Strategically maximizing potential rewards on every dollar you spend is a popular way to earn benefits and travel. However, one of the larger recurring expenses, rent, hasn’t traditionally been an area where you can earn rewards, leaving significant earnings potential on the table. Bilt Rewards is a rewards platform, loyalty program, and branded credit card that offers members a way to earn rewards through their rental payments. The card is available for no annual fee, offers 1x points on rent payments, 2x on travel, and 3x on dining, making it a card that’s versatile enough for everyday use, not just rent. The rewards platform covers 2M+ units across its partner network of the largest rental operators and the credit card can be used to pay rent without fees anywhere; Bilt will send a check on your behalf to your landlord. Not only can earned points can be redeemed in a conventional manner but also for a downpayment on a home purchase and your rewards balance earns interest as well.
AlleyWatch caught up with Bilt Rewards CEO and Founder Ankur Jain to learn more about how Bilt locks rewards for the 109M Americans that are renters, the company, strategic plans, recent round of funding, which brings the total funding raised to $63.3M, and much, much more.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Our investors are a set of strategic partners, ranging from financial institutions Wells Fargo and Mastercard to a group of the nation’s largest real estate owners including Blackstone, AvalonBay Communities, Douglas Elliman, Equity Residential, GID, LENx, The Moinian Group; Morgan Properties, Related Group, and Starwood Capital Group among others. This was our first formal growth funding round.
Tell us about the product or service that Bilt Rewards offers.
Bilt Rewards is the first-ever loyalty program and co-brand credit card for renters, enabling the country’s 109 million renters to finally earn points on their largest monthly expense with no fees. The free Bilt Rewards loyalty program is available to renters living within the Bilt Rewards Alliance, a network of more than 2 million rental units across the country, or by using the Bilt Mastercard, the first credit card that can be used to pay rent with no fees at any rental unit in the U.S.
What inspired the start of Bilt Rewards?
We created Bilt as a team of frustrated renters who could never earn anything back on our largest monthly expense.
Today, more than 109 million Americans rent, with Millennial and Gen-Z renters estimated to spend upwards of $200K on rent each in their lifetimes for an average period of 12 years. Add to that today’s constant headlines declaring the rising cost of rent, and it’s clear this is a market full of opportunity and primed for disruption.
In the same way that airlines and hotels have created loyalists and billion-dollar businesses through their rewards programs over the last several decades, Bilt is the first-ever rewards program for the $500 billion/year rental market. With Bilt Rewards, renters are finally able to earn points on their rent payments, with no fees, and can even build a path towards homeownership.
How is Bilt Rewards different?
Bilt has only existed for 3 months, and already we’ve achieved a lot of “firsts”.
- Bilt Rewards is the first and own loyalty program for renters, and the first and only co-brand credit card you can use to pay rent with no fees.
- Our Bilt Alliance Network is also the first and only alliance of major property owners to create this kind of program
- We are the first company that has received formal approval to allow members to use points towards a downpayment on a home.
- We are also the first loyalty program to offer members interest on their accumulated points balance.
We’re confident we will have many more firsts to add to this list soon.
What market does Bilt Rewards target and how big is it?
Bilt is targeting 109 million American renters that spend $500 billion/year collectively in the rental market.
What’s your business model?
Bilt Rewards generates revenue through its partnership with property owners, the interchange on non-rent spend from the Bilt Mastercard, and its mortgage business. We market through organic distribution channels within the Bilt Rewards Alliance – our network of more than 2 million rental units nationwide.
What are your post-COVID office plans??
We believe in having a strong in-office culture and encourage all vaccinated employees to work out of our NYC office as often as possible.
What was the funding process like?
The majority of the funding came from strategic partners with who we have been working with to build this program since the very beginning. And the support from our partners in this early funding round validates that we are serving a real need for both consumers and businesses.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We were asking people to believe in something that’s never been done before. Conceptually it’s a product that everyone sees a need for, but no one has been able to execute on until now.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Many of our partners have told us that they believe Bilt will transform the value proposition for residents that want to use a credit card and for landlords that want to accept them.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
With our new funding, we plan to expand Bilt’s real estate and loyalty partner network, grow organic distribution channels, and open the Bilt Rewards platform and Bilt Mastercard more widely to the public.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Stay focused on proving out your customer and core product. There is more capital in the market than ever, but there is a shortage of great products that really make consumers’ lives better.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
In the near term, we are most focused on spreading our distribution and building customer acquisition.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC
Dante West Village!