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You’ve heard me talk quite a bit about Bilt over the past couple of years. They started out as a unique program that allowed folks to earn valuable points and miles when paying their rent. They also added a credit card to help renters and non-renters alike earn more points. Bilt launched with popular partners such as Hyatt and added valuable partners along the way. Now, they boast a valuable list of transfer partners:
- Avianca LifeMiles (recently added)
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- British Airways
- United Airlines Mileage Plus
- Emirates Skywards
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- World of Hyatt
- Marriott Bonvoy
- IHG Rewards
Bilt absolutely crushed it in 2023 with some incredible transfer bonuses, the likes of which we hadn’t seen before. I took advantage of a 100% transfer bonus to Hawaiian because I really thought it couldn’t get any better. Bilt topped that with a 150% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic. As we head into 2024, we have some news from Bilt that could make it harder for some folks to enjoy elite status with Bilt.
Bilt Rewards Elite Status Qualification Changes
Qualifying for Bilt Rewards status used to be pretty straightforward:
- Silver: Earn 25,000 points in a calendar year.
- Gold: Earn 50,000 points in a calendar year.
- Platinum: Earn 100,000 points in a calendar year.
Starting in January, 2024 it gets a bit more complicated. There’s now a path to earn via points and a separate path to earn via credit card spend:
Earning points is still pretty straightforward. To earn top-tier Platinum status and have access to those incredible 150% transfer bonuses, you’ll need to earn 200,000 points in a calendar year. When you earn bonus points from partners like Lyft or SoulCycle, those count towards earning status. However, the number of points needed is much higher than before.
The spending path gets a bit more complicated. Let’s start with the easy part. All spending on the Bilt Mastercard qualifies on the spend path. To accelerate your spending towards Bilt Rewards elite status, you can also earn spending credit when you link virtually any credit card to your Bilt Wallet and spend with a Bilt partner. That means if you link a non-Bilt credit card to your Bilt Wallet and charge a Lyft ride, fitness class with SoulCycle or a Bilt Dining restaurant, that spending counts towards the dollars earned on the spend track.
The upside of this change is that you can make progress towards Bilt Rewards elite status while double-dipping elsewhere. In theory (and we obviously haven’t tested this yet) you could link your Chase Sapphire Reserve to your Bilt Rewards account and charge your Lyft rides to it. This should earn you bonus points on your Chase Sapphire Reserve and spend credit towards Bilt Rewards status.
In theory, the same should apply for a credit card that earns a dining bonus if you link it in your Bilt Wallet and it’s a part of the Bilt Dining program.
Bilt Rewards is also promising some new benefits, though we don’t know what they are yet. You’ll receive a new reward for every 25,000 points earned. And, they’re promising to add new status-based benefits. Most importantly, they’ve messaged that the incredible transfer bonuses will continue.
It’s a bit of a leap of faith that these rewards will be worth it, since Bilt is asking members to start spending now while they roll out the rest of the new program. They’ve absolutely earned the benefit of the doubt, IMO. The transfer bonuses are truly unprecedented. And, they’ve continued to add some pretty easy ways to earn points, such as the Lyft partnership and Bilt Dining.
I’d be honest if I said I wasn’t scratching my head a bit. Bilt has continued to build a very rewarding program the past couple of years. This rollout has two elements that aren’t typical for them.
First, it’s not fully baked. I know they’re still a “startup” but it’s hard to think of them that way. They’ve built a very successful program that people get tremendous value from. To launch a new elite program without all the details squared away isn’t normally what I’d expect. From other loyalty programs? Sure.
Second, the new program is more complicated. The great thing about Bilt Rewards was the simplicity. Where many other loyalty programs introduced lots of rules and complexity, Bilt made it easy to figure out how you earn elite status. Now, there are two separate tracks. Not terribly complicated, but there are other nuances inside those tiers. There will undoubtedly be some folks confused about the difference between points and credit card spending, especially those who haven’t linked cards in their Bilt wallet yet. I’m obviously a fan of Bilt but I still haven’t linked a credit card.
The Final Two Pennies
It feels like the elite status changes are mostly good news for folks who spend on a monthly basis on the Bilt Mastercard. For renters without the credit card it’ll be more difficult. For folks who participate in multiple parts of the Bilt ecosystem (Bilt Mastercard, Bilt Dining, etc) it shouldn’t be a problem at all to earn status.
If Bilt Dining continues to expand to additional markets that can be a consistent way for most Bilt members to earn. Right now, it’s limited in coverage.
I’m a big fan of Bilt Rewards. They’ve continued to improve the program. The transfer bonuses in 2023 have been very rewarding for my family. We were able to take multiple trips due to those bonuses. All of that makes me believe that we will learn more in early 2024 and that the additional rewards/bonuses will be worth it. I’d also expect a bit more clarity on how folks earn elite status.
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