How you can donate your points and miles to charity
Points and miles can do a great many things, and one of those things is to give back. It isn't always the highest cent per point return for your points, but even small contributions can make a huge difference in another person’s life.
To that end, Turkey and Syria continue to try and deal with the aftermath of a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Feb. 6, which devasted southern and central Turkey and western Syria.
The loss of life is at a scale that's hard to imagine and has surpassed any quake globally since 2015, which is not to even mention the economic and infrastructure loss.
TPG is joining the relief effort by supporting AirLink's response to the crisis in Turkey and Syria. This organization works with aviation and logistics partners to transport relief workers and emergency supplies to reputable NGOs.
Together, the Points Guy and Lonely Planet will donate $30,000 to AirLink on behalf of RV Travel.
If you are looking to put your points or miles to work to help with charitable causes for this or other efforts, here are some opportunities.
Founded in 2016, Miles4Migrants is a nonprofit that accepts donations of frequent flyer miles and uses them to book airfare for migrants with financial hardships. From refugees to asylum-seekers, Miles4Migrants has helped over 30,000 people using over 370 million points and miles.
You can donate from a range of airline loyalty and credit card programs and credit card rewards.
To donate, you must pledge a minimum of 1,000 to 47,500 points or miles, depending on the program. Once you submit a pledge, the flight booking team at Miles4Migrants will match the miles donated to an individual in need.
Keep in mind that the matching process can take weeks. Miles4Migrants will update you with the recipient’s photo and story of how your contribution has helped them.
Besides frequent flyer miles, you can also donate travel vouchers and cash. Miles4Migrants currently accepts most vouchers from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest, JetBlue, Allegiant Air and others.
Additionally, cash donations also help to cover any award taxes, fees and surcharges.
How it works
A TPG staffer recently pledged to donate 15,000 JetBlue TrueBlue points. Shortly after, they received an email thanking them for their donation along with information on the next steps. They filled out a Google form with their contact information.
Sometimes the turnaround is fast, so you’ll want to provide the best way the organization can reach you. Miles4Migrants will also ask if you have a preference for whom you’d like your miles to be used and how you’d like the reservation to be made.
You will need to sign an electronic donor agreement and then provide your contact information to the flight booking team so they can discuss the use of your miles with you.
JustGiving is a fundraising platform that has more than 1.5 million nonprofits registered, including Malala Fund. American Express has partnered with JustGiving, so you can donate your Membership Rewards points to a charity of your choice.
You must have an Amex Membership Rewards-earning card to participate in this program. Once you create an account and link your eligible card, you can apply your points at checkout. The donation amount can be covered entirely or partially by points.
When donating, your Membership Rewards points are worth 0.7 cents each, which is lower than TPG’s value of 2 cents apiece. Despite that, donating points instead of using cash at checkout can help offset your donation and is a solid option to consider.
Give a Mile
Give a Mile assists with helping loved ones come together to give their final goodbyes.
It has provided close to 1,000 flights with over 35 million miles donated. Give a Mile primarily operates using Aeroplan miles but does accept donations from United MileagePlus and other programs from time to time.
Donating credit card points to charity
You can make donations using credit card points by using a fixed-value card to pay for donations and then use your points to “pay” for the charge on your statement.
As a part of Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature, Chase Sapphire Reserve customers and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card customers can redeem Ultimate Rewards toward donations to eligible nonprofit organizations at 1.5 cents and 1.25 cents, respectively, until at least the end of the year. Eligible nonprofits include the following mix of social and racial justice,
Citi also recently announced new charity partner redemption options. You can now donate ThankYou Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent apiece to a set list of nonprofits:
Donating airline miles to charity
Many frequent flyer programs offer an option to donate your rewards to organizations they partner with. Head to the airline program of your choice for more information about charities you can support with your airline miles:
Giving back through these partnerships can be a great way to donate smaller balances of points and miles. It’s also one of the easiest ways to keep your miles from expiring in programs that expire miles based on account inactivity.
International airlines have similar charity partnerships, so the odds are high that you'll find options for donating miles in whichever domestic or international program you prefer.
Donating hotel loyalty points to charity
In addition to airline loyalty programs, these hotel loyalty programs offer donation opportunities. Head to the hotel program of your choice for more information about charities you can support with your hotel loyalty points:
- Hilton Honors Giving Back program: For every 10,000 points you donate, Hilton Honors will send $25 to that charity.
- Marriott Bonvoy Giving: A minimum donation of 2,500 points is required.
- IHG One Rewards Giving: You can donate 2,500, 5,000 or 10,000 IHG reward points at a time.
While the TPG team loves to use points and miles for travel, donating them can go a long way to help someone in need, especially if you have miles you otherwise won't use or you want to help a cause but don't have the cash to dedicate toward that right now.
Remember that points and miles donations are typically not considered tax deductible, as the IRS recognizes award points and miles as a gift from a corporation or to the individual.
However, if you plan to donate large amounts, you can always contact a tax professional to discuss your options.
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Additional reporting by Benji Stawski, Caroline Tanner, Summer Hull and Stella Shon.