Bilt Rewards Mastercard: Earn Points For Paying Rent

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Bilt Rewards is a new loyalty program generating buzz for letting folks “earn points for paying rent” and using those to points to “save up for a house downpayment”. Count me a bit skeptical, as historically “rent-to-own” agreements are usually tilted heavily in favor of the landlords, not the renters. Let’s try to break down all the various parts of this program.

Bilt has partnered with the owners of over 2,000,000 apartment units to create the Bilt Rewards Alliance. You can see the full list of owners below, but if you’re not sure if “Artemis Real Estate Partners” owns your apartment complex, you can just type in your address into the Bilt app.

Bilt Rewards Alliance property resident can get a flat 250 points a month for paying rent via Bilt without a credit card. If you use the rough value estimate of 1 cent a point, that’s $2.50 a month. Not exactly home downpayment money!

You’ll need to apply for the Bilt Rewards Mastercard to earn any significant amount of rewards. Here are the highlights:

  • Up to 2X points spent on rent, depending on the size of your non-rent spending. Maximum of 4,000 points per month earned on rent purchases.
  • 1X points on all other spending.
  • You get to pay your rent on this credit card with no transaction fees, to ANY landlord. If needed, Bilt will snail mail a check to your landlord.
  • No annual fee.
  • World Elite Mastercard perks like cell phone insurance and purchase protection.

Bilt Mastercard Status Tiers

  • Blue: $250 in non-rent purchases in a month, you’ll get 0.5 points per $1 spent on rent.
  • Silver: $1,000 in non-rent purchases in a month, you’ll get 1 point per $1 spent on rent.
  • Gold: At $2,000 in non-rent purchases in a month, you’ll get 1.5 points per $1 spent on rent.
  • Platinum: At $3,500 in non-rent purchases in a month, you’ll get 2 points per $1 spent on rent.

Sample points-earning scenarios These calculations take into account that you normally wouldn’t charge your rent on credit card due to the usual 3% transaction fee. Thus, you’d only earn credit card rewards on your non-rent spend.

  • If you spent at least $2,000 on rent and $3,500 on non-rent in a month, you would end up earning 4,000 + 3,500 points = 7,500 points on $3,500 of non-rent spending. That works out to 2.14 points per dollar spend on non-rent. Over the span of a year, you’d earn 90,000 points ($900 at 1 cent per point value.)
  • If you spent at least $2,666 on rent and $2,000 on non-rent in a month, you would end up earning 4,000 + 2,000 points = 6,000 points on $2,000 of non-rent spending. That works out to 3 points per dollar spend on non-rent. Over the span of a year, you’d earn 72,000 points ($720 at 1 cent per point value.)
  • If you spent at least $4,000 on rent and $1,000 on non-rent in a month, you would end up earning 4,000 + 1,000 points = 5,000 points on $1,000 of non-rent spending. That works out to 5 points per dollar spend on non-rent.
  • If you spent at least $8,000 on rent and $250 on non-rent in a month, you would end up earning 4,000 + 250 points = 4,250 points on $250 of non-rent spending. That works out to 17 points per dollar spend on non-rent.

These are the optimal rewards percentages for each tier. If you spend enough on rent anyway, this card could offer an overall rewards percentage that is better than your current card. However, it still depends on your spending patterns. It is possible that you end up earning less than competitive reward cards like a 2% cash back or 2X points on everything card.

For example, if you pay $1,000 a month in rent and charge $750 a month on non-rent, you would earn 500 + 750 = 1,250 points on $750 of non-rent spending, that works out to 1.67 points per dollar spend on non-rent. It is not quite a “no-brainer” for every renter.

Bilt Rewards Points redemption options

Travel partners. Bilt Rewards points transfer on a 1:1 basis to the following hotel and airline partners. Minimum transfer amount is 5,000 points.

  • World of Hyatt points
  • American AAdvantage miles
  • Hawaiian Airlines miles
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Emirates Skywards
  • FlyingBlue (Air France/KLM)
  • Miles & Smiles (Turkish Airlines)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hyatt hotel points, American miles, and Hawaiian miles are likely the most useful points for the average US traveler. I am conservative when valuing points and miles due to their redemption hassles and steady threat of devaluation, so I would place the value here a 1 cent a point even though my goal is to exceed that with good timing and luck. You may wish to use a different value, higher or lower.

Home Downpayment + a catch? Bilt will let you convert points towards a home downpayment at “up to 1.5 cents a point”, which sounds promising, but this CNBC article says it is contingent on Bilt providing the financing. That could be a huge catch. I’m not allowed to shop for the best mortgage rate? I could lose out on tens of thousands of interest over 30 years in order to cash out points for what might be only an incremental few hundred dollars over just transferring to hotel points/airline miles. I would need more clarification on this redemption option before valuing these points at more than 1 cent a point.

Rent. Bilt will let you convert points towards your next rent payment at 0.55 cents per points. This is not a good redemption rate when compared to the miles/Hyatt option. It’s too bad there is no easy, decent cash-out option.

Other options include fitness classes or physical items like “limited-edition” home decor or art in the “Bilt Collection” catalog.

Bilt Rewards Alliance Members
The Blackstone Group
The Related Companies
Equity Residential
GID
AvalonBay Communities, Inc.
Camden Property Trust
Cushman & Wakefield
Trammell Crow Residential
Highmark Residential
AMLI Residential
Morgan Properties
SL Green Realty Corp.
Starwood Capital Group
LivCor
The Moinian Group
Veritas Investments
Artemis Real Estate Partners

Possibly improve your credit score? As you are now charging your rent on a credit card, your on-time payment activity gets automatically reported to the three major credit bureaus. In addition, with the optional “BiltProtect” feature, your rent payments will be immediately withdrawn from a linked bank account so your credit limit is not decreased (and ideally your rent won’t contribute to your credit card debt).

Not live just yet! The main issue right now is that it is not open to everyone. If you are a renter at a Bilt Rewards Alliance property, you should sign up for their waitlist and they expect to onboard you within the next 6 months. For everyone else that rents, you’ll have to wait even longer.

Bottom line. The Bilt Rewards Mastercard offers a unique rewards structure targeted specifically at renters. They start out the gates with some well-known travel redemption partners in World of Hyatt hotels, American Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines. If you are a renter, especially with higher rental amounts, you should definitely run the numbers and hope it rolls out successfully to all renters. My feeling is that the rewards are actually too good to last in some cases.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

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