Giving Tuesday: The best credit cards to maximize your charitable donation

Dec 1, 2020

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

It’s both Credit Cards Week at TPG and Giving Tuesday. This one-two punch means that today is the perfect opportunity to make a charitable donation — and maximize your giving by using the right card.

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. But since you are reading TPG, you’re probably 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. Let’s dive in.

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Best credit cards to use for charitable donations

In This Post

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 spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening 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 Earn 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from 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 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 (1.5%) 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 spending $3,000 in the first 3 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

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 with increased earnings on the following categories: 5% back on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and 3% back on drugstores.

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 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Rewards rates: 2 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 pay off 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: 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every dollar spent on other purchases. Plus, earn 2 points for every $1 spent on grocery store purchases- now through 12/31/21.

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 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: Five 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)

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

Best ways to redeem points for donations

When it comes to donating your hard-earned points, there are several opportunities out there. 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: You can now redeem Chase, Citi and Amex points for charity — here’s how

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: 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.

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 Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Updated on 5/3/21.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.