How to Donate Your Credit Card Rewards to Charity

Updated: March 21, 2024

Updated: March 21, 2024

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Responsible credit card users can quickly rack up credit card rewards, especially if using a high-reward credit card. For those who find themselves sitting on their points or miles for extended periods, donating your rewards could help you put them to good use. Plus, you can support charities of your choice in just a few clicks!

As you’ll see in this article, donating your travel rewards can be easy. Keep in mind that there are a few drawbacks to consider before you hit the donate button.

Credit Cards & Rewards in the Lives of Americans

 

Americans’ credit card usage tends to vary greatly by generation, but much of the U.S. does hold at least one credit card in their wallet. However, rewards use is surprisingly low amongst all generations.

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6 in 10 Americans say credit card rewards are very important to them. One major reason people get credit cards is to earn credit card rewards.

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The most popular travel rewards credit card in the U.S. is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Chase allows you to donate any points and miles you earn with the Preferred card to charity, making them an excellent option for cardholders.

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There are now 196 million credit card users. This indicates a clear shift in the way we’re spending. With more users and more companies offering the ability to donate rewards, soon it could be a more common donation method.

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Gen Zers are the least likely to have a credit card. Baby boomers have the highest average number of credit cards at 5, but Gen Zers have approximately 1.7 credit cards.


How Does Donating Your Credit Card Points Work?

Many credit card companies now allow you to donate any points or miles you’ve racked up straight to charity. It may be the charity of your choosing, or your lender may have selections from which you can choose. Many major credit card companies, including AmEx, Chase and Discover, offer donation programs. Additionally, certain charities will take your points or miles directly.

What’s the Value of Your Donations to Charities?

Charities will accept your donation in various ways, but it’s not always dollar-for-dollar. It’ll depend entirely on the specific loyalty program and the charity of your choice.

Generally, your rewards will go to the charity in two ways: via travel credits or a direct cash donation. When your donations translate into travel rewards, some charities will use them to cover the cost of travel for marginalized groups in need. For example, Miles4Migrants is a nonprofit that accepts frequent flier miles and uses them to book flights for refugees and asylum-seekers.

Some credit card issuers transfer your points or miles as cash. Some of these points will transfer dollar-for-dollar or cent-for-cent, depending on the issuer. For others, however, it’ll be a percentage of your points.

When Should You Donate Your Rewards or Give Cash?

There’s never a bad time to donate your points or miles to charity. Whenever you rack up a nice amount of points, instead of cashing in, consider donating them instead. Often, over time credit card companies will change their redemption structure, which could mean a sudden devaluation of your points. So it may be best to donate points periodically rather than in a giant lump sum to take advantage of the total value of your points.

Additionally, keep an eye on the expiration date on your points, if there is one. If your points are close to expiration, donating them can help ensure they don’t go to waste.

Key Takeaways

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Donating as Reward Points
  • You can often easily donate through your loyalty program portal. Many credit card companies have easy-to-use redemption portals so that you can donate your points in just a few clicks.
  • Some points don’t transfer cent-for-cent. You’re not often getting the exact value of your points when you donate them to charity.
  • Many charities accept rewards point donations. When looking at your loyalty program’s donation portal, you’ll often find dozens of charity options.
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Donating as Cash
  • More charities accept cash. While some charities accept miles or points, more charities accept direct cash donations.
  • You’re getting the exact value of your points or miles. If you cash out your points and donate that cash value to charity, you know exactly how much your charity of choice is getting.
  • Cash back credit cards could help you earn more. Certain cash back cards offer higher cash rewards than miles and points cards. Cash back cards often make it easier to donate to charity or get cold hard cash that you can then donate.
A checklist with a credit card.

How to Donate Your Rewards

You can donate your rewards in various ways, all of which can be completed in a few simple steps. Some methods, like making a cash donation, will be a better deal, but some charities also accept direct travel credits, which can be an easier way to offload your rewards.

Here are four of the most common ways rewards card holders can donate their rewards:

1
As travel credits

If your credit card company allows for donation via their portal, there should be an option to donate your miles or points as they are.

2
As cash

Some credit card companies will let you translate your points into cash before sending them to charities. AmEx, for example, works with JustGiving and makes it easy to redeem your points through statement credits you can use to donate. You simply create a free account on JustGiving’s page and enter your eligible card info.

3
Through hotel and travel loyalty programs

Any major loyalty program, whether a hotel or airline, has a page full of charities that will accept your donation. For example, JetBlue works with charities like Make-A-Wish, the Red Cross and Miles4Migrants, all of which gladly accept donations in the form of points or miles.

