If you've got rewards that you've accumulated from your business travels and want to donate them for a good cause, you can. Thanks to the idea of donating points and miles growing in popularity, there are several worthy causes to choose from. Use some of those miles you'd otherwise be flight shamed for to give to charitable organizations.
As an added bonus, if you've got points, miles, or cash rewards that are expiring due to account inactivity, this is an easy way to show action on your account. By donating your rewards, the card issuer will (likely) see this as activity and will allow you to keep your travel rewards. This will vary by card issuer though so check if you suspect you may lose your rewards.
Here are a few organizations to consider donating to this holiday season.
Alaska Airlines lets Mileage Plan members donate their miles to assist charities with their own business travels. They also provide accommodations.
American Airlines allows people to donate to their Miles for Our Social Good, Miles for Our Well-Being, or Miles for Our Heroes as part of their donation program. Note that they determine the final use of the miles that are donated.
Delta Air Lines has their SkyWish program where those with miles can donate to service members who need a flight home, children and veterans who need a flight to get medical treatment, or volunteers helping in disaster relief areas. You can also choose a charity based on region.
JetBlue has a variety of organizations you can donate to including the Wildlife Conservation Society, First Book, City Year, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They also have a couple of NY-based charities. You can select more than one to donate points to. Unlike other programs, you can donate as little as 500 points (versus 1,000 or more).
Southwest offers the ability to donate points to nine different organizations including the Red Cross and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
United's Miles on a Mission has a number of charities to help, including Guide Dogs of America and Americares Foundation Inc, an organization that helps emergency responders travel to destinations that are in need. Additionally, organizations can apply to start their own campaign and raise funds for it.
- Choice Hotels turns your points into cash donations for organizations like the Red Cross and Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
- Drury Hotels lets you donate your rewards to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
- IHG has a number of hotels under its brand so you may not realize how many rewards you actually have. You can donate your points to a couple of domestic and international charities.
- Hilton Honors converts your points to cash and donates them on your behalf. You must link your account to Point Worthy in order to donate. The list of charities is massive. If you want to keep your donations local, you can likely select charities from your home city or state thanks to the huge list available.
- Marriott Bonvoy offers the ability to donate points to a number of domestic and international charities in select categories. These include nurturing communities, sustainability in the environment, empowering people through opportunities, and advocating and protecting human rights.
- American Express lets you donate your Membership Rewards Points to more than 1.5 million charities in the USA. Amex works with JustGiving to bring this option to cardholders.
- Charity Charge is the only credit card that automatically donates the cash back you earn to the nonprofit of your choice. The card is a MasterCard, has no annual fee, and has unlimited employee cards available for your business.
- Discover encourages cardholders to donate their cash back to one of their partner organizations. At the end of the year, Discover donates $25,000 to the organization that got the most donations from cardholders throughout the year.
- Miles for Migrants has a number of travel partners that you can request to donate your miles from. When they get a case request that matches your donation, they will contact you. However, if you have Aeroplan miles (part of Air Canada but also an American Express transfer partner), you can donate miles directly.
- The Make-A-Wish Wishes in Flight Program helps grant wishes for children and their families by giving them the opportunity to travel. Donated miles never expire. Delta, United, Southwest, American Airlines, and JetBlue are all partners.
Finally, note that donating miles is not tax deductible since the IRS doesn't classify travel rewards as income. So, while you won't get taxed for earning the rewards, you also won't get a deduction for donating them.