How to use your credit card points to donate to charities this Giving Tuesday

Dec 1, 2020

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This Giving Tuesday, you may be wondering how you can use those unused points balances to help out causes and organizations you are passionate about.

For those of you who may not be familiar, Giving Tuesday was founded back in 2012 as a global generosity movement meant to help inspire people to do good in their communities and the world. A lot of people use Giving Tuesday as a day to donate to causes they care about, others use it as a day to volunteer and donate their time, others use it as a reminder to make someone smile and show the world some light.

But in a year when budgets are tight and points are going unused, the ability to use those rewards to donate on (or after) Giving Tuesday is a potentially great option!

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In This Post

Donating Amex Membership Rewards points

American Express has been the perennial front-runner when it comes to using your points for charity.

Through a long-standing partnership with JustGiving, Amex cardholders can donate Membership Rewards points (at a 1 cent per point valuation) to thousands of 501(c)3 nonprofits. Even better, the portal allows you to donate points for all or part of the donation amount, without the need for a specific amount.

But through Giving Tuesday, Amex is also offering a special donation match program for donations to Feeding America. American Express will match the dollar amount of each point donation 10:1. For example, if you donate $100 through JustGiving Pay with Points, Amex will match that donation with $1,000 — up to $1 million in total donation matches.

If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck this Giving Tuesday, donating unused Amex rewards to Feeding America through JustGiving Pay with Points is a great option.

Related: Best Amex cards of 2020

Chase adds charities to ‘Pay Yourself Back’ feature

Back in May, Chase made a splash with new ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points on both the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The Pay Yourself Back feature allows Sapphire cardholders to offset certain purchases at a more favorable rate. Through Sept. 30, 2021, Chase Sapphire Reserve customers can redeem points at 1.5 cents apiece while Chase Sapphire Preferred customers can redeem Ultimate Rewards for 1.25 cents each. Purchases included grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishments — in addition to the existing travel category.

Use Pay Yourself Back to offset purchases, like groceries. (Photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images)
Use Pay Yourself Back to offset purchases, like groceries. (Photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images)

Then, Chase quietly added another category for enhanced Ultimate Rewards redemptions — select charities. These are the eligible nonprofit organizations for Pay Yourself Back:

  • 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

This curated list of 12 nonprofits includes a mix of social and racial justice, humanitarian aid and hunger relief organizations. To redeem points, simply donate to the nonprofit directly and then log in to your Ultimate Rewards account to redeem points toward the donation amount.

Points earned through the Chase Freedom (no longer open to applications), Chase Freedom Unlimited and the new Chase Freedom Flex will be worth 25% more when redeemed toward donations made to eligible charitable organizations through Dec. 31, 2020.

Related: Guide to all pandemic-related card benefit changes

Citi adds new ThankYou Rewards charitable partners

If you have an excess of ThankYou Rewards points, Citi has announced four new charity partner redemption options. These nonprofits include:

  • UNICEF Kid Power
  • No Kid Hungry
  • World Central Kitchen
Screen shot from Citi
Screen shot from Citi

Previously, donations to the American Red Cross and Smile Train were the only options for using ThankYou points.

Each point is worth 1 cent and you must select between $25 (2,500 points), $50 (5,000 points) or $100 (10,000 points) donations. These set thresholds limit the usefulness of using points but it’s still a significant step forward for Citi cardholders who get another redemption option. In fact, Citi has noticed an increase of 234% from 2019 to 2020 with these types of point donations.

Related: Donating airline and hotel points and miles to charity 

Bottom line

During this time of uncertainty, now is as an important time as ever to donate and make a difference, if means allow.

Through these credit card partnerships, it’s even easier to do so using your points. Amex takes the crown when it comes to the sheer breadth of organizations you can donate to, but Chase cardholders now get more charitable value on a per point basis.

Hopefully, all card issuers will provide even more flexibility and redemption opportunities for causes as we move towards the future.

Related: Best credit cards to maximize your nonprofit donation

Featured image by CarmenMurillo/Getty Images. 

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