Bilt Rewards and the Bilt Mastercard® burst onto the scene a few years back in a big way – vowing to be the first and only credit card and points program that would allow you to make your rent payment on a credit card without paying any fees whatsoever.
Not only that, but you'll also earn valuable Bilt Rewards points on your rent payment that can be redeemed in hundreds of great ways for travel. That's the main reason why if you're a renter, we think the Bilt card is a no-brainer to have in your wallet.
But even though the Bilt Mastercard is marketed towards renters, its appeal stretches far beyond that. With top-tier transfer partners, an impressive list of travel benefits, and useful category spending bonuses all on a credit card with no annual fee, a case could be made for the Bilt card to be one of the best travel rewards credit cards, period.
As somebody who owns a home and doesn't pay rent, I picked up the Bilt card earlier this year. Above and beyond the ability to earn points on your rent payments, I think it's worth a look for homeowners as well.
Just remember: Credit cards are serious business. You should never apply for a credit card if you're already in debt, and never charge more to a credit card than you can afford to pay off immediately.
Here's what you need to know about the Bilt Mastercard® whether or not you are currently paying rent.
Read our full review of the Bilt Mastercard!
Learn more about the Bilt Rewards Mastercard®
A Hidden Welcome Offer Bonus
One of the big knocks on the Bilt Mastercard® is that it doesn't offer a welcome bonus of Bilt points when you meet a certain amount of spending after first getting the card. Without a bonus, it's difficult to earn a meaningful amount of points in the Bilt Rewards program like you can with cards from banks like Chase, American Express, Capital One, and others.
But here's the thing: The Bilt card does have a welcome offer for new card members that can help you rack up a sizable amount of points quickly – so long as you time opening the card around any big purchases you have coming up.
Bilt confirmed after being approved, new card members may receive a promotion to earn 5x Bilt points on all of their spending within the first five days of their card arriving. That 5x points per dollar spent earn rate is capped at a total of 50,000 points, or $10,000 in spending.
The offer is targeted, so all new card members may not get it. But it appears to be widely available.
When I got my card earlier this year, my wife and I were doing some renovations to our basement. I knew I had some larger expenses coming up that I could use a credit card to pay for. By timing opening my Bilt card with when I needed to pay for those renovations, I was able to earn 5x points per dollar on those purchases, which amounted to a decent chunk of points. That definitely helped take the sting out of making a big purchase.
Could I have earned more points on a different card? Sure. But as somebody who is well over the Chase 5/24 restriction, this seemed like a good option to dip my toes in with Bilt and take advantage of a few larger purchases I already needed to make.
If you have some big purchases coming up that you can pay with a credit card, don't sleep on the Bilt card. Just remember, you'll need to do that spending within the first five days of receiving your new card.
Great Earning Rates
Above and beyond the welcome offer bonus the Bilt card provides, Bilt also gives you a compelling reason to keep swiping it.
You'll earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining, 2x points per dollar spent on travel, and 1x points per dollar spent on everything else, including rent payments.
You won't find another no-annual-fee card that offers that kind of return on dining and travel, period. It's also competitive with top travel credit cards that have annual fees.
Take the *chase sapphire preferred* for example. The card earns 3x points per dollar spent on dining purchases, online grocery orders, and select streaming services and 2x points per dollar spent on travel. However, the card charges an annual fee of $95.
Then there's the *amex gold card* which earns 4x points per dollar spent at restaurants, and 4x points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent each year, then 1x). While those are some of the best bonuses you'll find in both of those spending categories, the Gold card also carries an annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees).
Not only is the Bilt card competitive with two top travel cards that charge an annual fee, but the card earns points that hold their own against both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.
You'll find a lot of the same transfer partners you see with both Chase and Amex, and it's the only points program that allows the ability to transfer points to American Airlines.
Here's a full look at the stable of Bilt transfer partners:
|Aer Lingus Avios||Airline||1:1|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Airline||1:1|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||Airline||1:1|
|British Airways Avios||Airline||1:1|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Airline||1:1|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||Airline||1:1|
|Turkish Miles & Smiles||Airline||1:1|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||Airline||1:1|
|World of Hyatt||Hotel||1:1|
It's for that reason that the Bilt card has become my default card for my dining spending.
Bilt Rent Day
Once a month, Bilt provides an extra incentive to keep swiping your card and earn a lot of additional points – even if you aren't a renter. It's called Bilt Rent Day.
