Bilt credit card review
Rating as of Jan. 6, 2023 based on a review of services February 1, 2023.
Earn rewards for paying your rent
Get double points on the 1st of each month
Convert points to other rewards programs’ air miles
Paying your rent with a credit card has long been a gray area. Your landlord may not accept credit cards or may tack on an exorbitant fee for processing the card payment.
Enter the Bilt loyalty program and its flagship credit card, the Bilt Rewards Mastercard®. Issued by Wells Fargo, the card enables you to pay and earn points on your rent (and any other expense) without measuring your points up against an annual fee any fees.
It’s safe to say that the Bilt Rewards Mastercard® is a pretty revolutionary product. But you may be thinking: There has to be a catch, right?
Actually, no, there’s no major catch. But you should nonetheless familiarize yourself with all the card’s advantages, and its minor limitations, before you sign up for it.
Pros & cons
- Game-changer for renters — Earn points for your rent payments without paying a huge processing fee.
- Includes some insurance — Limited trip cancellation/interruption, trip delay, rental car, cellphone, and purchase insurance
- Transfer points to airline partners — Transfer options include United, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Aeroplan, etc.
- No annual fee or foreign transaction fees — You can try the card out and use it overseas without racking up fees (provided you pay your balance in full).
- Minimum number of transactions — You must make at least five transactions per statement period in order to earn points.
- Limited redemption options — For instance, you can't redeem your earned points against the card's balance.
- Somewhat limited points-earning potential — Earn rates are ho-hum outside rent and travel purchases.
- No sign-up bonus — There's no short-term punch of value when you first get the card.
- No strong use case for homeowners — Those who don't pay rent can find more lucrative cards elsewhere.
Key features of the Bilt Rewards Mastercard®
- Best for: Any U.S. renter
- Sign-up bonus: N/A
- Rewards rates: 3x points on dining; 2x points on travel; 1x points on rent (up to $50,000 spent per calendar year) and all other purchases
- Regular APR: 19.99% to 27.99%, depending on creditworthiness
- Extra perks: Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection, Cell Phone Coverage, Trip Cancellation, and Delay Insurance, World Elite Mastercard Concierge, Primary Car Rental Coverage
In-depth analysis of the Bilt Rewards Mastercard®
The Bilt loyalty program comprises more than two million affiliated rental properties, known as the Bilt Rewards Alliance. Any U.S. renter can sign up for the program, and members can then pay for their rent seamlessly through the Bilt app.
If your landlord doesn’t participate in the Bilt Rewards Alliance, you’ll need the Bilt Rewards Mastercard® to earn points on your rent. Bilt will directly cut a check to your landlord with no additional fees for you. Then voila, you earn the points.
And if your landlord is affiliated with the program, the Bilt Mastercard® offers a strong value proposition as you’ll earn points even faster (more on that below).
With that said, here’s the lowdown on the no-annual-fee Bilt Mastercard®, a next-generation product with unique features.
The Bilt Mastercard® comes with a 3/2/1 earning rate:
- 3x points on dining
- 2x points on travel
- 1x points on rent (one rent payment per month, up to $50,000 spent each calendar year) and all other purchases
You’ll need to use your card at least five times per month to accrue points for each statement period. Otherwise, you’ll earn 250 points if you pay your rent but are shy of the five-transaction requirement.
But it should be effortless for you to hit this mark. In fact, your transactions can look as simple as this:
|Expense||Points multiplier||Rewards earned|
|$1,800 rent||1x points (rent)||1,800 points|
|$100 electricity bill||1x points (miscellaneous)||100 points|
|$35 Uber ride||2x points (travel)||70 points|
|$4 Starbucks coffee||3x points (dining)||12 points|
|$1 pack of gum at grocery store||1x points (miscellaneous)||1 point|
Boom! That’s almost 2,000 points you earned just by paying rent and random everyday expenses.
After a year at that rate, that’s about 24,000 points — and the more you spend, the more you’ll earn.
You’ll want to follow the essential principles of managing any credit card: Pay off your card balance on time and in full to avoid interest or late fees, or else you’re losing as much as you’re gaining. If you handle your card responsibly you’ll accumulate thousands of points over time.
That’s what I consider (basically) free money. Rent is an expense you already pay for, so why not make every dollar count?
Your points are redeemable for:
- Travel: You can transfer your points to more than 10 airline and hotel loyalty programs. They transfer at a 1:1 ratio, so 1,000 Bilt points equate to 1,000 United MileagePlus® miles, 1,000 IHG® Rewards points, etc.
