If you’re a renter, you pay rent. And it’s likely one of your biggest monthly expenses.
According to a recent study on America’s rental housing by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, high-cost rentals, or units that rent for over $1,000 or more, increased by over five million units in recent years. This shows an upward trend in rent prices, which is more money out of pocket for renters.
To combat this feeling of lost money, Bilt has introduced a loyalty program, called Bilt Rewards, to offer rewards when you pay your monthly rent — without fees. You typically aren’t able to earn rewards for paying rent unless you pay credit card transaction fees, so this is a potentially huge and rewarding move.
This Bilt review will explain how this program works so you can decide if it’s right for you.
What is Bilt Rewards?
Bilt Rewards is a loyalty program and brand that’s part of the Kairos family of companies. Bilt was founded in 2019, but Bilt Rewards, the rewards program attached to Bilt, was launched in 2021. The company is headquartered in New York City, New York.
Bilt was founded by Ankur Jain, who is the CEO of Kairos, co-founder of Rhino (another Kairos brand), and former VP of Product for Tinder. Other Kairos companies include Rhino, Cera, Little Spoon, and Alloy.
Bilt Rewards is not the same as the Bilt Mastercard, though having this credit card can help you earn more Bilt Rewards points.
How Bilt Rewards works
Bilt was designed and founded as a way for renters to have a path to homeownership. The Bilt Rewards program, which can be used with or without the Bilt Mastercard, provides renters a way to earn rewards on the rent they pay each month without having to pay the typical fees that occur if you pay rent with a credit card.
A large number of expenses can be put on a credit card these days, which allows you to earn rewards if that credit card is part of a loyalty program. Traditionally, rental property owners either haven’t allowed credit card payments or charge transaction fees if you want to use a card.
With Bilt Rewards, you don’t have to worry about transaction fees when paying rent. There is also no annual membership fee for the loyalty program or the Bilt Mastercard. In addition, the rewards you earn can be redeemed for travel, fitness classes, paying rent, making a down payment on a house, and more.
Bilt Rewards can be used through the Bilt Rewards app, which is available on both iOS and Android devices.
How to earn Bilt Rewards
If you compare credit cards, you’ll typically find different ways to earn points or miles with certain rewards cards. With Bilt, you also get a few options for earning points. Here’s how they work.
You’re able to pay your rent with the Bilt Rewards app even if you don’t have the Bilt Mastercard. If you enroll (membership is free) in the Bilt Rewards program and pay your rent through the app, you’ll earn 250 points per rent payment. However, you’ll only earn points if you’re a resident of a property in the Bilt Rewards Alliance.
The Bilt Rewards Alliance has over two million apartments in its network. This includes rental units from Windsor Communities, Morgan Properties, Equity Residential, The Related Companies, Starwood Capital Group, and much more. You can check if your rental is in the network by going into the Bilt Rewards app and seeing if you’re able to connect your residence.
If your landlord doesn’t accept credit cards, you can still pay your rent through the Bilt app, and Bilt will pay your landlord in the way they prefer, whether it’s by mailed check, ACH, or another form of payment.
Keep in mind that you’ll only earn points through Bilt Rewards if you pay rent through the app and your apartment is in-network, unless you also have the Bilt Mastercard.
Using the Bilt Mastercard
The Bilt Mastercard offers cardholders up to 2X points on rent and 1X points on all other purchases. Plus, it has a $0 annual fee. With these rewards rates, you’re able to earn points on both your rent payments and any other type of purchase where you can use a Mastercard credit card.
You’re also not limited to only earning points on rent payments for apartments that are in the Bilt Rewards Alliance. If your apartment is out-of-network, you’re still able to pay your rent with your card through the Bilt Rewards app and earn points.
One important thing to be aware of is that you don’t automatically receive the extra bonus points for rent payments. Rather, the rate at which you earn points for rent depends on how much non-rent spending you do with your card each calendar month.
Here’s an overview of the different status tiers for earning points on rent payments with the Bilt Mastercard:
|Status tier||Qualification||Earning rate|
|Basic||Becoming a cardholder||
|Blue||$250 of non-rent spend in a month||
|Silver||$1,000 of non-rent spend in a month||
|Gold||$2,000 of non-rent spend in a month||
|Platinum||$3,500 of non-rent spend in a month||
The Bilt Mastercard also offers these perks and benefits:
- Lyft and DoorDash credits: Receive up to $60 in annual Lyft credits and up to $120 in annual DoorDash credits.
- Cellphone insurance: Receive up to $1,000 per year for lost or damaged cell phones.
- Purchase protection: Receive up to $1,000 for lost or damaged items purchased with your Bilt Mastercard in the last 90 days.
- World Elite concierge: Access 24/7 concierge services for all your personal assistant needs, which could include getting tickets to a concert, making dinner reservations, or finding a gift for someone.
- BiltProtect: If enabled, this included feature protects your credit line from being used for rent payments. A linked bank account would instead be used to pay for rent, which can help protect your credit score from a high rate of credit utilization.
Bilt Rewards also allows real estate owners the opportunity to provide additional ways for their renters to earn points through the program. This could include signing a new lease, renewing a lease, or other similar actions. Check with your landlord if you're curious about other points-earning opportunities.
How to redeem Bilt Rewards
The best rewards credit cards often offer different redemption options. Similarly, Bilt Rewards provides a variety of ways to redeem the points you earn.
Your Bilt Rewards points can be transferred to certain travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. These are the loyalty programs of the available transfer partners:
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Emirates Skywards
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- World of Hyatt
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
These eight transfer partners provide loads of opportunities for travel, especially if you consider how each of these transfer partners could also partner with other airlines or hotels. This opens up additional options for using your points on flights and hotel stays.
For example, if you transfer your Bilt Rewards points to the American Airlines AAdvantage program, you also get access to AAdvantage travel partners. So you not only have the option to book flights with American, but also Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qantas, and more.
Redeem your points for items from the Bilt Collection, which features art, home decor, and apparel from different artists. This could include items such as speakers, candles, decorative boxes, vases, and more.
Redeem your points for classes from top fitness companies, such as Y7 Studio, Rumble Boxing, and SoulCycle. Y7 Studio offers vinyasa yoga classes, and Rumble offers boxing and other fitness classes, while SoulCycle offers cycling and spinning classes. Classes start at 3,000 points.
If you’re in a city where rent has increased, you might be looking for a way to lower your rent payments. With Bilt Rewards, you have the option to cover all or a portion of your rent payment using points.
Down payment on a house
If homeownership is your goal, consider using your points to cover a portion of a down payment. Your points can be converted into cash and deposited into a home-sale escrow account where the funds will be applied toward a down payment. Keep in mind that accruing enough points to make a dent in the cost of a down payment will likely take some time, probably years.
Bilt offers an example of putting a 5% down payment on a home that costs $250,000. A 5% down payment of $250,000 is $12,500. In this scenario, your points would be worth 1.5 cents each. For this payment, you might use 500,000 points and also pay $5,000 in cash, since your points would cover $7,500 of the cost of the down payment.
Who can use Bilt Rewards?
Access to the new Bilt Rewards program is currently available by invitation only (as of July 20, 2021). You’re able to sign up for the early access waitlist through the Bilt Rewards website, with priority for memberships given to those who live within the Bilt Rewards Alliance network.
However, once the program is fully launched, you should be able to freely sign up and use the platform if you’re a renter, whether you’re in-network or not. This could be beneficial for millions of renters who want to earn rewards on rent payments without having to pay transaction fees for the opportunity to do so. Though, it still may not be the best option for earning credit card rewards.
How much can you earn with Bilt Rewards?
The number of points you can earn with Bilt Rewards depends on a few factors, including how much rent you pay, whether you have the Bilt Mastercard, and whether you live within the Bilt Rewards Alliance.
If you don’t live within the Bilt Rewards Alliance and don’t have the Bilt Mastercard, you can’t earn any Bilt Rewards points.
If you live within the Alliance and don’t have the Bilt Mastercard, you’re capped at earning 250 points per rent payment. Considering the fitness class redemptions start at 3,000 points, it would take you a full year to earn enough points from rent payments to pay for an exercise class in points.
But if you have the Bilt Mastercard and spend a decent amount on it each month in both rent and non-rent purchases, you could earn loads more points. For example, if you spend $3,500 each month on non-rent purchases, you would qualify for Platinum status on your credit card, which allows you to earn 2X points per $1 on your next rent payment. You also get 1X points on all other purchases.
If your rent is $1,000 per month, you would earn 2,000 points each month on rent alone, which is 24,000 points for the year. Add in the $3,500 each month from non-rent purchases, which nets you 3,500 points per month, and you’d get an additional 42,000 points on the year. That’s a total of 66,000 points.
Here are a few examples of what 66,000 points could get you:
- 13 nights at Category 1 Hyatt hotels (5,000 points per night)
- A round-trip economy flight from Los Angeles, California, to Tokyo, Japan, with American Airlines (~65,000 points per flight)
- Eight one-way flights between New York City, New York, and Miami, Florida, with American Airlines (7,500 points per flight)
- $990 toward a down payment on a house
FAQs about Bilt
Is Bilt Rewards legit?
Bilt Rewards is a legit loyalty program designed to help renters earn valuable rewards on their rent payments without paying transaction fees. Bilt was founded by Ankur Jain, who is the CEO of Kairos and former VP of Product for Tinder.
What are Bilt points worth?
The value of your Bilt points depends on what you choose as a redemption option. For example, you have the option to transfer your points to different airline and hotel partners, such as Hyatt and American Airlines. World of Hyatt points are typically valued at 1.7 cents per point and AAdvantage Miles are often valued at 1.4 cents per point. If you decide to redeem points toward a down payment on a house, your points would be worth 1.5 cents per point.
What credit score do I need for the Bilt Mastercard?
You likely need a good or excellent credit score to qualify for the Bilt Mastercard since it’s a World Elite Mastercard. Other World Elite Mastercards, such as the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard often require a good or excellent credit score to qualify.
Does the Bilt Mastercard help me build credit?
Any credit card can help you build credit if you’re frequently using it in a responsible manner and making your full, on-time payments each statement period. If you keep your credit utilization low on the Bilt Mastercard and always make your payments on time, it’s possible that it could help you build your credit.
How to sign up for Bilt Rewards
To sign up for Bilt Rewards, head to the BiltRewards.com website and click on the “Sign Up” button in the upper right corner. This will start the sign-up process for you, which typically entails giving your email address, first and last name, and home address.
Note that this isn’t the process for applying for the Bilt Mastercard — that would be a separate process that requires more information. You don’t need the Bilt Mastercard to become a Bilt Rewards member.
One of the best ways to earn points and miles is to use rewards cards on purchases you’re already making or expenses you already have, such as gas, groceries, and other common costs. But rent payments have traditionally been hard to leverage for earning rewards because of high transaction fees.
Plastiq was previously one of the best alternatives for paying rent with a credit card — check out our guide to Plastiq — but you still had to pay fees. The Bilt Rewards program rewards you for rent payments and doesn’t charge transaction fees.
It still may not be the best strategy for every situation since you don’t earn many points without the Bilt Mastercard (not everyone will qualify), and to get the best earning rate on the card you have to spend a certain amount on non-rent purchases each month. But it could make sense for you if you’re in the right living situation.
Alternatively, if your goal is to earn points and miles for travel, you might be better off checking out our list of the best travel credit cards.