Why We Invested in Bilt Rewards
Deal Team: Travis Skelly, Adi Sivaraman
Last month Bilt Rewards, the first housing-focused loyalty program, announced a $60M growth round. PruVen couldn’t be more excited to participate in the round and partner with the Bilt Team.
Why We’re Excited
Bilt has developed a one-of-a-kind rewards platform for the 100 million renters in the U.S. and their $600 billion in annual rent spend. Bilt launched the Bilt Mastercard, the only co-brand credit card that lets renters earn points and rewards on their monthly rent for zero fees. Bilt was developed in tandem with the Bilt Alliance, a network of the major multifamily property owners, which represents more than 2 million units and includes five of the seven largest multifamily owners. With its payments and rewards foundation, Bilt is creating a leading consumer brand and developing a multi-product platform that will offer insurance, mortgages and more.
The acute market demand (coupled with the lack of a credible solution today) is why we’re so excited to partner with Bilt. Bilt’s value proposition is simple – make renting rewarding.
Bilt and Mastercard created the first credit card that allows consumers to earn reward points just by paying their rent, but without any of the fees or penalties generally associated with using a credit card on rent (and landlords bear no costs). The Bilt Mastercard offers cardholders a credit card, with a highly attractive earnings and redemption scheme. Bilt’s “0-1-2-3” value prop means that cardholders pay 0 fees and get 1 point on rent spend, 2 points on travel, and 3 points on dining (all other purchases earn 1 point). An additional benefit to card holders is the ability to improve their credit score with each rent payment. Finally, the Bilt card includes Mastercard’s World Elite benefits including trip insurance and cell phone protection.
Bilt also has a “rewards-only” product that enables Bilt to sell rewards points directly to landlords, which they offer to tenants as incentives. Landlords can use the Bilt points to incentivize their tenants for new tenant referrals, lease renewals, or on time rent payments.
Two key elements of a strong loyalty and rewards program are (i) what you can redeem your rewards for and (ii) the value of the redemption currency. Bilt has developed a best-in-class rewards program in both of these categories. There are very few comparable “no annual fee” credit cards with a similar premium rewards program. To underscore this, Chris Dong at The Points guy says that “one of the most impressive elements of the entire Bilt program is actually the loyalty program.”
Travel – Bilt partners with airlines and hotels today to offer members rewards that are equivalent with their own in-house loyalty programs. Bilt Rewards 1:1 transfer partners today include American Airlines, Air Canada, Emirates, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines, Hyatt, and IHG with more to come.
Retail Partners – Bilt offers discounts on Lyft and Doordash, and the ability to redeem rewards for fitness classes such as SoulCycle, Rumble, and Y7.
Bilt Collection – Curated seasonal catalogue of home goods and art.
Housing – One of the most unique elements of the Bilt rewards program is the ability to redeem points for rent credit and even toward a down payment of a future mortgage. This is a unique reward for a credit card that is especially exciting because points redeemed on mortgage down payments can be worth 1.5x as much as other rewards. In addition, for renters whose landlords are partnered with Bilt, rewards points can be used toward rent credit. Especially since home ownership has become so much more challenging in recent decades, we think that Bilt’s unique ability to offer a path to home ownership for renters will make the card extremely attractive.
As a side note, it’s telling that every member of the PruVen team who rents eagerly signed up for the Bilt card as soon as we started discussing this investment opportunity.
Bilt is founded and led by Ankur Jain. In addition to Bilt, Ankur is also the founder of Rhino, a rent security deposit replacement startup. He also founded Humin, a contact management app that was acquired by Tinder. Ankur’s background at Rhino made him the right person to build out a network of landlords as a distribution channel for Bilt. This network, the Bilt Alliance, includes Blackstone, Related Companies, Equity Residential AvalonBay, and others. Many of the Alliance members are also investors in Bilt, further aligning incentives and powering the rollout of Bilt to tenants. Finally, in addition to Ankur, the Bilt team consists of seasoned industry veterans including Dave Canty, who built the rewards program at JetBlue, and Brian Kelly, who founded The Points Guy, is a Senior Advisor. This amazing team supported by a powerful group of real estate owners have positioned the company to be a unique rewards platform with the ability to scale rapidly.
Congratulations to Ankur and his team, we can’t wait to work with you and see what the future has in store for Bilt!