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Zero-fee rent payments: A review of the Bilt Mastercard

Dec. 13, 2022
17 min read
a senior citizen holds a credit card while making a payment for something his laptop inside his home
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Editor’s note: TPG founder Brian Kelly is a Bilt advisor and investor.


Bilt Mastercard overview

The Bilt Mastercard® has no annual fee (see rates and fees) but offers a slate of perks in addition to its core principle: the ability to earn points when paying rent and doing so without a fee. The Bilt card provides several benefits related to paying rent. However, it also provides enough benefits between built-in perks and points-earning capabilities that it could be attractive even to those who don't pay rent each month. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

The Bilt Mastercard is the latest step in the idea that people should be able to earn rewards when paying rent and shouldn't pay fees in the process. As part of this idea, Bilt Rewards launched with a limited network of landlords and apartments, originally requiring you to live in an associated property to earn these rewards. However, Bilt launched its credit card to expand the number of people who could earn rewards on rent payments and then expanded further when Wells Fargo started issuing this card with World Elite Mastercard benefits.

The Bilt Mastercard is not a luxury credit card and has some peculiarities that we will discuss below; such reasons have led some people to ignore it in favor of cards with more lucrative bonuses. However, for those who can't pay rent with a credit card (or have to jump through hoops and/or pay fees to do so), the Bilt Mastercard solves the problem of trying to earn rewards on rent payments (while trying to avoid exorbitant fees that negate the value of points you earn along the way).

Let's look at the ongoing benefits offered by the Bilt Mastercard and its unique earning structure to see whether it merits a place in your wallet.

Who is this card for?

The Bilt Mastercard is ideal for those who pay rent each month and want to earn credit card rewards but don't want to pay fees along the way. Many options for paying rent with a credit card will incur fees of 2-3%, which can reduce or eliminate the value of any rewards you earn when paying rent by credit card. The Bilt Mastercard is worthwhile for those looking to earn transferrable rewards points on rent payments without a fee.

Related: Should you use the Bilt Mastercard? Why it could be a game changer for renters

GISELLEFLISSAK/GETTY IMAGES

The Bilt Mastercard can be advantageous even for those who don't pay rent each month, given that the card has a valuable set of transfer partners and provides quality insurance protections for purchases and vacations. Given that it has no annual fee but offers an interesting earning structure combined with a quality set of benefits, it could be worth holding the Bilt Mastercard in your wallet — especially if you pay rent every month.

Welcome bonus

There is no welcome bonus for new applicants to the Bilt Mastercard. This means you will not receive a chunk of points after completing an introductory spending requirement.

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However, you can earn rewards for referring friends and family to sign up for the Bilt Mastercard. You will earn 2,500 Bilt Rewards points for each person who applies for and is approved for the Bilt card using your link. You'll also earn 10,000 bonus points for every fifth successful referral — up to 2 million points.

Related: Should I pay with a rewards credit card even if it incurs fees?

Main perks and benefits

You can enjoy multiple benefits with the Bilt Mastercard, many of which come from the fact this is a World Elite Mastercard. The benefits on the Bilt Mastercard can be divided into four categories: rent-related benefits, credit-building, insurance protections and purchase credits. You can read the full details on the Bilt Rewards and Benefits page.

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Rent-related benefits

One of the key benefits of the Bilt Mastercard is the ability to pay rent with a credit card — thus earning points — without paying any fees.

When the Bilt Rewards program first launched, a key concern was the limited network of landlords participating in the Bilt Alliance. However, that concern has been eliminated with updates to the Bilt Rewards program and the fact that the Bilt Mastercard is now issued by Wells Fargo.

If your landlord isn't part of the Bilt network, you can make an ACH (bank transfer) payment through your landlord's online payment system (if available) or have Bilt send a check on your behalf. There are no fees for making rent payments to your landlord in this way, and these are qualifying purchases on your card to earn rewards points.

Related: 5 ways to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card

Credit building

Credit cards can help build your credit score if you use them responsibly. However, Bilt Rent Reporting goes beyond that. If you live in a property that's part of the Bilt Alliance, you can elect to have your rent payments reported to all three major credit bureaus in the U.S. This helps establish a history of on-time payments and could help your credit score.

Related: How your credit scores work

THE POINTS GUY

Insurance protections

The Bilt Mastercard offers up to $5,000 in reimbursement for nonrefundable tickets if a trip is canceled or interrupted for a covered reason, thanks to the card's trip cancellation and interruption protection. Coverage is in effect if you pay for the trip with your card.

If your trip is delayed, you can get reimbursed for expenses like meals or lodging after a delay of six hours, and there is a maximum of $2,000 per day. This benefit is per person and covers not just the primary cardholder but also immediate family members traveling on the same reservation. The maximum benefit is $1,800 per trip across all covered passengers.

Related: Flight delayed or canceled? Here are the best credit cards with trip delay reimbursement

If you pay for a rental car with your Bilt Mastercard, you can waive the collision protections offered by the rental agency and be covered by your credit card's benefits. This protection covers damages from collision or theft.

Your cellphone is protected, as well, if you pay your monthly wireless bill with your Bilt Mastercard. The cellphone protection benefit provides up to $800 coverage (with a $25 deductible) against damage or theft. Note that this is supplemental coverage, which means policies like homeowner's or renter's insurance would take precedence, then this benefit would kick in after other policies are exhausted. There is a maximum of two paid claims per 12-month period under this coverage.

Purchase credits

As a World Elite Mastercard, you also have access to $5 in Lyft credits each month after paying for three rides that month with your Bilt Mastercard. You also can take advantage of a three-month DashPass membership from DoorDash. This benefit provides perks like waived delivery fees, plus you can get $5 off your first order each month. To take advantage of these benefits, just set your Bilt card as the payment method in your DoorDash account.

Earning points

You can earn 3 points per dollar spent on dining, 2 points per dollar on travel and 1 point per dollar on other purchases — including rent payments. However, it's worth noting that you will only earn points when you make at least five transactions on your card in a statement period. Thus, if the only purchase you make on your Bilt Mastercard each month is your rent payment, you won't earn points at these rates. Instead, you would earn just a flat rate of 250 points for paying rent with your card.

Related: Earn points on rent: Your complete guide to the Bilt Rewards program

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You'll also receive 250 points for your rent payment if your payment is less than $250 that month. You can earn a maximum of 50,000 points from rent payments each year, which would require an average monthly rent of $4,166.67 to achieve this maximum points return.

TPG values Bilt Rewards points at 1.8 cents per point. Thus, your return on spending would amount to a 5.4% return on dining purchases, 3.6% return on travel and 1.8% return on other purchases.

It's also possible to earn double points on the first day of each month, which Bilt refers to as "Rent Day." You can earn double points on dining (boosted to 6 points per dollar), travel (4 points per dollar) and everyday spending (2 points per dollar) for each purchase made on the first day of the month. However, points-earning on rent payments is not doubled.

Related: Bilt cardholders: Earn double points on non-rent spending one day each month

The more points you earn each year, the higher your status level in Bilt Rewards.

Blue, the introductory tier, offers perks like 1:1 points transfers to travel partners (see below), access to the Bilt Collection (see below) and building credit history through rent reporting. The second tier, Silver, requires earning 25,000 points in a year. Additional benefits include earning a 10% bonus on lease incentive points from participating properties and earning interest on points.

Gold, the third tier, requires earning 50,000 points in a year. Additional benefits include earning a 25% bonus on lease incentive points and access to a Homeownership Concierge. The highest tier is Platinum, which requires earning 100,000 points in a year. This provides a 50% bonus on lease incentive points and an exclusive gift from the Bilt Collection, in addition to benefits at the lower tiers.

Redeeming points

Bilt Rewards points can be redeemed in multiple ways: in a travel portal, with transfer partners, paying for fitness classes, Bilt Collection redemptions, toward Amazon purchases, paying your next month's rent or even helping you make a down payment when buying a home. The value of these redemptions varies greatly.

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Some of these redemption options present poor value. Incredibly, redeeming your points for rent payments provides the worst value of all options: just 0.55 cents per point. Next, redeeming points toward Amazon purchases yields a value of 0.7 cents per point; you can achieve a value of 1 cent per point when paying for fitness classes with SoulCycle, Y7 Studio or Rumble Boxing or when shopping the Bilt Collection of art, home decorations and apparel. Fitness class redemptions start at 1,600 points.

Bilt has a travel portal, and you can redeem your points at a fixed value of 1.25 cents apiece when booking flights or hotels here. When redeeming your points for a down payment on a home, you can net a value of 1.5 cents per point.

Related: Bilt Rewards launches new travel portal, where cardmembers can redeem points at 1.25 cents apiece

The largest range in redemption value will come with Bilt's set of hotel and airline transfer partners. This redemption option also provides a great opportunity for redemption value, depending on how you use your points.

Bilt's transfer partners include the following airlines: Aer Lingus AerClub, American Airlines AAdvantage, Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France-KLM Flying Blue, British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles, Iberia Plus, Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles, United Airlines MileagePlus and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club/Virgin Points. Additionally, there are two hotel partners: IHG One Rewards and World of Hyatt.

