How to Donate Points, Miles & More This Holiday Season
While plenty of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals make this a great time to shop and book discounted travel for you and your loved ones, it's also a great time of the year for donating to others in need. TPG Contributor Christine Cantera goes through the many options for donating your points and miles to charities.
Whether you have points that will expire at the end of the year or you're simply in the habit of holiday giving, consider using your awards toward a charity donation.
We recommend doing research on your given charity, and Charity Navigator is a great resource. Of course, note that unlike credit card donations, contributing points and/or miles to a charity is not tax-deductible because the IRS considers these points and miles gifts from the airlines (rather than property). Consult a tax professional if you plan to deduct large donations.
Airline Mile Donations
Just about every major airline loyalty program partners with charitable causes, and you can donate directly to established national or international charities or pool your miles to be distributed to a variety of worthy charities. And because donating miles keeps your account active, it's a win-win.
Below, you'll find links to the airlines' respective charity partners, along with information on how long before miles expire with each frequent-flyer program.
- Air Canada (Aeroplan): Miles expire after 12 months
- American: Miles expire after 18 months
- Delta: Miles never expire
- United: Miles expire after 18 months
- Lufthansa: Miles expire after 36 months
- Alaska Airlines: Miles expire after 24 months
Hotel Point Donations
Several hotel chains also offer their loyalty-program members the opportunity to donate points to charities. As with airlines, donating points can also keep your account active.
- Hilton HHonors: Points expire after 12 months
- IHG Rewards: Points expire after 12 months. (Note that you must be logged in to see the donation options).
- Hyatt Gold Passport: Points expire after 12 months. There's no fixed donation option, but Hyatt has often set up specific donation pages after natural disasters.
- Marriott: Points expire after 24 months
- Starwood: Points expire after 12 months
Third-Party Traveler Donations
Pack for a Purpose partners with hotels and lodges all over the world to provide travelers with packing lists of much-needed supplies specific to their destination. Participants gather the required items before they travel and can leave them for their hotel to distribute to the local community. It's a great way to leave a little bit of goodwill behind when you visit a community in need.
Launched in October 2015, a travel booking platform called Kind Traveler allows you to give to a participating charity when you book discounted hotel rooms through the site; 100% of donations go directly to the charities.
Credit Card Donations
Here are the sites for credit cards not affiliated with a specific loyalty program:
If you prefer to give toys and needed items locally, maximize your purchases when shopping for what you want to give by going through an online shopping portal.
Here's a small taste of the many portal offers currently available:
- Ebates is offering 5% cash back at Walmart.
- Mr. Rebates gives you 6% cash back at Amazon.
- The American Airlines shopping portal is currently offering up to 40 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent.
Where will you be giving this holiday season? What are your favorite charities?