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With the terrible tragedy in Japan, I’ve received a bunch of emails asking about the best ways to donate miles to charity. In general, I’d recommend donating cash, because it’s the quickest and cleanest way from a tax perspective. However, if you are low on cash, but still want to help, you can also donate your miles and points from most major loyalty programs.
Whether you use cash or miles/points, I’d recommend doing research on the charity before making a donation. I’ve used charitynavigator.com to do research and they highlight some charities, like the American Red Cross, who are actively assisting with the Japan disaster relief effort. I’m not a tax professional, so I won’t delve into the tax implications of donating miles and points, so I’d recommend asking your tax professional about it (or doing some Google research).
And if you want to do a cash donation to the Red Cross, American Airlines will give you up to 500 miles for your donation if you donate through this link (Thanks to TPG reader Bradley!)
Air Canada: Numerous charities, like Engineers Without Borders and Kids’ Horizons
American: Operation Bring Heroes Home and Miles for Kids in Need
American Express: Members Give
Continental: Numerous charities, like American Red Cross and March of Dimes
Delta: Numerous charities, like American Cancer Society, Salvation Army, Children’s Miracle Network
Hyatt: Make a Wish Foundation
Marriott: Several charities, including American Red Cross, Rewarding Communities, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Starwood: Red Cross, Unicef
United: Numerous charities, like American Red Cross and The Salvation Army
US Airways: Several charities, like American Red Cross and Miles of Hope