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The Bilt World Elite Mastercard, issued by Wells Fargo, has one unique feature – it lets you earn rewards on rent payments without a processing fee. The card might be attractive to nonrenters, too, since it offers extra points on travel and dining purchases and also doesn’t charge an annual fee.
To optimize the card’s benefits, make sure you don’t carry a balance, especially if you’re using it for large monthly payments, like rent.
What Is the Bilt Mastercard?
The Bilt Mastercard was originally introduced along with the Bilt Rewards loyalty program in 2021 as a tool to help renters earn rewards on their rent payments. The card was by invitation only to start, aimed at those living in a Bilt Alliance property. In March, Wells Fargo became the issuing partner, and the card is now available to anyone who wishes to apply.
The Bilt Mastercard complements the Bilt Rewards program, created for the network of 2 million Bilt Alliance apartments, much in the same way that co-branded airline cards complement miles programs. You don’t have to rent at an affiliated property to use the card or program, however.
How Does the Bilt Mastercard Work for Paying Rent?
If you live in a Bilt Alliance property, your card payment will be automatically accepted. But even if your landlord doesn’t accept plastic, you can pay through the Bilt Rewards app and Bilt will send a check on your behalf.
Once your payment is submitted, you will earn one point per dollar of rent. This can be significant as rent is one of the biggest recurring expenses people have. The card also awards three points per dollar spent on dining, two points on travel purchases and one point for all other purchases.
If you’re concerned about the risk of putting such a large payment on a credit card, the Bilt Mastercard has another interesting feature: BiltProtect. When you activate it, you link a bank account to your Bilt account, and Bilt will pull funds directly to pay any rent charges on your card within 48 hours. Not only does this help you avoid carrying a balance, but it keeps more of your credit line available.
What Are the Key Features of the Bilt Mastercard?
In addition to earning one point per dollar on rent (capped at 50,000 points per year), you’ll also earn three points per dollar spent on dining and two points per dollar on travel.
As you earn more points, you can move up the status tiers of the Bilt loyalty program to score extra perks. Once you cross the 25,000-point threshold, you can earn interest on the points you have.
“I got the Bilt card because I was interested in the value proposition of earning 3x points on dining and 2x on travel without having to pay an annual fee,” says Michael Romero, a Bilt cardholder and a points and miles enthusiast. It’s worth noting that Romero is not even a renter.
Point values will vary depending on how you redeem them. You can redeem your points toward future rent payments, a future home down payment, with travel partners, on fitness classes or on merchandise.
Points are redeemable 1:1 with travel partners like United Airlines, American Airlines, World of Hyatt, IHG Rewards and more.
Romero says the transfer partners were the other big reason he got the card, particularly for the American Airlines partnership. While American Airlines credit cards do offer two points per dollar on some categories, they aren’t as expansive as the Bilt Mastercard bonus categories (all travel and all dining), and they don’t offer a three-points-per-dollar bonus.
The card has no annual fee, no fee for rent payments and no foreign transaction fee.
The Bilt Mastercard offers travel benefits and purchase protections that are usually reserved for annual-fee cards. These include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement cellphone protection and car rental collision insurance. Other perks include a three-month DashPass membership and a $5 Lyft credit if you take three rides in a month.
One concern about putting rent on a credit card is that you’d potentially be using up a big chunk of your available credit, says John Ulzheimer, a credit expert who has worked with FICO and Equifax. “Even if they pay their entire credit card balance in full each month, their credit reports will never show a zero balance,” he says. “This can be problematic for their credit scores.”
But if you use the Bilt card’s optional BiltProtect feature, which withdraws your rent payment from a linked bank account, you’ll still enjoy the reward points without damaging your credit utilization (the amount of available credit you’re using, which is a key factor in credit score calculations).
What’s more, if you live in a Bilt Alliance property, you can request to have your rent payments reported to the credit bureaus each month to help build your credit history.
How Can You Maximize the Bilt Mastercard?
- Pay on time each month. While this is necessary to avoid interest on any credit card, it’s especially true on a card that you’re using for large purchases like rent. Plus, the Bilt card’s annual percentage rate can be as high as 24.99%, depending on your creditworthiness. Once interest charges are added, you’re basically canceling out the rewards program, says Ulzheimer.
- Make at least five purchases per month. One quirk of the card is that you must use it five times in a billing cycle in order to earn your points. If you don’t, you get a flat 250 points each month.
- Use the card for rent, dining or travel purchases. Earning points on rent – something you have to pay anyway – is a no-brainer for this card. But you can also earn bonus points on dining and travel at rates comparable to many other rewards cards.
- Redeem with travel partners to squeeze the most value from your points. Some points redemptions can be more valuable than others, so do some number crunching.
Is the Bilt Rewards Mastercard Worth It?
If you’re a renter and you can get rewarded on your biggest monthly expense, why not do it? It won’t cost you anything to carry the card, and you can also score bonus points if you enjoy dining out and traveling. People who enjoy the flexibility of transferring points can also get a lot of value.
If most of your nonrent spending is on everyday purchases like gas and groceries, you may want to use a flat-rate cash back card that offers 1.5% or 2% for those purchases.
If you do decide to give the Bilt Mastercard a try, consider setting up the BiltProtect feature so that you don’t use up a big chunk of your credit line. Either way, make sure you don’t end up letting those rent payments revolve with high interest charges on top.