Related: How long do Bilt Rewards points take to transfer?

You will need to transfer a minimum of 2,000 points for each of these partners. Transfers to most programs are instant and all transfers are calculated at a 1:1 ratio.

The most interesting partner to note here is American Airlines. Bilt provides the only permanent points transfer at a 1:1 ratio with AA, now that the temporary transfers from Citi have ended. Given that the bonus on Marriott Bonvoy points transfers to the airline ended (and that these transfers occur at a 3:1 ratio), fans of American Airlines may be especially interested in the Bilt Rewards program and earning points with the Bilt Mastercard.

Which cards compete with the Bilt Mastercard?

There are no other credit cards exactly like the Bilt Mastercard. It is the sole credit card product in a relatively-new points system — Bilt Rewards — and has unique features regarding rent payments. However, people paid rent on their credit cards before the Bilt Mastercard came along.

Common options for paying rent on a credit card include the cards below; two have no annual fee and the third is a popular rewards card where the points earned could be worth the fee in some situations.

WITTHAYA PRASONGSIN/MOMENT/GETTY IMAGES

Citi® Double Cash Card

The Double Cash card offers two points per dollar on all spending: 1 Citi ThankYou point for each dollar at the time of purchase and another 1 point per dollar when paying your bill. There's no annual fee and you don't have any bonus categories to keep track of. You can redeem your earnings for cash as a statement credit or transfer your points to three travel partners: Choice Privileges, JetBlue TrueBlue and Wyndham Rewards.

However, you can obtain greater value from the Double Cash card if you have another card that earns Citi ThankYou points, such as the Citi Premier® Card. With this card, you would have access to all of Citi's hotel and airline partners, increasing the value of your rewards from 1 cent apiece to 1.8 cents each, according to TPG's most recent valuations.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is straightforward: There's no annual fee, and you earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases that aren't in the card's bonus categories. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, 3% back on dining at restaurants (including eligible takeout and delivery services), 3% back on drugstore purchases and 1.5% on everything else. New applicants can earn an additional 1.5% back on all purchases — up to $20,000 of purchases during the first 12 months from account opening.

Cardholders also enjoy benefits like purchase protection, extended warranty protection, car rental collision damage waiver benefits (coverage is primary outside the U.S. but secondary in the U.S.) and trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

The real power of the Freedom Unlimited card comes when you pair it with a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points — such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — because this allows you to combine your cash-back earnings with Ultimate Rewards. Based on TPG's latest valuations, this doubles the value of your earnings on the Freedom Unlimited card. Plus, turning your earnings into Ultimate Rewards points will unlock Chase's airline and hotel transfer partners.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

In a different vein, another card competing with the Bilt Mastercard is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This card has an annual fee of $95 but is an incredibly popular travel rewards card and earns well on spending categories similar to those found with the Bilt card.

Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal, 3 points per dollar on dining (including eligible delivery, takeout and delivery), 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding wholesale clubs, Walmart and Target), 3 points per dollar on select streaming services, 2 points per dollar on other travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. This card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which TPG values at 2 cents apiece.

You can use points in the Chase portal or with Pay Yourself Back at 1.25 cents apiece; or, you can transfer them to Chase's airline and hotel partners. Cardholders also receive benefits like trip cancellation and interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver protection, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance, purchase protection and extended warranty protection.

Additionally, cardholders have benefits with Lyft (earning 5 points per dollar on rides through March 31, 2025), DoorDash (a complimentary DashPass membership through Dec. 31, 2024), Instacart (quarterly spending credits and Instacart+ membership) and Gopuff ($10 per month in statement credits to offset eligible purchases).

Given the benefits and points earned on this card, paying rent (even if there's a fee involved) with the Sapphire Preferred has been popular for many people due to the value of the welcome bonus. The current sign-up bonus for new applicants offers 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

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Bottom line

The Bilt Mastercard is unique. It has its own rewards program and offers renters the ability to earn points every month without incurring fees — plus there's no annual fee on the card. There are insurance protections and multiple ways to redeem points, and the transfer partners provide quality options for travel.

However, there are drawbacks. You must make multiple purchases on your card every month before qualifying for points, and the Bilt Mastercard doesn't offer any welcome bonus. The Bilt Mastercard may not be the best credit card in your wallet for every purchase category, but it could fit well into a diverse points and miles strategy — especially if you're a renter.

Official application link: Bilt Mastercard

For rates and fees of the Bilt Mastercard, click here.
For rewards and benefits of the Bilt Mastercard, click here.

Featured image by MARKO GEBER/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees