Clean the cobwebs off your unused points and give them to a good cause!
- The three major rewards programs all currently have ways to use your rewards for charitable giving, but rates vary a lot.
- Hotel and airline loyalty points can also be donated, typically through the program’s redemption portal.
Do you have a pile of points gathering dust? Are your airline miles lying fallow? Instead of letting them go unused, you could donate them, instead. There are a number of ways you can turn your unused credit card rewards into charitable donations. Here are your options.
Donating directly with points
All three of the major rewards points programs currently have a way to donate your points to at least a few charities. You won’t get the same per-point value as, say, a travel redemption, but if you have extra points lying about and want to make a donation, it’s an option.
American Express Membership Rewards points
The Amex Membership Rewards program has a full donation portal through a partnership with the charity site JustGiving. You can choose from thousands of charities, and you can choose how much of the donation you cover with points. You’ll get a rate of $0.07 per point.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Through Dec. 31, 2022, you can use Ultimate Rewards points to make charitable donations through Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature. Here’s how it works:
- Make an eligible donation with your Chase card.
- Go to the Pay Yourself Back page (in the menu for the Ultimate Rewards portal).
- Choose how many points to use to cover your donations.
During this promotion, points are worth 25% more, so you’ll get a value of $0.0125 per point. Make sure to donate directly to the main charity (local chapters may not code right). Only select charities qualify:
- American Red Cross
- Equal Justice Initiative
- Feeding America
- Habitat for Humanity
- International Medical Corporation
- International Rescue Committee
- Leadership Conference Education Fund
- NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
- National Urban League
- Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
- Thurgood Marshall College Fund
- United Negro College Fund
- UNICEF USA
- United Way
- World Central Kitchen
Citi ThankYou points
You can donate your Citi ThankYou points through the rewards portal (you need to dig for it a little, just keep looking for “more redemption options”). You’ll get a rate of $0.01 per point, but the list of eligible nonprofits is slim:
- American Red Cross Disaster Relief
- American Red Cross International Services
- No Kid Hungry
- Susan G. Komen
- UNICEF USA
- World Central Kitchen
Using hotel and airline points
If you have an excess of hotel rewards or frequent flyer miles from your travel credit cards, you may have the option of donating them to a good cause. Most major hotel and airline loyalty programs offer “Donation” as a redemption option.
Alternatively, you can donate your frequent flyer miles to Miles4Migrants. This organization uses donated miles to help migrants and asylum seekers get to their new homes and reunite with family. (They’re currently helping Ukrainian refugees!)
Giving back with cash back
Don’t forget about your cash back rewards cards while you’re feeling charitable. Perhaps the easiest way to use card rewards for donations is to make the donation with your favorite cash back card, then use your rewards as a statement credit. Just check your card’s rules to make sure that charitable donations are among the purchases eligible for cash back.
Assuming they are, not only will you get your standard cash back rate, but this is also the only way your donation becomes tax deductible. The IRS considers donations of points and miles to be a gift, so they don’t qualify for the same deductions as cash donations. So cash back is simple, consistent, and good for your tax return!