How to donate your credit card points or reward miles to charity

How to donate your credit card points or reward miles to charity

If you have a rewards credit card, and specifically sought out a card with super cool perks, it’s likely that you have a stockpile of miles or points sitting in your account. While you can usually tap into those points for travel or cash back, another option allows you to donate your rewards to a favorite charity.

Unlike a monetary donation to a charity using your credit card, where a small processing charge is taken out of your gift, in most cases donating your rewards ensures your nonprofit of choice gets the full value of your donation. (If you want to read about how to use a credit card to help offset your carbon footprint, check out this story we did.) 

Not only is donating your credit card rewards to charity a good way to ensure that anything you can’t use won’t go to waste, it’s also just super nice. (Good job, you!)

Here are some of the best credit card programs to donate to charity and the steps to donate points that may be sitting in your account.

Why donate credit card rewards to charity

Credit card reward points may be of many uses to charities. For example, the Make-A-Wish Foundation accepts donated frequent flyer miles and uses them to take cancer patients on amazing adventures. Other charities may use travel rewards to ferry people around the world to further the charity’s cause.

In some cases, donated miles or points are converted to cash. American Express, for example, makes cash donations of $10 per 1,000 donated points. Each program offers a unique donation system and value per point or mile, if one is available at all.

SEE ALSO: How to use a credit card to help offset your carbon footprint

Be aware that in some cases, the value of what is given to the charity is reduced from what you could get from each mile or point. Note that you usually can’t claim any tax deduction when donating credit card rewards. If you were to redeem your award points or miles as cash back and write a corresponding check to the nonprofit, you can get a deduction in most cases.

Depending on the program and the charity, a direct gift of credit card rewards may be worth a lot. And if those rewards are turned into cash, you know exactly what the organization will receive. If you’ve considered the pros and cons and want to donate your rewards, these programs all make it very easy to do.

Donating credit card miles and points to charity

Some major credit card and rewards programs allow you to donate to charity from your account balance. The biggest programs and related donation options are listed below.

American Express Membership Rewards

Best cards: ,

American Express makes it very easy to donate your Membership Rewards points. If you want to donate, head to JustGiving. Here, you can select from a wide range of charities, fundraisers, campaigns, crowdfunding pages, and projects eligible for donations.

JustGiving gives you access to virtually every registered non-profit in the United States, plus a wide range of international giving programs as well. JustGiving is an independent platform for fundraising and charities. American Express works with JustGiving to help you get your donation to the right place.

Amex gives $10 for every 1,000 points you donate up to 500,000 points per calendar year. Beyond that level, donations are reduced to $5 per 1,000 points. JustGiving recently replaced a program called Members Give, so you may find some old information referring to that program. To donate, follow the links to JustGiving from your Membership Rewards redemption page. Alternatively, you can head straight to the .

Barclaycard

Best card:

If you live in the United Kingdom, you can donate to a list of Charity Freedom partners through your Barclaycard account. In the United States, you don’t have that option. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a creative way to give Barclaycard Arrival Plus points to charity.

While you don’t get the same value as you would with travel awards, you can use the “pay yourself back” to use points to wipe a charitable donation off of your statement through statement credits. You could also redeem for cash back and donate directly to a charity of your choice.

Capital One

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Capital One used to host its own . This has since been discontinued. The best option to donate with Capital One Miles is to redeem as cash back and donate directly to your preferred charity.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Chase allows you to transfer points to family members in the same household, but you can’t give them to charities. You have a few options to turn those points into a charitable donation, however.

One option would be to convert your Ultimate Rewards points into hotel or airline currency that you are able to donate. See some options for this below. You could also redeem for cash back and make a direct charitable donation.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Best card:

Citi’s ThankYou Rewards has worked with several partners in the past for direct point donations. It to the American Red Cross, American Red Cross International, or SmileTrain starting at 2,500 points.

If you want to give to another charity, you can make a direct donation with your card and redeem points as a statement credit to wipe the charge from your bill.

Another creative option, which is available at other programs as well, would be to redeem points for a gift card and give the gift card to a local nonprofit. Every organization ranging from religious institutions to charities that support the homeless could likely find a good use for a gift card to a big box retailer, hardware store, or supermarket chain.

Discover

Best card:

your Cashback Bonus rewards. As an added bonus, the charity that gets the most donations throughout the year earns an additional $25,000 from Discover. That may help you dramatically increase your donation if your charity gets the most. In any case, Discover is doing a great service with that $25,000 commitment.

Current partners include the American Cancer Society, ASPCA, American Red Cross, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Junior Achievement (a personal favorite because they teach young people about personal finance), the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Make-A-Wish, Operation Homefront, and the World Wildlife Fund.

You can donate by calling 1-800-DISCOVER or logging into your account online and following links to donate your rewards.

Image: Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash

Donating airline miles and hotel points

While every major credit card company doesn’t have an option to donate its points, most large airline and hotel brands in the United States make it fairly easy to donate your rewards. Also keep in mind that programs from Chase, Capital One, and others allow you to convert their award currency into miles at partner airlines and hotels that may be included in the list below.

Airline mile donations

The biggest airlines in the United States are listed below. International airlines including Air Canada and Lufthansa also offer charitable donation programs.

Alaska Airlines

Best card: Alaska Airlines Visa

Alaska gives you nine options to donate your miles. Those include a list of charitable organizations and the Alaska Airlines Charity Miles Pool. This is a pool managed by Alaska and used to transport medical workers and volunteers to disaster areas.

Other charity partners include: Angel Flight West, Dream Foundation, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Foundation, Hero Miles, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Medical Teams International, National Forest Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and the United Negro College Fund.

To donate, log into your Alaska Mileage Plan account and click the Donate Miles link. You can .

American Airlines

Best card:

American Airlines allows you to donate miles (starting at 1,000 miles) to one of three groups of different causes. American divvies out the miles to different organizations within those categories at its own discretion.

The three programs are Miles for Our Heroes, Miles for Our Well-Being, and Miles for Our Social Good. The Our Heroes program gives miles to organizations related to military member, veteran, and military family causes. Our Well-Being gives miles to organizations that support those battling medical conditions like cancer. Our Social Good supports organizations focused on caring for people in need around the world.

To donate, and click on your preferred cause.

Delta

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Delta Airlines works with over a dozen charities around the world. Head to the Delta miles donation page to choose between organizations in the US and other world regions. Delta partners with seven charities in the Asia region, six charities in Latin America and the Caribbean, and three charities supporting Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Charities in the United States include the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Canine Assistants, CARE, Children’s Miracle Network, Hero Miles, Habitat for Humanity, Luke’s Wings, Make-A-Wish, Polaris, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, The Nature Conservance, The Salvation Army, and UNICEF USA.

Frontier

Best card: Barclays Frontier Airlines World Mastercard

Frontier has a smaller program for donations without its own web page, but the airline does allow you to give your miles to a non-profit. Call Frontier at 801-401-9000 to speak to a representative about donating your miles. You cannot donate miles using your online account.

Hawaiian Airlines

Best card: Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Hawaiian Airlines allows you to donate your miles to 12 nonprofits, many of which are located in Hawaii. At the end of the year, Hawaiian matches up to 500,000 miles to each charity, so each mile you give may actually count as two.

Partners include the American Cancer Society Hawaii Pacific, American Red Cross of Hawaii, Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii, Blood Bank of Hawaii, The Coral Reef Alliance, Friends of Hokule’a and Hawai’iloa, the Hawaiian Humane Society, HUGS, Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, Shriners Hospital for Children of Honolulu, and Special Olympics Hawaii. You can donate by and choosing your preferred organization.

