The last few months and weeks have been such trying times in this country on so many fronts, leaving many of us wondering: How can I help today’s state of the world?
One solution for those sitting on sums of points—large or small—is to donate to select charities and nonprofits working to help important causes. Thanks to collaborations with select organizations, credit card holders can donate points and miles at a rate of $10 per 1,000 points/miles (and sometimes higher!) at the click of a button through their awards programs. Depending on your credit card program you can donate to the likes of American Red Cross Disaster Relief, where funds are being allocated to the pandemic crisis, or the American Civil Liberties Union, fighting for racial justice.
Though donating points doesn’t qualify for tax deductions, it allows cardholders to make a difference without even spending a dime. Here’s how you can use points from your elite credit card to make charitable donations.
American Express Platinum and Gold Cards
Through a partnership with JustGiving™, American Express card holders can redeem Membership Rewards® points for donations. Cardmembers can choose from 1.5 million registered US charities through the JustGiving search engine and even donate a combination of points and cash. To do so, create a new account at JustGiving through this Amex portal; enter your American Express card information; and then view your available point balance and the associated dollar value for use on JustGiving.
While this opens up so many options for donating, please be diligent in researching your cause and spending your points. Since it’s also possible to donate to personal and public fundraisers, crowdfunding sites, campaigns, and more through JustGiving, you could mistakenly donate to the wrong place or group. The same search engine for charities also populates with numerous fundraisers and crowdfunding sites with titles similar to most charities, funds, and nonprofit organizations.
So, if you are looking to donate to a specific charity, please be sure to verify the registered charity number. For example, those looking to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement will find dozens upon dozens of BLM initiatives when typing “Black Lives Matter” into JustGiving’s search engine. There’s definitely a lack of transparency with some and little information on others. Turns out that the official BLM fundraising takes place through ActBlue Charities, which splits contributions between multiple organizations working for racial justice and is indeed an option for donating points…once you type ActBlue Charities in the search engine. All this to say, do your research and investigate the cause you are looking to support so you end up supporting the real deal and not some random’s fundraiser for poster boards and megaphones (unless that’s your preference).
Chase Sapphire Preferred® and Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Unfortunately, Chase does not offer an option to directly turn points into donations. However, there’s a workaround. Card holders can transfer Ultimate Rewards® points to various airlines and hotel programs and then donate to charities through these secondary programs. For example, consider transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Airlines miles, which can then be donated to nine organizations including All Hands and Heart, American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish®, and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Alternatively, card holders can make a donation through their Chase Sapphire card and then redeem the amount as cash back at a rate of 1%. (Note: We do not recommend this workaround for American Express cards or Citi cards as their cash back rates are lower than 1%.)
Citi Prestige® Card
Citi card holders can use ThankYou® points for donations to American Red Cross Disaster Relief (currently working to help people during COVID-19), American Red Cross International Services, or Smile Train, a charity that provides corrective surgery for children with cleft lips and palates in 87 countries. Simply log in to the Thank You rewards portal to donate, starting at 2,500 points (valued at $25).
In an effort to encourage card holders to donate, Citi has sent an email to its card holders with easy instructions on how to donate to the American Red Cross using points while adding its own donation of 10 million ThankYou Points “to help the American Red Cross deliver its lifesaving mission due to the coronavirus outbreak.”
Luxury Cards: Mastercard® Black Card™, Mastercard® Gold Card™, Mastercard® Titanium Card™
Through the cards’ rewards portal, card holders of all three Luxury Cards can use points to purchase Charity Choice donation gift cards, starting at 2,500 points (valued at $25). These are a great gift to give as the recipient of the card allocates funds to up to three charities from a choice of the program’s 1,000+ organizations. This includes over 250 major charities and many local causes, covering organizations that focus on environment, hunger and poverty, disaster relief, health and disease, children, military charities, disabilities, the elderly, and more. Charities include American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Children’s Miracle Network, SPCA (American), Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and WWF (World Wildlife Fund).
Despite the option for Charity Choice gift cards, a more effective means to contributing is to make a donation through your Luxury Card and then redeem the amount as cash back. You’ll be giving a greater donation for the same amount of points. Recall points with the Gold Card are redeemed for 2% cash back, the Black Card 1.5 % cash back, and the Titanium Card 1% cash back. Meaning Gold Card holders can redeem 100,000 points for a 100,000 Charity Choice Gift card or a $200,000 donation is made directly on their card. The latter seems much more impactful.
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
Through the card’s rewards portal, card holders can donate to the Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society, Easterseals, or Team Rubicon (a charity that supports veterans responding to disasters). Redemptions begin at 2,500 points (valued at $25). Alternatively, card holders can make a donation through their U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card and then redeem the amount as cash back at a rate of 1%.