We are witnessing many IG travel-content creators promoting a credit card without providing transparency on its potential drawbacks.
We have been aware of the BILT Credit Card for over a year now, having been invited to a special Clubhouse Room to ask questions about the credit card last spring. We shared our concerns about how the credit card is geared towards high-income earners and whether low-income renters could be affected by increased rents to cover for the rewards being provided by the credit card. We didn’t receive a satisfactory response, so instead we decided against promoting this credit card. Now that we are seeing several IG travel-content creators pushing the BILT credit card as the “new travel credit card to get”, we knew we had to speak up about our experience with this card. We also wanted to share with you some important points to consider before signing up for this card.
- The Credit Card is Backed by Wells Fargo – We ain’t saying that there’s one saintly credit card company, but Wells Fargo has been found guilty of vary shady business practices. In 2016, Wells Fargo was found guilty of opening 2 million accounts without permission from costumers. In 2020, they are being accused of “fraudulently overcharging hundreds of commercial customers, many of them small and medium-sized businesses and federally-insured financial institutions…” The BILT card does come with a $0 annual fee, which can entice unsuspecting customers to sign up for a financial product they are not well-versed to use.
- Your Landlord gets paid via Check if your Apartment Building isn’t part of the BILT Alliance – If you are part of the BILT Alliance of apartment buildings, you pay your rent with your credit card and that’s that. Pero, if your apartment building is NOT part of the alliance, BILT will cut a check out to your landlord. We’ve heard through the grapevine of tenants having issues with this system, leaving them in the cold with their landlords.
- Your Rent Needs to be $2083 minimum per month to earn Silver Level – The card is built on 4 status tiers that an individual can reach after a certain amount of spending. In order to reach Silver Status, the second status tier, you have to spend $25,000 on the BILT card to gain a 10% bonus points on new leases and renewals. An individual could achieve this in a year, but you have to think about the opportunity cost of missing out on more flexible points & miles currencies like Amex Membership Rewards Points, Capital One Venture Miles, or Chase Sapphire Points. Furthermore, you must rent within the BILT Rewards Alliance of apartment buildings to be eligible for any bonus.
- It’s not a Travel Credit Card – The BILT credit card only has 11 transfer partners, with limited additional travel benefits. Most notably, it does not provide lounge access at airports. The card also earns less points on dining & travel than some of its competitors. Although the Amex Gold has a $250 annual fee, you earn more points per dollar on dining and travel vs the BILT Mastercard, and your effective annual rate drops to $10 if you maximize the Uber Eats and dining credits. Simply put, this credit card is more of a “lifestyle” credit card than a travel-hackers credit card.
- The Weird Beginning – After we brought up concerns about the credit card in the initial Clubhouse meeting, we were not invited to future meetings. Those that agreed to become “promoters”, BILT hosted a meetup in the Caribbean to discuss everything regarding the BILT card. We won’t mention names, but we don’t agree with the practice of promoting credit cards without disclosing its potential drawbacks. We don’t even know if these individuals have the card themselves or if they are benefiting from promoting the card beyond referrals. Pero si hicieron rumba anoche:
As with any credit card, applying for the product is a personal finance decision that you have to make for your benefit. Our aim with this article is to not only provide the drawbacks that this credit card has (as with any credit card) but to also call out the culture within the travel IG community of promoting financial products as the “best new product” without providing clear information on its drawbacks or even if they are benefiting from its promotion. We need this accountability within the travel IG community, especially among minority travel-hackers, to ensure we don’t perpetuate harmful business practices to our community.
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