4
Directly to charities

If your charity of choice is a well-known, larger organization, you can often find a direct donation option through their website. The American Red Cross, for example, has a whole list of loyalty programs from which they accept donations.

How Donating Your Points and Miles Can Benefit You and Charities

Although donating your rewards has a few downsides, donating to charity is always a good thing. Even if your points or miles don’t add up to thousands of dollars, anything can help charitable organizations support those in need. Here are a few reasons donating your rewards to charities can be beneficial to you and the charity:

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    Some charities prefer this type of donation

    There are certain charities, like Miles4Migrants, that can get a lot of use out of your miles and points. For instance, they can book flights for those seeking asylum or other support.

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    It’s an easy way for you to use up almost expired points

    Miles and points often expire. If you don’t have an immediate use for them, donating to charity is the perfect way to use them up.

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    You may have a better idea of where your donation will go

    Often, a charity’s website will tell you where your points and miles will go. Unlike cash donations that go towards various costs, miles and points have a direct purpose, so it’s easier to know where your money is going.

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HOW TO EARN MORE MILES FOR CHARITY
  • Spend in the most rewarding areas. If you’re part of specific loyalty programs, prioritize those airlines or hotels during travel. These stays or flights can rack up points quickly if you're a frequent traveler.
  • Take advantage of sign-up bonuses. If you’re in the market for a new credit card, picking one with a sizeable sign-up bonus could score you a large sum of points you can donate.
  • Stick with cards that have the best transfer rates. Certain programs have better transfer rates than others, so be sure to read the fine print before choosing a card.

Donating Your Miles and Travel Points FAQs

Donating your miles and travel points looks different across loyalty programs and credit card issues. Here are a few commonly asked questions about donating rewards to charity.

Are donated airline miles tax deductible?
Does donating travel points and miles extend the expiration?
Are transfers irreversible?
Can you donate frequent flier miles to charity?
There are places where people can donate their points or miles.

Where to Donate Your Airline Miles

Many big-name airlines let you donate your loyalty points. You’ll see similar charities like the Red Cross and Make-A-Wish on most of the program lists, but others focus on specific regions. For example, Hawaiian Airlines have charities that focus specifically on the Hawaiian people. The same goes for Alaska Airlines, which focuses on Alaskan charities.

Below, you’ll find a table with various loyalty programs and the charities they support.

Loyalty Programs
Charity Programs
What You Should Know

American Airlines
AAdvantage

  • Alaska Airlines
    Disaster Relief Pool
  • Alaska Airlines Miles
    for Youth
  • Angel Flight West
  • Dream Foundation

Many of American Airlines’s
charity options support direct
mile donations that can help
veterans, the environment
and more.

Delta SkyMiles

  • American Red Cross
  • Breast Cancer
    Research Foundation
  • Canine Assistants
  • CARE
  • Children’s Miracle
    Network Hospitals
  • Fisher House
    Foundation
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Junior Achievement
  • Luke’s Wings
  • Make-A-Wish
    America®
  • Polaris
  • St. Jude Children's
    Research Hospital
  • The Nature
    Conservancy
  • The Salvation Army
  • UNICEF

Delta allows you to select
from domestic and
international charities all over
the world.

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • Miles4Migrants
  • Make-A-Wish
  • DREAM Project
  • World Central Kitchen
  • Together We Rise
  • Angel Flight Northeast
  • Carbonfund
  • Autism Speaks
  • The Jet Blue
    Foundation
  • The American Red
    Cross
  • The Stonewall Inn
    Gives Back Initiative
  • The Center
  • Public Theater
  • Cradle of Aviation

JetBlue makes the donation
process incredibly easy. You’ll
donate directly to your charity
of choice in just three steps.

Southwest Rapid Rewards

  • Polaris
  • Student Conservation
    Association
  • Ronald McDonald
    House Charities
  • Team Rubicon
  • Honor Flight Network
  • Hispanic Heritage
    Foundation
  • United Negro College
    Fund

Southwest supports some
very well-known charities and
allows you to donate straight
from your account page.

Where to Donate Your Hotel Points

Like many major airlines, most major hotel chains have donation programs. You’ll see similar charities to airline programs, but many chains also choose to focus on specific causes. For example, Accor focuses on environmental and social causes, as does Marriott.

Hotel loyalty programs tend to support fewer charities than airline programs, but they’re still worth contributing to.

Loyalty Programs
Charity Programs
What You Should Know

Hilton Honors

  • American Cancer
    Society
  • American Indian
    College Fund

You’ll need to create a Point
Worthy account and link your
Hilton account to donate.

Marriott Bonvoy

  • American Red Cross
  • Children’s Miracle
    Network
  • UNICEF
  • World Central Kitchen
  • Clean the World
  • WWF
  • Asian University for
    Women
  • Prince’s Trust
  • WeConnect International
  • Polaris
  • True Colors United

Marriott Bonvoy wants its
cardholders to be able to
donate to several causes,
including global health
organizations, sustainability,
empowerment and human
rights.

Radisson Rewards

  • American Red Cross
  • First Climate

You can donate your
Radisson Rewards via phone
or by filling out their online
form. You’ll need a minimum
of 3,000 points to donate.

Wyndham Rewards

  • Save the Children
  • Fisher House
  • Polaris
  • Christel House
  • Armed Services
    YMCA
  • Clean the World
    Foundation
  • National Parks
    Conservation
    Association

Wyndham offers many charity
choices, with many of them
requiring a minimum of 500
points.

Where to Donate Your Credit Card Points

Not every credit card company allows you to donate your points, but many prominent players in the game do. While many of them make it easy to donate, you must read the fine print before donating to ensure your miles are maximized. It may be worth it to cash out on your points if it’s a direct dollar-for-dollar transfer and make a cash donation to the charity of your choosing instead.

That said, the programs below are worth checking out.

Loyalty Programs
Charity Programs
What You Should Know
  • AmEx’s partnership
    with JustGiving

AmEx has partnered with
JustGiving to allow you to
donate to various charities all
from one place.

  • American Red Cross
  • Equal Justice Initiative
  • Feeding America
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • International Medical
    Corporation
  • Leadership
    Conference Education
    Fund
  • NAACP Legal
    Defense and
    Education Fund
  • National Urban
    League
  • Thurgood Marshall
    College Fund
  • United Negro College
    Fund
  • United Way
  • World Central Kitchen

Through Chase Pay Yourself
Back, you can make a
donation to charity and then
pay yourself back with your
points. Chase works with
select charities, so call
customer service to ensure
the one you choose qualifies.

  • American Red Cross
  • No Kid Hungry
  • Smile Train
  • Susan G. Komen
  • UNICEF
  • World Central Kitchen

You’ll need at least 2,500
points to donate to any
charities Citi works with, but
you can do so straight from
your rewards portal.

Discover

  • American Cancer
    Society
  • ASPCA
  • American Red Cross
  • Carbonfund.org
  • Children’s Miracle
    Network Hospitals
  • Junior Achievement
  • Juvenile Diabetes
    Research Foundation
  • Make-A-Wish
  • Operation Homefront
  • World Wildlife Fund

Discover lets you donate your
Cashback Bonus® rewards
over the phone or at their
account center.

Expert Insight on Donating Miles or Travel Points

To get some expert insight into the rewards point donation world, we spoke with three individuals who shared a few tips on donating any extra points or miles you may have.

  1. In your experience, what credit card company makes it easiest to donate to?
  2. Why would credit card users consider donating their points/miles/cash back to charity?
Mitchell Kraus, CAP®, CFP®, CSRIC, CLU, ChFC, CHSNC®
Mitchell Kraus, CAP®, CFP®, CSRIC, CLU, ChFC, CHSNC®Owner at Capital Intelligence Associates
Jenna Lofton
Jenna LoftonCertified Financial Advisor, Stock Trader & Small Business Owner at Stock Hitter
Jon Kozesky
Jon KozeskyFounder & Principal of Jon Thomas Consulting

Resources for Donating Miles or Travel Points

  • Before Giving to a Charity guide: Your intention to give is always the right thing, but unfortunately, scams exist. Use this FTC guide to ensure you're donating to the right causes.
  • American Red Cross Donate Points To Charity page: One of the most common charities listed on any rewards donation page is the American Red Cross. Their direct charity page can help you easily determine if your rewards qualify for donation.
  • Calculate The Cash Value of Points and Miles: To learn your points' cash value or what your loyalty program points are worth, check out this calculator.
  • Miles4Migrants: Another common option for donation is Miles4Migrants. This organization is one of the more well-known charities that accept direct travel credits. They use your donations to help refugees and asylum-seekers get flights to the U.S.

About Christopher Murray


Christopher Murray headshot

Christopher Murray is a personal finance and sustainability writer covering diverse topics, from budgeting to unique investment options like socially responsible investing (SRI) and cryptocurrency. His works focus on sustainability as the best savings tool. He contributes finance articles to MoneyGeek.

Murray earned both his English literature and gender studies degrees from Smith College.


sources
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