Why I got the Bilt Mastercard even though I don’t rent—bonus points and transfer partners

When it hit the market, the Bilt Mastercard’s main pitch was that it was a groundbreaking credit card for renters—but most people who don’t rent an apartment or house, and are instead homeowners, didn’t pay much attention. Despite being a homeowner who doesn’t pay rent, the Bilt Mastercard has become my go-to credit card over the past year and a half or so. 

Thanks to a mix of amazing redemption options and the ease of earning thousands of points on my normal spending that can be transferred to numerous airline and hotel loyalty programs, I’m hoping you’ll see why I love the Bilt card, and why it might fit in your wallet too.

What is the Bilt Mastercard?

Issued by Wells Fargo, the Bilt Mastercard offers users the ability to pay rent by credit card while avoiding the transaction fee you’d normally get charged for doing so—and there’s also no annual fee for the credit card itself. Paying rent is a breeze, whether your property is in the Bilt Alliance or not, and whether you pay through an online portal or even with a paper check.

Points are earned through credit card spending with a fairly simple earning structure, and can be transferred to over a dozen of the most popular transfer partners in the travel space today.

The card also provides a few useful perks, including: Cell Phone Protection, Trip Delay Reimbursement, Trip Cancellation Protection, Purchase Protection, and Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (primary coverage in most cases, while most cards merely offer secondary coverage). You even get access to a travel concierge. Some of these benefits are fairly standard for credit cards that charge annual fees, but finding them on a no-annual-fee card is a true rarity. 

How to earn points with the Bilt Mastercard

Rewards earned from using your Bilt Mastercard are very simple to understand and don’t require a degree to decipher. The card earns at the following rates:

  • 3X points per dollar spent on dining.
  • 2X points per dollar spent on travel.
  • 1X point per dollar spent on rent (up to 100,000 points per calendar year).
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

You must use the card five times per statement period to earn points.

This card also earns 5X points per dollar spent on Lyft when you link your Bilt and Lyft accounts. 

Many properties may not allow residents to pay rent by credit card, and those that do accept credit cards will typically levy a fee so costly as to negate the value of any rewards you’d earn with the card. Bilt, however, lets you pay rent, avoid the transaction fee, and earn rewards too. 

Those who pay rent through an online portal can get a routing number and an account number from Bilt so the portal accepts the payment like it would from a checking account. And if you don’t have an online portal, Bilt can even send a paper check to your landlord. It’s also worth noting you can enroll in something called Rent Reporting, where Bilt will report your on-time rent payment activity to all three credit bureaus, potentially helping you build your credit history.

But why should you consider the Bilt Mastercard even if you don’t rent? I’ll explain.

Why the Bilt card is good for those who don’t rent

There are competing cards that offer 2 points per dollar or 2% cash back on general spending, or even multiple points per dollar on dining or travel purchases—but many of the most rewarding cards have annual fees. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a popular travel card that earns flexible points at an elevated rate on dining, with an annual fee of $95.

Bilt offers you travel protections, strong earning rates on dining and travel, access to a concierge, competitive transfer partners and more, all in a $0-annual-fee credit card.

The fact that you can redeem points for travel in Bilt’s portal at a value of 1.25 cents each, or transfer them at a 1:1 rate to popular airline and hotel programs including Alaska Airlines, United MileagePlus, and World of Hyatt, makes this a card worth holding on to. You can even redeem points as a statement credit against your balance, though we don’t recommend this (you’ll get a subpar value of a little more than half a cent per point if you choose this option). 

But there’s one perk of this card that I consider it’s true extra travel hack that other cards can’t compete with—what Bilt calls “Rent Day” each month. Don’t be fooled by the name, because Rent Day offers exceptional value to all cardholders, regardless of whether you rent or not.

Let’s take a deep dive into Rent Day and how you can squeeze maximum value out of this card.

What is Bilt Rent Day?

Possibly the best feature of the Bilt Mastercard is a promotion that happens 12 times a year. The first day of each month, on what Bilt calls “Rent Day,” your earnings on most purchases are doubled, meaning that the 3X, 2X, 1X structure is now worth twice as much.

On Rent Day you’ll earn (up to 10,000 points):

  • 6X points on dining.
  • 4X points on travel.
  • 2X points on spending elsewhere.
  • 1X on rent (sorry, not doubled!).

Also, each Rent Day, Bilt runs a special promotion that often features opportunities to earn extra points. This could be something as simple as 1,000 points for linking a credit card to your Bilt profile or it could be a huge bonus on one of the transfer partners.

What are Bilt’s transfer partners?

Earning your points is only half the fun. Now that you’ve built up a cache of Bilt Rewards points, moving them to some transfer partners at a 1:1 rate could be the key to making your dream vacation a reality. You’ll likely recognize at least a few of the names on the list like United Airlines and Hyatt, but there are well over a dozen loyalty programs you can leverage as a Bilt cardholder.

