Giving Tuesday: The best credit cards to maximize your charitable donation
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new cards and additional information.
Giving Tuesday is a great time to donate since many of your favorite charities may have a sponsor or donor that is willing to match your amount. But since you are reading TPG, you’re probably also interested in earning the most cash back, points or miles on the charitable giving you take on.
Here are some of the best credit cards and points programs to use when donating to charity this year.
Best credit cards to use for charitable donations
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for small business owners.
- Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for cash back or Citi ThankYou points.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for Chase Ultimate Rewards cardholders.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for everyday spending without a premium travel rewards card.
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Best option for high-tier Bank of America Preferred Rewards members.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for those who are making a large donation.
Comparison of the best cards for charitable donations
|Card||Bonus||Rewards rate on charitable giving (return based on TPG valuations)||Annual fee|
|The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express||Earn 15,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening||2x on the first $50,000 spent in purchases each year (4%)||None (see rates and fees)|
|Citi Double Cash Card||None||2%; 1% when you buy, plus 1% when you pay (3.4% with a linked ThankYou account)||None|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||Earn an additional 1.5% on all categories on up to $20,000 spent in the first year. That’s a value of up to $300 cash back! (only available in affiliate network)||1.5% (1.5x) (3% with a linked Ultimate Rewards account)||None|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening||2x (3.7%)||$95|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card||50,000 bonus points after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening||1.5x (1.5%-2.625% depending on your status level within the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program)||$95|
|The Business Platinum Card from American Express||120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.||1x (2%) on donations of less than $5,000||$595 ($695 if application is received on or after 01/13/2022) (see rates and fees)|
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
Welcome offer: Earn 15,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Rewards rate: 2x American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 in purchases each year (4% return based on TPG’s valuations); then 1x point on purchases thereafter.
- Expanded buying power with no over-limit fees.
- Secondary car rental loss and damage insurance in most countries.
- Extended warranty protection and purchase protection.
- 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening (see rates and fees), then a variable rate, 15.49%-23.49% (see rates and fees), based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
Annual fee: $0 (See rates and fees).
The Blue Business Plus is a great choice for small business owners, as it has no annual fee and earns 2x Membership Rewards points per dollar on all purchases up to $50,000 per year (then 1x thereafter). TPG values transferable Membership Rewards points at 2 cents, which is a 4% return on the first $50,000 annually.
Citi Double Cash Card
Sign-up bonus: None.
Rewards rate: 2% cash back — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay — on everything (2% return), but rewards can be transferred to a linked ThankYou account (3.4% return based on TPG’s valuations).
- 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers (balance transfers must be completed in the first four months of account opening); after that, the variable APR will be 16.24%-26.24% based on your creditworthiness. There is an introductory balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first four months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
Annual fee: None.
The Citi Double Cash Card is a no-annual-fee everyday spending card that awards 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay that charge off for a total 2% return. However, if you have a Citi ThankYou card, such as the Citi Premier® Card, you can transfer the rewards earned by your Citi Double Cash Card to your ThankYou account, where they’ll become full-fledged ThankYou points. So, the Citi Double Cash Card’s 2% cash back return can become a 3.4% return if you transfer your rewards to a linked ThankYou account.
Related: Citi Double Cash credit card review
Apply here: Citi Double Cash Card
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Sign-up bonus: Earn an additional 1.5% on all categories on up to $20,000 spent in the first year. That’s a value of up to $300 cash back! (only available in affiliate network)
Rewards rates: Earn 5% cash back on gas purchases on up to $6,000 spent in the first year. Earn 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 4.5% on dining at restaurants, 4.5% at drugstores and 3% on other eligible purchases.
- Purchase protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
- Extended warranty extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.
- 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period, a variable APR of 16.49% – 25.24% Variable applies.
Annual fee: None.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back on purchases with increased earnings on the following categories: 6.5% back on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards, 4.5% back on dining at restaurants and 4.5% back on drugstores, and 3% on other eligible purchases.
If you have a premium Ultimate Rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you can convert the rewards earned by your Chase Freedom Unlimited into Ultimate Rewards points. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great companion to any premium Ultimate Rewards cards because it boosts your non-bonus category earning — including charitable donations — from 1x to 1.5x.
Apply here: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Rewards rates: 2 Capital One miles per dollar spent on everything (3.7% return based on TPG’s valuations).
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver when you rent an eligible vehicle with your card.*
- Up to $100 credit every four years for a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee that is charged to your card.
*Benefits only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card. Terms apply.
Annual fee: $95.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases, including donations. You can use the miles to pay off recent travel purchases you make on the card or you can transfer your miles to airline and hotel partners. TPG values Capital One miles at 1.85 cents each due to the value you can get by transferring your miles to partners — and unlike some of the other cards described in this guide, you don’t need to have another card in your wallet to unlock the ability to transfer your rewards to travel partners.
