The Bilt Mastercard® is an innovative no annual fee card that virtually anyone who pays rent in the United States should consider picking up (and maybe even others). I wanted to take an updated look at it, to reflect the current value proposition of this unique product.
In this post:
The basic value proposition of the Bilt Mastercard
The no annual fee Bilt Mastercard is issued by Wells Fargo. The card has lucrative bonus categories, and earns points that can be transferred to popular airline and hotel partners. Beyond that, the card offers some amazing benefits for a no annual fee card, ranging from cell phone protection to rental car coverage.
But the truly unique feature of the card — and really the fundamental value proposition — involves the ability to pay rent with the card with no fee, all while earning rewards.
That’s right, you can pay your rent with no fee even if your landlord doesn’t accept credit card payments, or would otherwise charge a fee. For many people that probably sounds too good to be true, so let’s dig a bit deeper.
Earning points with the Bilt Mastercard
The Bilt Mastercard earns the following rewards when you have at least five posted transactions per billing cycle:
- 3x points on dining
- 2x points on travel
- 1x points on rent payments without any transaction fees, up to a limit of 100,000 points per year
- 1x points on everything else
The card also has no foreign transaction fees and is a World Elite Mastercard, so has great global acceptance, and is a good card to use abroad (especially given that for many, a lot of foreign spending is on dining and travel). On top of that, Bilt has a Rent Day promotion on the first day of each month, whereby you can earn double points on many payments.
Redeeming points with the Bilt Mastercard
The concept of earning 1-3x points per dollar spent sounds great, but how can you actually redeem points earned with the Bilt Mastercard? While there are a variety of ways to redeem points (ranging from experiences to merchandise), those of us in the travel space will probably be most interested in the ability to transfer these points to airline and hotel partners.
Bilt has the following 15 travel transfer partners, all offering 1:1 transfers:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- American AAdvantage
- British Airways Executive Club
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Iberia Plus
- IHG One Rewards
- Marriott Bonvoy (If you transfer 20k points, you’ll receive 25k Marriott Bonvoy points)
- Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- World of Hyatt
These transfer partners are competitive with what you’ll find with major transferable points currencies. What some might find most exciting is the World of Hyatt partnership, as well as the American AAdvantage partnership. That’s because the former only otherwise partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, while the latter doesn’t otherwise partner with any major transferable points currencies. There are of course many great uses of World of Hyatt points and American AAdvantage miles.
Bilt Mastercard perks & benefits
The Bilt Mastercard offers some incredible benefits on account of being a World Elite Mastercard, which you won’t find with many other no annual fee cards. Among other things, the Bilt Mastercard offers:
- A cell phone protection benefit — pay your monthly cell phone bill with the Bilt Mastercard, and you’ll get up to $800 in protection (subject to a $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft
- Primary rental car coverage — receive auto coverage for covered damage due to collision or theft for most rental cars when you pay for the transaction with the Bilt Mastercard
- Trip delay reimbursement — get reimbursed for expenses incurred when your trip is delayed more than six hours due to reasons like inclement weather, mechanical breakdown, etc.
- Trip cancellation & interruption coverage — get up to $5,000 reimbursement for non-refundable passenger fare if your trip is interrupted or canceled for a covered reason when you book with your Bilt Mastercard
While there are plenty of premium credit cards offering protection like this, it’s extremely rare to see this level of protection on a no annual fee card. You’ll of course want to consult the benefits guide to look at all the terms & conditions associated with this.
Bilt refer-a-friend program
Bilt has a refer-a-friend program, whereby you can be rewarded when you refer others to the card:
- You can earn 22,500 points for every five friends who are approved for the card; this comes in the form of 2,500 bonus points per approved application, and 10,000 bonus points for every five approved applications
- You can earn up to 2,025,000 points this way, which you’d get after successfully referring 450 people
- You don’t even need to be a cardmember to refer someone — just download the Bilt Rewards app, fill out your profile, and at the top left you’ll find your invitation code to give to friends
Even if Bilt isn’t a fit for you, this is a good way to be rewarded for recommending the product to friends and family.
