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Recently, the Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell about the Bilt Mastercard®, a credit card that allows users to earn points on rent payments without transaction fees. Wells Fargo, Bilt's bank partner, is experiencing significant financial losses due to this partnership, and there are concerns about whether the contract will be renewed.


In 2022, Bilt launched with a simple premise: to help people earn points on rent payments without incurring transaction fees. This concept was familiar to some, reminiscent of options like RadPad, which charged a 2.99% fee.


The Bilt Card appealed to credit card users as it could help earn points on a category that was otherwise dismissed, for no additional cost. Despite initial skepticism, the card gained traction.

Use the card 5 times each statement period to earn points. See the Bilt Mastercard® rates and fees here:

Bilt's Growth and Challenges

Ankur Jain founded Bilt in 2019, initially partnering with Evolve Bank before moving to Wells Fargo to scale the business. This transition highlighted a common fintech strategy: partnering with traditional banks for their user acquisition and interface capabilities.


Despite Wells Fargo's initial enthusiasm, the financial losses have been substantial. The bank is losing as much as $10 million every month on the program, mainly from savvy customers who maximize the card's benefits without carrying balances.

Wells Fargo's Position

Wells Fargo anticipated that the card would attract younger customers who could eventually be cross-sold other banking products like mortgages. However, these projections have not materialized. The goal of cross-selling fell flat as Wells Fargo pulled back from mortgage lending.


Additionally, the card's economics didn't hold up as expected: only 35% of the spend was non-rent, and the expected interest from carried balances was significantly lower than projected.

Ankur's Response

Ankur Jain, CEO of Bilt, responded to the Wall Street Journal's report, clarifying that Wells Fargo's losses are primarily acquisition costs.

He emphasized that the Bilt Card's primary users are young professionals in major cities, often with high incomes. Customers that would otherwise cost competitors a lot more money to acquire than what Wells Fargo is paying Bilt.

Potential Solutions

Given the financial strain, I see a few ways this situation could be address:

  1. Lower Acquisition Costs: Wells Fargo could pay Bilt less per new customer.
  2. Adjust Interchange Split: Modify the revenue split on non-rent transactions to favor Wells Fargo.
  3. Reduce Fees for Rent Payments: Wells Fargo could pay less to Bilt for processing rent payments.
  4. Encourage Balance Carrying: Not sure how this would work, but “technically” an option.
  5. Introduce an Annual Fee: This could offset costs but might deter new sign-ups.
  6. Increase Minimum Transaction Size: Raise the minimum spend requirement to ensure more significant transactions.
  7. Increase Number of Swipes: Require more frequent use of the card.
  8. Offer Credits with an Annual Fee: Similar to other cards, provide credits to justify an annual fee.

Sebby's Take

From my perspective, the best approaches might be to pay Bilt less for rent payments or to increase the number of required swipes. These options could balance the financials without alienating customers.


This would address one of the primary issues (more everyday purchases) without causing too much friction.

Final Thoughts

This situation presents a complex challenge for both Bilt and Wells Fargo. The future of their partnership (post-2029) will depend on finding a sustainable financial model that benefits both parties.

If you're considering diversifying your credit card portfolio, explore options like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, both offering competitive intro bonuses and solid benefits.

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