If you’re interested in 2x miles on everything but want a more premium card, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a great choice. For a $395 annual fee, you get a high sign-up bonus, added bonus categories and several perks, including an up to $300 travel credit, anniversary miles bonus, rental car status and more.
Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus points after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Rewards rates: 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every dollar spent on other purchases.
- Up to a $100 airline incidental statement credit annually for qualifying purchases.
- Up to a $100 statement credit every four years to reimburse a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Travel insurance protections to assist with trip delays, cancellations and interruptions, baggage delay inconvenience, lost luggage and emergency evacuation and transportation.
Annual fee: $95.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card earns 1.5 points per dollar spent on non-bonus categories, such as charitable donations. However, you can earn up to a 75% bonus on the points earned on this card based on your status level within the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program.
- Gold level requires $20,000 in assets and awards a 25% rewards bonus.
- Platinum level requires $50,000 in assets and awards a 50% rewards bonus.
- Platinum Honors level requires $100,000 in assets and awards a 75% rewards bonus.
At the highest Platinum Honors tier, that’s a 75% bonus on the regular 1.5x ratio for a total of 2.625 cents in rewards per dollar.
Apply here: Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
The Business Platinum Card from American Express
Welcome offer: 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first three months of card membership.
Rewards rates: 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com (10% return based on TPG’s valuations), 1.5x points on eligible purchases in select business categories and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year (3% return based on TPG valuations) and 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases (2% return).
- Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges and more.
- Up to $200 airline fee credit for incidental fees charged to your card by one qualifying airline you select (enrollment required).
- 35% airline bonus when you book a first- or business-class flight, or any class flight with your selected qualifying airline, with American Express Travel using Membership Rewards Pay with Points (up to 1 million points back per calendar year).
- Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status (enrollment required).
- Up to $400 annual Dell statement credit, distributed as up to $200 in statement credits between January and June and up to $200 in statement credits between July and December, for U.S. purchases with Dell on your card after you enroll.
- Statement credit for one Global Entry application fee every four years or one TSA PreCheck application fee every 4.5 years (up to $100).
- No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
Annual fee: $595 (but going up to $695 per year starting Jan. 13, 2022, see rates and fees).
Finally, if you’re feeling generous and looking to donate $5,000 or more, The Business Platinum Card from American Express offers 1.5x Membership Rewards points for all purchases over $5,000 annually (up to the cap amount). Just make sure that wherever you make your donation, the entire amount is charged as one transaction and not split into two or more payments — such as a monthly giving schedule — because you’ll only get the 1.5x multiplier on charges over $5,000 made as a single purchase.
Apply here: The Business Platinum Card from American Express
Best ways to redeem points for donations
When it comes to donating your hard-earned points, there are several opportunities out there. Here, we’ll spotlight a few programs that make it easy to redeem toward thousands of fundraisers or nonprofits.
Both American Express Membership Rewards and Hilton Honors allow points to be used toward a diverse array of nonprofit organizations. Amex partners with JustGiving and Hilton partners with PointWorthy to make the process straightforward by linking your accounts.
You can earn Membership Rewards points by holding an Amex card; here are some of our best Amex card options. Likewise, Hilton Honors points can be earned not only with stays at a Hilton property but also by signing up for a Hilton credit card.
United allows you to donate miles through Miles on a Mission to a number of different charities and campaigns, including the American Red Cross, Global Glimpse and Make a Wish.
Chase allows Ultimate Rewards members to donate points to several nonprofit organizations. Through Mar. 31, 2022, you’ll even get a redemption bonus through Pay Yourself Back.
While we typically prefer to accrue miles and points and use them to travel, donating a small amount of miles or points can be a great way to keep your points and miles from expiring. Of course, if you have a large stash of points and want to do good without spending cash then using points can make sense, too.
Should I sign up for a new card before making a large donation?
If you’re considering making a large donation, you may want to sign up for a new credit card before making the donation. By doing so, you can make significant progress toward the spending required to obtain the card’s sign-up bonus. If you don’t want to sign up for a new card, consider whether you have a card with a threshold spending bonus to meet.
Does the charity get my full donation?
In most cases, merchants (including charities) are charged fees on credit card charges.
For most cards and merchants, these fees are between 2% and 4% of the amount charged. That means that if you donate $1,000 to a charity, the charity will likely only get $960 to $980 of your donation once the bank levies various card processing fees. If you want a set amount to reach your charity of choice, you may want to give a little extra to cover the credit card charges. (You could also just donate using a debit card, check or cash, but then you won’t earn any rewards on the donation.)
Additional reporting by Chris Dong, Summer Hull and Madison Blancaflor.
Featured image by Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
This card offers a 80,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Plus, earn 3 ThankYou points per $1 at gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets and on air travel and hotels. 1 ThankYou point per $1 on all other purchases.
- For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
- Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
- 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
- No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases