Best credit cards to use for charitable donations
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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:
The best credit cards for charitable donations
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for small business owners
- Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for Citi ThankYou cardholders
- U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card: Best for fixed-rate travel rewards
- 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® Visa® credit card: Good option for high-tier Bank of America Preferred Rewards members who want cash back
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express: Good 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||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.
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
- 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% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from account opening. After that your APR will be a variable rate, currently 14.74% – 20.74%.
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.
- Blue Business Plus card review: Double up your everyday spending for no annual fee
- The power of the Amex Trifecta: Platinum, Gold & Blue Business Plus
- 7 reasons why the Amex Blue Business Plus Card should be in everyone’s wallet
- Choosing the best American Express credit card for you
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; 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.
- Citi Double Cash credit card review
- Live now: Transfer your Citi Double Cash Card rewards to ThankYou Points
- Redeeming Citi ThankYou points for maximum value
- The best Citi credit cards of 2019
Apply here: Citi Double Cash 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
- Reimbursement for up to $25 per round-trip air travel award ticket toward baggage fees or in-flight food and drinks (note the restrictions)
- Exclusive Visa Signature card member benefits
- No foreign transaction fees
- Travel accident insurance
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.
- Fixed-rate travel rewards: U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card review
- U.S. Bank now allows for instant reward redemptions for travel booked anywhere
- U.S. Bank changing FlexPerks Rewards in 2018
Sign-up bonus: $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening
- 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.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: A surprisingly great credit card
- Why Chase Sapphire Preferred and Freedom Unlimited are the perfect beginner combo
- When should you use the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card?
- Chase cash-back battle: Ink Business Unlimited vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited
- The best credit cards to pair with the Chase Freedom Unlimited
Apply here: Chase Freedom Unlimited
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)
- 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
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.
- At the top of my wish list: Capital One Venture Rewards review
- 6 reasons to get the Capital One Venture Rewards card
- To transfer or not to transfer: What to do with Capital One miles
- Credit card showdown: Capital One Venture Card vs. Capital One VentureOne Card
- Starter card showdown: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture
Apply here: Capital One Venture 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: Two 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 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.
- Not to be underestimated: Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card review
- 5 reasons to get the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card
- Step by step: How to redeem points using the Bank of America Premium Rewards card
- Frequently asked questions about the Bank of America Premium Rewards card
- Watch now: Maximizing the Bank of America Premium Rewards card
Apply here: Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa credit card
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)
- 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 that are charged to your card by one qualifying airline that you select
- 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 500,000 points back per calendar year)
- Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status
- Up to $200 annual Dell statement credit, distributed as up to $100 in statement credits between January and June and up to $100 in statement credits between July and December, for U.S. purchases with Dell on your card after you enroll
- A 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
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.
- Big price, big perks: A review of the Business Platinum Card from American Express
- Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the Amex Business Platinum?
- Which card is right for you? Amex Platinum vs. Amex Business Platinum
- 10 things to do when you get the American Express Business Platinum Card
- Is the Amex Business Platinum worth the annual fee?
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.
- The 6 best limited-time credit card offers to sign up for in December
- 7 cards currently offering welcome bonuses of 100,000 points or more
- 9 credit cards that can get you $1,000 or more in value
- When is it worth it to go after credit card tiered spending bonuses?
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.
- The best credit cards for everyday spending
- New credit card targets non-profit organizations
- Your Giving Tuesday gifts sometimes give back
- 5 ways charities can maximize their points
- TPG’s 2018 year of giving in review
Additional reporting by Summer Hull.
Featured image by Beatrix Boros/Stocksy.
- Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs). Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 20,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 4/1/2020.
- New! With Status Boost™, earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to four 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.
- New! Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.
- Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Complimentary access into the Delta SkyClubs® for you when traveling on a Delta flight.
- New! Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book your Delta flight with your Reserve Card.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free and Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees