You can donate your points and miles to charity, and it's one of the easiest ways to give back
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- Even if you don't have the time to volunteer for your local charity, it's possible to turn your everyday credit card spending into something that can help your favorite nonprofits.
- Most hotel, airline, and credit card loyalty programs offer you the ability to donate your points directly to charity.
- Some credit cards, like the Charity Charge World Mastercard, actually raise money for nonprofits instead of giving you rewards.
- If you want to earn points while donating to charity, consider a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited or the Blue Business® Plus Card from American Express to maximize your rewards.
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Many people genuinely want to give back or do something to make a difference through charity work. But what can you do if your schedule won't allow time to volunteer or if charitable donations aren't workable with your budget?Fortunately, the credit card points and miles you earn from everyday spending can be used to make a positive social impact. It's possible to donate many of them directly to reputable charities. And some co-branded credit cards even raise money directly for charity in lieu of racking up personal rewards.Advertisement
Here's how to turn your credit card spending into a force for social good.
Donating your points to charity
If you already have a robust credit card points ecosystem in place, you don't have to completely change everything in order to start directing your rewards toward social impact. Most hotel, airline, and credit card rewards programs on the market allow you to donate your cash back, points, and miles directly to a number of well-respected nonprofits.All you have to do is log in to a particular account and select what charity you want to donate to. The following brands have whole pages devoted to their reward donation platforms:
- American Airlines - The airline lets you donate miles to Miles for Our Social Good, Miles for Our Well-Being, and Miles for Our Heroes
- American Express - You can donate Amex Membership Rewards points to more than 1.5 million US charities through JustGiving
- Hilton - Create a PointWorthy account and link it to your Hilton account, then you donate your Hilton points to thousands of charities.
- JetBlue - You can donate TrueBlue points to charities including the American Red Cross and Make-A-Wish.
- United Airlines - United partners with the Americares Foundation, Guide Dogs of America, and dozens of other charities.
You may be wondering exactly how the rewards you donate translate into charitable donations, and the answer is that it varies depending on the program and the organization. For some charities, your points or miles are using toward travel, while in other cases, like with Amex, your points are given a value in cash and then a cash donation is made to the charity.Even if the program you have points with doesn't tout any charity partners on its website, it never hurts to call and see if it's possible to donate any of your points to charity.As a bonus, most rewards programs count charitable donations as account activity. So if you have any points in danger of expiring, making a small donation is a great way to reset the clock and make the world a better place.Advertisement
Credit cards that give to charity
In the same way the World of Hyatt Credit Card and the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card direct all your rewards into the World of Hyatt and American AAdvantage programs, respectively, there are credit cards that turn the rewards of your everyday spending directly into charitable contributions.
The most flexible of these is the Charity Charge World Mastercard, which allows your spending to benefit up to three nonprofit partners as a time. The card rewards them with 1% cash back on every purchase, which counts as a tax-deductible donation.For credit card users passionate about animal rights, Bank of America's World Wildlife Fund credit card donates up to 3% cash back of every purchase directly to the nonprofit. There are plenty of perks in it for cardholders as well, with an introductory 0% APR offer on purchases for the first 15 months (then a variable rate of 15.49% to 25.49%) and no annual fee.Advertisement
The best credit cards for earning rewards on your donations
Many credit cards offer bonus points for your spending in categories like dining out or office supplies. However, there is one card that gives impressive points bonuses when you use them to donate to charity.
With the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card, you'll earn 2 points for every dollar spent on donations. This equated to about 3 cents in travel for every dollar you donate to charity, so the rewards for your good deeds are pretty sweet.If you want a card that's great in general, and not just for making charitable donations, the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is a perfect business credit card for freelancers and small business owners. It earns a stellar 2 Membership Reward points for every dollar spent, regardless of purchase category (up to $50,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar), and there's no annual fee. This is a great card to use for your business all year, and then cap the final quarter off with a last-minute donation to charity if you can work it into your budget. Maybe that last gift in spending will help you qualify for a free flight or hotel stay.Advertisement
If you can't qualify for a business credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a good option, as it earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Plus, if you also have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can effectively earn points instead of cash back with the Freedom Unlimited, so you'd be getting 1.5 points per dollar on your charitable spending.
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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.
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