Best credit cards to use for charitable donations

Dec 20, 2019

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new cards and additional information. It was originally published on Sept. 17, 2018.

If you’re looking to make a charitable donation, you may be wondering how to maximize your donation. 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 The Points Guy, I assume you’re mainly interested in how to earn the most cash back, points or miles on your giving. So here are some of the best credit cards to use when donating to charity:

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The best credit cards for charitable donations

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 None 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
U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card 25,000 FlexPoints after you spend $2,000 in eligible net purchases on your card within the first four months of account opening 2x (3% return when redeemed for travel) $49 (waived first year)
Chase Freedom Unlimited $150 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 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening 2x (2.8%) $95 (waived first year)
Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa 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 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000, and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000, all on qualifying purchases within the 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 U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature 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 bonus: None

Rewards rate: Two 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.

Further reading:

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

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)

Benefits:

  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers; after that, the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49% 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.

The information for the Citi Premier 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.

Further reading:

Apply here: Citi Double Cash Card

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card

Sign-up bonus: 25,000 enrollment FlexPoints after you spend $2,000 in eligible net purchases on your card within the first four months of account opening

Rewards rates: Two FlexPoints per dollar spent with any merchant that classifies itself as a charitable and social service organization (3% return when you redeem for travel); 2x with airlines, gas stations or grocery stores (whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle); 2x at most cell phone service providers; 1x everywhere else

Primary benefits:

Annual fee: $49 (waived first year)

The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card is the only credit card in this lineup that specifically has charitable donations as one of its built-in bonus categories, awarding two points per dollar on charitable donations as a permanent bonus category. The points earned on this card are worth a fixed value of 1.5 cents per point when redeemed for eligible travel charges, meaning that you’ll earn three cents in travel for every dollar of eligible donation.

Further reading:

Chase Freedom Unlimited

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael)
The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, or 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent if paired with particular cards. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: $150 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 and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 16.49% – 25.24% applies.

Annual fee: None

The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back on all 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.

Further reading:

Apply here: Chase Freedom Unlimited

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: 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from 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 (waived first year)

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.

Further reading:

Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa 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: Two points for every dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every dollar spent on other purchases

Benefits:

Annual fee: $95

The Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa 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.

Further reading:

Apply here: Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa credit card

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
The Amex Business Platinum Card earns 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more. (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000, and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000, 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

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.

Further reading:

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.

Further reading:

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. Usually we prefer to accrue miles and points and use them to travel, but donating a small amount of miles or points can be a great way to keep your points and miles from expiring.

Related guides

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.

Additional reporting by Summer Hull.

Featured image by Beatrix Boros/Stocksy.

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.