Earning and Using Points For Hurricane Sandy Relief Donations

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Not only did Hurricane Sandy throw everyone’s travel plans into chaos, but it also claimed dozens of lives, flooded cities and towns up and down the East Coast, left 8 million people without power and caused billions of dollars in damage.

I know a lot of you are thinking of contributing to relief efforts, so I wanted to put up some information on charitable donations, especially because you can still either earn or redeem points by donating in a few ways.

Yesterday, I learned that American Airlines is partnering with the Red Cross by giving AAdvantage members bonus miles based on contributions. Now through November 30, 2012, members can earn a one-time award of 250 miles for a minimum donation of $50, or 500 miles for a donation of $100 or more to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. You can find out more and donate here.

United has a banner up on its main page where you can click to donate to Americares, Feeding America and the Red Cross, and United will donate up to $50,000 to match contributions plus it will give MileagePlus members who donate 250 miles for a minimum donation of $50, or 500 miles for a donation of $100 or more.

Last year, the Chase Freedom card listed charitable donations as one of its 5% bonus spending categories in quarter 4, but it’s not one this year, unfortunately. If you have the US Banks FlexPerks Visa Signature, you can earn 3x points per dollar of charitable giving. You can read my detailed post on the card for more information, but if you have the card, this could be a great way to donate and get a bonus in the bargain.

If you’d rather donate miles than cash, the Red Cross also has this page listing the airline partners from which you can donate frequent flyer miles, and this page listing credit card and hotel point programs from which you can donate. I would just urge caution, though, because the information appears to be a bit outdated (Continental is listed as a partner) and sometimes miles donations are earmarked for specific projects, so if you do donate, be sure yours are going to the Disaster Relief Fund.

The Salvation Army, which is another excellent organization that manages its funds very carefully, is also taking the lead in Hurricane Sandy relief, and you can donate both United and Delta miles to their efforts. Details here.

Capital One cardholders can donate via the bank’s No Hassle Giving site, which waives transaction processing fees so that your entire donation goes to the charity of your choice – the site works with 1.2 million verified charities, so you have your pick, and there’s even a Hurricane Sandy banner at the top.

There are tons of ways to give – whether it’s by using a credit card or going through an airline that gives you extra points or miles for your donation; or by using those miles or points that have sitting around in your account to help out charities with loyalty program partners.

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