Posted: 11/7/22 | November 7th, 2022
As an avid travel hacker, I’m always looking for new ways to earn more points and miles through my everyday spending. As a result, I earn over one million points every year, allowing me to enjoy all kinds of free flights and hotel stays, upgrades, lounge access, elite status, and more.
Travel hacking has saved me thousands and thousands of dollars over the years, and I wouldn’t be able to travel as much without it.
However, there’s traditionally been one huge expense that has always been hard to earn points for: rent.
For years, travel hackers have taken advantage of temporary offers that waive credit card fees or gone through complex procedures to pay their rent so they could get points.
But these maneuvers were all hit or miss and never lasted long. Thousands of potential points continued to be left on the table.
Earlier this year, a card called Bilt came out. And it has changed the game.
What is Bilt?
Bilt is a credit card that allows you to earn points when you pay your rent (as well as on everyday purchases). You then use those points like you would any other rewards program: you can use them to book travel directly, you can transfer them to travel partners, or you can use some of the other redemption options.
There are two ways to earn points with the card: by renting a Bilt Alliance property, or by using the Bilt World Elite Mastercard®.
Bilt Alliance properties form a network of two million units across the US. But I’m not going to focus on that. I’m going to talk about its credit card.
How does the Bilt reward card work?
Once you open a Bilt Mastercard® (which is issued by Wells Fargo and has no annual fee), you go to the Bilt app or website to set up your recurring monthly rental payments.
Bilt then creates a unique bank account tied to your Bilt credit card so that your rent is paid with an e-check rather than through your credit card. This bank account is basically a legal “dummy” account created as a workaround for credit card processing fees. You do not use it for anything else, and you do not withdraw or deposit money from it.
Whenever these unique routing and account numbers are used to pay rent, your Bilt Mastercard® is charged for the same amount. (You still have to connect your personal bank account to pay off the card each month.)
And, if your property is old-school and only accepts checks, you can still pay with your Bilt card through the Bilt Rewards app, and Bilt will send a check on your behalf.
It all takes about five minutes to set up. When you’re done, you’ll be earning points on your rent. I use it, so I don’t leave any points on the table.
Bilt Reward Perks
Once your account is set up, you’ll start earning one point per dollar spent using the Bilt credit card on rent payments, up to 50,000 points each calendar year. While the mileage needed for free flights varies drastically depending on many factors, if you play your cards right, that many points could get you a free round-trip flight from New York to London.
And, while earning points for rent payments is Bilt’s main draw, you’ll also earn two points per dollar spent on travel (when booked directly or through the Bilt Travel portal) and three points per dollar spent on dining. You’ll get one point per dollar on all other purchases.
Just note that you have to make five purchases per month (with no minimum spending requirement) to earn these rewards.
You can transfer points 1:1 to travel partners, including American Airlines, United, Emirates, Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, Air France/KLM, Hyatt, and IHG.
The fact that they transfer to American Airlines and Hyatt really sets this card apart (besides the rent thing). No one transfers to American, so this is a huge selling point for this card, because it’s the only way to get AA points without having an AA card. And earning Hyatt points allows you to have a way out of the Chase system.
You can also redeem points for fitness classes, like SoulCycle, Solidcore, Rumble, and Y7, and for items in the Bilt Collection, a curated selection of artisan home décor items. But redeeming for fitness classes comes out to around one point per cent — you get a better redemption on travel purchases.
Additionally, purchases also help you earn status in the Bilt Rewards program, based on the total points earned annually.
The tiers for those Bilt Rewards are as follows (subsequent tiers include everything in the aforementioned ones):
- Blue: Earn points on rent and the ability to transfer them 1:1 to travel partners
- Silver (25,000 points per year): 10% bonus points when you sign a new lease or renew your lease, and interest on your points balance (at the FDIC published national savings interest rate)
- Gold (50,000 points per year): 25% bonus points for new leases/renewals and access to a home ownership concierge (who will walk you through the home-buying process)
- Platinum (100,000 points per year): 50% bonus points for new leases/renewals and a free gift from the Bilt Collection of home décor items
While the perks in the higher tiers aren’t terribly exciting, they’re a nice way to earn even more points if they apply to you. But, even at the base level, you can still take advantage of Bilt’s main attraction: earning points on rent.
In addition to earning points, the card also gives you:
- Trip cancellation protection and interruption coverage
- Trip delay reimbursement (for delays of six hours or more)
- Car rental collision coverage
- Cell phone protection (up to $800 USD)
- No foreign transaction fees
- A free three-month DashPass and $5 USD off your first DoorDash order each month
- $5 USD Lyft credit each month after taking three rides that month
Who is this card for?
This card is suited for anyone who wants to earn points on their monthly rent. Once you set up the online payments (you can also set up auto-pay) and use your card five times a month, it’s largely a “set it and forget it” kind of card. With no annual fee, you have nothing to lose and only points to gain.
The card is especially geared toward travelers and restaurant-goers, since it offers 2x points spent on travel and 3x points on dining out. It’s best paired with other travel credit cards that have better perks, nice welcome bonuses, and higher earning rates, though.
I will probably start using the Bilt card instead of my Chase Sapphire, because I get a lot of Chase points through business spending, and I’m aiming to fly to Japan next year, so I want those AA points (AA is a partner with Japan Airlines).
Who is this card not for?
As with any travel credit card, you should not get the Bilt card if you’re already carrying a balance or plan to carry a balance. Interest rates for travel credit cards are notoriously high, and the Bilt card is no different, with hefty APRs of 19–27%. The points just aren’t worth it if you’re paying interest each month.
This card is also not for anyone with poor credit, as you need good or excellent credit to qualify.
Furthermore, the Bilt card won’t be for anyone looking for one with a big welcome bonus (as there is none), and it does count toward Chase’s 5/24 rule (you can’t open more than five Chase cards within 24 months). If you’ve already opened five Chase cards or want to open more, you might want to skip this one for now.
In sum, if you are a renter and want to earn points on this major monthly expenditure, then it’s worth considering the Bilt card. It’s completely free, and easy to set up, so there’s really nothing to lose. Even if your rent isn’t particularly high, points are points, and the Bilt card could be a nice additional resource for earning those coveted points and miles (especially if you fly American Airlines, as this is one of their only transfer partners).
As the only rewards card that offers points on rent completely for free, Bilt is a welcome new player in the travel space. In my opinion, it’s really a no-brainer if you pay rent, so you can start working toward some free flights and hotel stays!
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.
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