Bilt Rewards has today announced that they are adding two new transfer partners: United Mileage Plus and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. Cathay’s Asia Miles is a broadly useful program that partners with a number of other transferrable currencies and it certainly enhances the value proposition, but the real surprise here is that this relatively young rewards program was somehow able to add yet another completely unexpected partnership in United Mileage Plus. Ever since Bilt re-bilt the rewards structure, things just keep getting better.
Full list of Bilt Rewards transfer partners
With today’s additions, Bilt Rewards points now transfer 1:1 to the following programs:
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Air Canada’s Aeroplan
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (new)
- Emirates Skywards
- Air France / KLM Flying Blue
- IHG Rewards
- Turkish Miles & Smiles
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- United Mileage Plus (new)
- World of Hyatt
That is an impressive list of transfer partners. While there are multiple ways to earn rewards for paying your rent, there’s no doubt that Bilt offers a simple solution for it and the chance to earn increasingly valuable rewards doing so.
To me, the key intrigue in this program remains that it enables people to easily earn points on what may be their largest monthly expense with no no annual fee and then transfer those points to such a unique mix of partners. No other single rewards currency has more than one of the big three US carriers. Having two of the big three plus the ability to transfer to useful foreign partners like Aeroplan, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Miles & Smiles, and World of Hyatt is pretty awesome. Bilt Rewards has fewer transfer partners than some programs, but they have done an excellent job of curating what are arguably the most useful transfer partner programs for US-based travelers.
Asia Miles strengths
Greg has written about how the Asia Miles program is highly hackable. Those who would like to fly in first class for less have a potentially great option in Asia Miles, though I do wonder if and when Cathay Pacific will ever be able to return to pre-pandemic form.
Asia Miles has many great uses, including for travel on oneworld partners. They can be particularly good for British Airways across the pond as you’ll pay far less in surcharges when redeeming Asia Miles for those flights. The other great use has historically been for Cathay Pacific flights since Cathay releases more space to its own members and the chart is so potentially hackable, though right now I’m not sure that has the same utility that it has in the past. The pandemic has been hard on airlines in general, but it seems as though it has been particularly hard on Cathay Pacific.
Still, Asia Miles is a great transfer partner to have and long term it should represent a great add for Bilt Rewards.
United Mileage Plus strengths
The key strengths added with United Mileage Plus are that United adds no surcharges to award tickets and the ability to leverage the excursionist perk for a free one-way flight.
United Mileage Plus is also often your best bet for booking United domestic flights. These days, United releases fewer and fewer seats to partners for booking, so Mileage Plus is often your only option for booking a United award flight. With dynamic pricing, we’ve also seen United offer great deals on some of its own flights, including a recent sale to/from Hawaii for as few as about 9K miles each way.
I’ve been using SeatSpy more and more lately when looking for United flights since it shows a year of saver availability at a time. Given the challenges of booking with Turkish Miles & Smiles, I often see situations where booking via United may be the best bet (and indeed I booked a flight between Maui and Newark in that United sale for 12.5K United miles one way since it was so easy to book via United).
This is a huge value enhancement for Bilt Rewards. Not only does it continue to make a lot of sense to earn points for paying rent with Bilt given the increasing flexibility you get with such useful partners, the Bilt Mastercard is also on the rise. While 3x dining wouldn’t be the highest return in my wallet for dining spend, it is hard to ignore the opportunity to earn 3x American Airlines miles, United Mileage Plus Miles, or World of Hyatt points on dining charges. Having the ability to cherry pick the right award when the time comes from a set of partners that just keeps getting better makes 3x dining with no annual fee sound better and better. Just keep in mind that you need to make 5 transactions per month on that Bilt Mastercard to earn rewards on any of your purchases.