Paying your rent with a credit card has long been a gray area. Your landlord may not accept them or may tack on an unnecessary fee.
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 incurring 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?
Here’s our full review of the Bilt Rewards Mastercard® — and you’ll soon realize this is a must-have card for any renter.
Key facts of the Bilt Rewards Mastercard®
- Best for – Any U.S. renter.
- Signup bonus – N/A.
- Cash back – 3x points on dining, 2x points on travel, 1x points on rent (up to $50,000 per calendar year), and all other purchases.
- Intro APR – N/A.
- Regular APR – 16.49% to 24.49%.
- Perks and unique features – 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. 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 low-down 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 (up to 50,000 points 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:
Boom! That’s almost 2,000 points you earned just by paying rent and random everyday expenses.
After a year, 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 your statement credit 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, over time, you will have accumulated thousands of points.
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 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. After all, it’s better to use up your points than never to use them at all.
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 signup 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.
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 APR will depend on your creditworthiness, charging 16.49%, 19.49%, or 24.49%.
With almost 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 other options on the market:
- Balance transfer fee: Up to 5% for each balance transfer, with a minimum of $5.
- Balance transfer APR: Depends on your creditworthiness, but ranges from 16.49% to 24.49%.
- Cash advance fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each advance, whichever is greater.
- Late fee: Up to $40.
Pros & cons of the Bilt Rewards Mastercard®
- Earn bonus points on rent, travel, and dining: If you’re like any 20- or 30-something, these purchases likely make up a significant part of your budget.
- Top-tier redemption options: Save up for your next rent check or for a future mortgage, or redeem your points for travel, fitness classes, and more.
- No pesky fees: Paying rent with this card won’t cost you extra, nor is there an annual fee. Oh, and foreign transaction fees are entirely waived, making this card perfect for your international travels.
- Complimentary purchase and travel protections: The Bilt Mastercard® is like a form of insurance in itself, as you’ll receive trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, rental car coverage, cell phone insurance, and more.
- No signup bonus: This card won’t offer you a swanky bonus as a new cardholder.
- Rent earnings are capped at $50,000 per calendar year: If your monthly rent exceeds ~$4,167, you won’t earn more points past the annual limit.
- You can’t earn points for your mortgage or as a foreign renter: For now, the Bilt program is only available for U.S. renters (and not mortgage holders or foreign renters).
- You have to use the card five times per month before accruing points: Your points won’t be added to your balance until you make at least five monthly transactions, but other routine purchases should help you reach the finish line.
- You’ll need good or excellent credit to qualify: You’ll need to have a strong payment history and good credit to apply, narrowing the window for those who qualify.
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 comparable key benefits (such as a signup bonus) that you may want to consider.
- Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards review
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® 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.
This is a fantastic card for renters of any age. Even better, you’ll build your credit with good payment habits — all for no annual fee.
Unfortunately, the Bilt Mastercard® requires applicants to have a good or excellent credit score already. 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 easily cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, potentially eating 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 all has changed, as Wells Fargo is now the official issuer of the Bilt Mastercard®. Applications are now available to the general public here.
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 your biggest monthly expenses — and most people often get no reward for paying it. (Of course, paying rent keeps a roof over your head, but I’m talking about credit card rewards.)
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.
Featured image: Victoria 1/Shutterstock.com
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