JetBlue

Best card: The JetBlue Plus Card from Barclays

JetBlue partners with 18 charities. These organizations are focused on community, youth, education, and environment categories. JetBlue partner nonprofits are varied in geographic focus with some directed in the New York area, some national organizations, and some looking to make a global impact. to start your donation.

Donations start at a minimum of 500 points. You can donate to one charity or split your donation between multiple. Current partners include the American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish, USO of Metropolitan New York, Wildlife Conservation Society, Concern Worldwide, Carbonfund.org, Americares, Angel Flight, The JetBlue Foundation, KaBoom, DoSomething.org, City Year, First Book, FDNY Foundation, PENCIL, Cradle of Aviation Museum, Ocean Foundation, and New York Restoration Project.

Southwest

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Southwest Airlines partners with nine nonprofits. Southwest’s charity list is focused on veteran’s issues, patients with critical illnesses, disaster response, and the environment. and click on the donate points button to start the donation process.

Charities supported by Southwest include All Hands Volunteers, American Red Cross, Dream Foundation, Honor Flight Network, Team Rubicon, Make-A-Wish, The Mission Continues, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Student Conservation Association.

United Airlines

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United works with 20 charities across a wide range of causes. Those include medical patients, veterans, students, disaster relief, and more. To donate, go to the and choose your preferred organization. Once you click the button to view, you can click the button to donate.

Partners include Air Camp, Airlink, American Red Cross, Americares Foundation, Clean The World, Conservation International, Dream Foundation, Fisher House/Operation Hero Miles, Global Glimpse, Guide Dogs of America, Make-A-Wish (International and America), MD Anderson Cancer Center, Mercy Medical Angels, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Special Olympics, The Ayuda Foundation, Transplant Recipients International Org., the US Olympic Team, and the USO.

Image: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Hotel point donations

Choice Privileges

Best card: Choice Privileges Visa

Choice Hotels, owner of Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, and others, works with six charities. You can donate $5 for 1,000 points up to $25 for 5,000 points. Supported organizations include Operation Homefront, American Red Cross, The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, Polaris, Fisher House, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Go to the to gift your points.

IHG Rewards

Best card: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG Hotels includes brands including Holiday Inn, and it offers the option to donate points to five organizations in increments of 2,500, 5,000, or 10,000 points. Donation redemption options include Goodwill, American Red Cross, Youth Career Initiative, Prince’s Trust, and CARE International. Go here to .

Marriott Bonvoy

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Marriott recently launched its new Bonvoy rewards program, a unification of the old Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton programs. Through its , you can donate points to causes in categories like, “nurture our world,” “sustain responsible operations,” “empower through opportunity,” “welcome all,” and “advance human rights.”

Partners include American Red Cross, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Hotels for Heroes, International Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies, Marriott International Disaster Relief Fund, UNICEF, Clean The World, the World Wildlife Fund, Brides from School to Work, International Rescue Committee, WEConnect International, Youth Career Initiative, ECPAT USA, Immigration Equality, and Polaris.

Donations start at $5 for 2,500 points and go up to $500 for 140,000 points. Go to the Serve 360 link above and click on your preferred charity to donate your points.

Hilton HHonors

Best cards: Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Hilton HHonors points can be donated via . You have to create a PointWorthy account and connect to your Hilton account to make a donation. Donated points turn into cash donations. You can choose any registered non-profit in the United States for your donation.

One unique feature: PointWorthy turns your points into a tax-deductible donation. Very few other programs allow any tax deduction. PointWorth takes a 10% processing fee typically, but Hilton covers them in this case so your entire donation goes to the charity you choose. The minimum is 4,000 points for a $10 donation.

Wyndham Rewards

Best cards: Wyndham Rewards Visa

Wyndham partners with six charitable organizations to donate points. Donations are made through the Wyndham Rewards redemption portal. Click here to . You can donate 50 to 15,000 points. Partners include Save the Children, Hotels for Heroes, Polaris, Christel House, and The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.

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