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- Bilt Rewards helps renters avoid a surcharge when paying rent with a credit card.
- The program also lets renters earn points that can be used for a mortgage down payment or even toward their rent.
- Bilt allows renters to have more cash on hand for other expenses like renters insurance.
- Read more Personal Finance Insider coverage »
One in four renters spend half of their income on rent, according to a Harvard University study. With rental and housing sale prices steadily increasing, many millennials believe that homeownership is not attainable.
Enter Bilt Renters Rewards, an innovative new program that aims to give renters more for the money they pay each month, and it could even help renters save toward homeownership.
With Bilt Rewards, renters earn points for paying rent with their credit card, with no fee attached. Points can be redeemed for travel, to pay rent, or even to put toward a mortgage down payment. Bilt is funded by Kairos, which is also behind Rhino Insurance (which lets renters get around the cash security deposit requirement by paying a monthly fee).
What is Bilt Rewards?
Bilt Rewards is a startup that rewards renters for paying rent. It has a two-pronged approach. The first is a partnership with rental property management companies, known as the Bilt Alliance Network, allowing renters to pay rent using their app without a fee. (Any landlord or property manager who wants to sign up should email [email protected].)
Most rent payment apps charge renters a fee if they pay with credit card. Through Bilt’s program, renters avoid the credit card surcharge and earn points that can be used as a down payment on your mortgage, discount on rent, or for other rewards.
As Insider’s Jasmin Baron reported, if you’re a renter in the Bilt Alliance network, you can earn a base of 250 points per month (without needing the Bilt Mastercard) just by paying your rent through the Bilt Rewards app.
For those who aren’t tenants within the Bilt Alliance, the Bilt Mastercard offers a no-fee way to pay rent to any landlord in the US. To avoid the credit card surcharge, Bilt sends a check for rent to your landlord at no cost to you.
With the card, you can earn up to 2x points on rent payments of up to $2,000 per month, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
You’ll need to spend at least $250 per month on non-rent purchases on the Bilt card to earn rewards. However, to get the most rewards from the program (2x points on rent), you’ll have to spend $3,500 in non-rent purchases on the card a month (earning just 1x points).
Bilt frees up renters cash to afford renters insurance or a house down payment
Only 37% of renters have renters insurance. Some renters assume that the landlord’s insurance will cover damage to their property, but the landlord’s insurance covers the building, not personal possessions in your rental. If your personal belongings are stolen or damaged by a fire or storm, you’re out of luck without renters insurance.
Also, contrary to what some think, renters insurance is inexpensive – around $15 a month. On a basic level, renters insurance covers your belongings from theft, damage, and unexpected events. It’s an insurance policy you pay for on an annual or monthly basis.
The points you earn from Bilt can be used toward rent payment, and Bilt gets rid of the surcharge many other landlords charge for paying rent by credit card, freeing up funds to afford renters insurance.
If you are ready for homeownership, Bilt will offer the opportunity to use points for a down payment on a mortgage with points worth up to 1.5 cents each. This means those years of paying rent will get you some benefit in return.
Ronda Lee is an associate editor for insurance at Personal Finance Insider covering life, auto, homeowners, and renters insurance for consumers. She is also a licensed attorney who practiced litigation and insurance defense.
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