For millions of Americans across the U.S., paying rent is by far their biggest monthly expense, and it isn't particularly close. But for the size it eats up of Americans' budget, there hasn't been an easy way to earn points and miles on your rent payments – at least not without paying hefty surcharges. But that's changing.
This week, a New York City-based startup named Bilt launched the first-ever rewards program (and corresponding credit card) that lets you earn points on your rent payments without paying fees. We don't have any affiliate relationship or receive any kickbacks from Bilt – it's simply an exciting new service.
Read on for everything you need to know about the exciting new Bilt Rewards program, a first of its kind for renters.
What is Bilt Rewards?
Bilt Rewards is a brand new rewards program that allows qualified U.S. renters the ability to earn rewards by paying their rent through the Bilt Rewards app. Eventually, you'll be able to earn points on your rent payment no matter where you live.
At launch, you'll need to be renting from a property management group in the Bilt Rewards Alliance. If your landlord is a member of the Bilt Rewards Alliance, you will be able to pay your rent electronically through the Bilt Rewards app by securely linking your bank account. According to Bilt, the current members of the Bilt Alliance make up more than 2 million rental units.
Bilt Rewards Alliance Members
- The Blackstone Group
- The Related Companies
- Equity Residential
- AvalonBay Communities, Inc.
- Camden Property Trust
- Cushman & Wakefield
- Trammell Crow Residential
- Highmark Residential
- AMLI Residential
- Morgan Properties
- SL Green Realty Corp.
- Starwood Capital Group
- The Moinian Group
- Veritas Investments
- Artemis Real Estate Partners
Tenants that rent from one of these alliance members will reportedly get priority when Bilt eventually launches.
Renting someplace that doesn't make this list? By paying your rent through Bilt, the company can send your landlord a paper check via USPS First Class mail for your rental amount. Bilt says it will take five to seven days to process.
No matter where you live, these rental payments via Bilt are completely fee-free.
While it's not necessary, renters can earn even more points by paying their rent with a new co-branded Bilt Rewards Mastercard – more on that later.
Earning Bilt Rewards Points
Earning points with Bilt Rewards is relatively straightforward and simple.
Program members will earn a minimum of 250 Bilt Points per month by paying their rent through the Bilt Rewards app, no matter how much your monthly rent costs. Simply pay through the Bilt app and you'll receive 250 points each and every month.
But you can accelerate your earnings with the Bilt Rewards Mastercard – though doing so will make things a little more complicated.
Just for opening the card, you'll receive a welcome offer of 3x points per dollar spent on your first month's rent payment (of up to 10,000 points). You will also earn 2x points on all non-rent spend for the first 30 days anywhere that MasterCard is accepted.
After your first month, the number of points you can earn on your rent payment will be determined by the amount of non-rent spending you put on the Bilt Mastercard each month. The more you spend each month, the more points you will earn on your rent payments as you climb the Bilt status ladder.
But regardless of your Bilt status level, you'll be limited to earning just 4,000 points per month on rent spending – with potentially unlimited earnings on your non-rent spending. The different status levels are outlined below.
Once you spend $250 in qualifying non-rent purchases in a calendar month, you’ll earn 1 point for every $2 on your next rent payment. So for example, if your rent payment was $2,000 each month, you would earn an additional 1,000 Bilt Rewards points on your rent payment (1,250 points total after including the non-rent spending).
Once you spend $1,000 in qualifying non-rent purchases in a calendar month you’ll earn 1 point for every $1 on your next rent payment. So for example, if your rent payment was $2,000 each month, you would earn an additional 2,000 Bilt Rewards points on your rent payment (3,000 points total after including the non-rent spending).
Once you spend $2,000 in qualifying non-rent purchases in a calendar month, you’ll earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on your next rent payment. So for example, if your rent payment was $2,000 each month, you would earn an additional 2,500 Bilt Rewards points on your rent payment (4,500 points total after including the non-rent spending).
Once you spend $3,500 in qualifying non-rent purchases in a calendar month, you’ll earn 2 points for every $1 spent on your next rent payment. So for example, if your rent payment was $2,000 each month, you would earn an additional 4,000 Bilt Rewards points on your rent payment (7,500 points total after including the non-rent spending).
The Bilt Rewards Mastercard
In addition to the rental benefits outlined above, the Bilt Rewards Mastercard includes a handful of other benefits due to the fact that it is a World Elite Mastercard, including:
● Cell phone insurance protection anytime you pay your monthly bill with your Bilt Mastercard
● Purchase Assurance Plus covers any purchase you make against accidental damage for 90 days
● Exclusive merchant discounts with brands like Lyft, and Shoprunner
● Access to the Mastercard Luxury Hotel & Resorts Portfolio which gives you amenities like upgrades, free breakfast, and property credits at over 3,000 hotels
● 24/7 access for the World Elite Concierge, a complimentary service that acts as a personal assistant.
● No Annual Fee
Information about the Bilt Mastercard has been collected independently by Thrifty Traveler. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
How to Use Bilt Rewards Points
Perhaps the most exciting part of the new Bilt Rewards program is how you can use them. You'll have a handful of compelling options.
Points can be used with travel transfer partners, fitness classes, and you can even use them to get discounts on future rent payments or put them towards a future house downpayment.
Transfer Partners for Travel
At the time of this publication, Bilt Rewards points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio (meaning one Bilt point is equal to one airline mile or hotel point) to 12 airline partners and three hotel partner. Notably, Bilt will be the first-ever 1:1 transfer partner to American Airlines AAdvantage program.
Here's the full list 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|
Get a Rent Discount or Build a Future Down Payment
One of the most unique ways to use your Bilt Rewards points is to cover the cost of your rent payment – or even put it towards a future downpayment on a house.
If you rent from a landlord in the Bilt Rewards Alliance, you'll have the option to use the points you earn to cover future rent payments. Exactly how much those points will get you toward your rent payment is unclear – all we know is that redemption rates will vary by partner.
If you use the points to cover the cost of a future down payment, each point will be worth 1.5 cents.
You can also redeem Bilt rewards points for workout classes at SoulCycle and Y7. Redemptions will start at 3,500 reward points. Based on the cost of these classes, you can expect to get roughly 1 cent for each point with this redemption.
The Bilt Collection
Lastly, there is the Bilt Collection: A curated collection of artwork, home decor, tech & lifestyle products where you can redeem your points.
There is a lot to digest here. This is all quite new.
But this is clearly an exciting new development in the world of transferable points. It's the first service of its kind, opening up a new avenue to earn points and miles on an expense where that historically hasn't been possible. And that's all without paying any fees for money you are already spending.
Even if you don't rent from a current member of the Bilt Rewards alliance, it is still a great opportunity to earn points for one of the biggest expenses in your life if you're renting. Those points can be transferred to awesome travel partners like American AAdvantage miles or World of Hyatt. Or you can even use them to cover rent or a future downpayment on a house.
The Bilt Rewards Mastercard is an interesting proposition. While it can clearly accelerate your earning, that comes at a big opportunity cost: You might be better off doing all that spending on other cards with welcome bonuses or better earning rates on categories like restaurants or groceries.
But Bilt deserves huge kudos for rolling out a completely novel service that allows tenants to earn rewards points on rent payments, all without paying a fee.
Bilt Rewards will be a great new service to earn transferable rewards points on your monthly rent payment. At the time of publication, the service is not yet available. You can sign up on their website to get early access.
Images courtesy of Bilt