Airlines:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan®
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue®
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines AAdvantage (until June 2024)
  • Avianca Lifemiles 
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Emirates Skywards®
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Red®

Hotels:

The Bilt Mastercard has long been the only credit card to offer American Airlines as a travel partner—unless you count Marriott Bonvoy cards, though Marriott points transfer at a less-than-ideal ratio of 3:1 compared to Bilt’s 1:1 transfers. 

I love moving my points over to Alaska Airlines to top off for a special award, but I’ve also found a lot of value with Hyatt and Air France as well.

Hyatt is a transfer partner with both Bilt and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so I can often find that combining my points between the two programs into my Hyatt balance gets me to the amount needed for a hotel stay.

Air France is also a partner with American Express, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and even the recently released Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Visa® Card, so getting to Europe using miles is much easier when you can transfer in from multiple sources.

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Visa® Card

Intro Bonus

Earn 60,000 bonus rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

Annual fee $95
Regular APR See Terms

Special transfer partner bonuses

Perhaps the most powerful and compelling reason to get the Bilt Mastercard as a non-renter is the transfer bonuses typically offered by Bilt a few times a year to various travel partners.

Back on May 1, 2023, Bilt offered a 100% transfer bonus to the Air France/KLM Flying Blue program. That means that if you sent 1,000 Bilt points to Air France you would get 2,000 Flying Blue miles. 

A screenshot showing the 100% bonus for transferring Bilt points to Flying Blue miles on May 1, 2023.

These kinds of transfer bonuses are virtually unheard of, as many other companies such as Chase or American Express would generally offer, at most, 30% to 40% bonuses. When these 100% transfer bonuses come around, you’ve got to jump.

Some months later, Bilt offered the same bonus, but with the ability to earn up to a 150% transfer bonus based on your program status. This meant that if I emptied out my Bilt balance of 100,000 points, I would get 250,000 Air France miles. I didn’t hesitate.

A screenshot showing the 150% bonus for transferring Bilt points to Flying Blue miles during the January 2024 Rent Day.

Since we can often find flights from the U.S. to Europe for 50,000 miles in business class each way, this means that with the 50,000 miles from the May transfer bonus and the 250,000 miles from the January bonus, we now had 300,000 miles in order to fly three round-trip tickets from the U.S. to Europe in business class.

How to maximize your Bilt points

Since the biggest benefit of this card is the double points structure on the first of the month, waiting to make big purchases on the first of the month is the way to get the most points possible. The question then becomes, how much can you possibly put on the card in one day? Let’s break down each of the three categories and see how to maximize your points.

Just note that per the fine print, bonus points earned on Rent Day are capped at a maximum of 10,000. So, any spending after hitting that cap will just earn rewards at the regular rates.  

How to get extra dining points on Rent Day

While going out to eat on Rent Day seems simple enough, there are even easier ways to earn 6X points on the first of the month.

One way that we use our card is by going to our favorite local restaurants and asking them to sell us gift cards that we can use throughout the month. There’s a ramen restaurant down the street that we go to three to four times a month, so we head over there and buy a few gift cards on the first of the month, making sure to secure that 6X rewards rate.

Another way is by loading money into our favorite coffee shop’s app. By reloading money into the app, you’re able to use that money throughout the month and get credit for making the purchase on day one.

And, Bilt partners with restaurants in more than two dozen cities for the Bilt Dining program, which offers rewards up to 10X points per dollar spent (on top of the usual rewards you’d earn for a dining purchase) when paying with a card linked in the Bilt app. If you can stack the Rent Day 6X rewards rate with bonus points for eating at a Bilt Dining restaurant, you’ll be rolling in points.

How to get extra travel points on Rent Day

Buying your flights on the first of the month will make sure that you get your 4X rewards rate, but what about hotels? Most hotels will sell you an advance purchase rate that is charged at time of booking—but most hotels offer flexible policies that allow you to pay at check out. 

Try calling ahead to those hotels and ask for a credit card authorization form. Most, if not all hotels, will be able to send you over a form and have you prepay for your room. I’ve also called hotels that I’m staying at in the future and ask them if they can take a deposit for the room today, citing that I have a special credit card offer I’m looking to take advantage of. I haven’t had a hotel say no yet, and it lets you make the purchase on the first of the month.

How to get assorted extra points on Rent Day

Just like you can prepay for many of the restaurants you dine at, if you have other local stores that you shop at, such as a dry cleaners, nail salons, etc, consider prepaying or buying gift cards with them.

Many city utilities such as the power company or water company will let you pay over your balance and carry a negative balance month to month. Also, we’ve recently paid our property taxes with our credit card, netting us a huge chunk of points on Rent Day.

The takeaway

Most people will see that Bilt is a credit card for those who rent and never pay it any more attention. But by focusing only on the rental aspect of the card, you’re missing one of the strongest travel credit cards on the market today. 

Between excellent bonus earning rates for dining and travel purchases to the ability to transfer to popular airline and hotel programs like Flying Blue and World of Hyatt, the earning and redemption possibilities are varied enough for everyone. 

Lastly, if you’re able to build up a cache of Bilt points and can hold off for a generous transfer bonus to a partner, you and your family could be flying around the world in first class just like us.


Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying. 

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