Give Your Unused Points and Miles to Charity

by Robert Rizzo | Twitter, Facebook,

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Do you have unused rewards on your credit card or airline frequent flier program?

You could redeem them for magazine subscriptions, but then you’d have to find time to read them.

Why not donate your unused miles and points to charity?

How to donate rewards to your favorite charity

First a disclaimer. I’m not recommending you buy things you don’t need just to get additional reward points.

Donating rewards is not the most efficient way to support a charity.

My experience is points have a cash value of about 10:1.

So for every hundred dollars you spend you get a dollar reward.

But if you are feeling charitable and find yourself in a cash crunch, this might be a way to do some good in difficult times.

It’s also a way to give more without changing your spending habits.

Credit card companies usually have minimums for redemptions ranging for 1000 to 2500 points.

Keep that in mind as you consider your giving strategy.

To find out specifics about your credit card’s rewards program, you’ll have to call them or log-in to your online account.

For some reason, they don’t publish that information openly.

Once on your rewards site, navigate to the options for redeeming your rewards.

You should find some options for giving to charities.

If there are no charity options, try redeeming for cash and donating the cash reward.

Below are links to some major credit card reward programs.

If you want to be more intentional about giving with rewards, you can shop for a credit card that provides the greatest rewards based on your spending habits, credit rating and personal preference.

There are several sites online for comparing credit card offers.

Just search for “Compare Credit Cards.”

How to donate miles to your favorite charity

Got some frequent flyer miles and no intentions to travel?

Airline miles are another great way to give to charity.

Most major airlines, and some of the regional airlines, allow you to donate your frequent flier miles to charity.

Every charity travels, some more than others.

For instance, 70% of the 14,000 wishes granted each year by the Make-A-Wish foundations involve travel.

Most missions and relief organizations also travel significantly.

So if you are sitting on a few thousand miles, or a hundred thousand, this could be a great way to contribute to the success of a charity.

You can start by visiting one of the links below to some of the major airlines and their charitable giving options.

For links to more frequent flier programs, check out:

Donating rewards is a creative way to put some unused points to use but credit cards are a great way to give without licking stamps and writing checks.

Charge that contribution

Most charities accept donations by credit card.

It’s quick and easy for you, the charity gets their donation almost immediately, and you receive a tax deduction for donations made to any tax-exempt organization.

The only potential downside is your charity may be required to pay a transaction fee for donations made with credit cards.

American Express® and Capital One™ have established charitable giving sites that facilitate your giving to over 1 million charities.

BONUS: Capital One waives the transaction fee for donations made through their site with a Capital One credit card and pays reward points like any other transaction.

That means more money for your favorite cause and more rewards for you.

For more info on Capital One No-Hassle Giving Site or American Express Members Give check out the links below.

Special giving offers

Credit card companies conduct special charitable campaigns each year offering higher rates of redemption for points and sometimes they even matched giving.

So keep your eye out.

One place to watch for these offers is:

Other ways to give

Remember, cash is not the only thing you can give.

Charities need your time and talents too.

The total estimated value of volunteer service in 2010 reached $173 billion with the proportion of volunteers serving more than 100 hours increasing from 33.2 percent in 2009 to 33.8 percent in 2010. [2]

Do you prefer to give with credit cards? Have you ever donated points or miles? Tell us about it in the comments below.




Photo Credit: Fotolia Microsoft Partner

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Robert is the founder of | Mediocrity-Free Living. He is passionate about helping people discover the rewards of daily giving.

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