Bilt credit card – All you need to know

This post is for you if you are paying rent in the US. For the first time in the US, you can pay rent using a credit card without paying the transaction fee (between 2-3%) and still earn reward points. While Bilt doesn’t disclose exactly how much each point is worth (given the 1:1 transfer ratio to many airlines and hotels), you can earn about 1%+ back from rent using Bilt. The median monthly rent in the US is about $2000 (according to Redfin) in 2022; an average renter in the US can earn about $240/year using Bilt. I wrote about Bilt before and this post includes additional information about the card.

Pros and Cons of the Bilt credit card

ProsCons
1. Zero fees for using Bilt credit card to pay rent
2. Wide range of rent payment options, including ACH (bank transfer) via online payment system, physical checks sent to your landlord, Venmo, Paypal
3. 1X points on rent payment (cap at 50,000 points per year)
4. $0 annual fee
5. Wide range of redemption partners: 100+ partners (including hotels like Hyatt, airlines, fitness, and even a downpayment on a home).
1. No sign-up bonus (SUB)
2. Cap at 50,000 points per year from rent, so if your rent is more than $4,200/month, too bad
3. 2X points on travel, which is lower than other travel-specific cards
4. 3X points on dining, which is good but below the best of the best. It is equivalent to Chase Sapphire Preferred, though.

The above is a quick summary. I will start to dive into more details below

Is it a card for you?

Rather than giving the standard, there is no “one size fits all” answer, I will try to provide some specific comments, examples, and recommendations:

  • If your main purpose is accumulating credit card reward points for travel, then you probably know that Chase and American Express are among the most popular programs. With Chase, they have the unofficial 5/24 rule so consider that. The 5/24 rule means that you will not be approved for any additional Chase personal credit card if you have opened more than five personal credit cards over the past 24 months. This is not the unofficial rule, however, and there are exceptions.
    • You may want to “max” out of your desired Chase credit cards first.
    • I personally got approved for another credit card from Chase after getting five personal cards in less than two years, so I know there are exceptions. And Chase changes their tactics based on market conditions.
  • Given that Bilt doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus (SUB), if you come across an attractive sign-up bonus (like 60,000 points from Chase or 80,000 points from American Express) and want to take advantage of those sign-up bonuses first, it’s fine.
    • Remember that Bilt caps your earnings from rent at 50,000/per year so do the math to see if it makes more sense to apply for Bilt first (and earn points), and then a few months later apply for Chase or Amerian Express.
  • If you are an expat, who just moved to the US for less than six months, should you get a Bilt card?
    • Per my previous post, your main goal should be improving your credit score. Check out eight tips to improve your credit score as expat in the US.
    • You may not have many options about opening the first credit card so go ahead as best as you can. I recommend City national bank if your situation allows it. Check out this post about “Tips on how to prepare for relocation from Asia to the US“, tip #3 and #4.
    • Once your credit score is good to excellent and you consider between Chase and/or American Express/Capital One, then I think Bilt is a no-brainer for expat who rents. It is a good way to build your credit history too, because your rent payment is reported to the credit bureaus.
  • If you worry that using credit card to pay may increase your credit utilization rate hence lowering your credit score, Bilt has the BiltProtect function, which helps you with that. Bilt does that by “pulling the full rent payment directly from a connected bank account (kind of like a debit card)“. So as long as you connect a bank account to your Bilt account and have enough money for rent, it should be fine.

Double points on the first of every month

Bilt has an ongoing promotion in which you can earn double the points on the first of every month. They call it the Rent day promotion.

This means 6X on dining, 4X on travel, and 2X on other purchases. Given that you need at least five qualifying transactions per month to earn Rent points, one way to do that is to have all of the five transactions on Rent day i.e., kill two birds with one stone.

For example, you can use the Bilt card exclusively on the 1st of every month.

The exact wording from Bilt about the five transaction criteria is “When you make at least five posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you’ll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases (purchases minus returns/credits) for that statement period.”

Protection benefits and Travel benefits

The Bilt credit card is a MasterCard under the MasterCard World Elite program. So it also has many benefits provided by MasterCard.

The full guide to benefits is here on the Wells Fargo site as Wells Fargo issues the card. I list them below and encourage you to read through the fine print if you want to leverage these benefits. They are subject to change at any time, so giving you a direct source is better than summarizing them here.

Cellular Telephone Protection

This coverage reimburses You for the cost to repair or replace the Cell Phone in the event it is Damaged, Stolen, or is unrecoverable due to Involuntary and Accidental Parting. Cracked screens, cosmetic damage or scratches that do not impact the Cell Phone’s capabilities or functionality are not covered.

Mastercard ID Theft Protection

Mastercard ID Theft Protection alerts you to possible identity theft by monitoring the surface, dark and deep web, searching for compromised credentials and potentially damaging use of your registered personal information. It also provides you with resolution services should you find yourself a victim of identity theft.

Purchase security

If an item You purchase is damaged or stolen within the first ninety (90) days from the date of purchase, We may reimburse You the cost to repair or replace the item.

To be eligible for coverage, You must pay for the entire cost of the item with Your Covered Card and/or Bilt Rewards program associated with Your covered Account.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

This coverage reimburses You if a covered accident or theft occurs to the Rental Car.

To be eligible for coverage, the following must occur:

  • You must pay for all of the cost to rent the car with Your Covered Card and/or Bilt Rewards program associated with Your Covered Card Account.
  • You must decline the rental company’s collision loss/damage insurance.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection

If a Trip is cancelled or interrupted for a covered reason (See What’s Covered), You may be reimbursed the cost of nonrefundable Common Carrier tickets.

The rest of the benefits are on the website provided above, so I will stop here.

There you have it. Let me know what you think below. If you think this is suitable for you, you can use this referral link to apply for the Bilt credit card.

Chandler

P.S: If you want to learn even more about the Bilt rewards program, check out the link.

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