The best credit cards to maximize your nonprofit donation

Jun 9, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new cards and additional information. 

If you’re looking to make a charitable donation, you may be wondering how to maximize your giving. Or perhaps you have a stash of points that you’d like to use towards a nonprofit and you don’t know how to do so.

I usually donate when one of my favorite charities has a sponsor or donor that is willing to match my donation. But since you are reading TPG, I assume you’re also interested in how to earn the most cash back, points or miles on the giving that you do. Here are some of the best credit cards and points programs to use when donating to charity.

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Best credit cards to use for charitable donations

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Best ways to redeem points for donations

Unfortunately, most travel and credit card loyalty programs don’t have easy ways to donate points to a specific charity of your choosing. However, I wanted to spotlight two programs that make it easy to redeem towards thousands of fundraisers or nonprofits.

Both American Express Membership Rewards and Hilton Honors allow points in these programs to be used towards 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.

Hilton partners with PointWorthy so you can redeem Hilton Honors points towards thousands of causes.

Related reading: Why it’s so difficult to donate your airline and hotel points and miles to the causes you care about

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 Limited time offer: Earn up to $300 in statement credits when you make eligible purchases with Dell Technologies, DocuSign and FedEx within the first three months of Card Membership (up to $100 in statement credits per merchant). This offer will run through November 4, 2020. 2x (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 $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening 1.5% (1.5x) (3% with a linked Ultimate Rewards account) None
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card For a limited time, earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening. Or still earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. 2x (2.8%) $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 Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first three months of Card Membership. Terms apply. 1x (1.5%) on donations of less than $5,000

1.5x on donations of $5,000 or more, up to one million additional points per year (3%)

$595 (see rates and fees)

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Bank of America Premium Rewards card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

The Blue Business Plus earns two points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 in purchases each year. (Photo by TPG staff)

Welcome offer: Limited Time offer: Earn up to $300 when you make eligible purchases with Dell Technologies, DocuSign and FedEx within the first three months of Card Membership (up to $100 per merchant). This offer will run through November 4, 2020.

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

Benefits:

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 (see rates and fees) and earns 2x Membership Rewards points per dollar on all purchases up to $50,000 per year (then 1x thereafter). If you value transferable Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each like TPG, that’s like getting 4 cents in value per dollar charged on the first $50,000 annually.

Related reading: Blue Business Plus card review: Double up your everyday spending for no annual fee

Apply here: The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

Citi Double Cash Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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)

Benefits:

  • 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 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness

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 reading: Citi Double Cash credit card review

Apply here: Citi Double Cash Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening

Rewards rates: 1.5% cash back, but rewards can be transferred to a linked Ultimate Rewards account (3% return based on TPG’s valuations)

Benefits:

  • 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. After the intro period, a variable APR of 14.99% – 23.74% applies.

Annual fee: None

The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back on purchases. But 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 of the premium Ultimate Rewards cards because it boosts your non-bonus category earning — including charitable donations — from 1x to 1.5x.

Related reading: Chase Freedom Unlimited: A surprisingly great credit card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
The Capital One Venture card earns two miles per dollar spent on everything. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening. Or still earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards rates: Two Capital One miles per dollar spent on everything (2.8% return based on TPG’s valuations)

Benefits:

Annual fee: $95

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers two miles per dollar spent on all purchases, including donations. You can use the miles to “erase” recent travel purchases you make on the card or you can transfer your miles to airline partners. TPG values Capital One miles at 1.4 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.

Related reading: Review of the Capital One Venture Rewards 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: 2x points for every dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5x points for every dollar spent on other purchases

Benefits:

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.

Related reading: Not to be underestimated: Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card review

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 all on qualifying purchases on the Business Platinum Card within the first three months of card membership.

Rewards rates: Five Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com (10% return based on TPG’s valuations), 1.5 points per dollar spent on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more (up to one million additional points per year, 3% return) and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases (2% return)

Benefits:

Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees)

Finally, if you’re feeling generous and looking to make a donation of $5,000 or more, The Business Platinum Card from American Express offers 1.5x Membership Rewards points for all purchases over $5,000. 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 one single purchase.

Related reading: Big price, big perks: A review of the Business Platinum Card from American Express

Apply here: The Business Platinum Card from American Express

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. Or, if you don’t want to sign up for a new card, consider whether you have a card with a threshold spending bonus.

Related reading: 10 easiest credit card sign-up bonuses to earn

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 two to four percent of the amount charged. So realize that if you donate $1,000 to a charity, the charity will likely only get $960 to $980 of your donation once various card processing fees are levied by the bank. 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).

Can I donate points to charity?

Some hotel loyalty programs, airline loyalty programs and transferable currencies allow you to donate your miles to charity. However, as mentioned above, Amex and Hilton really take the crown when it comes to the number of nonprofits that you could support. There are thousands of charities that you can donate Amex Membership Rewards or Hilton Honors points towards.

Additionally, 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 — using points can make sense too.

Related guides

Additional reporting by Chris Dong and Summer Hull.

For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, please click here.

Featured image by Beatrix Boros/Stocksy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.