Bilt Rewards Becomes One Of Fastest Companies Ever To Hit Unicorn Status

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Bilt Rewards, the loyalty program which lets you earn points for paying rent and which offers probably the single best no annual fee rewards card in the market (the Bilt Mastercard), announced a growth round of $150 million in new funding at a $1.5 billion post-money valuation. Their round was led by Left Lane Capital and included Smash Capital, Wells Fargo, Greystar, Invitation Homes, Camber Creek, Fifth Wall, and Prosus Ventures.

These things can be somewhat challenging to date, but it appears to me that Bilt Rewards is faster from launch to unicorn status than Square, Instacart or Twitter were. And they raised it in this incredibly difficult fundraising environment – a huge vote of confidence from investors.

And there’s two reasons this strikes me as important.

  • Obviously they now have a lot of new capital to invest in the product.

  • When considering which transfer currency is best (among programs including those belonging to Chase, American Express, Citibank and Capital One).

    Bilt’s points are among the most valuable. Their transfer partners include some of the biggest and most important programs, like American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus, the best hotel transfer program in Hyatt, and niche value programs like Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles. The primary caution, that kept me from saying their points are the most valuable currency, has been uncertainty.

  • This comes on top of a $60 million raise at a $350 million valuation last September, a mere three months after launch. This $150 million in new funding gives Bilt Rewards staying power and should give members a lot of confidence:

    • Bilt hadn’t yet proven its staying power, which is to say it was new. That’s not a knock in itself, but we’ve watched Chase spend billions of dollars to defend its currency. Bilt was still a startup. They’re offering tremendous value, but could they keep doing this? A $150 million raise at sends a strong signal.

    • They hadn’t shown they could retain their top of market partnerships. All currencies lose partners. American Express and Chase both have. But, again, Bilt is new.

    The no annual fee Bilt Mastercard is the only credit card to earn points paying rent at no cost (up to $50,000 per year) and earns double points on travel and triple points on dining. (You must make 5 transactions on the card in a month to earn points for that month.)

    Each Bilt point can be spent at 1.25 cents apiece towards travel through their portal or transferred 1:1 into:

    • Star Alliance: Air Canada Aeroplan, Turkish Miles & Smiles, United Airlines MileagePlus
    • oneworld: American AAdvantage, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus
    • SkyTeam: Air France KLM Flying Blue
    • Non-alliance: Emirates Skywards, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles, Aer Lingus Aer Club
    • Hotels: Hyatt, IHG Rewards

    The card seems like an absolute no-brainer if you rent where you live, and a competitive card with many of the better rewards products (and arguably the single best no annual fee card) even if you don’t. While there’s no initial bonus offer, someone renting in a high-priced market for four years could earn up to 200,000 points that no other card would let them earn – far more than the initial bonus offer on nearly any other product.

    That the program is now worth over a billion dollars means they have the kind of staying power that may require me to lift my valuation of their points even further. Hopefully we’ll be able to see them thread whatever needle allowed them to secure both American and United as transfer partners, while working successfully with Aeroplan, Hyatt, and others.

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