How you can donate your points and miles to charity

Dec 1, 2020

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2020 has been difficult for us all, and especially for those in need. As money is tight during the pandemic, making monetary donations may not be feasible for many this year. But it’s certainly not the only way to show support for your community.

As much as we love to earn points and miles, we’ve learned to not hoard them as they can be devalued at any time. In fact, we here on the TPG team have accrued lots of miles throughout the pandemic that many of us likely won’t redeem anytime soon. If you’re in the same boat, you can donate your points and miles to various organizations that are in need.

Donating points and miles can be a great way to give back without shelling out any cash. It’s also an easy way to extend the validity of your points. Even small contributions can make a huge difference in another person’s life, so it’s worth learning how your unused points and miles can be put to good use. Plus, in the spirit of the holidays, many airline and hotel programs are matching donations made by members this month.

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In This Post

Miles4Migrants

Founded in 2016, Miles4Migrants is a nonprofit that accepts frequent flyer mile donations and uses them to book airfare for migrants with financial hardships. From refugees to asylum seekers, Miles4Migrants has helped over 2,500 people using over 40 million points and miles.

You can donate from a range of airline loyalty programs and credit card rewards. The website states that they are in most need of miles from United Airlines and American Airlines. Though, they also accept donations from most programs, including:

To donate miles, you will need to 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 vouchers from Alaska Airlines, United, Southwest, JetBlue Airways and Allegiant Air. 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 and information on the next steps. They filled out a Google form with their contact information. Sometimes the turnover 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 who you’d like your miles to be used for and how you’d like the reservation to be made.

Related: You can earn bonus points or miles supporting coronavirus relief efforts

JustGiving

JustGiving is a fundraising platform that has more than 1.5 million nonprofits registered, including the Black Lives Matter Foundation. American Express has partnered with JustGiving, so you can donate your Membership Rewards points to a charity of your choice.

To participate in this program, you must own a Membership Rewards card. 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. Donating points instead of using cash at checkout can help offset your donation and is a solid option to consider.

Related: The best credit cards to maximize your nonprofit donation

Donating credit card points to charity

Amex points aren’t the only credit card points that could be donated to charity. Another easy way to make donations using credit card points is by using a fixed-value card to pay for donations and then using your points to “pay” for the charge on your statement.

As a part of Chase’s new ‘Pay Yourself Back’ featureChase 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. Eligible nonprofits include the following mix of social and racial justice, humanitarian aid and hunger relief organizations:

  • American Red Cross
  • Equal Justice Initiative
  • Feeding America
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • International Medical Corporation
  • Leadership Conference Education Fund
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • National Urban League
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund
  • United Negro College Fund
  • United Way
  • World Central Kitchen

Citi also recently announced new charity partner redemption options. You can now donate ThankYou Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent apiece to the following nonprofits:

  • American Red Cross
  • No Kid Hungry
  • Smile Train
  • World Central Kitchen
  • UNICEF USA
  • UNICEF Kid Power
Screen shot from Citi

Donating airline miles to charity

Finally, many frequent flyer programs offer an option to donate your rewards with organizations they partner with. Note that this is not an entirely comprehensive list.

Loyalty Program Charities Important Information
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Alaska Airlines Disaster Relief Pool

Alaska Airlines Miles for Youth

Angel Flight West

Dream Foundation

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Foundation

Fisher House Foundation (Hero Miles)

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Medical Teams International

National Forest Foundation

The Nature Conservancy

Seattle Children’s Hospital

United Negro College Fund

A minimum donation of 1,000 miles is required.
American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for Our Social Good

Miles for Our Well-Being

Miles for Our Heroes

If you have less than 1,000 miles in your account, then you can donate all of them.
Delta SkyMiles American Red Cross

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Canine Assistants

CARE

Children’s Miracle Network

Fisher House Foundation (Hero Miles)

Habitat for Humanity

Junior Achievement USA

Luke’s Wings

Make-A-Wish

Polaris

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

The Nature Conservancy

The Salvation Army

UNICEF

In addition to the U.S.-based charities, you can donate to charities in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

You can donate to up to five charities in one transaction.

The minimum donation amount varies by charity.

Frontier Airlines Miles Austin Pets Alive!

American Red Cross

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Fisher House Foundation (Hero Miles)

Shriners Hospital

Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation

To donate, you must call (801) 401-9003 in order to complete your transaction.

Frontier has an “all-or-nothing” policy, meaning that you must elect to donate all of the miles in your balance.

Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles American Cancer Society Hawaii Pacific

American Red Cross of Hawaii

Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii

Blood Bank of Hawaii

The Coral Reef Alliance

Friends of Hokule’a and Hawai’iloa

Hawaiian Humane Society

HUGS (Help, Understanding, and Group Support)

Make-A-Wish Hawaii

Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project

National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii

Shriners Hospital for Children of Honolulu

Special Olympics Hawaii

Surfrider Foundation Oahu Chapter

At the end of the year, Hawaiian Airlines will match up to ½ million miles donated to each charity.

There is no minimum number of miles you must donate.

JetBlue Airways TrueBlue Rewards

American Red Cross

Americares

USO of Metropolitan of New York

Wildlife Conservation Society

Concern Worldwide

Carbonfund.org

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Angel Flight

The JetBlue Foundation

KaBOOM!

DoSomething.org

CityYear

First Book

FDNY Foundation

Pencil

Cradle of Aviation

Ocean Foundation

New York Restoration Project

A minimum donation of 500 points is required.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards All Hands and Hearts

American Red Cross

Dream Foundation

Honor Flight Network

Ronald McDonald House Charities

Student Conservation Association

Team Rubicon

The Mission Continues

A minimum donation of 500 points is required, with a daily maximum of 60,000 points.
Sun Country Airlines Rewards Make-A-Wish Minnesota There is no minimum number of points you must donate.
United Airlines MileagePlus Air Camp

Airlink Flight

American Red Cross

Americares Foundation

Clean The World

Conservation International

Dream Foundation

Fisher House Foundation (Hero Miles)

Global Glimpse

Guide Dogs of America

Make-A-Wish Foundation

MD Anderson Cancer Center

Mercy Medical Angels

Shriner’s Hospital

Special Olympics

The Ayuda Foundation

Transplant Recipients International Organization

U.S. Olympic Team

United Service Organizations Charity

From Dec. 1 to 29, United will match miles donations up to 125,000 miles per charity, up to a total of five million miles for all charities.

A minimum donation of 1,000 miles is required.

Giving back through these partnerships can be a great way to donate smaller balances of points and miles. It’s also one of easiest ways to keep your miles from expiring.

International airlines have similar charity partnerships. If you have mileage balances with Lufthansa, Emirates or Aeroplan, you can offer those up to charity. Virgin Atlantic also has a partnership with Free the Children where you can donate your Flying Club miles.

Related: How TPG is joining the fight for equality and justice

Donating hotel loyalty points to charity

In addition to airline loyalty programs, these hotel loyalty programs offer donation opportunities.

Loyalty Program Charities Important Information
Hilton Honors American Cancer Society®

American Indian College Fund

American Red Cross

Arthritis Foundation

Arbor Day Foundation

Books for Kids Foundation

City of Hope

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

DonorsChoose

GlobalGiving

Global Soap Project

GRAMMY Foundation®

Habitat for Humanity

Hispanic Scholarship

Fund International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Kids Help Phone

Lance Armstrong Foundation

Make-A-Wish Foundation

National Coalition for the Homeless

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The Nature Conservancy Operation

Homefront Operation

Hug-A-Hero

Room to Read

Special Olympics

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

U.S Olympic & Paralympic Teams

World Vision World Wildlife Fund

For every 10,000 points you donate, HHonors will send $25 to that charity.

A minimum donation of 10,000 points is required.

You can also donate to practically any 501(c)(3) organization via PointWorthy from just 4,000 points ($10 donation). Unlike other gifts of points or miles, these donations typically are tax-deductible.

Marriott Bonvoy Al Jalila Foundation

American Red Cross

Asian University for Women

Bridges from School to Work

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Clean the World

ECPAT-USA

Immigration Equality

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Marriott International Disaster Relief Fund

MBK Alliance

NAACP Empowerment Programs

National Urban League (NUL)

Polaris

Prince’s Trust Canada

SOS Children’s Villages

The Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS)

The Arbor Day Foundation

The International Rescue Committee (IRC)

The Prince’s Trust

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

The National Park Foundation

UNICEF

WE

WEConnect International

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

World Central Kitchen

Yao Foundation

YCI

A minimum donation of 2,500 points is required.
IHG Rewards Club American Red Cross

CARE International UK

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Goodwill Industries

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights

The Prince’s Trust

Youth Career Initiative

A minimum donation of 2,500 points is required.
World of Hyatt N/A N/A

Related: TPG’s year of giving in review

Bottom line

While the TPG team loves to use miles for travel, donating them can go a long way for someone in need. If you’re not traveling during the pandemic and are unable to keep your miles from expiring, donating them is a great way to make sure they’re not wasted. Whether it’s converting points and miles into donations or by helping people in need, it’s important to give back what you can.

Keep in mind that point and mile 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.

Stella Shon contributed to this post.

Featured photo by Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images.

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