- Future rent or mortgage: Save up your points toward next month’s rent or for a mortgage as a longer-term goal.
- Fitness classes: Bilt partners with popular studios like SoulCycle and Rumble.
- The Bilt Collection: Bilt has handpicked thousands of items so you can find your next apartment decor or a birthday outfit.
While you can’t redeem for cash back, applying your points toward future rent can help reduce your daily expenses.
Among these options, redeeming for travel is easily the most valuable. You’ll find extraordinary value with programs that do not tie the value of their award bookings directly to the cash price. Our favorites? American Airlines AAdvantage® and World of Hyatt.
Ultimately, we always encourage you to pick the reward that makes the most sense for your lifestyle.
The Bilt Rewards Mastercard® does not come with an introductory bonus.
Instead, this card is focused on the longevity of earning rewards, as rent is likely a years-long expense.
Our two cents: Don’t neglect to apply for this card because of the lack of a sign-up bonus. With no annual fee to worry about, it won’t cost you a dime to keep this card in your wallet in the long run (if you use it responsibly).
In place of a bonus, Bilt offers an elite status program with four tiers. The more you spend on the card, the greater the incentives, such as earning interest on points, access to homeownership advice, and more.
The Bilt Rewards Mastercard®’s purchase and balance transfer APRs will depend on your creditworthiness, charging 19.99%, 22.99%, or 27.99%.
With any credit card, you will want to be diligent about your credit card payments. Miss a payment, and you’ll be hit with a costly APR.
No amount of points is worth racking up credit card debt, particularly when you’re paying rent, which already eats into your budget.
There’s no annual fee to worry about with the Bilt Mastercard®. That means you can focus on paying your rent, dining, travel, and other living expenses without incurring an unnecessary fee.
The other fees on the Bilt Mastercard® seem to be in line with standard credit cards on the market:
- Balance transfer fee: Up to 5% for each balance transfer, with a minimum of $5
- Cash advance fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each advance, whichever is greater
- Late fee: Up to $40
The Bilt Rewards Mastercard® compared
The Bilt Mastercard® is a unicorn offering that doesn’t have much direct competition — yet. Despite this, other compelling cards present alternative benefits (such as a sign-up bonus) that you may want to consider instead.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Credit required: Good to excellent
- Annual fee: $0
- Intro APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
- Regular APR: 19.24% - 27.99% Variable
- Sign-up bonus: Earn an additional 1.5% on all purchases (up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back.
- Rewards: 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
- Perks and benefits: Extended Warranty, Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance, and more.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Credit required: Fair to good
- Annual fee: $39
- Intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 29.74% (Variable)
- Sign-up bonus: N/A
- Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no limit
- Perks and benefits: Automatic Credit Line Reviews, Fraud Coverage
Apply for the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card or learn more by reading our full card review.
Should you get the Bilt Mastercard®?
Until other major credit cards can offer the ability to pay rent without incurring fees, the Bilt Mastercard® is almost certainly the way to go. It’s a great card for renters of any age or income level.
Unfortunately, most applicants who report being approved for the Bilt Mastercard® have a good or excellent credit score. For students with no credit history, you’ll want to apply for a student credit card first to help build that history. For others with less-than-ideal credit, check out secured credit cards to rebuild your score before applying for the Bilt Mastercard®.
Finally, you may wonder if paying rent with your card can negatively impact your credit score. After all, rent can potentially cost thousands of dollars per month, which would normally eat into your credit utilization ratio.
But what’s especially neat about the Bilt Mastercard® is that you can pay your rent without using up your available credit. So long as you automatically sync your bank account, Bilt will pull the cost of rent within 48 hours and not tap into your credit line.
How to apply for the Bilt Rewards Mastercard®
When the Bilt Mastercard® entered the market in the summer of 2021, it was available by invitation only.
That’s changed, as Wells Fargo is now the official issuer of the Bilt Mastercard®. Click here to apply.
When you’re ready, you’ll need to enter an email address and create a password to open your Bilt Rewards account (which you can do without formally applying).
The rest of the application process is straightforward, asking for details like your personal information, annual income, and monthly mortgage or rent payment.
Hopefully, you’ll receive approval from there and will be notified of your credit limit on your new card.
Rent can easily be one of our biggest monthly expenses — and most people get no reward for paying it (aside from keeping a roof over our heads, of course).
That’s why the Bilt Rewards program is such a breath of fresh air. If you’re an American renter who wants to effortlessly earn points toward your next flight, future rent, or mortgage, the Bilt Rewards Mastercard® should be your next card.