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The Bilt Rewards app now has an in-app, real time flight award search feature. This is innovative and extremely useful. Other transferrable points currencies require you to go to the airline's loyalty program, search there, come back to transfer your points, then back to the airline to make a booking. For now, this only works on two airlines. Here's a look at this helpful new feature.
Quick Recap on Bilt Rewards
While not as well-known as other transferable points like American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards, Bilt Rewards has come onto the scene over the last year and made several improvements in that time. You can read our look at Bilt Rewards here: How Does Bilt Staack Up for Earning Rewards by Paying Rent?
Earning Bilt Rewards
You can earn 250 rewards per rent payment. Not too impressive. The real points earning comes when you have The Bilt Mastercard®. This World Elite Mastercard offers a $0 annual fee and a simple earnings structure for cardholders, as long as 5 transactions are made each month:
- 1x points on rent payments, with an annual cap of 50,000 points
- 2x points on travel
- 3x points on dining
- All other purchases earn 1x points with no cap on earnings
You can read more about this card here.
Bilt Rewards Transfer Partners
You can transfer your Bilt Rewards to 7 airline programs and 2 hotel programs:
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France/KLM FlyingBlue
- Emirates Skywards
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- IHG Rewards
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- World of Hyatt
Points transfer to all partners at a 1:1 ratio, and the minimum transfer is 5,000 points. This recent investigation at TPG says the transfers are typically instant — except for American Airlines. Point transfers to AAdvantage may take up to 24 hours.
Bilt Rewards App Improves the Award Search Process
This new feature is the first time we've seen a points currency allow you to search for flight awards in real time.
Typically, searching for flights when you want to use transferable points goes something like this:
- Check to see how many points you have.
- Go to AwardHacker.com to get a general idea what's the cheapest route from A to B using miles.
- Search for award availability on the websites of a few different airlines.
- Look for something that is a good price or costs less than the number of points you have available.
- Go back to your bank points website and initiate the transfer.
- Return to the airline program's website and see if your points have shown up (or use the AwardWallet “Balance Watch” feature)
- Complete the booking.
That's a lot of clicking back and forth. Multiply this by how many different airline programs you might check.
How to Use the Bilt Rewards In-App Award Search Feature
There are some amazing strengths to this feature, but also some drawbacks. Let's look at how it works first.
Inside the Bilt app, you can find this feature in the “Flights” tab (at the top) of the app. The first time you use it, you'll get a simple explanation on how to use this feature.
U.S. Domestic Example
Type in the itinerary you're looking for with cities and dates.
From here, choose which of the two available, already-integrated airlines you want to work with: American Airlines AAdvantage or Air Canada Aeroplan.
I searched for a one-way economy flight with American Airlines from Miami (MIA) to Seattle (SEA). These real-time results match what I saw when searching on a computer at the same time.
Scrolling down, I could compare flight options. Using the tabs at the top, I could see prices for days earlier or later than my original search date.
By using the drop-down menu at the top, I switched to searching Aeroplan. It quickly re-ran my search and brought up new results. I didn't have to go back to the home page to start again. No typing your cities and dates again.
If I found something I liked (and if I had enough points), I could click on the “transfer points” button and be on my way to making the booking — from within the app.
International Search Example
I also tried searching for an itinerary from Denver (DEN) to London (LHR).
I noticed that you have to click on a flight you like first and only then can you see pricing/availability for other cabins. The default is “economy”. And there's no way to choose a different cabin on the start/home page.
As I went forward, the next page showed me my total cost for a round-trip, international award booking — including miles required and the taxes + fees I'd pay in cash.
Again, I was able to easily switch to the Aeroplan search and compare results there. One thing I liked better on the Aeroplan results is that I could compare different cabins/classes of awards earlier in the process. That makes for less guesswork and less back-and-forth when you strike out while searching for premium award availability.
And at this point I was still in the Bilt Rewards app, seeing real-time availability and ready (if I wanted) to transfer points and finish the booking from my award search.
This is a really interesting new feature from Bilt. The ability to search for award space within the app, send your points, and be on your way to a booking all within the Bilt Rewards app is unlike anything we've seen before. You can't do this with Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points, for example.
However, there are limited applications here. At present, the feature only works with two airline programs: American Airlines AAdvantage and Air Canada Aeroplan. It also doesn't have integration with either of Bilt's partner hotel programs. If you're looking for awards beyond Aeroplan or AA, this feature won't do much for you.
That being said, I imagine Bilt doesn't plan to stop here. Will we see more loyalty programs added to the in-app search feature? And when will those come? We'll update here whenever things change.
What do you make of this new feature for flight award search in the Bilt Rewards app? Does it change your opinion of Bilt?
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