Bilt rent day promotions
On the first day of each month, Bilt has rent day promotions, intended to add value for members. This can range from a partner transfer bonus, to a status fast track promotion, to bonus points for completing certain activity. This could add quite a bit of value over time, and in some cases you don’t even need to be a cardmember to take advantage of these offers.
What’s the catch? Is Bilt too good to be true?
The most intriguing aspect of the Bilt Mastercard is the ability to pay rent by credit card without fees and earn up to 100,000 points per year. This works even if your landlord doesn’t accept credit card payments, as Bilt will send a check.
You might be wondering “well how exactly is that possible?” All I can do is speculate, but here’s how I view it:
- Presumably Bilt loses money when giving out rewards and then mailing a check to a landlord it has no relationship with, but this is part of a bigger play
- Bilt hopes to get rental companies on its platform, hoping that being associated with Bilt gets more renters, and streamlines the payment process
- The Bilt Mastercard doesn’t offer any sort of a welcome bonus, so I suppose you can view this as another way of investing in cardmembers (other credit cards offer rewards upfront that are in some cases worth $1,000+)
- The Bilt Mastercard is designed so that you have to make a certain number of purchases every billing cycle, which is a good way to keep people spending money on the card (which could be lucrative)
Is the Bilt Mastercard worth it?
Is it worth getting the Bilt Mastercard? If you’re a renter in the United States and you can’t currently pay your rent by credit card, or have to pay a fee to make such a payment by credit card, then yes, this card is absolutely worth it. You can earn valuable rewards for money you have to spend anyway, so that’s a complete no-brainer.
What about for those who don’t rent? Given that you can’t make fee-free payments for mortgages, HOAs, etc., could it still make sense to get the card? Earning 3x transferable points on dining and 2x transferable points on travel on a no annual fee card is pretty lucrative. Furthermore, getting perks like cell phone protection, rental car coverage, and travel protection, with a no annual fee card, is pretty unheard of.
I’d say a strong argument could be made for a certain type of consumer using the Bilt Mastercard for these bonus categories. One disadvantage of this card compared to other cards out there is the lack of a welcome bonus, though.
For someone looking to earn transferable points without an annual fee, I’d say this is an excellent option, especially if you spend a lot on dining and travel.
While I absolutely think the card is a great option for a large segment of the population, that’s not the case for everyone. For example, in my particular case there’s not much value to be had, at least based on my current credit card strategy:
- I don’t rent, so I wouldn’t benefit from the ability to make fee-free rent payments
- I have around 30 credit cards that I use to maximize my points, so I have other cards that offer bigger bonuses on both dining and travel
- I have credit cards offering many of the perks that the Bilt Mastecard offers, like cell phone protection and rental car coverage
Of course I’m also not your average consumer when it comes to using rewards cards. 😉
The no annual fee Bilt Mastercard is issued by Wells Fargo, and has a unique value proposition. You can pay up to $100,000 per year in rent without fees — just pay through the Bilt app, and a check will be sent to your landlord on your behalf. That’s an amazing opportunity for renters.
Beyond that, the card offers 3x points on dining, 2x points on travel, and those points can be transferred to several valuable partners, ranging from American AAdvantage to World of Hyatt. Furthermore, the card offers cell phone protection, rental car coverage, travel coverage, and more.
I think this card is absolutely worth it for renters, and even for non-renters this could be a great no annual fee card option, assuming you value the perks, or are looking for travel rewards and spend a lot on dining and travel.
However, for us non-renters, the lack of a welcome bonus is a major downside compared to other lucrative travel rewards cards nowadays, as you’ll have to do a lot of spending to make up for the lack of a bonus.
What do you make of the Bilt Mastercard?