No more waitlist: Bilt opens its Mastercard to all with Wells Fargo backing
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In summer 2021, a small (but mighty) New York City startup disrupted the rental, credit cards and rewards marketplace.
Enter Bilt Rewards, the first-ever loyalty program to offer points on rent — without any fees attached. You can then redeem your points for travel, future mortgage or rent credit, fitness classes and more.
The Bilt Rewards program goes hand in hand with the Bilt Mastercard — which comes with no annual fee. You don’t need a Bilt Mastercard to earn points on rent if your landlord is a part of the Bilt Rewards Alliance, but even if they are, carrying this card can help accelerate your earnings toward your next redemption.
The information for the Bilt Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
However, since the program’s launch, applications for the card have been invite-only.
That all changes today. Just short of a year later, Bilt has now partnered with Wells Fargo to become the exclusive issuer of the Bilt Mastercard, which will allow applications to go live for the public. And with this announcement, TPG is releasing our first-ever valuation of Bilt Rewards points.
Let’s take a look at what this partnership means for current cardholders and prospective applicants.
(Editor’s note: TPG founder Brian Kelly is a Bilt advisor and investor.)
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Why Wells Fargo?
While Wells Fargo is a huge bank — serving one in three households across the U.S. — the issuer isn’t known for its cobranded cards.
Prior to Bilt, Hotels.com has been the lone partner of Wells Fargo. In fact, the Bilt Mastercard will be the first new credit card that Wells Fargo and Mastercard have launched together in five years.
Thanks to this new partnership, applications for the Bilt Mastercard will be live to virtually anyone, much like any other credit card on the market. Plus, the Bilt Mastercard will now garner the attention of Wells Fargo’s existing customers, as the bank “counts over 64 million customers and operates more than 4,700 branches across the country.”
Related: The best Wells Fargo credit cards
Is the card changing?
While Wells Fargo will now be the issuer for Bilt Mastercard, the core product is not changing. That means for existing cardholders, you will continue to earn the same number of points according to your Bilt status tier.
For new applicants, here’s a quick refresher on the Bilt Mastercard if you were interested in applying.
First, the Bilt Rewards Alliance represents more than two million rental units in the U.S., allowing you to pay your rent and earn points, fee-free. Even if your rental isn’t part of the alliance, you can still pay rent through the Bilt App, and Bilt will cut a check to your landlord on your behalf.
How to earn points
With the Bilt Mastercard, you’ll earn points on everyday purchases and rent:
- 3 points per dollar on dining and takeout.
- 2 points per dollar on travel booked directly with airlines, hotels, cruises and car rental companies.
- 1 point per dollar on rent (up to 50,000 points per year) and all other eligible purchases (with no limit).
Note that cardholders must make at least five transactions per statement period to earn points — but that shouldn’t be a problem for most cardholders.
How to redeem points
Perhaps the most exciting part about Bilt Rewards is its breadth of airline and hotel transfer partners. Your Bilt points transfer at a 1:1 ratio over to the following loyalty programs:
- American Airlines AAdvantage.
- Air Canada Aeroplan.
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
- Emirates Skywards.
- Flying Blue – Air France/KLM.
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles.
- IHG Hotels and Resorts.
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles.
- United Airlines MileagePlus.
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
- World of Hyatt.
Other redemption options include fitness classes (such as Rumble and SoulCycle), future rent or mortgage credit, and specially curated items in the Bilt Collection.
Finally, there are other noteworthy perks such as World Elite Mastercard benefits and no foreign transaction fees, making this a compelling card for the U.S. renter.
Earn Bilt status — and amplify your rewards
In addition, the Bilt Rewards program has four status tiers based on how many points you accrue (from both rent and non-rent purchases) in a calendar year.
If you earn a particular tier from Jan. 1 to June 30, you’ll maintain your status through Jan. 31 of the following year. For those who earn status between July 1 and Dec. 31, you’ll keep your status for the rest of that year and the entire following year.
|Requirements||Anyone enrolled in Bilt Rewards or under 25,000 points earned.||25,000 points earned.||50,000 points earned.||100,000 points earned.|
|Transfer to airlines and hotels||Must be done in 2,000-point increments.||1,000-point increments.||1,000-point increments.||1,000-point increments.|
|Homeownership concierge (if you opt to redeem Bilt points toward a future mortgage).||No.||No.||Yes.||Yes.|
|Complimentary Bilt Collection gift||No.||No.||No.||Yes.|
|Bonus points on new leases and renewals.||Yes.||10%.||25%.||50%.|
How much are Bilt points worth?
Now that the Bilt Mastercard is available publicly, TPG’s editorial team has analyzed the Bilt Rewards program to come up with a valuation of Bilt points. This will be included in the April launch of our monthly valuations, but we’re publishing it here first.
As we announced in Dec. 2021, we’re in the process of shifting all of our valuations to a data-backed model, but for now, our team utilizes a proprietary formula for valuing transferable points (like Bilt Rewards) based on a number of criteria. This includes the highest-value transfer partner and the number of individual partners with loyalty currencies higher than 1 cent.
We also factor in the “simple” redemption option — how you can using the currency for those not looking to transfer to partners and maximize the value that way.
Based on these calculations, TPG pegs the value of Bilt Rewards points at 1.8 cents apiece.
The program gets a lot of credit for top-notch transfer partners, including World of Hyatt, United MileagePlus and American AAdvantage (in fact, it’s the only transferable currency to partner with AA). This list covers all of the major airline alliances along with solid non-alliance programs like Emirates Skywards and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
In addition, the 2,000-point minimum for non-elite members to transfer points is notably less flexible than others.
Finally, for cardholders who aren’t well-versed in the world of transfer partners, Bilt Rewards offers limited and/or low-value direct redemption options for your points: down payments on a new house (1.5 cents per point) or future rent payments (0.55 cents per point).
This valuation is likely to change as the program evolves and our data-backed valuations expand to additional programs, but for now, 1.8 cents per point is where Bilt Rewards lands.
What’s next for Bilt?
We’re seeing rapid growth for the Bilt Rewards program already. In the past month alone, Bilt has added Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and United MileagePlus as two new airline transfer partners.
And in less than a year, the program’s marquee product — the Bilt Mastercard — has gone from invite-only to publicly-available, backed by a major credit card issuer in Wells Fargo.
Richard Kerr, Bilt’s director of travel rewards, indicated that there’s more to come in an emailed statement to TPG:
“In the 10 months since launch, we’ve listened to our members and thought hard about what it would take to make Bilt Rewards the most valuable and relevant loyalty program in existence. The recent partner additions of United MileagePlus and Asia Miles strengthened our already valuable travel program — but they are just the start.
In the coming months, you’ll see many more announcements from us that will continue to make Bilt Points relevant and valuable to every member regardless of their passions and interests. We’re excited with what we have to bring to market the rest of 2022.”
If recent developments are any indication, we’ll likely see Bilt continuing to pave the way to becoming one of the best transferable points programs available — even rivaling the likes of Amex or Chase in providing value to travelers.
Rent is a recurring expense that millions of Americans pay, and many get no reward for doing so. With this new key partnership with Wells Fargo, Bilt is able to open up applications for the public, giving renters access to this lucrative and innovative program.
Featured photo by Bilt.
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