
How Bilt Rewards Works
Anyone can download the Bilt Rewards app. If your property belongs to the Bilt Alliance, you can earn 250 points for paying your rent through the app and slowly accumulate loyalty points, but in order to unlock the program’s full potential, you need to get the Bilt Mastercard. That sounds like a glaring caveat. Hang in there. I promise this medicine will go down easy.
For my credit card skeptics, remember credit cards are not evil. In fact, as far as credit cards go, the Bilt Mastercard could work well as a daily driver. There is no annual fee to keep the card, so already this is looking better and better.
Here’s the earning structure for the Bilt Mastercard:
- 3x points for every $1 on dining
- 2x points for every $1 on travel
- 1x point for every $1 on rent
- 1x point for every $1 on all other everyday spend transactions
Bilt Rewards gives you a checking account number and routing number your property can use to withdraw funds through an ACH transaction. This is how you avoid paying transaction fees. I’ve now used this payment method for the past seven months and have not experienced any issues. I pay on the 1st of the month using the saved bank account information, and the transaction registers on my credit card statement three days later.
Best of all, because my building puts the rent and utilities into one bill, I get reward points for the entire monthly amount.
What’s the Catch?
We’ve already talked about one of them. If you don’t get the Bilt Mastercard, you can only earn 250 points for the rent transaction for a total of 3,000 points a year, even if you pay $1,000 in rent. In order to get the full amount for that transactions, you need to get the Bilt Mastercard.
Also, you need to have at least five transactions in a billing cycle in order to get the full points for the rent transaction. This put me off at first. Honestly, it’s why I dragged my feet about applying, but then I considered the automatic payments I was making anyway.
Here’s what I automatically charge to the card to meet the five-transaction minimum:
- Monthly rent, because paying your rent counts as one of the five transactions
- Cell phone bill, because Bilt Rewards has good cell phone insurance
- Web hosting fee, because it’s such a small fee anyway
Aira, a visual interpreting service for blind and low vision customers
Umm, Joe, that’s only four transactions…
Listen, I want to make sure you’re paying attention!
For the moment, I’m leaving my fifth transaction open for Rent Day.
What is Rent Day?
Rent Day occurs the 1st of the month. It runs from 12:00 AM Eastern time and runs through 11:59 Pacific time, so if you live on the east coast, take advantage of those three extra hours to pick up some late night snacks or book some flights!
Two things happen on Rent Day.
First, during Rent Day, the earning structure doubles your spending categories:
- 6X on dining
- 4X on travel
- 2X on everything else, except rent payments
There is a 10,000-point cap. If you do the math, this translates to a maximum of $1,666.66 spend on dining, $2,500 on travel, and $5,000 on everything else or any combination of those categories.
Second, Bilt Rewards extends a special contest or offer for all program participants. In July 2023, for example, program participants received a $10 credit with Lyft. Bilt Mastercard holders received a $20 credit and received an extra $5 credit if you took Lyft on July 1st.
In June 2023 Bilt Rewards teamed up with Virgin, Emirates, and Lyft to offer a variety of bonuses just for solving puzzles on the app.
In May 2023 members were given the opportunity to transfer Bilt Rewards to Flying Blue at twice their value.
And there are usually trivia games on the app and opportunities to enter contests to have your rent paid for. In a weird sort of way, Bilt has made owning this card something kind of fun.
Bilt Rewards Frequently Asked questions
Here are some key questions I needed to satisfy for myself before signing up and making this recommendation for you.
Does my landlord need to belong to the Bilt Alliance?
No. My property does not belong to the Alliance, and I’m still generating the bonus points. My property uses RentCafe for its payment portal. ClickPay and others work too.
What if my landlord does not accept electronic payments?
Bilt will give you the option to pay by card, ACH, or check. Just make sure you give yourself enough leeway for the check to arrive by mail.
Is there a welcome bonus?
Oh, you paid attention to last week’s post!
For some time now, new card holders have received an invitation to earn 5X on all purchases, except rent, for the first five days for a total of 50,000 points. If you do the math, that works out to $10,000. If you’re in school, you could easily use the card to pay for tuition, books, or fees. If you’re moving, you could use the opportunity to pay for those related expenses. As with any other credit card welcome bonus, it’s a good idea to time your card application with a large purchase so you can easily meet the welcome bonus without breaking a sweat.
Bilt Rewards has also ran promotions such as 5X anywhere on Black Friday. This past summer they were giving away 5X on spend via Uber Eats. It’s important to pay attention to the promotional emails they periodically host to make sure you’re maximizing your earning power.
What are the card perks?
- Transfer points 1 to 1 to airline and hotel programs (including American Airlines, United, Hyatt, Aeroplan, and more)
- access to the Point.me engine to search for available awards with Bilt’s 12 transfer partners (no Point.me subscription required)
- Redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards travel booked through Bilt’s travel portal
- Cell phone insurance
- Primary rental car insurance
- Purchase protection ($10K/item, $50K/year)
- Travel insurance
- No fee to pay rent and earn rewards
Is Bilt Rewards accessible for blind and low vision users?
The iOS app is mostly accessible. Don’t rely on swiping to find all the screen components though. You’ll be better off learning the position of specific tabs and activating them that way.
There is a website; however, most of what you’ll want is found in the app.
To make payments, I’ve found going through the Wells Fargo app to be more streamlined, and that’s true for all users, not just blind ones. The Wells Fargo app is very accessible.
I’ve previously addressed the subject of why paying rent doesn’t have to be as bad as people say. Now there’s a way to even maximize what will, for most of us, be the largest financial transaction on a monthly basis. If you’re going to pay the man, or woman, you may as well earn a little extra incentive on the side. As ridiculous as rent is getting, why not earn some credit toward a future trip?
What are you thinking? Thumbs up? Heck no? Leave your thoughts in the comments! And if sounds helpful, apply for the card today!