On the first day of every month, all your spending on the Bilt card is worth twice as much as it is normally (excluding rent payments). That means you'll earn points at the following rates:
- 6x points per dollar spent on dining (normally 3x)
- 4x points per dollar on travel (normally 2x)
- 2x points per dollar spent on all other non-rent spending (normally 1x)
These rates are only available on the first day of the month, but it makes your Bilt card a great option for any spending you do that day.
Bilt Rent Day is why the Bilt card sits at the top of my wallet for any and all spending I do on the first day of the month. I even have a few reccurring subscriptions I opt to pay with my Bilt card because they bill on the first of the month. While those payments would typically earn only 1x points per dollar spent, because they bill on Rent Day, I earn 2x points per dollar on those transactions and thus opt to pay with my Bilt card.
Rent Day is a creative way for Bilt to get cardholders like myself to engage with the program. It also allows me to be a bit strategic with how and when I pay for certain purchases. For example, if I have a big travel expense coming up, I can earn 4x points per dollar spent on that charge if I can wait to make it on the first of the month.
In addition to the increased earning rates, Bilt typically rolls out a Rent Day promotion you can easily take advantage of. The Bilt Rent Day promo for the month of August was one of the best yet: Bilt members received a transfer bonus of between 75% and 150% more points when sending Bilt points to Virgin Red – the overarching loyalty program of the Virgin brands, including Virgin Atlantic.
Travel Protections from a No Annual Fee Card
Most cards that include travel insurance protections come with an annual fee of $100 or more – that's not the case with the Bilt Card.
True to form, they've found a way to pack travel benefits typically reserved for premium credit cards into the no-annual fee Bilt card. Even if you aren't paying rent, this could be reason enough to hold the card.
So what kind of benefits are we talking about here?
Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection
If your trip is canceled or interrupted due to a covered reason such as death, accidental bodily injury, or physical illness to yourself or a family member, you are eligible for reimbursement of any nonrefundable common carrier (plane, train, bus, cruise, etc.) tickets.
In order to be eligible for this benefit, the entire fare must be purchased with your Bilt Rewards Mastercard and coverage maxes out at $5,000 per covered person. Using Bilt points earned from the card would also qualify.
So if you pay for something like airfare or a cruise with your Bilt Card, and you or a family member get sick or hurt before or during your trip, you're eligible for reimbursement of any nonrefundable tickets for you, your spouse, and any dependent children traveling with you.
Trip Delay Reimbursement
If your trip on a common carrier is delayed by six hours or more, you're eligible to receive $200 per day, for up to three days, for necessary expenses like food, temporary lodging, and entertainment. The maximum benefit for all covered travelers is $1,800 per trip and your Bilt Rewards Mastercard must have been used to pay the entire fare of your covered trip.
Translation: If your flight gets delayed by six hours or more due to weather, mechanical issues, or any other covered reason, you can get $200 per person to help cover the cost of food, hotels, or even an airline lounge day pass!
Primary Rental Car Insurance
Bilt's auto rental collision damage waiver provides up to $50,000 of coverage in the event of an accident or theft. This coverage is primary, meaning you won't need to run it through any other insurance first, and applies to rentals in the U.S. and abroad (excluding Israel, Jamaica, The Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland).
The maximum length of your rental period must be 31 days or less, which certainly shouldn't be an issue for most travelers.
In order to take advantage of this car rental coverage, you must pay for the rental with your Bilt Rewards Mastercard and decline the rental company’s collision loss/damage insurance.
It's important to note that this coverage is not all-inclusive, which means it does not cover such things as personal injury, personal liability, or third-party personal property. So it wouldn't cover any damages to other cars or property and it doesn't cover any injuries.
While not travel insurance per se, there's hardly a travel accessory more important than your cellphone. Ensuring it's protected from damage, theft, or loss is a must.
Bilt's cell phone insurance will reimburse you, up to $800 per covered loss, in instances where your phone is damaged, stolen, or accidentally parted with (i.e. lost). Reimbursement is limited to the cost of repair or replacement for your original cell phone, minus a $25 deductible.
In order to be eligible for this coverage you must pay your monthly cell phone bill with the Bilt Rewards Mastercard and it applies to all active lines on the plan, not just the cardholder's phone.
I can't stress this enough: If you want a card with travel benefits and don't want to pay an annual fee, you're going to have a hard time finding a better option than the Bilt Mastercard®. That's true regardless of whether or not you are paying rent.
Learn more about the Bilt Mastercard®